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 Post subject: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2001 7:59 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
<img src="http://www.newsonline.se/release/177/pics/preview/tornrosa1-p.jpg" alt="" />
<font size=1>Photo: Gert Weigelt</font>

Andrea Rowe - Ottawa Citizen, 11.16.01:
Quote:
Sleeping Beauty on heroin
Swedishchoreographer 'updates' classic


Some believe there's a curse in the ballet world: whoever dances the role of Clara in The Nutcracker is doomed never to become a professional dancer. But Lisa Drake just laughs when the subject comes up. She danced the role for the National Ballet of Canada's production as a child, but went on to a stellar career in Europe for more than a decade. At 33, she joined the acclaimed Swedish contemporary company The Cullberg Ballet last spring, and dances this weekend at the National Arts Centre in the North American premiere of its production of Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Mats Ek.
[url=http://www.canada.com/ottawa/aroundtown/story.asp?id={9910EB73-70B3-44EF-BA60-D7B508F10BB9}]more...[/url]

<small>[ 10-23-2002, 01:16: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2001 8:01 am 
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For more on the Cullberg Ballet see our London Dance Performance thread:<P><A HREF=../../../ubb/Forum16/HTML/000006.html><B>Cullberg Ballet</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2001 7:20 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Philip Szporer - Hour Magazine, 11.22.01:<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>DANCE: Fairy-tale darkness</B><BR>Mats Ek and the Cullberg Ballet wake up Sleeping Beauty<P>Is the world ready for another rendering of the pricked Princess Aurora who falls into a deep, deep sleep? Choreographer Mats Ek thinks so. And his daring reappraisal of the classic Sleeping Beauty, first produced in 1996, is gripping stuff.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><B>more...</B><P>


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2001 7:20 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Image <BR><font size=1>Photo: Gert Weigelt<BR>CULLBERG BALLET/RIKSTEATERN </font><P><B>Video Clip</B> from <A HREF="http://www.grandsballets.qc.ca/en/index_saison_2.cfm" TARGET=_blank>Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal website</A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited November 23, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2001 7:12 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
LINDE HOWE-BECK - Montreal Gazette, 11.24.01:<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>Revisionist Beauty is a dramatic metaphor</B><P>Please don't take Cullberg Ballet's Sleeping Beauty at face value. The much-traveled and deservedly praised retelling of the fairy story is really a metaphor for our ailing society.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>[url=http://www.canada.com/montreal/montrealgazette/story.asp?id={910BB448-0A49-46A9-9BDD-B68B50BCCCB2}]<B>more...</B>[/url]<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2001 6:29 pm 
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I must say, I saw the Sleeping Beauty on Thursday, and loved it. I know many others who did not have such a good time. Some complained nothing was really original. It's like his Giselle, it's like his Sleeping Beauty. Nothing new in the choreography... etc. I saw them in Brooklyn about a year and a half ago as well, and also enjoyed that show immensly. The dancers are amazing, with, as Howe-Beck said, an obviously solid classical ballet training, yet moving with the most amazing energy. If they should come to your area of the world, I'd recommend seeing them, if for nothing else than to watch beautiful dancers.<P>pidge


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2002 10:41 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Linda Shapiro - City Pages Media, 10/9/02:
Quote:
Nobody's Ugly Duckling
A postmodern choreographer gooses 'Swan Lake'

Performed by Sweden's acclaimed Cullberg Ballet, the 1987 work offers an invigorating mix of offbeat virtuosity, creepy expressionism, and vaudeville shenanigans--Mel Brooks encountering Fritz Lang in a moonlit glade.
more...


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 2:44 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I'm not sure if I would call this work postmodern. There is not only exuberant character acting but also highly athletic dancing -- both of which are antithesis to postmodernism -- so much so that the audience at Royce Hall in UCLA gave them a huge applause (but then again I was told that LA showgoers tend to be overly generous with their standing ovations).

There is a very strong psychological bent in Mats Ek's choreography, with Siegfried's mother playing a very central oedipal role, mostly in Act 1. There is much I can't write about as it would give away the twists in plot that are elemental to the audience's experience. I will say however that not everything turns out the way you expect and there are a few unexpected but pivotal sexual scenes.

The early part of Act 2 reminded me somewhat of "Nutcracker" as Siegfried, accompanied by a page, venture forth to seek the Odille/Odette of his dreams. They travel through Russia, Israel and Spain where they are entertained by "local" performers (the music departs from the Tchaikovsky score in these vignettes). The most entertaining bit for me was the Spanish segment when the four bullfighters drag and throw the female flamenco dancer around as if she were a bull in a mix-up of two of Spain's strongest cultural identities.

Don't expect any virtuosic ballet dancing however. The dancers are very well-trained but they are most definitely of the grounded modern dance variety. It is therefore unfortunate the company has the name "ballet" in it and that they are performing a classical icon, "Swan Lake," as I know that would discourage many would-be fans in the modern dance community.

<small>[ 10-20-2002, 01:54: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2002 11:27 am 
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From Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle:

Quote:
Not your mother's 'Swan Lake'
more...


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 6:32 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Cullberg Ballet
“Swan Lake”
Royce Hall
October 18, 2002

In film and television, there is a convention known as “breaking the fourth wall.” Essentially, this means that a character crosses the imaginary boundary between viewer and actor and addresses the viewer directly or looks directly at them. It’s a way of communicating a message that is otherwise unable to be communicated, or of setting a stylistic approach to the production. In terms of writing, it’s generally considered somewhat of the easy way out of a problem or situation. Its effect usually tires quickly and becomes passé. There was much breaking of that wall between audience and performer in this version of “Swan Lake” tonight. It was alternately surprising and tiring.

This performance crossed the imaginary line between viewer and performer in only a few ways, by using loud cries, laughter and outright acknowledging the existence of an audience at times. While this may have seemed a novel approach to resolving the problems of fully communicating the emotional subtext of the characters, audiences are far more sophisticated now than even the scant 15 years since this piece was originally staged. We grasp the ideas and concepts communicated within the piece without the reinforcement of the audible cries and barks.

Then there is the sexual undertone in the performance and the decision to use shock value to fully explore this issue. “Swan Lake” has always been open to various interpretations of sexual deviancy with men falling in love with swans and over-bearing mothers. The fact Mats Ek was able to contrive a full-length comment on the Oedipus complex using “Swan Lake” as its basis is not surprising. But there were moments where it seems the use of sex was extreme, designed to elicit a strong response where one was not necessary. As with the audible outbursts, we understood what was happening between the characters. There was no need to go to the point of simulated sex acts and nudity to hammer it home.

Is this a Puritan response (very American), or is it just, as my friend said, “The Swedes being Swedish.” The only way to know is to experience this revealing version of “Swan Lake” for yourself; And experience it I do recommend.

This boldly re-envisioned piece asserts itself immediately, making very clear its agenda and message. The treatment of women in society is no new issue but this impetuous young Prince is out for a lesson I cannot say he wholly learns by the evenings end. Yet while the comment is about women, the lines of distinction between women and men are constantly blurred. So, in fact, are we being asked not about how we treat women, but how we treat each other as objects?

Men and women alike are devoid of hair. The strongly sexual nature of hair and its instant ability to distinguish man from woman is removed, pulling both sexes to a remarkably equal, base level of existence. The lines are further blurred with men playing Swans and women playing men’s roles. The loss of this delineating feature leads inevitably to some moments of gender confusion for the Prince, the only cast member with hair (a shocking blonde mess, short and cropped). It also allows for the sheer rawness of sexuality to ooze through its characters.

The choice of color in some of the costumes was curious. Particularly of interest to me was the fabric for the two Orthodox Jewish men in the second act. Black is the traditional color of Orthodox men, but this production opted for shiny purple with bright purple and green locks of hair. An interesting choice as purple has dual connotations of royalty and the seedier reference associated with hustlers and pimps. I’d be very interested to know what the thought process was behind this choice. When the issue of color and costuming was addressed in the post show discussion, the answer made it clear the co-artistic directors either did not understand the question, or they simply did not know.

Technically, this is a very enjoyable company to watch with fine lines, strong, certain jumps and boundless energy. Their classical training gives them a firm foundation for modern choreography, though perhaps too strict a foundation in that the dancers appear a bit rigid at times.

The scenery is minimal: a backdrop, a whipped up looking prop like something from Dr. Seuss whose symbolism is left nebulous, and a few moveable pieces in the second act. The first act backdrop appears to be a line drawing of a curtain pulled back, but it evokes thoughts of the womb looming over the Prince’s sheltered life.

I do not usually enjoy full-length modern works, and it wasn’t until late in the first act when I began to enjoy this piece. There was a moment toward the end of the act when the Swan corps was moving across the stage. The music swelled with the ominous Swan Lake theme (moved around as was much of Tchaikovsky’s score). I noticed something in the movement of the dancers. I cannot say quite what it was or how it happened, but it seemed as one the corps had done something that was counter to the music we were hearing. It was a fleeting moment that I cannot say others shared. But for me, something happened between dancer and viewer that was wholly unexpected. Be it a quirk of timing, lighting or just my imagination, it made me see something deeper, subtler than previous “Swan Lakes.” It was this moment that made me begin to take this version seriously.

Comparisons between this and the Matthew Bourne version cannot be avoided. Both take liberties with the original, and both also share a theme of personal discovery through sexual awakenings. Yet the Bourne version is a comment about one person and his struggle for identity while the Ek version seems more a statement on society at large. But I found the swan corps in this version more appealing in it’s diversity. Men and women playing the hairless swans added an unpredictable element that rounded out the productions themes.

<small>[ 10-20-2002, 20:37: Message edited by: 2 left feet ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:48 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Wow. Great comments, 2LeftFeet. It's funny, isn't it, how the company directors themselves could not explain the choice of colors for Act 2.


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 7:54 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
From the Los Angeles Times:

Cullberg Ballet brings whimsy, sophistication to 'Swan Lake'
Stockholm troupe adds contemporary insight to the choreography of Mats Ek, known for blending classical and modern movements.


By Lewis Segal , Times Staff Writer

Quote:
On the stage of Royce Hall, the last notes of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" have sounded. A triumphant Prince Siegfried has led the pure, spiritual, white-tutued swan queen Odette into the wings, her impossibly long wedding veil trailing behind as a bridal train -- and the sorcerer Von Rothbart carrying the end of it.
MORE...


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 8:24 pm 
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Posts: 369
Location: Los Angeles, CA
It wasn't funny. It was downright sad. Silly me. I always thought an artistic director would be privy to decisions like that. Especially considering they mentioned the original colors were brown. This makes me think a decision was recently made to change the costumes and they had no idea why.

Curious...


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2002 9:54 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Yes, it was rather disturbing that they seemed to have changed the colors without knowing why... it seems they did it more for the aesthetic/showbiz effect than for any deep reason...

But they did know why the intended bride wore pink; that it represented a lesser, weaker copy of the mother's strong red.


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 Post subject: Re: Cullberg Ballet and Mats Ek's 'Swan Lake'
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 11:15 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Here's an interesting analysis in the LA Times:

Quote:
When classics move in new directions
Today's choreographers throw curves into vintage ballets as they seek out new meanings. But in so doing, they often are determined to maintain links to the past.

Lewis Segal, LA Times

Sometimes it seems that every dance season is crammed with daring new versions of war horses: male swans, gay swans, bald swans -- anything for novelty.
<a href=http://www.calendarlive.com/cl-ca-segal20oct20,0,5433123.story target=_blank>More</a>


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