Sylvia – the Australian Ballet’s best yet

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The strength of females is on show in the new production of 'Sylvia'. Photo credit: The Australian Ballet.

The Australian Ballet has delivered a performance like never before, focusing on strength as a theme in their new co-production, Sylvia.

Together with stunning costumes, impressive set pieces and of course captivating choreography, this breathtaking ballet blows the audience away.

Using the backdrop of Ancient Greece, the collaboration between Houston Ballet and the Australian Ballet tells the story of three women: Artemis, Psyche, and Sylvia.

Choreographer Stanton Welch drew on Greek mythology to enhance the pre-existing story of Sylvia alone, and entwined two additional stories of love, loss, and strength.

Sylvia’s story was aided by the addition of two more. Photo credit: The Australian Ballet.

The Australian Ballet, which has become known for highlighting the beautiful pirouettes and gentility of female dancers, compared to the fantastic jumps and vigour of male dancers, turns this on its head in the new production.

Sylvia displays the strength of the company’s female dancers, not just in numbers, jumping and quickstep ability, but also in variety of emotion. The audience can connect with each character’s plight from the very back row of the theatre.

Artemis and her army show incredible strength, in dance and numbers. Photo credit: smooth.com.au

This strength focus is especially seen in Artemis’ plot, the skilled archer and military commander. She and her army of nymphs, accompanied by a powerful score, dazzle the audience with their in sync, fast-paced warrior dancing, complete with swords and bows.

The choreography also allows for goddesses and mortal women to present the beautiful costuming from every angle, with each dress flowing as if liquid.

Psyche’s pink gown flows with each movement. Photo credit: The Australian Ballet.

Although the plot flows in an easy to follow way, the company gives the audience two intervals to soak in the narrative. This seems unnecessary the second time around, as the stories converge and seem to be reaching a conclusion, then the audience is thrown in to another 20 minute wait for the finale.

When the curtains are drawn back, they reveal the reason: elaborate costume and hair changes, and several large set pieces not used before justify the halt.

A second interval allows for huge set piece changes. Photo credit: The Australian Ballet.

The production is an addition to the 2019 season of the Australian Ballet that shouldn’t be missed, with funny moments artfully sewn in between the touching ones.

The final performance of Sylvia in Melbourne takes place September 10 at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne.

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