|LOVE LIES BLEEDING - Alberta Ballet|
|REVIEWS - LIVE|
|Written by Tessa Perkins|
|Monday, 17 October 2011 14:47|
Show: Love Lies Bleeding
Company: Alberta Ballet
Choreographer: Jean Grand-Maître
Inspiration and music: Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Dancers: Yukichi Hattori, Melissa Boniface, Blair Puente, Yairelys Sosa, David Neal, Alexandra Gibson, Alison Dubsky, Alexandra Pera, Anthony Pina, Natalie Chui, Hayna Gutierrez, Mark Wax, Akiko Ishii, Nicole Caron, Colby Parsons, Skye Belfour-Ducharme, Reilley Bell, Jennifer Gibson, Asaka Homma, Mariko Kondo, Tara Williamson, Emily Collier, Garret Groat, Alison Stroming, Peter Starr, Davidson Jaconello, Elier Bourzac, Kelley McKinlay, Jaciel Gomez, Nicolas Pelletier
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Run: Oct 13-15 2011
Reviewed by: Tessa Perkins
With all the exuberance and flair of Elton John himself, this was a spectacular, innovative ballet that really pushed the art form to new heights. From men in drag, to drug references, to homoerotic scenes, this was not a traditional ballet by any means. I was enthralled the entire show and it seemed to go by so fast as I got lost in the beautiful choreography and entrancing songs.
The star of the show, Yukichi Hattori playing Elton John, was so full of energy and brilliantly portrayed his character while impressing everyone with his amazing acrobatics and superior ballet technique. He was on stage practically the whole show, pausing only to have his costume changed by a few helpers on stage. At the beginning of the show he entered down one of the aisles and stood in a spotlight in front of the stage. Then the curtains opened to reveal a little boy cycling around in circles on a tricycle and a few others in the shadows at the back of the stage. A video screen played Elton’s most famous songs, assassinations and other scenes from history, and Elton accepting his Oscar.
The show began with a flash of bright lights and dazzling baseball costumes with “Elton” across the chest and Hattori on the centre on a spinning platform while the corps danced around him. They danced to “Bennie and the Jets” and used baseball bats to bang the stage and swung them around adding another dynamic element to this piece.
The costumes were amazing throughout the show, and there were so many costume changes for Hattori, all done so smoothly while on stage that you hardly even noticed. The next dance featured a piano in the centre also spinning around with Hattori sitting at it and mouthing the words to “I’m Going to be a Teenage Idol.”
For “Honky Cat” the costumes were chaps, cowboy hats, and cowboy boots as four girls and Hattori danced energetically using their hats as an effective prop. One of my favourite dances of the show was done to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and had four male dancers in metallic gold loin cloth type outfits who lifted Hattori up and flipped him around, doing some very cool formations. The choreography of this piece was brilliant, and paired with such a moving song, it was perfection.
“Rocket Man” was also a great dance and added an element of humour as Hattori, on roller blades, rolled from one side of the stage to another as the six male/female pairs did beautiful lifts and moved across the stage. He even held sparkler things behind him for a couple of his stage crossings which got some laughs from the audience. All the dancers were wearing blue unitards with red lights on their knees, elbows, forehead, and various other body parts, so that when the lights went down during the dance, you could see their outline in lights as they moved around the stage. I really loved this dance for its innovative use of lights and the roller blades were awesome.
The show, while not fully autobiographical, did deal with the themes of drug addiction and being comfortable with one’s sexuality. There a few references to drugs, as two dancers dressed in red unitards, back boots, and black leather underwear type things put their fingers under Hattori’s nostril’s and he sniffed up whatever they were offering. During another dance, he writhes on the stage as if in withdrawals, and then the video screen at the back of the stage turns into a cocaine mirror as it shows a white line of powder that disappears as he moves along it sniffing it up.
Another beautiful piece was done to “Sixty Years On” featuring a few dancers dressed as shrubs and a moving pas de deux. Then three guardian angels with beautiful wings danced with Hattori who was hanging just above the stage, pulling him and letting him swing around. I also loved the dance set to “The King Must Die;” the passion that the dancers were able to portray to this beautiful song was exceptional.
Then the men in drag come on to dance to “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” and I think this was definitely an audience favourite as they danced in shoes with such high heels they were almost en pointe. They were quite humorous and their costumes were elaborate black lacy dresses with fancy hats. Then from later in Elton’s career “Believe” solidified the theme of the power of love as he sings “I believe in love, it’s all we got. Love has no boundaries, no borders to cross.”
Perhaps the most emotional and poignant dance of the show, Hattori and Kelley McKinlay portraying Elton’s partner David Furnish danced to “The Bridge.” They did a beautiful pas de deux full of passion, including a kiss at the beginning and end while a scene of two males in a steamy embrace played in the video screen in the background. It was a wonderful tribute to love and Elton and David’s relationship as Elton sings “Everyone of us has to face that day: do you cross that bridge or do you fade away?”
For the grand finale the whole cast returned to the stage to do a celebratory dance to “Saturday night’s all right for fighting” and they had the audience clapping along. Then the boy on the tricycle returns and Hattori walks to the front of the stage as the curtain closes behind him and he looks longingly into the distance. There was a unanimous standing ovation, and I was blown away by the emotional scope and beauty of this production. I wasn’t a huge Elton fan before the show, but now I think I’ll have to get myself a greatest hits album. This show is a must see; if it ever returns to Vancouver I’ll be there.
Songs Featured in Show:
1) Bennie and the Jets
2) I’m Going to be a Teenage Idol
3) Honky Cat
4) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
5) Rocket Man
6) Madman Across the Water
7) Have Mercy on the Criminal
8) Sixty Years On
9) I Need You to Turn to
10) The King Must Die
11) Someone Saved My Life Tonight
13) The Bridge
14) Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting