Saturday, March 03, 2012

La fille mal gardée

It's been ages since I've been to the ballet. I used to go a lot when I was younger, even though money was sometimes tight growing up, there were a few good years where we had a two seat National Ballet of Canada subscription. Since there were four of us, everyone got to go twice.

This production was a little girls dream. Seriously, all the little girls in the audience, from 8 to 80 were mesmerized. There was even a real live pony on stage! :) Apparently he was in the 1990 production as well! This was classical ballet in it most beautiful form. Gorgeous pas a deux and corps du ballet, with the lead male dancer bounding across the stage in powerful grands jettés and showing he had springs in his shoes with countless tours en l'air. All of the leads were debuts, which gave the performance a great energy. There was a great life sized chicken dance, and an impressive clog dance. The use of ribbons and a flexible Maypole was absolutely brilliant. I loved the traditional sets that used large caricature set painting and over the top props. The melodramatic acting between dances was spot on as well. It's a true narrative ballet, with very few noticeable "breaks" in the story to highlight the dancing.

Karen Kain, who is now the National Ballet's artistic director, spearheaded this revival, dedicating the run to Alexander Grant, who created the role of Alain and brought La fille mal gardée to the NBC in 1976. I believe that Kain danced the role of Lise in that production and later in a CBC television special in 1979, but I couldn't find hard evidence on the internet, as much as I tried. It's the oldest continually performed ballet in history, and premiered in 1789.

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