The stage is taken over with a dreamy fog; twinkling lights shine through the clouds to transform the dancers of Ballet Prelijocaj to a mystical utopian land. On March 26th, 2019 the France-based ballet company introduced the audience to scenes of the ballet, La Fresque. This one hour and twenty minute performance took the audience through their narrative of this elegant ballet. The tale they told heavily represented power dynamics in the relationships between men and women, while also highlighting the strong connection women have to one another.
Through intricate and emotionally driven partnering between heteronormative couples, the audience observed many different kinds of relationships and how they evolved. Between these visuals of coupling were sections of women uniting together. The women in La Fresque took the audience on a moving journey of struggle, but showed how they can still support each other throughout. One moment in particular was when the women were all clumped together sitting center stage. The single pool of light highlighted their clean white dresses while they executed gestural choreography with their hair resting down their backs. They used direct touch by resting their heads on one another during this section, showing the support they find in one another.
It is easy to tell that La Fresque is a narrative-driven ballet. As described in the program, Angelin Preljocaj’s choreography uses Chinese folklore as the base for movement inspiration. For the majority of the evening’s work, the choreography was fairly predictable; the repeated approach to assign a movement to every beat in the sound score assisted the predictability. Although, I commend their use of hairogrophy towards the end of the piece. Releasing their hair down added as an element of surprise, almost like their hair was an extra limb in the choreography. Nevertheless, the dancers of Ballet Preljocaj seamlessly moved across the stage, despite the less “eye catching” choreography.
Five women caught in motion with their hair flying up in the air.
Photo by Jean-Claude Carbonne