Sydney Choreographic Ensemble. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. 1 – 4 June, 2022

Reviewed : 2 June, 2022*

Photo : Daniel Asher-Smith

Galileo is a new contemporary ballet by choreographer Francesco Ventriglia, the artistic director of the Sydney Choreographic Centre. Founded by Ventriglia and Neil Christopher   in early 2021, the centre made its mark on the Sydney dance scene at Riverside Theatres in April last year with its stunning production, GRIMM. It returns to Riverside with its latest production that is equally as stunning.

Ventriglia bases his choreography around the work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), the Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer. Specifically, he takes Galileo’s discoveries about motion – speed, freefall, trajectory and inertia –  and, to the music of fellow Italian geniuses, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Corelli and Monteverdi, transforms them into human movement that is startlingly creative and beautiful.

Photo : Daniel Asher-Smith

Ventriglia muses in the program notes about the physics of movement: “We run and we stand still. We fall and rise again. We dance alone and with others. Our movement is gloriously human … and yet we are at the same time forever subject to the strict laws of physics”.

Eleven dancers – Siobhan Lynch, Isaac Clark, Bridget McAllister, Veronika Maritati, Hugo Poulet, Zachary Healy, Ginger Hobbs, Connor McMahon, Ashlee Wilson, Caitlin Halmarick and Sienna Bingham – transmute his musings into subtle sequences of intricate movement that link the physics of motion with time, tempo, control, restraint … and human emotion.

All are there in this incredibly complex performance. Moments of complete stillness lead to intricate choreographic moments, too many to try to describe in words. For instance, a dancer is held high on the hands of two others, and delicately peddles in the air, until, moved like a pendulum, she is gradually lowered to merge with others into a more complex choreographic interpretation of time and space.

Photo : Daniel Asher-Smith

Singly, in pairs or as an ensemble, they bring Ventriglia’s tribute to the scientific and musical maestros of the 16th century into a 21st century contemporary ballet that plays before a backdrop of light beams that intersect and refract or join together in a pulsing planet-like formation, and finally become the night sky shining on eleven pairs of hands, that tremble together to the final moments of Monteverdi’s “Lamento della ninfa”.

These dancers are extremely skilled and highly motivated. In only four weeks they have perfected nineteen separate, complicated sequences. Ventriglia admits he has worked them hard but the pride and compassion with which he speaks of their talent and commitment is echoed in the flawless precision and obvious joy with which they perform.

Photo : Daniel Asher-Smith

What a coup for Riverside, once again, to premiere the work of this new, incredibly inventive company! What a shame – as I have written so often – that it runs for so short a time! But that’s what Riverside is all about – a broad, diverse program that reflects the diverse interests of its wide, western Sydney audience.

Congratulations to Francesco Ventriglia, Neil Christopher, the dancers of the Sydney Choreographic Ensemble – and Riverside – on this beautiful production.

Also published in Stage Whispers magazine

*Opening Night