|Stephen Baynes's Beyond Bach in the Elegy double bill.|
I love the The Australian Ballet's mixed bills and would take them over full-length narrative ballets any day. Personal preference really - I enjoy modern ballet. That's probably opposite to the tastes of many of The Australian Ballet's subscribers and patrons. Interest in the classic canon never seems to wane, no matter how many times the company presents different versions of Swan Lake, Giselle and Manon. While the company is in their element in those works, they also shine in dances by hard-hitting 20th/21st century choreographers like Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato and Wayne MacGregor.
Elegy is a double bill of choreography by Stephen Baynes. Baynes is The Australian Ballet's resident choreographer and has a distinct, formal style that's not as modern/post-modern as the choreographers mentioned above. He's not out to ruffle feathers in the dance world - he just makes solid, clean works, often in the neo-classical vein. I have to admit that prior to seeing Elegy I didn't have strong feelings about Baynes' work. Neither dislike nor reverence. I hadn't seen enough to have a real opinion.
The critical and audience comment around Elegy has been mixed. For me it really worked. The two diverse offerings made me appreciate the breath of this quiet achiever. Requiem, the more modern piece integrates a live choir with the dancers which creates a continuous swell and release of emotive movement and voice. Beyond Bach is more of a classical showcase piece - all gold tones and glamourous set and lots of Bach music, of course. Both dances have a solid surety about themselves. They don't feel like they are trying too hard and their intents and aesthetics are solid.
Click here for my review of Elegy in the Herald Sun 13 June 2011.