Multimedia Monday: La Bayadère: The Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom of ballets

La Bayadère. Svetlana Zakharova as Nikiya, Yekatarina Krysanova as Gamzetti. Photo by Yelena Fetisova.
La Bayadère. Svetlana Zakharova as Nikiya, Yekatarina Krysanova as Gamzatti. Photo by Yelena Fetisova.

Sometimes I forget how amazing—and how connected—our world is. Then, I find myself in a movie theatre, watching a live performance of the famed Bolshoi Ballet, beamed around the world to me via satellite. Cineplex offers a fantastic opportunity to see ballet (and theatre and opera) from esteemed troupes around the world, and seeing it at the exact moment it’s happening on a stage somewhere far away. I have never experienced the Bolshoi in person, but I have seen them live several times over the past few years thanks to this technology.

I happily attended Sunday’s production of La Bayadère, not quite sure what to expect. I’ve never seen a Canadian company offer this ballet before, though I was aware that it is a Marius Petipa ballet, with music by Ludwig Minkus, the team behind other ballets including Don Quixote. What I witnessed was a mixed bag of flawless dancing and deeply troubling choreography, storytelling, and cultural stereotypes.

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Multimedia Monday: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ballet review

Elena Lobsanova as Alice in the National Ballet’s 2012 production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Photo: Bruce Zinger.

Few books have been adapted as many times in as many forms as Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. From TV to movies to comic books to theatrical productions, from narratives that focus on the real-life relationship between Carroll and Alice Lidell to ones that are purely about the story itself, Alice has seen many iterations (just take a look at its Wikipedia page).

As source material for the wordless medium of ballet, this book might seem a difficult choice. After all, it is a work that defines nonsense literature and plays with words and with logic throughout. The National Ballet of Canada’s production is more than up to the task.

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