British Liaisons
The Australian Ballet
Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra / Nicolette Fraillon
Sydney Opera House May 4, 2011

The Australian Ballet’s decision to mount a program of British ballet was an excellent one. Not only celebrating the strong links between local and British ballet, but also because the three works chosen are powerful examples from master British choreographers.

I attended the second performance of the program and it was clear that some settling down would be required before the company is firing on all cylinders. An example is the high discipline required to bring off the abstract Concerto. It is a wonderful work from Sir Kenneth Macmillan, who with Frederick Ashton defined British ballet for the better part of 30 years. He created this work in 1966 for the ballet of the Deutsche Oper.

In setting it to Shostakovich’s brilliant and playful Second Piano Concerto, he was picking up on the approach to ballet developed by George Balanchine, taking an established piece of music and dancing it out.

Soloists Reiko Hombo and Tzu-Chao Chou distinguished themselves, as did Leanne Stojmenov in the last movement.

The newest genius from the British stable is Christopher Wheeldon, who has worked most of his professional...