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Review: Guernica, Melbourne Ballet Company

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Guernica is a two-act ballet inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War in the nineteen-thirties.

The Melbourne Ballet Company’s resident choreographer Simon Hoy brought his unique style of contemporary ballet combined with Prokofiev’s powerful original score.

Guernica is part of the Company’s 2016 Premiere Season Intention and Desire. The body of work was inspired by the messages within Picasso’s famous mural of the same name.  

You will not get a cheap version of mainstream productions with the Melbourne Ballet Company.

All of the dancers, handpicked by the directors, developed their skills with the likes of the Paris Opera Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet New York, West Australian Ballet and the Australian Ballet School.

The Company’s newest dancer and leading lady Gemma Pearse was a highlight on opening night.

Her portrayal of Juanita, a young Basque woman, delivered on the youthful innocence of the original Juliet. Her character came to life with light effortless jumps and exquisite pointe work in the first act, which was a delight to watch.

Pearce along with former Queensland Ballet artist Charles Riddiford as Ramiro, a young Nationalist Officer, formed a convincing partnership as the young lovers with impassioned and beautifully executed pas de deux.

Principal dancer Alexander Baden Bryce gave a superb performance in his role of Tybalt with a look fitting for a villain. Principal guest artist and Australian Ballet alumni Adam Thurlow graced the audience performing the role of a clearly frustrated Paris, who was unable to win the attention and love of Juanita. 

The small cast brought a strong stage presence, with Hoy’s signature lyrical movements brought to life by the brilliant artistry of the dancers. The simple, colourful costumes were a modern take on the era.   

Earlier, I caught up with resident choreographer and director of Guernica Simon Hoy to find out more about his production. In our interview Hoy also discusses how the Melbourne Ballet Company has carved out their own niche as a creative platform that is well on the rise.  

Written by Caroline Tung

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July 27th 2016
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