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Australian Ballet nails Manon and has us all in stitches

Andrew Killian, as Manon's brother Lescaut, and artists of The Australian Ballet in Manon, The Australian Ballet 2014 Photo: Contributed
Andrew Killian, as Manon's brother Lescaut, and artists of The Australian Ballet in Manon, The Australian Ballet 2014 Photo: Contributed

IT'S not often you see a drunk ballet dancer.

Nor, traditionally, are there scenes in a ballet that have the audience in stitches.

Manon had both.

This dramatic performance from the Australian Ballet Company tells the tale of a young beauty who forsakes true love for wealth and luxury - and pays a heavy price.

A naive girl on her way to a convent, Manon dreams of the city.

Des Grieux, a young student, is instantly smitten by her, and they run away together.

But once in Paris, Manon quickly succumbs to the lure of luxury, and her course is set for both tragedy and redemption.

Set in Paris during the 18th century, Peter Farmer's costumes are delightfully extravagant to contrast the bourgeois elite against the demi-monde of Paris.

His vivid set designs skilfully depict the seven scenes, over three acts.

Lucinda Dunn, Manon, and Adam Bull, Des Grieux, in Manon, The Australian Ballet 2014. Photo: Contributed
Lucinda Dunn, Manon, and Adam Bull, Des Grieux, in Manon, The Australian Ballet 2014. Photo: Contributed

Dramatic music scores fit dance moments perfectly, with music director and chief conductor Nicolette Fraillon ensuring sassy high notes match the humour woven into this tragic love story.

Larger than life characters interact with passion, sparkle and comedic cheek.

Lead ballerina Lucinda Dunn's fluid arms are eye-catching as she twirls around the Lyric Theatre stage.

Just as comfortable being passed around or thrown in the air as spinning on the floor, Dunn's partner work with her love Des Grieux, Adam Bull, is flawless.

In the third act, when she is sent to a penal colony as a prostitute with chopped hair and ragged clothes, she is barely recognisable.

Her ability to switch from coy flirtation to deep love to a beaten soul, who faces untimely death, through dance is incredible and convincing.

Andrew Killian, who performed Manon's brother Lescaut, was a stand-out as the drunken larrikin.

Stumbling across the stage causing havoc in hilarious fashion, Killian added another element to the intense emotions and skilful choreography in this story ballet.

Lana Jones' flirty encounters with Killian were also enchanting and oozed charisma.

There is a mix of ballet styles with captivating trio, couple and solo work that ensure Kenneth MacMIllan's interpretation can fascinate any audience.

The Royal Ballet first performed Manon in Brisbane in 1988 as part of Australia's Bicentennial celebrations and most recently in 1994 until now.

There are two more shows at Queensland Performing Arts Centre on February 28 and March 1.

Topics:  ballet


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