Fri. May 27th, 2022

New spin on French ballet fills theatres

Behind the scenes: Gallotta is one of France’s best-known choreographers. — VNS Photo Sunny Rose

Thirteen ballet dancers danced in silence that felt almost violent. Darkness covered everything, until the moon appeared, revealing the subtle beauty of white roses.

Suddenly a scream echoed from far away: the scream of a virgin being sacrificed. Music began to play. A group of contemporary teenagers went through their daily lives. A figure dark as death appeared in one minute and disappeared the next.

When The Rite of Spring was first performed in 1913, the music was an experiment in tonality, metre, stress and dissonance, according to Jean-Claude Gallotta, who presented this version of Stravinsky’s ballet in HCM City.

Gallotta, one of France’s best-known choreographers, explained that he used “the musical spirit to incorporate these aspects of the music into the choreography” by listening to the music and then mixing it with separately choreographed steps in silence.

“Either it combines well, or sometimes it can combine too well with the choreography and music working too close together,” he said. “Music is like running water and I try to adapt it, so I do not care about the musical elements as expressed by tone, dissonance and accent,”

The ballet was performed at Ben Thanh theatre, where more than a thousand seats filled with expats and Vietnamese.

“The first performance in Paris, exactly 100 years ago, was a key moment in cultural history,” said Fabrice Mauries, France’s General Consul in HCM City, delivering a speech at the ballet’s opening on Thursday.

Gallotta’s aesthetic choices brought Thursday’s performance into the modern day. Inspired by the rock ‘n roll costumes of the 1950s, the dancers wore jeans or black pants with jackets and shirts. Then as the dancers stripped, they took off their shirts and their pants until they were in their underwear. When they got dressed again, they ended up looking slightly different.

Spring awakening: Rite of Spring, first performed in 1913, will be staged at the Youth Theatre in the capital. — Photo

In bringing Rite of Spring to Viet Nam, Gallotta’s goal was not to provoke but to create something artistically interesting.

“In Muslim countries, we cannot strip down to our underwear, for example, so the dancers stay dressed. It does not change the nature of what is performed. There may also be some sort of cultural shock — this happened to us in Kazakhstan. The show may be well received. It may also be rejected. But that is art,” Gallotta said.

The performance ends with a white tsunami that sweeps everything into oblivion.

“What an interesting performance! Full of internal force! Strange! A new idea! The bright halo created by dancer bodies sweating under the lights was so beautiful,” said actress Kim Khanh. “It was an hour long, but it seemed so short!”

The ballet will entertain Ha Noi audiences tonight at the Youth Theatre. —VNS

By vivian