Firebird and Other Legends
Beautifully performed at the Adelaide Festival Theatre - the season was an absolute triumph, with packed houses. Every aspect of the program was of the finest quality - the exacting technique of the dancers, excitement of the varied choreography of three quite different ballets - wonderful costumes and music, not to mention the amazing sets and lighting.
Alan Brissenden's critique of opening night, Adelaide captured the excitement and colour of the program and is reproduced for your interest and information.
"The Australian, Monday March 2nd 2009"
Electrifying leaps of the imagination.
"In Mikhail Fokine's original Firebird of 1910, Ivan Tsarevich stumbles into the evil Kostchei's garden, captures the Firebird, releases her in exchange for a magic feather and with her help defeats the vile magician, smashing the egg containing his soul and freeing from enchantment the beautiful Tsarevna, her maidens and Kostchei's gang.
In Graeme Murphy's new Firebird, a serpentine Kostchei and his men emerge from broken eggshells, the jagged crack in a huge egg upstage is a doorway to the outer world and finally Ivan and the Tsarevna appear as Adam and Eve. That old serpent, not vanquished after all, gives Eve the fatal apple.
Murphy's daring imagination almost gets away with this last twist, as his often stunning choreography receives such exciting performances. Lana Jones is an electrifyingt Firebird, imperious in command, tremulous in fear, her technique clean and sharp.
Kevin Jackson excels as Ivan, expressive to his fingertips, and matched in ardour by Danielle Rowe's delicious young Tsarevna. The chemistry between them is palpable.
And Chengwu Guo's slithering, athletic Kostchei must surely soon lift him out of the corps de ballet.
Leon Krasentein's costumes have mixed success. Ivan's orange cloak contrasts well with the simple lines and colours of the Tsarevna's dress, but the Firebird's swirling feather looks too much like drying fern, and in the last scene the men's long skirts would be better if the backs were coloured as well as the front, not merely grey.
No such problems with the copies of the original costumes for Petrouchka, Fokine's 1911 ballet lovingly staged by John Auld with an emotionally moving Marc Cassidy in the lead, Leanne Stojmenov investing the Ballerina role with a terrifying emptiness, and Luke Ingham making the most of the doltish Blackamoor.
Colin Peasley's Showman could be a mite more sinister and the St Petersburg crowd are too clean, tidy and polite for Russian workers and peasants on holiday, More earthiness please. This celebratory, must-see program begins with Les Sylphides, in which the hard lighting needs a touch more blue, but which has a finely poetic performance from Yosvani Ramos, and Rachel Rawlins is meltingly beautiful in the Prelude. Alone among the female soloists Rawlins captures the floating, gracious delicacy of this most romantic of ballets. Gina Brescianini and Miwako Kuhota, both somewhat stiff and sometimes angular, have yet to attain it.
Nicolette Fraillon's direction of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the two Stravinsky ballets more than compensated for the languid Chopin that accompanied Les Sylphides. They were fully fledged concert performances, thrilling to hear. "
Marc Cassidy as Petrouchka
Photo by Tim Richardson
Firebird costume in progress
Photograph by Jessica Bialek
Illustration by Leon Krasenstein
Committee Christmas Meeting
December 7th 2009
Geoff Hardy's K1 Winery
Committee and Guests on the deck at K1 Winery
R - L : President Barbara Marrett, guest Gillian Doyle from Pertaringa Wines (our Sponsors), President Elect Catherine Ellice-Flint, guest Fiona Hardy from K1 Winery and Vice-President Elect Judy Connor, on the picturesque deck at the winery.
Cocktails with Paul Grabowsky
Artistic Director, 2010 Adelaide Festival
22nd November, Cynthia Poulton Hall,
King William Road, North Adelaide
Guests gathered for drinks and a nibble before Paul Grabowsky presented the interesting and exciting 2010 Adelaide Festival programme, accompanied by an excellent power point presentation showing the diversity of the 2010 programme.
The dance programme was highlighted and Paul related other events. The free opening night spectacular of pyrotechnic magic ‘A Little More Light’ will be held at the Victoria Park Racecourse. The hugely successful ‘Northern Lights’ seen at the last Festival will be back, bigger, better and brighter, along with an amazing programme of the usual writer’s week, and drama, comedy, music, etc to choose from. Paul’s talk was very informative, inspiring guests to be booking for events.
After Paul’s talk, guests mingled, enjoying Pertaringa Wines and delicious finger food and cheeses, generously donated from Woodside Cheese Rights and special Christmas treats.
Five excited guests were delighted with their raffle prizes of two beautiful and delicate ballet drawings, jewellery by Jane, a Christmas pudding and a Christmas cake.
Mao's Last Dancer Premiere
Screening And Gala Reception
The Committee, Members and their friends were delighted to attend the screening and gala reception of Mao's Last Dancer on 24th September at Palace Nova East End Cinemas.
It was a red carpet affair, with black tie dressing, and attended by Li Cunxin himself, together with two of the stars of the film, Chi Cao and Amanda Schull, and Jan Sardi who wrote the screenplay.
The film tells an inspirational story of Li Cunxin, adapted from his best selling autobiography, and telling how amidst the chaos of Chairman Mao's cultural revolution he was chosen to leave his peasant family and sent on an amazing journey towards freedom and personal triumph.
Mao's Last Dancer is essential viewing for ballet fans - Chi Cao's movements seem to defy the laws of physics. Extracts from Graham Murphy's production of Swan Lake are seen to good effect.
Don't miss it! There are many daily sessions at most cinemas.
Mao's Last Dancer
October 1st 2009, was the Australia wide opening night of Li Cunxin's movie adapted from his highly successful book.
We held the opening at the Chelsea Cinema and were very pleased see our special guests from Pertaringa Wines, Mc Laren Vale, who are our very generous sponsors. We also welcomed many Friends of the Australian Ballet and their guests.
Li had signed his books, Mao's Last Dancer and The Peasant Prince, and along with ballet shoes worn by principals Lucinda Dunn and Rachael Rawlins, were our lucky ticket number prizes. We used numbers given to us by Li, which were in his words, "special numbers in my life".
The Peasant Prince and 1 pair of pointe shoes were prizes for 2 lucky students in our Junior Members Programme and Mao's Last Dancer and the other pair of pointe shoes were for our members and friends.
Alan Brissenden AM, in his capacity as a well renowned Ballet Critic, gave a very interesting and informative talk which led, so well, straight into the movie.
This was just wonderful, as well as poignant, and the ballet sequences truly stunning.
The movie is currently showing in many theatres around Adelaide and the suburbs.
Adelaide Season Courtesy Table
Friends of the Australian Ballet committee at our courtesy table in the foyer of the Festival Theatre, during the Australian Ballet season in Adelaide 2009.
Class With TZU CHAO CHOU - 2009
On Sunday 29 March, 78 junior members attended a class with Tzu Chao Chou Soloist, The Australian Ballet
They were divided into 3 groups and each had a 1.5 hour class. A most successful day that all enjoyed.
Three students representing each group welcomed Tzu Chou at the airport
The event was supported by Tutu & Twirl and the committee of The Friends of The Australian Ballet (SA). Each dancer received a water bottle with Tzu Chou's photo and signature. Tutu & Twirl were acknowledge on the bottle for their support.