BWW Reviews: Ballet Preljocaj's SNOW WHITE
Performing at the Lincoln Center is the be-all and end-all for dancers. The stakes are high, the pressure is on, and everyone is watching you. This is what all dancers aspire to. Needless to say, my expectations were high going into the evening. So how did Ballet Preljocaj hold up to the pressure? They left me breathless. The outstanding company proved why this is the dream for dancers. Just when you think that dance has nothing new to offer, that every performance you see is the same old, same old, something like this comes along and restores your faith in dance. Snow White is a timeless fairy tale, ranging in popularity from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale to the Disney adaptation to the more recent film re-tellings. You wouldn't think there would be much more to offer to the tale. Guess again. This adaptation took the magic right off the pages and delivered it seamlessly to the stage, telling a whole new side to the story that left me wanting more.
Perhaps you're not a fan of the ballet, but this isn't your typical run-of-the-mill ballet. There is something here for everyone. As someone who has always been on-stage rather than behind the scenes, I have no idea how they pulled off the amazing technicalities of this performance. The baffling tech-work began in the first scene when the King finds a baby Snow White, takes her into his arms, and twirls behind a panel on the stage, exiting from the other side with a toddler now in his arms. He pulls the trick off again as he twirls behind a second panel and emerges now with a fully grown Snow White, performed by the magnificent Nagisa Shirai. The infamous mirror was yet another baffling trick. A large frame descended from the ceiling, showing the Queen's reflection as she danced in front of it, her every move completely in sync. The trick-- it wasn't a real mirror. I'm still trying to figure out how they pulled that off.
The most amazing and unexpected trick of the night would have to be the astoundingly acrobatic seven dwarfs. When the curtain went up and a large mine set was revealed, I knew it was time for the infamous dwarfs. Given their size, it did not occur to me to look up, but that is exactly where they descended from. The dwarfs all crawled out of their own mine-holes on the wall one by one, and then continued to walk down the wall, parallel to the stage. Their entire dance number was done vertically with the help of harnesses, allowing them to perform gravity defying jumps, flips, and turns.<
I would be remiss to dismiss the extravagant costumes! Jean Paul Gaultier's designs for Snow White are beautiful. His work could be seen most recently at the Brooklyn Museum. However, seeing his designs in motion is a whole new experience. The costumes were breath-taking- my personal favorites being the Queen's attire and Snow White's wedding gown.
The choreography, however, is what truly sets Ballet Preljocaj apart and was the defining element of the evening. While the performance would have been able to hold its own with the amazing costumes, stunts, and tech-work, it was the choreography that tied it all together and took this performance to the next level. The dancing was done in its purest form, real choreography without all the tricks and accessories that many choreographers insist on falling back on these days. Choreography is meant to be new and cutting edge and that is exactly what was accomplished with Snow White.
The amazing Ballet Preljocaj Company was able to pull off this fast, difficult, and spectacular choreography as one synchronized unit. Even the prince, played by Sergio Diaz, did not stand apart from the company of dancers until he wanted to be seen. This is how a company should dance--each individual dancing as one, none trying to out-shine the others.
Ballet Preljocaj's Snow White will be at Lincoln Center until April 27th. Leave the kids at home and have yourselves a date night, because this is one performance you won't want to miss.
Photo credit: Jean Claude Carbonne