French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj is hoping to cast a spell on US audiences with his ballet “Snow White”, an adaptation of what he calls the “thriller” fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.
The edgy dance master created the 2008 work — which opens inCalifornia this week before moving to the East Coast — as a tribute to the great 19th-century romantic ballets like Swan Lake, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
The production’s visual impact is enhanced by costumes from French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.
“When we created the the ballet, there was a lot of enthusiasm for it to be staged in America, but everything was frozen due to the (economic) crisis,” he told AFP.
“Now we’ve finally got it off the ground; we’re very happy to bring ‘Blanche Neige’ (‘Snow White’) to the United States,” he said, after the ballet opened in the northern California city of Davis last weekend.
The show will be in Los Angeles this weekend, before heading East.
“California has audiences who know about the art of ballet in all its forms, from the purest classical to the most avant-garde,” said Preljocaj.
By coincidence it comes as two film versions of Snow White are set to be released: “Mirror, Mirror” starring Julia Roberts on March 30, and “Snow White and the Huntsman” with Charlize Theron on June 1.
Preljocaj said the fairy tale remains relevant today, in the age of plastic surgery and other ways that women can remain young-looking.
“It’s a very modern story, in the sense that today with scientific and medical progress, women can stay young and beautiful for a long time,” said the choreographer.
“That creates a potential conflict between generations. Daughters, faced with mothers who want to remain lovers, desirable and active socially, can develop a kind of Snow White complex.”
“Generations are coming together. You often see 50- or 60-year-old women in the street with their daughter, dressed the same, swapping clothes and handbags. They can even be love rivals.”
As with the upcoming big screen versions, Preljocaj’s production does not follow the Disney version of the fairytale, rather putting more focus on the cruel stepmother.
“It’s the same as with ‘Swan Lake’, with the black swan and the white swan: Snow White is the positive character, beautiful and pure, while the stepmother is the opposite, also beautiful, but dark and hate-filled,” he said.
“Snow White’ is “really a thriller,” he said. “The story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ can be told in two lines. ‘Snow White’ is full of twists… leading to lots of ways of interpreting it choreographically.”
“Snow White” will be staged in Los Angeles from March 23-25, before heading to the East Coast at the end of March, through to April 21.
The US cities where the work is to be performed include Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.