REVIEWS: Australian Ballet’s ‘Anna Karenina’

Adelaide Museum,
Revisited on July 9 & 10

The Australian Ballet’s new production of Anna Karenina It is the third dance adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel, after Maya Plisetskaya’s 1972 Bolshoi version and André Prokovsky’s realist rendition, choreographed for the Australian Ballet in 1979, and long in his repertoire. This new version is a collaboration with Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet, with choreography by world-renowned Russian Yuri Possokhov, and a score by his frequent collaborator and fellow Russian, Ilya Demutsky, in collaboration with a scenic design team including Tom Pye (set and costume. ), David Finn (lighting) and Finn Ross (projections).

Possokhov’s version is conceptual, reducing Tolstoy’s panoramic narrative to a rapid succession of scenes. Here the design team really sings: black screens that fly or slide in and out, with projections and lighting effects, create cinematic settings for the performance. So, with the addition of a few props, we’re taken from the train station and out—then into a mansion, a ballroom, a racetrack, a hotel room, a house of the a parliament building and finally a rural site. . This device allows the story to be told in large chunks and quickly, Tolstoy removes parts and details and focuses on the tragic triangle of Anna, her husband Karenin, and his love Vronsky, and the opposite feeling of love Kitty Shcherbatskaya. and her fiancé, Levin.

The movement palette is based on contemporary inflections, focusing on free movement at the hips, and incorporating gestural elements and movement in and out of the floor. The company mastered Possokhov’s language beautifully, and the two casts I saw, the first and second of the three, danced the role with precision and verve. Highlights include the ballroom scene, a beautiful horse race scene where the dancers are horses and jockeys, and two beautiful pas de deux for Anna and Vronsky. The first of these brims with erotic passion that represents their first relationship; The second documents her breakdown, with Anna desiring Vronsky’s attention as she seeks to isolate herself.

Anna’s tragic path from loving lover to estranged wife and mother, and finally to murder, is strongly depicted in a scene of dreams and drug-induced delirium, an attempt Finally reunites with his son, and ends his journey by train. a train is approaching. Drawing on plangent woodwind and piano and percussion, as well as leitmotifs around the main characters, Demustky’s score, played by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Nicolette Fraillon , perfectly illustrates the chaos of Tolstoy’s story. This is greatly influenced by the mezzo-soprano Juell Riggall, who brings out the Russian music, and Anna’s speechlessness as she walks on the train, adds poignancy to the performance. . In my opinion, the work will end with a murder scene; Although the final pastoral is certainly Tolstoy’s after Levin and Kitty’s domestic happiness, there is nothing to add to the drama.

Musicians are better. There’s a hot streak between Robyn Hendricks’s Anna and Callum Linnane’s Vronsky; Hendricks is superb as Anna, her dance and choreography matched with great intensity, while Linnane’s Romantic style works with great confidence. Adam Bull offers a compelling account of Karenin as a powerful man employed with inner turmoil; Brett Chynoweth dances the part of Levin with great attention to detail and emotion, and Benedicte Bemet’s Kitty is innocent and beautiful. The second cast featured an excellent Anna in Imogen Chapman, but while Jarryd Madden danced well as Vronsky, the chemistry between the pair was lacking. Dimity Azouri and Christopher Rodgers-Wilson are outstanding as Kitty and Levin, and Cristiano Martino is Karenin. However, it is difficult to separate the champions, when the entire audience danced and performed beautifully: some noticed that they were happy to reach the stage after canceling the Melbourne season.

Possokhov’s Anna Karenina It was a success because every aspect of the production was well put together—from its beautiful costumes, excellent score and music, to its creative plot. We hope that the success of this project will encourage our flagship company to contribute to the renewal of the art scene by submitting more works by international and Australian composers.


‘Anna Karenina’ continues in Adelaide until July 15, then runs in Melbourne from October 12 to 23, with a live stream on October 22.

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