Left – Verity Jacobsen, Cecilia Torres Morillo and cast. Cover – Agnès Girard. Photos – Prudence Upton
Snow White is a legendary fairytale that is powerfully retold by the renowned choreographer Angelin Preljocaj. In this masterpiece the familiar story is given a modern shake up with Jean Paul Gaultier designing costumes and the performers masterfully combining classical ballet and contemporary dance. The effect is extraordinary.
Gaultier’s designs were both visually gorgeous and beautifully practical allowing the performers to move freely between the different dance styles. All of his expertise is wonderfully displayed in Snow White’s dress. At first glance it seems simplistic, however, it very quickly becomes a part of her every move, ebbing and following with the character’s development.
The set design by Thierry Leproust gives you dark forests and mountains that the dancers brought to life. The Magic Mirror was a dominating prop that was used beautifully. Its presence allowed the audience a glimpse into another world. A marvellous one where fortunes are hinted at and reality is perceived as a tableaux, one that could have easily been painted by a great master. The magic mirror was indeed magic.
Verity Jacobsen as Snow White was superb. She carries you through the story and when she is dancing you cannot take your eyes off her. She manages to carry all the emotion of the story in her dancing and her journey is a fairytale to behold.
The seven men who befriend Snow White are introduced in a spectacular way. The stage becomes a rocky escarpment with deep caverns and dark caves. From those caves come seven men who swarm the cliff face in a daring and captivating performance.
The wicked Queen, Snow White’s vile stepmother, is played by Cecillia Torres Morrillo and she is a force to be reckoned with. Dancing in high heels this dame is powerful dominatrix whose full force is witnessed when she thrusts the fateful poisonous apple between Snow White’s teeth. It is a compelling dance as the Queen mercilessly pushes the apple down Snow White’s throat.
After Snow White’s death she is discovered by her prince, played by Jean-Charles Jousni. The Prince is desperate for Snow White to live and tries to awaken her. It is an exceptional scene where Snow White’s life seems lost and we feel for the grieving prince.
With so much emphasis on the costumes and remarkable dancing it was disappointing that the production lacked light. Although shadows and suggestion of movement can elicit wonderful emotions from an audience, it felt as though a great deal of magic was lost in the dimly lit space. Particularly the forest scene when the hunters capture Snow White, a brighter stage would have allowed the audience to be absorbed in the dance rather than trying to fill in the details of movement.
This production of Snow White is spectacular. Strong and sensual woman lead the way and this production will change the way you view this classic fairy tale.
Ballet Preljocaj presents
Choreographer Angelin Preljocaj
Venue: Joan Sutherland Theatre | Sydney Opera House
Dates: 6 – 10 June 2018
Tickets: From $59
This production is recommended for ages 12+