Glimpses of beauty are shared onstage in Gareth Belling’s Transient Beauty, an intimate chamber ballet theatre at the Con (Queensland Conservatorium).

Last weekend, Queensland Conservatorium began its week-long celebration of music, theatre and dance in the Crossbows Music Festival (11th-18th October). One of the opening programs was Transient Beauty. With only four dancers and a small ensemble of musicians, Transient Beauty presented little moments of intimacy between those desperately trying to balance themselves between happiness and sorrow.

The minimalistic set was filled with elegant movements of The Mother (Rosetta Cook), The Daughter (Melissa Tattam), The Sister (Asher Bowen-Saunders) and The Man (Gareth Belling). They traversed between the symbolic doorframe that separated a chair and a bench at the two ends of the stage. The dance narrative expressed their personal sorrows and longing for each other, but the message was universal – their explorations are those of every person who searches for love and companionship.

Gareth met with me after the show and talked about this piece.

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“As a choreographer and dancer in this piece, the music is incredibly important for me,” he said. “It gives me a roadmap of my positions and interactions with other characters, foreseeing where their stories are heading.”

His collaboration with Collusion Music underscores the delicacy of dance. “They are such sensitive, dramatic musicians. That’s why the dancer’s performance is always lifted by their presence.”

For Transient Beauty, Susan Hawkins created different pieces for a four-person ensemble of strings, woodwinds and piano. And the small ensemble also contributed to the performance. The musicians left their seats to sway with the dancers’ flowing movements and, in doing so, created a fleeting encounter between music and dance, sound and movement.

When talking about his partnership with Susan, Gareth summarises her music in three adjectives: “I think her music is emotional, elegant and textural. The composition cements the textures and undertones of the dance, and she has brought the ballet such a beautiful new life and breath”.

I asked him about the difficulties he faces as an independent dancer/ choreographer.

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“You have to be a jack-of-all-trades, where you need to administer more on the details of planning than dancing in the studio. But the pay-off is that you have created an intimate piece of art. Everyone in our team has put their heart and soul into the production, which makes it more personal and beautiful.”

Although Transient Beauty has drawn to a close in Brisbane, they will be taking this piece to greater Queensland with performances in Cairns and Townsville. Click here to see the program for Crossbows Music Festival at the Con.

Words by Donny Lau | Pictures by Jill Kerswill, Sean Young &  FenLan Photography.