After enjoying The Australian Ballet’s performance of Giselle last week, with its romantic, ethereal story, I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Dream which opened in Adelaide last Wednesday. Breaking from the dance storylines I’m so familiar with, The Dream is broken into three separate works by the great 20th century English choreographer Frederick Ashton.
The curtain opened to the eight-minute pas de deux Monotones II, which was inspired by space travel, and features three dancers in sleek white elegantly revolving like celestial bodies. It was a stark comparison to the more whimsical ballet performances most are familiar with enjoying, with no props or costumes to detract from the form and movement. Incredible precision and control was shown by the three dancers as they moved in unison across the stage. The audience was captivated by their skill and the simple poise of the piece allowed the theatre to appreciate the difficulty of the dancing throughout the performance.
The second work for the evening, the coolly elegant Symphonic Variations, was set to the darkly Romantic Franck score, and was choreographed immediately after Ashton’s return from World War II. The abstract work sees 6 dancers on stage for the duration of the piece. A return to a more traditional form of dance saw more engagement from the audience, as the performance once again showcased the immense talent on show from The Australian Ballet.
The showpiece for the night however, was Ashton’s charming take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Bard’s magical comedy, with its lovers and sprites, tiffs and crushes. Effortless in the role of Titania, Principal Artist, Madeleine Eastoe was a breathtaking lead, (and a surprising one as many had believed Saturday night’s performance in Giselle to be her last before retirement). She barely touched the stage as the music transformed her.
Kevin Jackson was outstanding in the role of Oberon, while Chengwu Guo was perfect in the role of Puck, playing the comedic and naughty sprite to a tee. There were audible gasps from the audience with some of the incredible dance moves he achieved with ease.
Varied, mesmerising and utterly enchanting, The Dream is one of the greatest spectacles of dance you’ll see all year.
For more information on upcoming performances by The Australian Ballet visit their website: https://www.australianballet.com.au/