Top image – Olivia Bell in Suite en Blanc (photo – Justin Smith). Bottom image – Rachel Rawlins and the cast of the Australian Ballet in Suite en Blanc (photo - Jim McFarlane)

Last week the very sweet marketing / publicity team at the Australian Ballet generously offered me a double-pass to go and see their latest show – a double-bill entitled Paris Match. Lucky me!

It was AMAZING. Truly. I have never been to the ballet before (can you believe?)… but even knowing nothing about the intricacies of the choreography and history of the pieces performed, I was totally blown away.

Paris Match links two distinctly different performances. First, a mesmerising classical ‘white ballet’ entitled Suite en blanc. Think beautiful, jutting white tutus, traditional romantic themes, spirited, emotive performances… and of course, gravity-defying grace and movement.

After interval, the mood changed completely – Australian choreographer Stanton Welch’s Divergence (1994) was sexy, provocative, at times humourous – and filled with electric energy. In stark contrast to the earlier piece, the dancers wore striking black costumes – including tutus recast in metal mesh (material usually reserved for air-conditioning ducts!) and breastplates structured from car upholstery! (Costumes designed by Vanessa Leyonhjelm). I wondered what the more old-fashioned audience members were thinking as the dancers punctuated the performance with the odd pelvic thrust or sassy shoulder twitch! Controversial!

Robyn Hendricks in Divergence (photo – Tim Richardson). That’s one of those industrial mesh tutus!

Costume sketch for Divergence by Vanessa Leyonhjelm

Divergence (photos – Jim McFarlane)

PS) Did you know that the Australian Ballet has a fantastic behind-the-scenes blog? ‘Behind Ballet‘ is a really well edited mix of news from the inner workings of Australian Ballet. For instance, after opening night last week, one of the principle dancers, Yosvani Ramos, blogged about his performance – even sharing his pre-show nerves and fear of ending up in the Orchestra pit!

Yosvani Ramos in Divergence (photo – Jim McFarlane)