Discovering light and shadow under the stars at the Quarry…

Dayan Hardy-Acuna and Juan Carlos Osma stole the show in Architecture of Hope - Photo Sergey Pevnev.

Attending a performance of West Australian Ballet’s season at the Quarry is something everyone should experience.

It’s a unique atmosphere in this unusual open-air venue perched on the hill in bushland just near Bold Hill in Floreat. It feels like a secret destination and when you enter the amphitheatre you are surrounded by cut limestone walls which delve deep down the hill. The design of it means it’s not affected by strong winds and I think it is one of best open-air performance venues in Perth. 

It features a large modern stage fully equipped with lighting trusses and a great sound system. The stage allows exceptional viewing for every member of the audience and the large eucalyptus tree behind provides the perfect backdrop to the West Australian evening sky.

On opening night for 2020 Ballet at the Quarry the full moon was framed with the eucalypt tree which made for a stunning backdrop to the show and I thought was a good omen for another scintillating season of open air ballet.

The work WA Ballet artistic director Aurelien Scannella has put into this company over his eight year tenure has ensured WA Ballet has become a truly world class ballet which is cemented further in each new season he presents.

I was in awe at their Christmas production of Alice in Wonderland, which to me, was their best season yet. The work the small company did to produce a ballet which should have seen 50 dancers perform rather than the 36 in the company, showed the talent and commitment of the company as a whole to constantly improve.

The season at the Quarry allows a more contemporary license and this year the performance began with Air and Other Invisible Forces, a work from Australia’s greatest choreographer Graeme Murphy. 

It was an emotional journey of dance with the dancers dressed in superb costumes from Australian fashion designer Akira Isogawa. Accompanied by hauntingly beautiful music from Giya Kancheli aptly named Mourned by the Wind.

Chihiro Nomura and the dancers of WA Ballet in Air and Other Invisible Forces choreographed by Graeme Murphy

The work opened with the troupe in a pod all connected together. The piece is described as a connection between east and west and the dancers literally interconnected throughout. It was thought provoking and with brilliant execution of moves from the dancers. 

The second work; Architecture of Hope was a world premiere from Dutch choreographer Wubkje Kuindersma. Through this piece Wubkje hoped to establish a connection between the dancers and the audience. Frankly the dancing from Dayana Hardy Acuna and Juan Carlos Osma was so mesmerising that I couldn’t take my eyes off them. No disrespect to the other dancers but Dayana and Juan stole this show – they were sensual and absolutely perfect with their technique.

The season takes its name from the final piece Light and Shadow which is an Australian premiere from Dracula’s choreographer Krzysztof Pastor. This neo classical work is performed to the music of Bach. All the dancers shined and it was uplifting and a pleasure to watch. 

The whole WA Ballet team were on hand on opening night and the warmth felt for the audience from every member was admirable. The sense of pride which Aurelien and CEO Jess Machin have created is amplified throughout the company.

Ballet at the Quarry is a long running highlight of the Perth Festival. This is their 28th year at the venue.  There are very few places in the world where one can see a ballet under the stars. Seating is in plastic chairs and there’s plenty of room to stretch out on the grass if you prefer. Food and drinks are available, but guests are welcome to bring their own picnic and drinks. Don’t forget a blanket if the night is cool. 

Lose yourself in the ballet, the costumes, the music and the dancers, it’s light and shadow under the stars.

It was an outstanding performance from WA Ballet and one which I would highly recommend.

Light and Shadow: Ballet at the Quarry runs until 29 February 2020. Bookings