Sydney International Ballet Gala Review

Reviewed by Zuzi Fort

There is nothing more contagious than passion. Nothing speaks to us more than the pure elation of being in the moment. Nothing stimulates us as the demonstration of the unconquerable human spirit. Nothing inspires as the unquenchable thirst for expression. We can sit mesmerised for hours, barely breathing, lost in the beauty and rawness of the moment.

Last Saturday’s Sydney International Ballet Gala was just that, a demonstration of humanity at its best, its most glorious. Many clichés come to mind to describe the evening. “Poetry in motion” comes to mind. Truth is, it summarises the night exactly.

This spectacular performance was the first ever international ballet gala in Sydney. Principal Dancers, Soloists and Artists from the Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Berlin State Ballet, and Dutch National Ballet graced the stage of the Sydney Coliseum Theatre to mesmerise Australian audiences.

World-renowned dancers from all corners of the earth shared the stage to present excerpts from some of the greatest classical ballet works as well as exciting world premieres of contemporary works. The result left me giddy and not just from the dazzling spins and twirls and jumps and leaps. Though, the technical precision was absolutely dazzling, as was the pure demonstration of artistry and titillating elegance. What left me breathless was the almost tangible ecstasy that illuminated the artists’ entire beings.

Looking around me, I saw a sea of faces lost in the moment. Forgotten were the worries of everyday life, mortgages, school runs, traffic, and pandemics were a thing of the past. For a couple of hours, the audiences were transported into a different world, a world of magic and beauty, a world of purity and truthfulness.

It is impossible pick a single dance or dancer. Every piece and every performer were truly unique and memorable. Every piece was a supreme piece of dance artistry. A bare stage and a masterful lighting design were all that the performers needed. I found myself transported to the magical world of the Swan Lake where I have witnessed the death of a swan, performed superbly with poise and grace by Laura Fernandez. I was mesmerised by Victor Zarallo and his L’Effleure, that left me breathless and captivated. I was amused and awed by The Cuban Nutcracker embodied by Julian Mackay. I was stirred by a powerful dance of the French Revolution from Flame of Paris performed by Mayu Tanigaito and Laurynas Vejalis. I was certainly kept awake and enthralled by the Sleeping Beauty depicted by Natalia Osipova and Jarryd Madden. I was intrigued by new works created by internationally acclaimed choreographers. I was captivated by the contemporary pieces that challenged norms and smashed through preconceptions such as “We are still friends” performed by Davide Di Giovanni and Jack Tuckerman.

A special shoutout to the tiniest dancers who graced the stage alongside their professional counterparts and whose bubbly energy and boisterous enthusiasm truly warmed the heart and put a smile of every face. These are the stars of tomorrow.

More importantly, each piece took us on a journey, each dance was a magnificent example of storytelling using a universal language of motion and undistilled emotion. I am reminded by Albert Einstein’s quote that “Dancers are the athletes of God.”

As someone who loves to dance but who has been cursed with two left feet and no sense of rhythm, this has been a bittersweet experience. Nevertheless, it is an experience I will treasure, and I certainly hope that this will become a regular event.