Beauty and the Beast is a crowd-pleasing spectacle of ballet magic. The narrative of the story was faithfully told by the Victorian State Ballet through beautiful costuming, skilled dancing and whimsical choreography, making it a delightful show, something for everyone to enjoy.
The opening scene is a ballroom, recreated with a projected backdrop. The set entirely relies upon projections, owning perhaps to the touring nature of the company, yet it renders the mise en scène inevitably quite two-dimensional.
That said, the simplicity of the set enables the quality of the dance to shine, as the ample stage space allowed for expansive formation of dancers.
In these ball scenes, this really shines as the dancers waltz and criss-cross in pas de deux, kudos to choreographer, Michelle Cassar de Sierra. Their supported and turning leg extensions are impressively majestic, the female corps du ballet grand allegro (leaps and jumps) are sweeping and thrilling.
The costuming by Jan Tredrea and Jill Kerr, is on point. Their white tulle skirts swirl as they are lifted weightlessly like clouds. The male corps perform some gorgeous petit allegro in the ballroom sequences: assemble, entrechats and sissonne.
One thing that is noted was the low quality fadeouts of the recorded music. A live orchestra cannot be secured for every ballet, but the music needs to be reengineered to flow into the next in a way that sounds naturalistic.
Comic moments follow the opening, exhibiting the variety of the fairy-tale genre, with a spooky castle scene where Belle (danced joyfully by Elise Jacques) is captured by the Beast (Tynan Wood) after much tussle and ‘he’s behind you’.
The pas de deux between the Beast and the Rose (Alexia Johansen), his curse of odiousness, is lithe and beautiful, amplified by her sparkling red and green costume and the dreamy L’autre valse Amélie, by Yann Tiersen. These are some of the most poignant pas de deux of the ballet, a kind of dance with fate between them that is moving.
Also outstanding are the hugely athletic jumps performed by Cieran Edinger as Gaston. He flies through the air mightily and is a picture of masculine force. Maurice the candlestick (danced by Harry Davis) and Mrs Potts (danced by Mia Claire Wallace) also show off their virtuosity with quick, precise footwork.
The waltz of the cupcakes is also delightful, with stunning leg extensions in glittering pink tutus. The dance of the roses exhibits consummate posé turns and chaînés as they turn across the stage in their crimson gowns.
The finale, the union between the Beast and Belle, in a shimmering gold gown, is a great crescendo for the ballet to end upon.
Beauty and the Beast
Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda
Performance: Saturday 6 August 2022
For more information, visit: www.victorianstateballet.org.au for details.
Image: Victorian State Ballet presents Beauty and the Beast – photo by to Danielle Brown
Review: Leila Lois