top of page
  • Writer's pictureFiona Prior

New York Dialects – The Australian Ballet – Triple Bill

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

New York Dialects – The Australian Ballet – Triple Bill

(New) Aristic Director: David Halberg


Choreographer: George Balanchine

'Serenade' is a trippily exquisite ballet. Lines of ethereal maidens move together in their diaphanous dresses like flowers turning to the moon; their point-toe ballet slippers seem never to touch the floor as they arabesque, stretch, sway, and float across a stage that looks to be lit by moonlight.

Comparisons to Fokine’s ‘Les Sylphides’ have been made of this piece and likewise the moonlit swans of ‘Swan Lake’. Both are very good comparisons. Balanchine's 'Serenade' is other-worldly and entrancing.

Opera Australia Orchestra performed Tchaikovsky’s ‘Serenade for Strings’.

The triple bill, New York Dialects is completed by ‘Watermark’ (choreographed by Pam Tanowitz) and another Balanchine work ‘The Four Temperaments’.


Choreographer: Pam Tanowitz

Watermark’, debuting in Sydney this season, is an interesting choice to place in this Triple Bill, inserted between the two Balanchine works.

Watermark’ feels exploratory in nature, with (predominantly) male dancers seemingly investigating the way they position with other dancers and on the stage – they appear to use the space completely, from the farthest recesses to the orchestral pit! This convincing casualness is a perfect foil to the overt precision of Balanchine’s ‘Serenade’ and, of course, the informal ambience is in fact a tight piece of balanced and integrated choreography.

All dancers in the performance are clad in white, the only definition between male and female dancers being a short white cape worn by the few female dancers on stage.

Opera Australia Orchestra performed Caroline Shaw’s ‘Watermark

The Four Temperaments

Choreography: George Balanchine

The timelessly classical feeling of Balanchine's ‘Serenade’ in choreography, costume and stage craft was an interesting comparison to his ‘The Four Temperaments’, the last of our Triple Bill and definitely one of Balanchine's later neo-classical works.

I loved the black leotard and white stockings worn by the female dancers; a costume that presented their elegant grace lithely and graphically and a look that would not have been out of place in any ballet rehearsal or performance, past or present. As audience, we did not miss a stretch, spin or turn as the outline of the dancers' bodies were perfectly highlighted.

Again, impeccable dancing and unison (Balanchine’s balletic signature); wrapped in great subtlety and beauty.

Opera Australia Orchestra performed Paul Hindemith’s ‘Theme with Four Variations (The Four Temperaments)'.

All works were extraordinary for their varying reasons – technical perfection numbering as a constant theme – but ‘Serenade’ was the star of the evening.

Well deserved applause and ‘bravos’ at curtain fall.

Sydney Opera House

Until 24 April

Arts Centre Melbourne

3 – 12 June.

110 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page