Looking for a little satisfaction? Has Queensland Ballet got a triple treat for you

Who says that a night at the ballet shouldn’t include a bit of Mick Jagger, writes Phil Brown

Jun 19, 2023, updated Jun 19, 2023
A Brief Nostalgia gets the Queensland Ballet's trilogy off to a dazzling start. (Photo: David Kelly)

A Brief Nostalgia gets the Queensland Ballet's trilogy off to a dazzling start. (Photo: David Kelly)

I reckon it’s entirely appropriate to create a dance work based on the music of The Rolling Stones. For a start Mick Jagger moves like a contemporary dancer, does he not? Although one imagines even Jumpin’ Jack Flash may be starting to slow down a bit at the age of 79.

I don’t need any excuse to listen to music from the Golden age of The Stones. Which is why Rooster is the standout work for me of Trilogy, Queensland Ballet’s (QB) latest mainstage production.

To say this is a triple treat is an understatement. What a terrific night out at the ballet … albeit it one sans tutus. Which makes this a liberating feast for the senses for lovers of dance and also, I think, for the dancers who get to cut loose from the regimen of classical ballet.

It’s also a fabulous entry level show that could turn people onto dance if they were not already that way inclined.

Let me take you through the evening. It started with A Brief Nostalgia, a fascinating and satisfying piece by rising star of Jack Lister who currently dances with Australasian Dance Collective (ADC). Jack Lister is also associate choreographer with QB and creative associate with ADC and he has created a moody, urgent, atmospheric piece with music by Tom Harrold played by our own Camerata under the baton of Nigel Gaynor.

Set and costumes are by Thomas Mika and it’s important to acknowledge Alexander Berlage as lighting designer because the lighting in this piece is one of the stars. Scandi Noir was the idea. Berlage’s shadow work is cool and this piece has intellectual rigor and features a posse of QB stars including Mia Heathcote Georgie Swan, Rian Thompson and others, all of whom dance like cool jazz set to movement.

This is a co-production with Birmingham Ballet and it sets the scene for the next piece, Rooster, which made my night and I reckon it will make yours too.

But first I should confess I am an old school Stones fan and to hear Little Red Rooster blaring out across the auditorium was a treat and the dancers strutting to that were so cool and funny. Victor Estevez, Laura Tosear, Liam Geck and others starred in what is one of the most entertaining dance pieces you will ever see.

To hear songs like As tears Go By, Sympathy for the Devil and Paint It Black among others, played as the soundtrack to a ballet production is a daring idea from one of Britain’s leading choreographers, Christopher Bruce. Actually, it’s genius – so simple yet effective.

For music fans its extra special and for me it was a shot of nostalgia too. A brief nostalgia? Well, no, because it stayed with me all weekend and now, I want to see and hear it again.

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The finale for the night is choreographer Cathy Marston’s take on My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. This is a world premiere so something special and the music by Matthew Hindson played so beautifully by Camerata, is stunning.

The work itself felt a tad overlong though and I couldn’t quite follow the narrative with its Dad and Dave ambience. But was beautifully danced with star turns by Mia Heathcote, Laura Tosar and Yanela Pinera.

Victor Estevez was another standout and the minimalist costumes and set by David Fleischer worked.

It’s about young Sybylla Melvyn (Judy Davis in the famous film) dreaming of becoming a famous writer and trying to envisage a future beyond her homestead at Possum Gully. You may know the story. Hard to evoke a classic Australian novel in a 45-minute dance work but worth a crack, I guess.

One should embrace this work because it’s original and telling one of our canonic stories but for me there was something missing. If only they could have snuck a Stones song in there somewhere. Oh behave.

Trilogy is on in the Playhouse at QPAC until June 25;

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