Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elton: Behind the Scenes of the Ballet

Jean Grand-Maitre presents a complex, toe-tapping portrayal
of the legendary Sir Elton John

Half a dozen couples stand, stiff and silent as mannequins, on the hardwood floors of a large dance studio. They seem to be embracing; their faces close to each other as if whispering a secret.

The room is hushed as rollicking gin-house piano music fills the air. There is a clap, and a sharp voice begins to count, yelling: “One! Two! Three!” in time with the music’s beat. With each shout and clap, the dancers move swiftly into a tightly controlled pose of classical ballet: one woman is lifted high above her partner, another’s leg is resting above a shoulder, and another is angled away from her mate, tango-esque. The process is repeated; every clap of hands and shout reveals a new pose.

It is, purposefully, a tableau reminiscent of the opening scene in Bob Fosse’s Cabaret: mechanical and slightly disjointed, yet performed with the stunning agility and grace of highly trained dancers. There is something both beautiful and tragic in this sequence, like watching over and over the moment a carefree child is struck frozen by fear. And then, bizarrely, there is a man on roller-skates weaving his way between the partners. The music is almost deafening; familiar but new as well. Behind him struts a sinister, bowler-capped fellow, clicking his heels like a hedonistic jazzman. It is a captivating scene.

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on Avenue Magazine's website

Published in Avenue Magazine (Calgary & Edmonton editions) April 2010

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