Wednesday, May 20, 2015

English National Ballet :: Le Corsaire

Since the friends flew into town for a long weekend, I joined them for English National Ballet's Le Corsaire. Artistic director and lead principal dancer Tamara Rojo led this production to Singapore. Even though we had seen this production on film, we didn't mind seeing it on stage. We like Anna-Marie Holmes' contemporary choreography of Le Corsaire with new orchestral versions of the score. The set design and costumes by Bob Ringwood are amazing. Rich and vibrant colors, gold, chalices, sequins and crystals, all of which we couldn't help being charmed by and they drew the audience into the world of the ballet.

The story unfolded in three acts- of a righteous kidnapping, a mutiny, another kidnapping, double-crossing, a fake wedding and complicated plotting. All one needed to know is- handsome corsair- pirate Conrad braves the seas to save the beautiful slave-girl Medora from the evil clutches of Pasha (an ancient Turkish rank, like a knight of sorts) Seyd. There're the support characters- an ally in harem-girl Gulnare and a mutinous corsair Birbanto who simply refuses to die. It was kinda funny. One wouldn't usually link pirates, fancy costumes and ballet together. What more with fights, murder and a shipwreck. As they jumped, spun and pirouette-d, the dancers looked too clean. :P

Apparently ticket sales were slow. Well, to stage an under-the-radar classical ballet for five performances over four nights and a matinée, that's brave, and kinda overestimating the Singapore audience, and the numbers who would fly in to watch it. (They performed Swan Lake and Coppélia in China.) Anyway. I didn't care who danced Medora or whatever, or how the dancers interpreted each character. That wasn't the point of the evening for me. The characters don't matter because in this ballet, I'm not watching it for the story or the social themes. If I did, I would have been more irritated by how women are depicted in the ballet. I was watching it like how it is- a glitzy slick Hollywood-style production. Yah, the dancing was rather fine, competent and enjoyable.

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