ManAboutMTL

Tragi-Queen: Marie-Antoinette

As we focus more on the city’s thriving arts and culture scene, we begin hitting our stride, so to speak, with the ballet, not to menti...


As we focus more on the city’s thriving arts and culture scene, we begin hitting our stride, so to speak, with the ballet, not to mention an appreciation for a grueling discipline that requires not only technical expertise of the dance form itself, but also acting ability, pantomime, and great stage presence.
 
Photo: Amitava - Dancers: Melody Mennite and Ian Casady
The pleasure for us who cover it is to witness the depth and breadths of talent different troupes bring to the table. As such, one of the trends we hope to see continue with the city’s Grands Ballets is the invitation of other companies to perform at Place des Arts. As we await both Paris’ and St.Petersburg for productions next season, the Houston Ballet, incidentally the United States’ fourth largest classical ballet company, recently treated us to a stirring, nuanced performance of Marie-Antoinette.

First performed in 2009, the narrative encapsulates in three acts the key stages of the doomed queen’s life – from her betrothal to Louis XVI and the many failed attempts to produce an heir, to palace life at Versailles and the breakout of revolution, to her final days inside the Conciergerie prison and final call to the guillotine scaffold.
 
Photo: Houston Ballet
The intricate and demanding choreography of Stanton Welch would be a challenge to the profession’s finest dancers, something the troupe on stage took up masterfully with high caliber performances all around, particularly the two principals who played Louis, and Marie-Antoinette. Split second timing, incredible physical control, and complex, innovative lifts captivated us from start to finish.
 
Photo: Amitava - Dancers: Ian Casady and Melody Mennite

Add in Kandis Cook’s beautiful and engrossing set design that seamlessly transported us between Austria and Versailles, her opulent period costumes, and Lisa Pinkham’s mood-driven, nuanced lighting, and you have a production which we rank as the season’s grandest. Befitting a queen, really.

D.G.

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