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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Oh la la! Royal Winnipeg Ballet dances into Minneapolis

By Tatiana Craine

The esteemed Royal Winnipeg Ballet was established in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally. While the prestige and honor of the company has remained stable for the past 70 years, but their balletic style has progressed with the times. Their modern approach to classical ballet will be showcased in the world premiere of their newest endeavor, “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet” at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium on October 17.Stylistically, the ballet takes audiences to the Parisian underbelly of Montmartre and the salaciously mysterious halls of the Moulin Rouge. “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet” follows two woefully star-crossed lovers through absinthe-soaked cafes and prurient dancehalls. Matthew travels to Paris, yearning for the romance and intrigue of the City of Lights. Little does he know of the disquiet that awaits him beyond the professed Bohemian lifestyle of the Parisian idealists. Concurrently, a young laundress named Nathalie finds herself tangled up in the Parisian underworld as a Can-Can dancer. When she and Matthew meet, their worlds and their hearts melt. Before long, Matthew and Nathalie get ensnared in unforeseen circumstances, and they find themselves struggling to live la vie bohŠme.

Renowned choreographer Jorden Morris of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet choreographed the show’s intricate dance numbers. The show includes incredibly technical dances like the contemporary and classical tango, the pas de deux and of course, the infamous Can-Can. The company’s dancers have worked tirelessly through the summer, rehearsing the dances under Morris’ instruction for the world premiere and the 2009-2010 season.

The production has been a labor of love for everyone involved, from the dancers to the costume designers and the set technicians. Apprentice dancer Liam Caines was featured in a series of web video diaries focused on “The Making of ‘Moulin Rouge – The Ballet.'” He interviewed other principal dancers, the choreographer and the music director among other people involved with the new show.

Costume designer Shannon Lovelace worked extensively on the costumes with Anne Armit. Their inspiration for the costumes came from the idea that clothes tell a story about a character-whether someone is sinister or sweet, cheeky or austere. The costumes are based on motifs used in artist Toulouse Lautrec’s original artwork, with color and print themes reminiscent of the era.

The set for “Moulin Rouge – The Ballet” is unlike those of many other productions. The entire stage is covered in whimsical and unique settings such as staircases and platforms; however, all the set pieces are transparent. This lets the audience focus on the dancers and gives more versatility to the lighting design.

Though the ballet is not based on the popular 2001 film, “Moulin Rouge!,” there are some striking similarities between the ballet and the movie. A young, starry-eyed man seeks adventure in the big city while a beautiful, yet jaded dancer yearns to get out of her situation. Additionally, both stories feature Lautrec as a prominent character. In reality, Lautrec was a beneficent patron of the actual Moulin Rouge, going so far as to paint advertisements for the dancehall. Some of his most infamous paintings were inspired and set inside the Moulin Rouge. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production will include Lautrec as a notable character.

“Moulin Rouge – The Ballet” promises to be much more than a stuffy conventional ballet performance. The rousing production will have visually stimulating sets and costumes and vibrant musical pieces that will leave audiences taping their toes to the Can-Can.

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