Melbourne City Ballet presents their Sizzling Spanish Signature Ballet

Clocktower, Moonee Ponds, June 22

Reviewed by Caterina Kuljis

Carmen is the ultimate Spanish Sangria: intertwining passion, love, jealously, bitter betrayal, intense drama, tragedy and twists to build in suspense and leave you breathless from start to end.

This rendition of Carmen by Melbourne City Ballet was interactive, vibrant, poetic, en pointe and strong! The Spanish influences shone through, making you want to shout Olé with the Flamenco infusion. The scene was set: the bulls horn movements with their hands, the long lunges, the dramatic lines, the flick of fans, the matadors and their capes, tambourines, the long flowing swishing skirts all encased in the Spanish Provence with the set comprising of archways, a field, cottages and bridge in the background, Limonata signs and petrol cans giving it an authentic Spanish charisma.

The accompanying music, by Bizet, was moving and highlighted a mosaic of balletic movements like waves in the ocean, never ending with incredible stamina and technique. The costumes highlighted Carmen as she wore a red top while the other factory workers/village people were dressed in beige in the first act. Carmen appears in the 2nd act wearing an amazing red corset and short floral angled skirt showing her long legs and lines, strength and sultry grace. The lighting was brilliant in adding to the story’s mood with rich reds and purple rolling from dusk to night.

Ariana Hond played her role with such fire, spirit and intensity capturing and embracing the essence of Carmen – a passionate gypsy, radiating her strong presence. Even when she slinked across the stage she commanded it with an equally powerful seduction and graceful nature. Her legs showed the chiselled definition of every muscle delivering an incredible technique and diversity in the repertoire of ballet and culturally-influenced moves.

Don Jose performed by Tynan Wood was exceptional within the waves of the story moving from love, to heartbreak, to being torn between the two, and then to a tyrant of rage for his love for Carmen. His extensions, lines, glides and passion were flawless with power flowing through every moment. The chemistry that the two lead dancers brought to Carmen and Don Jose was magnetic.

Yuiko Masukawa played Don Jose’s betrothed Micaëla, a peasant girl. She was as light as a feather in her movements, and had a soft innocence that radiated from her lines and repertoire as she tried to lure Don Jose back to her time and time again, but the heavy message is clear that she no longer has his heart.

The Fortune Teller was also a force to be reckoned with, performed by Bronte Capone, she was also very alluring and whether the village was trying to push her away and protect Carmen, she bought a true sense of power in all her movements to the stage and she was very captivating.

Escamilio, a matador played by Henry Driver, especially shone in the pas de deux with Carmen as they sensuously flirted with each other and intertwined in his cape.

There were some superb moments in this production that cannot go un-noted, including the group drunken chair scene and the finale with the Fortune Teller dropping the photo on Carmen and walking away. The males’ grande jetes and entrechats were effortless, showcasing their incredible technique of being suspended in the air for that moment like clouds floating by and then landing with such ease. The pas de deux/adagio sequences made the girls look similarly gentle, floating clouds.

The choreographer made great use of revolving the dancers around the stage, embracing the narrative, adding an extensive range of ballet moves to the mix – chaînés, jete, batmon, battement develope, fouetté, glissade, promenade tour de, rises, retire and the list goes on – showcasing the performers’ incredible range, technique, precision and timing.

Every moment of this production was a twisting surprise. The accents and movements spiced up the dance. The mix of character, cultural dance and ballet commands your attention and exposes you to a passionate Spanish theme. It was sublimely beautiful, captivating, dynamic and moving – a superb performance that holds your attention to the last moment. The time flew by so fast that the audience were left wanting more. Well done to Melbourne City Ballet and artistic director Michael Pappalardo for such a wonderful delivery of Carmen. You know you have enjoyed a performance when a tear is shed.


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