5 Stars

Review by Ellen Burgin

Morning Melodies is a sumptuous tasting platter of the kind of high-quality arts and performances programmed at Arts Centre Melbourne, and En Pointe was no exceptionAustralian Ballet School’s annual performance is now a tradition amongst Morning Melodies audiences, a treat to look forward to each year.

The full house audience was treated to five exceptional pieces performed by level 6, 7 and 8 students from the national centre for elite ballet training; Pas de fleurs staged by Joanne Michel and Sabrina Lenzi, Waltz of Joy by Irina Konstantinova and Sergey Konstantinov, Teeter by Simon Dow, Schubert Dances by Stephen Baynes and Jessica by Lucas Jervies.

Each piece allowed the students to demonstrate the wide variety of talents and dance forms, from classical ballet to more contemporary dance movement, presenting stand out solo moments as well as perfectly in sync ensemble work.

Pas de Fleurs, Le Jardin Animé (The Animated Garden) Scene from Le Corsaire, demonstrated perfect harmony and unison within the level 7 and 8 female students – not one performer was out of sync with the impeccable poise and grace of the cohort, with dainty and graceful solo performances from Emmanuelle Fairweather and Indiana Scott. Precise and crisp, while still flowing beautifully, the performance is the perfect example of the high calibre classical ballet, and ballet training, that come from the Australian Ballet School.

Waltz of Joy by Irina Konstantinova and Sergey Konstantinov, contained music that many have been familiar with – the Waltz of the Flowers, from The Nutcracker, Opus 7. With elegant partner work, and a striking circle formation movement, this piece allowed for students to shine individually and as a group, showing off the extensive training the level 6 students have undertaken.

Teeter by Simon Dow is the standout piece of the show – from being the most strikingly different piece performed, from music to movement to intensity. The piece, featuring the Level 8 Male students, manages to combine ballet with contemporary dance, physical theatre, acrobatic skills, percussive movement and voice, some tap and break dance, and elements of mime, in a joyous celebration meets tragic journey style tale. Feels of diaspora and displacement, longing and loss, crash together with poignant grace and pantomime-eqsue comedy in this manic mash up that shows the sheer level of physical training and fitness required to dance at this level. It’s storytelling for the body and it’s extraordinary – this, and every piece featured, pushes what you believe to be the limitations of the human body in the most unbearingly graceful way.

Schubet Dances by Stephen Baynes features Ballett No 2 in G major, from Rosamunde, D797 Scherzo, from Symphony No 6 in C major, D589, and the Level 7 students, bringing us back to classical ballet and the gentle grace and effortless fluidity of ensemble movement.

The final piece, Jessica by Lucas Jervies and music composed and performed live by Oliver Northam, features Level 8 students and combines contemporary dance with energy and grace, percussive voice and movements and a sense of joy, with the final pose a beautiful, striking image for the showcase to close on.

Lighting across the board, by Francis Croese, was kept simple – striking colours on a plain back drop allowed the performances and the dance to shine without distraction. Costumes are elegant, with some elements provided by The Australian Ballet, and paint a beautiful picture of professional standard dance.

Morning Melodies at Arts Centre Melbourne is an extremely accessible option for school groups, families, and those less frequent to the arts, or who aren’t available at night time, to sample the extraordinary array of performances programmed at Australia’s largest performing arts centre, and En Pointe was a sparkling, energetic tasting pallet of the wide variety of high-quality dance that the Australian Ballet School, and by extension, the Australia Ballet, perform year round – keep an eye on both for more breathtaking performances!

The performance full cast sheet of all talented performers involved is available to download here. Check out what’s next at Morning Melodies at the Arts Centre here – with comedy, performances by Zoy Frangos and a showcase from VCA students, there’s lots to look forward to. For more events and performances from The Australian Ballet School and it’s talented students, head to their website here for details of their upcoming performances, including a September showcase, regional tour, Sydney season and end of year production.

This showcase was also performed at the Clocktower Centre in Moonee Ponds on 27 May 2022.