Review: The ‘G’ of Australian Dance Theater

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The stage is stark, bathed in an otherworldly emerald glow from a narrow, rectangular digital strip hanging high in the background. Dancers emerge one by one from the left of the stage to render slowly, solemnly. It does not work From the original 19 of Adolphe Adam II. Accompanied by the opening strain of the curtain, throughout the stageNS century score.

The exciting green of their costumes, white ballet Typical of this and other performances of the Romantic era, ballet women’s corps often wore ethereal, calf-length white tulle to symbolize their otherworldlyness. The color green carries multiple symbolic meanings: the organic green of the forest, sprouting life, spring and hope; green that appears around the gills when disease threatens. There’s also the green of envy.

The letter ‘G’ appears white on the green digital ribbon; then the rest of the main protagonist’s name disappears as if it were an afterthought. The dancers keep flowing across the stage, always from left to right, some now with quick feet, gliding faster and moving faster. no drunk runningand the musical tie of the original ballet is broken by the pulsing, industrially distorted beats of Luke Smiles’ compelling soundscape.

More solitary letters appear on the screen, anchoring for a rush of impressionistic words that sometimes disappear into spaces; Grief, tongue, confusion, Exaltation, Grand Jetée. Letters instead of names depersonalize the heroes, as if they were factors of an algebraic formula. A, Albrecht, Duke of Silesia, and H for the watchman Hilarion, who both fall in love with Giselle, Albrecht betrays her, causing her to die of heartbreak; B was betrothed to Bathilde, the princess, to the hypocritical Albrecht, and to Giselle’s mother, Berthe. M for Myrtha, Queen of Wilis; she and her subjects are the ghosts of young women who live in the woods and use their beauty to lure men in a dance, who die of heartbreak and abandoned at the altar by their betrothed men. death.

The complex plot of the original ballet Giselle It requires an overarching narrative in which the dancers imitate every scene, but Stewart turns it upside down. There are visual references to the plot, such as the bunch of white lilies that Albrecht placed on Giselle’s tomb or the sword she concealed to seduce Giselle to hide the fact that she was a nobleman. the ballet has Giselle kill herself after she is mad with grief; There is a blue and orange dawn on the lake where Wilis drowned Hilarion after he made her dance from exhaustion.

The digital screen sometimes adds sentences to indicate the progression of the plot: G has a weak heart. G is now a ghost. G forgives. But the details of the plot, somewhat exaggerated, exaggeratedly circumscribed in the traditional form of ballet, seem less important here. What matters are the raw, universally human emotions behind them, embodied in each dancer and in Stewart’s distinctive choreographic style that connects the traditional with the subversive; dancers can take a step from the classical ballet repertoire in a familiar move, but midway through, their underlying raw humanity can be shaken with a grotesque twist that reflects traditional expectations shattered to reveal human bodies.

G demands every ounce of the dancers’ athleticism and courage; a big jet turns into a somersault; The male dancer is dragged on the floor by his female colleague, who awkwardly wraps his legs around his waist like a belt. no two. Meanwhile, dancers continue to flow across the stage, from left to right, in a relentless movement against the text on the screen above, which sometimes rolls from right to left.

The dancers are not assigned separate roles, but share them: the women are all in turn Giselle, Bathilde, Berthe or Myrtha; the men are all Albrecht or Hilarion. The effect is that Giselle removes the specificity of the narrative, revealing the full spectrum of emotion expressed by all the characters, taking the story from a singular time or place and elevating it to the universal.

Gender roles are also being turned upside down: men just as much as women tremble in hysteria or wrap themselves in loving hugs and wear the same green as the women, a white suit unlike G’s debut in 2008, where the men wore it. The impression is of a shared humanity, regardless of gender, class or role.

G premiered during the Adelaide Festival in 2008, followed by a European tour the same year. He returned in 2013 to tour the rest of Australia and then lay fallow until now.

Filtered by the awareness of new social movements like #metoo and the challenges of the pandemic, G Giselle presents the heart of her narrative in all its rawness to audiences in Adelaide, where it was created as boldly as it was 13 years ago.

After 22 years dedicated to pushing the boundaries of contemporary dance with ADT, it’s a fitting finale for the extraordinary Kimball Wong, who danced in the original 2008 performance with Garry Stewart and Daniel Jaber, who also left the company this year. year.

ADT’s G will be screened at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 29 November.

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This article is sponsored by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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