The Rite of Spring / Petrushka

MANY a choreographer has tackled Stravinsky's seminal The Rite of Spring.

Here Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan's take is a heady mix of literal image, rural setting and ever-shifting relationships between victims, predators and spectators.

Paired with a more abstract Petrushka, it's a fluid and well-matched double bill that holds together because of the continuity of Stravinsky's music.

Generated from the four hands of sisters Lidijia and Sanja Bizjak sharing a piano nestled in the stalls, the scores are superbly executed.

Rite opens with a strong image of falling snow and a row of seated, suited dancers, each balancing a cardboard box on his lap. An anonymous dark landscape quickly becomes the site of aggression in many forms - manic ground humping, knife-welding forays and menacingly realistic dog heads that transform humans into packs of wild attackers. Various bodies take it in turns to be the sacrificial object.

It's best when the large company gets stuck into choreography that's guttural and earthy and directly tied into the pulses of the music. The chaos surrounding has some gloriously wacky moments that Keegan-Dolan and dancers exploit to the maximum. Other times it could be pushed further.

After the busyness of Rite, Petrushka feels like pure dance. Stripped of most of the literalness of the original ballet, it's an abstracted ensemble piece with strong white visuals. The choreographic structure is more conventional and sometimes predictable, but the movement itself is refreshingly raw.

Anxiousness underlies the jittery sequences that seem internal and spontaneous, yet are nailed with precise unison. The whole company rides single impulses together - testament to their ability to work as one, despite all the jolts and direction changes of the sequences.

As their name implies, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre is fabulously eclectic. Various body sizes and ethnicities make for an egalitarian energy and a company that, despite its physical variations, works together like a well-oiled machine.

Stephanie Glickman, Herald Sun ★★★

Original article