Perth Festival: Radio and Juliet

Dancers of West Australian Ballet in Epic Fail. Photo by Sergey Pevnev.
Dancers of West Australian Ballet in Epic Fail.
Photo by Sergey Pevnev.

As always the Quarry is a magical setting for dance with Perth’s skyline in the distance and a balmy summer evening.

The first night buzz was palpable as audience members settled in with picnic hampers.

The first half of the show comprised three works which were light in touch and often very funny. The ensemble had a lovely time with Epic Fail. The storyline was slight but lent itself to lots of amusing characterisations. A ballroom dancing competition; including a stage mother, highly competitive dance couples and a quartet of very correct judges. Verging on vaudeville in parts, the choreography allowed Keaton-esque chases, passionate displays of dancing one-upmanship and outright envy. Costumier Elizabeth Gadsby was really given her head and the stage was alight with dazzling pairs of dancers. Sequins, feathers and colour were the order of the day. As with every offering this evening the dance was impeccable. The crowd adored the comedy and outrageous upstaging .

Mono Lisa was in a word “divine”. Choreographer Itzik Galili created a beautiful work for two dancers. It was demanding for both artists and they rose to the challenge superbly. Athletic and lyrical Brooke Widdison-Jacobs and Jiri Jelinek displayed wonderful technique and style. The music, also created by Itsak Galili with Thomas Hofs, was a melange of typewriter clicks and zings. It suited the piece well with plenty of audience-pleasing leg acrobatics.

Another work by Galili, The Sofa, captivated the crowd. A couple canoodles on a giant sofa. She, danced by Sarah Hepburn, reticent; he, Matthew Lehmann, persistent .Finally she runs at the sofa, toppling it over and disappears behind it, only to be replaced by a mincing drag queen in memorable pink patchwork velvet flares, Daniel Roberts, dancing and acting with panache. What follows is a carbon copy of the first attempted seduction with the now horrified original male dancer the object of attention. This was a clever work, incredibly athletic and performed with verve and polish. The extended Tom Waites song added greatly to the amusing tone of the piece

Brooke Widdison-Jacobs and Liam Green in Radio and Juliet  Photo by Sergey Pevnev
Brooke Widdison-Jacobs and Liam Green in Radio and Juliet
Photo by Sergey Pevnev

Now to the title work, Radio and Juliet. I will state from the outset that I am no fan of the music of Radiohead. However this did not detract from my appreciation of the technical artistry of the six male dancers: Jiri Jelinek, Matthew Lehmann, Tim Harford, Christian Luck, Daniel Roberts, and liam Green. Brooke Widdison-Jacobs was superb as Juliet. Projected on to screens behind the stage were images of medieval buildings which set the scene. Juliet was introduced on-screen and then the dance proper began. The tone could not have been more different from the first half offerings; the mood was melancholic. However there were lovely pas de deux and remarkable dramatic fighting scenes. The male contingent was dynamic and their ensemble work was excellent.

WA Ballet is a company at the height of its power and a company of which we can justifiably be proud.

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