Monday, September 24, 2012

A Sinuous Experience: Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White a visual feast built on talented dancers, a Cirque du Soleil-meets-traditional ballet set and stunning costumes by haute couture mastermind Jean Paul Gaultier



Evil Queen Patrizia Telleschi brought a dominatrix stomp to her dances, dragging Snow White by the mouth with her poisoned apple and piercing the rest of the cast with her clawed gloves and stiletto heels.
Image credit: JC Carbonne
One of the hardest parts of writing reviews is seeing a show so lovely, and so visual, that there really is no way to verbally convey its excellence to readership, and I apologize for that.Ballet Prejcolaj’s Snow White, on stage last weekend at the Orpheum Theatre, was just such a show. I immediately wanted to see it again after curtain close, and I desperately hope that the troupe returns to Minneapolis very soon.
With the popularity of Black Swan and a recent explosion of ballet-centric documentaries, ballet seems to be reaching a peak of modern interest. Snow White does not disappoint any expectations Black Swan fans may have, with traditional ballet forms seamlessly melded with recognizable modern influences, including hip-hop styles, music videos, South American dances, and more.
Virgine Caussin dazzled as Snow White, with a passionate, flawless performance. The best description I can provide is to say she was more akin to mercury than human, pouring herself across the stage in fluid, silent grace. Even her death scene, when she became the most lifeless live body I’ve ever seen on stage, managed to create an impact without any movement at all.
Caussin was perfectly matched with Sergio Diaz, the matadorial Prince. The pair floated across the stage in a sexually explosive exchange, feeding from one another and marvelously in sync.
Evil Queen Patrizia Telleschi brought a dominatrix stomp to her dances, dragging Snow White by the mouth with her poisoned apple and piercing the rest of the cast with her clawed gloves and stiletto heels. She was ravishingly dark and a ton of fun to watch.
The troupe of henchmen were reminiscent of Christopher Nolan Batmen, fierce in their hooded, winged capes. Similarly malevolent and Nolan-like were the Queen’s henchmen.
The seven dwarves were portrayed as spelunkers, flipping up and down an elaborate cave set on rappel equipment. With squared, “Walk Like an Egyptian” style choreography, they were energetic and emotive, one of Snow White’s most entertaining feats.
It bears noting that almost none of these dancers fit the stereotype of disastrously thin ballerinas. Their curvaceous, sensual bodies enhanced the bareness of the costumes and lent a much more human aspect to Snow White than a troupe of pubescent looking dancers could have.
The set and costumes were equal marvels in this show. Sets, designed by Thierry Leproust, were Cirque du Soleil-meets-traditional ballet. An enormous two-sided mirror that both reflected the Queen’s appearance and showed a pirouetting Snow White on the other side, and a rappelling cave wall that was home to the dwarves, were just two fabulous highlights. Lighting, designed by Patrick Riou, was equally notable (particularly for that mirror effect).
Costumes showed the hand of haute couture mastermind Jean Paul Gaultier, who made them flowy and stunningly visual (two items usually missing from skin-tight tutus), but still allow the dancers maximum movement. They were all also explicitly sexualized, featuring unbuttoned blouses, deep cleavage baring tops, skintight leathers and as much naked flesh as possible.
Snow White was a sinuous experience, with a flawless, fluid execution. Keep your eyes peeled for future appearances from Ballet Prejcolaj – they were wonderful.
+ Ballet Prejcolaj’s performance was presented as part of the 2011-112 Northrop Dance Season, featureing six of the world’s best ballet and modern dance companies. For a complete schedule of Northrop events visit northrop.umn.edu.