By Grace Edwards.
Melbourne Ballet Company auditions are underway for its sixth project, Moment of Inertia, to open this December. Applicants are lining up around the block. “I’m getting about ten applications a day from beautiful, highly trained dancers in Australia and internationally who all want to be a part of Project Six”, says Artistic Director Alisa Finney. “When I see all these beautiful resumés coming in, it just makes me more determined to keep MBC going so that we can continue providing opportunities for them.”
Determination has been Melbourne Ballet Company’s driving force since day one, and in the two years since their ‘relaunch’ in 2007. The company has created twenty world premieres. For Finney, the company’s success has been a dream come true. “I always knew that it would be my destiny to one day take Melbourne Ballet Company into the future and make it something big”, she informs me, “I just needed the right people around me.”
Enter Sharon Fernandez and Simon Hoy. Although in one sense Melbourne Ballet Company has been around since 1963 when Finney’s mother, former Borovansky ballerina Gay Wightman, registered the name and under it ran full-length ballets, the company really began to take shape after Finney met Fernandez and Hoy.
“Sharon is the perfect muse for Simon’s choreography”, Finney gushes. “The way her body moves and her talent, just brings out the best in his choreography. He gets inspired by her, so they really work well together, much as they sometimes frustrate each other in the studio”, she adds with a wry grin.
Moment of Inertia will feature three works by Hoy, one of them in partnership with Robert Kelly, as well as a new work from the Australian Ballet’s Remi Wörtmeyer entitled Impromptu Fantasy. The company’s previous project Believe gained positive reviews and Hoy’s fluid, contemporary-edged style particularly caught the attention of critics. Though Hoy is currently in Europe working on Switzerland’s Rosenberg Ball production and with Quorum Ballet in Lisbon, he will no doubt return in time to begin preparations for Project Six.
Dancers involved in the upcoming programme will need to be able to cope with the company’s tight production schedule. “It’s really important”, Finney stresses, “because each day they will be learning so much content, particularly in the first week and a half.”
Typically, Hoy and Fernandez get into the studio as early as possible, workshopping and filming movements before the dancers are chosen. “The piece is pretty much done before the dancers come in”, says Sharon Fernandez. “Simon and I workshop together and he comes up with different phrases. Then the dancers come in and I teach it to them and Simon will change bits and pieces and then cast it. So the backbone is done before the dancers get there, but then again”, adds Fernandez earnestly, “we obviously don’t know what dancers are going to come in so there’s a lot of work. It is definitely a tight schedule.”
Each Melbourne Ballet Company audition involves an open class followed by a pointe class, a contemporary workshop with repertoire from previous seasons and finally, a partnering class. Fluidity, clean technique, good floor work and correct detail are among the qualities which Finney and Fernandez will be eyeing. “They really have to be able to take on board corrections”, Finney insists. “Even with the pliés, we won’t be giving your standard pliés that dancers would do every morning. We vary it a little bit to see who listened to that different arm or leg.”
Aside from the hustle and bustle of production preparations and auditions at MBC, the company also runs workshops and a thirteen level training programme for talented, young dancers. The first group will be sitting their MBC exams in December. “The ultimate goal is to train dancers into the company. I’m passionate about correct training because it’s always so sad to see young dancers who haven’t had that and it’s upsetting for the dancers when they realise that too.”
Alternately frustrating and exhilarating, dance is clearly the tie that binds the ballet trio of Finney, Fernandez and Hoy together. “I love dancing, give me a stage and I’ll just jump on it”, chuckles Fernandez. As for Finney? “Dance is my whole life, it’s my passion and it’s what I was born to do. I just love it, and I feel so lucky every day that I’m doing what I love as my job.”
For more information about Melbourne Ballet Company’s audition tours, training programme and upcoming season, Moment of Inertia, 16-20 December 2009, see their website www.melbourneballetcompany.com.au or become a fan on the company’s official Facebook page, which also features footage, interviews, blogs and reviews.
Very top photo: Tom Bradley by Michelle McLellan