Dance Review: Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White at QPAC (performances until 11th September)

It’s a story of good and evil, black and white, with just a hint of red…

It’s opening night of Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White at QPAC. The curtains rise to a dark stage filled with white smoke. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you can just make out a dark figure at the far side of the stage – her black pointed crown catching what is left of the light onstage. She ever-so-slowly makes her way down the stage before collapsing. Another black figure emerges and bends down to the fallen queen. As the two part, you catch sight of a small, pale infant: Snow White is born.

In their Brisbane exclusive performance of Snow White, Ballet Prejlocaj deliver a deliciously dark retelling of the classic Brother’s Grimm tale. The French company’s performance is mature and nuanced, with just a hint of sultriness.

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This is not your typical ballet performance, with not a pointed shoe, pirouette or arabesque in sight. Instead, the performance comprised intricate contemporary choreography, characterised by canons and repetition.

The highlight of the show was the exquisite performance given by Emilie Lalande, Ballet Preljocaj’s opening night Snow White. Dressed in a delicate white Grecian-style dress, complemented by her fair skin and hair, she characterised a type of youthful innocence, plus the purity and goodness of Snow White. As a dancer, Lalande was enchanting. The litheness and fluidity of her movements brought to life the personality of the young princess.

Also of note was the cheery performance by the seven dwarves who delighted the audience with an aerial acrobatic routine performed vertically against a rock face.

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Jean Paul Gaultier’s dark and romantic costume designs lent the performance an air of contemporary glamour. The crowning jewel – so to speak – of his efforts was his edgy twist on the evil Queen’s awe-inspiring outfit. Dancer Cecilia Torres Morillo embodied the character’s menacing grandeur in her black and red cape, black leotard with deep v-neck and caged sleeves, and black spiked crown.

The whole performance was elevated by a sumptuous score by Gustav Mahler, performed beautifully by Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

All in all, Ballet Preljocaj delivered a unique and contemporary retelling of this classic fairytale, that’s definitely worth a visit for both ballet-lovers and novices alike.

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Part of QPAC’s International Series and Brisbane Festival, the ballet will run until Sunday 11 September. More information can be found here.

Photos: Darren Thomas