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Les Grandes Ballets Canadiens de Montreal.


LES GRANDS Ballets Canadiens de Montreal's new, revisionist version of Cinderella, with its pungent character roles, is both exhilarating and frustrating. Commissioned from Belgian choreographer and set designer Stijn Cells, it's a thoughtful treatise about personal growth. The heroine is a modern woman who misses the love of her mother. Her father, a cipher who clings to happy family memories, has remarried a harridan with two daughters, an insensitive, klutzy trio whose antics give new meaning to dance comedy. Hilariously performed by three hunched and preening men, they cavort awkwardly throughout two acts, turning up in dreams and nightmares. The Prince heads an artificial society.

Prokofiev's bruised score and the Cinderella story provide starting points into Celle qui, dit-on, aurait perdu sa chaussure (Cendrillon), a mouthful of a title that means "Rumor has it she lost her shoe (Cinderella)." Spliced with silences and even a lengthy piece of performance art, Celi's vision is light-years away from classical ballet. With the exception of the dead Mother, an icy creature more marionette than magical godmother, nobody is on pointe. Bent like vultures, and with limbs akimbo, the dancers perform barefoot or in heavy shoes.

Using a lurching, off-axis, angular vocabulary, Cells portrays Cinderella and her natural parents as innocents in a decadent society. Cleverly costumed with backs, shoulders, rumps, or chests distorted by huge bumps--visual reminders of their toxicity the high fliers invited to the ball kowtow to their Prince, who must renounce artifice to win the pure Cinderella. His transformation is conflicted and confusing, causing the ballet, which unravels nicely during the first act, to bog down in detail after intermission. Ultimately the Prince and Cinderella wobble off into darkness, leaving one wondering what sort of future--it any--they face.

While Celle qui, dit-on, aurait perdu sa chaussure has highs--committed dancing, effervescent wit, and some well-drawn characters---it also has huge problems. Besides pacing failures, many of which come from an overabundance of symbolism, there are also a failed puppet show; the endless performance-art sequence involving peeling and eating an orange; the too small sets, deformed pieces of furniture, and a bizarre inflatable "mountain"; and such contrived metaphors for good memories as oranges and orange-colored costumes or props. But since company artistic director Gradimir Pankov believes that work on a ballet continues after its premiere, changes began during and after the run. Thiss Cinderella expects a long life.

FOR MORE INFORMATION; 514.849.8681 UPCOMING PERFORMANCES February 19-21, April 21-24, 2004
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Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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