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Vienna ballet mixes it up with dark 'Le Concours'

18 april 2011, 12:06
Photo courtesy of volksoper.at
Photo courtesy of volksoper.at
Film noir meets musical comedy -- Maurice Bejart's "Le Concours" represented another change in genre for the Vienna State Ballet as it premiered here Sunday, AFP reports.

A murder mystery set at an international dance competition, the performance -- the latest premiere in Manuel Legris's first season as ballet director -- showed a new side of the company, after it already presented contemporary medleys and full-length modern and classical ballets this year.

This time, dance combined with theatrics, monologues and cabaret acts to produce a result that was not so much a ballet as a cross between "A Chorus Line" and Inspector Columbo.

Constantly switching between classic and twisted, the choreography -- which Bejart associate Bertrand d'At personally taught the company -- benefitted from a wacky soundtrack that included everything from Tchaikovsky and Berlioz to recorded steps, gasps and street noise.

Dancers also grabbed the microphone regularly -- speaking in a variety of tongues and accents -- to provide their own tunes, philosophise about the art of dancing or just lead the audience through the evening, from the frenzy of the dance competition through the murdered ballerina's life as an inspector digs into her past to find the culprit.

A Cluedo-like whodunnit, this was a ballet rife with colourful characters, from the punk rocker with the mohawk hairstyle and leopard-print velvet leotard to the stereotyped Japanese and Soviet jurors.

Semi-soloist Eno Peci stood out as the irritable TV choreographer, as much by his expressive dancing as his heated tirades, while the luminous Olga Esina, as per usual, stole every scene.

Vienna Ballet veteran Gregor Hatala was also convincing as the no-nonsense inspector, perpetually surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke.

Other honourable mentions go to corps de ballet members Davide Dato, who received the loudest cheers of the evening with his seemingly never-ending fouettes, Gala Jovanovic as the overly cheerful US judge and Taina Ferreira Luiz as a lively young dancer.

Grotesque, chaotic, dark and yet colourful, this may have been a ridiculous ballet competition, but it was certainly an enjoyable, if quirky, evening for Vienna's Volskoper audience, which welcomed it with wide acclaim.

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