Les Ballets De Monte-Carlo made their debut appearance at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress, Chicago on March 3rd and 4th, 2018, bringing forth a striking re-creation of The Sleeping Beauty entitled La Belle in a vividly choreographed new light. This modified modern/jazz enhanced twist on Marius Petipa’s classic ballet is diabolical and decadent with brilliantly conceived geometric backdrops, video projections, and costumes that are a la Star Trek meets L. Frank Baum.
A non-linear dreamscape of a ferocious fairy tale- and weren’t they all before Disney sanitizing- this genre creating masterpiece features a scissorhanded male demonic fairy/mother-in-law. The Beauty is left in her lame’ leotard after her diaphanous robes are stripped off by the boy street gang that freed her from her enchantment. She traversed the stage in a huge bubble globe that had grown from an embryo to a pregnant ball hatched by many in a scene of remarkably explicit sensuality.
This awakened princess-ling shared the longest kiss ever with the Prince before she helped him out of the trap of staying too long with a controlling male mother! While there was not a traditional ending, the audience did get to watch a form of justice prevail as the evil mom, overcome by a hissy fit of jealousy, drops to a writhing and slithery demise in a vat of carnivorous snakes.
The dancers themselves were technically superb, rocking this unconventional and droll presentation on a set of curved and stark black and white walls, the light reflecting off silver-paneled costumes, in perfect step with the score. On Saturday night, March 3rd, Katrin Schrader was the embodiment of innocence awakened as The Beauty; Mimoza Koike was a mesmerizing and magical Lilac Fairy in a showstopping cantilevered costume; Stephan Bourgond was delightfully and deliciously wicked in a dual role as The Queen Mére/The Fairy Carabosse; Alexis Oliveira was an all-too-human Prince projecting courage in the face of fear; and Christian Tworzyanski gave a strong and confident performance as the truest King Pére.
The national ballet company of Monaco, established in 1985 by Caroline, Princess of Hanover, (formerly Princess Caroline of Monaco) honors and continues the fine tradition of dance in Monaco splendidly begun by Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes, and carried on with the launch in 1932 of Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, after Diaghilev’s death.
In creating La Belle in 2001, Les Ballets De Monte Carlo Artistic Director Jean-Christophe Maillot took his inspiration from Charles Perrault’s original version of the story but adds the barbaric Queen Mother Carabosse, whose jealous rage leads to her dreadful death, and eliminates the “happily ever after” marriage between Sleeping Beauty and the Prince. Set to the classic score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, with a segment of his “Romeo and Juliet” at the finale, the production never flags through it’s many complex scenes.
This norm and gender-bending, spectacularly choreographed work of art was a wickedly clever and yet endearingly sexy- even sweet- true love fable for a new age. Compliments and kudos to Ernest Pignon-Ernest for the captivating stage design, Jérôme Kaplan for the fantastic costumes, and Dominique Drillot for shedding light on it all.
For information and tickets to all the fine performances at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, go to auditoriumtheatre website
All photos by Alice Blangero