Muscat: If you think ballet is all about pretty pirouettes and tutus, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal is the ideal company to prove you wrong.
The company's performance at the Royal Opera House Muscat on Monday night was edgy, provocative and even creepy, complete unlike any of the classical ballet love stories that many in the audience may have been expecting.
Dancing to music by Chopin, Scarlatti and Stravinsky, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens' three pieces, all choreographed by Stijn Celis, left the audience with mixed feelings, either stunned and confused, or amused and impressed.
The first piece, Anima, explored masculine views of a female representation. Set to emotional piano music by Frederic Chopin and Domenico Scarlatti, it was an androgynous dance that featured one female and two male dancers, who seemed to take on each others' characteristics. The female had some very strong, powerful movements that made her seem more masculine, while at times the male dancers seemed very delicate and feminine. Regardless of the messages or interpretations of the dance, it was fascinating to watch simply because of the beautiful dancing, which often seemed like statues in motion.
The second piece, Sacre, was set to Igor Stravinksy's "The Right of Spring," a piece that shocked audiences when it was first performed in 1913 because it contained so many different tones and rhythms, and isn't beautiful to listen to, but challenging. Stijn Celis's choreography is perfect for the music, as it, too, is harsh, forceful and dark.
Though meant to explore social rites of passage, it seemed more like a ballet version of Michael Jackson's Thriller video, with elegant, dancing zombies. It was bizarre and jarring, yet somehow fascinating and comical, too.
The final piece, Noces, was also choreographed to music by Stravinsky, "Les Noces (The Wedding)," which was written for the Russian Ballet and premiered in 1923. Stijn's interpretation of a Russian peasant wedding again reflected a darkness and mockery of tradition. The brides and grooms, who looked like dead dolls and Frankensteins, seemed like puppets being forced to act out a routine. The music, most of which is chanted repetitive Russian lyrics to traditional wedding songs, is also difficult and intellectual, rather than enjoyable, but ideal for the rather twisted, modern ballet.
Whether or not the audience enjoyed or understood the three pieces by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, there was no doubt that they showcased the company's talent and willingness to try something new. The dancing was strong and graceful, if not classical, and the image of elegant, dancing zombies is one few will soon forget.