5 Questions with Natasha Kusen

natashakusenWhat is your favourite swear word?
Oh SH*T! comes out by default. It also works well on stage because I can squeeze it out through a massive grin without the audience realising! (Your face should never drop out of character; 101 in stagecraft)

What are you wearing?
At the moment I’m in tight lycra, just a usual day at work in my rehearsal gear.

What is love?
Love comes in all forms but I like mine tall, dark and handsome.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
I recently saw two women that rocked my world, Sylvie Guillem in 6000 Miles and Beyonce in her Mrs Carter World Tour. Both shows were beyond incredible and deserve the most number of stars, thumbs up and popcorn ratings one can give.

Is your new show going to be any good?
Absolutely! It’s a double bill of two fantastic works and who doesn’t like a 2 for 1 deal? Paquita showcases the company’s exceptional technical abilities and classical ballet in pure form. La Sylphide, on the other hand, transports you to an ethereal world of sylphs and magic with a few kilts and highland flings thrown in!

Natasha Kusen performs the role of Effie in La Sylphide, with The Australian Ballet.
Show dates: 7 – 25 Nov, 2013
Show venue: Sydney Opera House

La Sylphide (The Australian Ballet)

lasylphideVenue: Sydney Opera House (Sydney NSW), Nov 7 – 25, 2013
Choreographers: Marius Petipa (Paquita), Erik Bruhn after August Bournonville (La Sylphide)
Image by Jeff Busby

Theatre review
The Australian Ballet’s latest classical offering is a double bill with works from the Romantic era, La Sylphide from 1836 and Paquita,1847. The “grand pas de deux” from Paquita opens the program with electric vibrancy. It is an exciting extract from the original full length work, with principal dancers Lana Jones and Kevin Jackson showcasing their extraordinary technical abilities. Jackson has a dynamic hold of the stage, with magnetic presence and a strapping physique that is undeniably exquisite. Jones’ confidence is spellbinding, and puts on a riveting performance that thrills with its sheer beauty.

In La Sylphide, the story of a Scottish farmer who falls in love with a forest spirit is brought to life with some of the most stunning set and lighting design on the Australian stage. The sense of ethereality they produce is seductive, and the fantasy the audience craves is magically rendered so that we are transported through time and space. Vivienne Wong is memorable as the farmer’s fiancee, impressing with her dancing as well as acting abilities. Madeleine Eastoe is the Sylph, creating lines and movement that are delightful and almost supernatural in their delicacy and lightness, but the slightness of her frame does mean that she can at times, be obscured by the vastness of the production. Daniel Gaudiello as the farmer James is handsome and strong (physically and technically), and every bit the leading man of fairy tales but requires a small dose of artistic hubris to be even more compelling.

Modern lives are increasingly mundane. Technology encourages us to retreat and evolve into beings more and more insular and impassive. Witnessing the dancers of our national ballet company is a reminder of the human capacities at achieving unfathomable heights of beauty and athleticism. Like all great artists, they bring to us the great gift of inspiration that uplifts us from our daily lives; as we stop to smell the roses at the theatre, and realise the potential each ordinary day may hold.


Bodytorque.Technique (The Australian Ballet)

bodytorqueVenue: Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay (Sydney NSW), Oct 31 – Nov 3, 2013
Choreographers: Joshua Consadine, Halania Hills, Richard House, Ty King-Wall, Ben Stuart-Carberry, Alice Topp
Image by Branco Gaica

Theatre review
The Bodytorque seasons by The Australian Ballet feature works by emerging choreographers, and this year the company presents six excellent and diverse pieces. There is an emphasis on the idea of technique this season, and these young artists have all brought to the event their individual perspectives, which are distinct, confident, and strong.

Alice Topp’s Tinted Windows is modern and romantic, with an immense sensuality that is quite overwhelming. It conveys romance so effectively, proving that narrative storytelling is no match for dance forms when appealing to those emotions of longing and intimacy.

Finding The Calm by Richard House is memorable for its theatrical sensibility, juxtaposing stillness with dance to create poignantly moving moments. Some of the shapes he creates in various pas de deux are surprising, and deeply affecting in a way that only flesh on flesh connection can communicate.

In Polymorphia, Benjamin Stuart-Carberry focuses on the beauty of movement, as well as of the human body. It is the perfect commencement to the night’s program, and is immediately arresting and captivating.

The dancers are of course, divine. Vivienne Wong exudes extraordinary aura from every pore; she is a real star of the evening. Jarryd Madden has the rare ability to create dramatic tension in his dance, with minimal reliance on facial expression. Chengwu Guo’s athleticism and the uniqueness of his discipline allows him to stand out, and his abilities are showcased perfectly in Ty King-Wall’s The Art Of War.

This is a breathtaking night at the theatre. Some of the music is performed live, and listening to these emotive and sometimes euphoric classical compositions is a truly special experience. The same euphoria is delivered time and time again through each choreographer’s work, all varied but all accomplished. Ballet is not always for everyone, but this program has wide appeal, and it is hard to imagine anyone able to resist the unquestionable genius of these artistic triumphs.


5 Questions with Richard House

richardhouseWhat is your favourite swear word?
Just in case my mum reads this I’d better not be too creative when choosing my favourite swear word. I’m a big fan of South Park and Butters (one of the characters from the show) has a great expression in times of frustration. “SON OF A BISCUIT”.

What are you wearing?
I’m in-between rehearsals at the moment so currently I’m in sweaty tights, a sweaty bandana, sweaty ballet shoes and a sweaty t-shirt with Rafael Nadal on it.

What is love?
Love is a large Big Mac meal from McDonald’s. Ha! It’s also an enticing emotion that once you experience the completeness it brings, you’re always craving for more.

What was the last show you saw, and how many stars do you give it?
Well I haven’t seen a show in quite a while due to being incredibly busy, but I am seeing Beyonce perform this week and I can only assume she will rock my world and it will be a 100 stars out of 100 stars show!

Is your new show going to be any good?
Well it premieres on the 31st of October which is also my birthday and I have never heard of anything less than awesome happening on that date!

Richard House is starring in Bodytorque.Technique, with The Australian Ballet.
Show dates: 31 Oct – 3 Nov, 2013
Show venue: Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay