By Jill Sykes
THE LITTLE MERMAID, The Concourse, April 10 ★★★
The performance of The Little Mermaid that I went to – one of four over the
weekend by the Victorian State Ballet – was a joyful occasion.
People of all ages, on stage and in the audience, were there to share a love of dance.
There was some excellent dance, a lot of good dance, and some that was
sustained more by a love of the art form than the ability to perform it.
Out of that mix came a sense of enjoyment and achievement that has only a little to do with the star rating at the top of this review.
The excellence came from Janae Kerr in the title role. She not only looks like
someone born to dance, she combines a strong technique with the skill to
convey character and emotion.
The power of her performance in the final scene of this adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story was truly triumphant. I am sure we will see her again.
Her immediate support came from more senior dancers: Charlie Morton as the
Prince, Elise May Watson-Lord in two roles as the Prince’s fiancee and Triton’s
wife, and Sera Schuller as the Enchantress.
While their contribution was important, it was the ensemble dancing that
provided welcome quality and consistency, the result of very good
Although Michelle Sierra’s classical choreography does not demand too much, it requires precision, grace and engagement with the audience. Almost without exception, it provided these three attributes in generous quantities.
Beyond the dancers who travelled from Melbourne – more than 30 of them –
there were young Sydney dancers auditioned for the occasion.
At the curtain call, I think I counted to an amazing 79 before laughter overtook me at the efforts of the youngest in trying to contain their excitement and remember what they were meant to be doing – as they had quite successfully in the actual performance.
The company has gone overboard in costume changes – too far, perhaps, with
those tutus lit up by coloured fairy lights. But design generally, by the
company’s artistic director Martin Sierra and Jutta Pryor, shows a determined
effort to impress an audience.
Recorded music, at times too loud, covered the pop-classical gamut from The
Merry Widow to Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, whose Figaro will forever be linked in my mind to a mad chef creating something indigestible, a genuine comedy scene in this ballet. And that’s rare.