Epic debut

• Legendary New Zealand dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright (front) in his original 1990 production of GLORIA, which will be “reborn” at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth in September. Photo by Patrick Reynolds

THE WA Symphony Orchestra will make their Heath Ledger Theatre debut in the contemporary dance classic GLORIA.

Originally created by legendary New Zealand dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright in 1990, GLORIA will feature Perth’s Co3 dance company and the ethereal voices of the St George’s Cathedral Consort, one of the top mixed-voice choirs in WA.

An epic celebration of life and death, dancers spin and fly through the air as they experience everything from fear to unbridled joy.

All this is set against the music of Vivaldi’s sacred work Gloria, performed live on stage by WASO.

The performance will take on added significance and poignancy as several of the company were involved in previous productions of GLORIA, including Co3 artistic director Raewyn Hill, who danced in the 1996 production in New Zealand.

GLORIA is faithful, with precise details honouring the original masterpiece,” Hill says.

“However it is important to acknowledge that each dancer brings their own personality, their own character and energy, and that informs delivery and execution of movement.

“We completely embrace the individuality of each dancer, and Megan Adams and Ann Dewey (who are staging the work) have the great task of then guiding that energy into the original choreography. It is a very beautiful and respectful process.”

GLORIA was the brainchild of Douglas Wright, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated dancers and choreographers, who created more than 40 shows and toured extensively across the world.

In the 1998 Queen’s Birthday Honours he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to dance. He sadly passed away in 2018, aged 62.

Originally from New Zealand, Hill says Wright was an inspirational mentor and very driven.

“Douglas expected more of every dancer than they knew they had the capacity to give,” she says.

“He saw something in you, that you hadn’t met yet and as a result you wanted to give more and be more than you were in every moment you were in front of him.

“There are no particular elements that stand out in GLORIA because it felt so complete as a work.

“If anything, the standout was being cast in this work and sharing the space and time with Douglas and the other dancers.”

GLORIA was performed in WA by the Chrissie Parrott Dance Company in 1991 for Perth Festival at the Quarry Amphitheatre, but this is the first time it has been tackled since Wright died.

Hill says she is excited about WASO making their debut at the Heath Ledger Theatre in GLORIA, and hopes it will kickstart a series of collaborations.

“It’s a real honour to have live music and singers,” she says.

GLORIA is a work that celebrates all aspects of life from birth to death.

“It is joyous, heavenly, exhausting and magnificent.”

GLORIA is at the Heath Ledger Theatre (State Theatre Centre of WA in Northbridge) from September 14-18. Tix at co3.org.au/show/gloria/

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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