If this is where ballet is headed, count me out. With atonal EDM music by Thijs De Vlieger (Noisia) from the Netherlands, that was blasted to ear shattering levels especially in the second act, to blinding white light strobed by Luis Pastor and Laurent, I never wanted to take pain medication more than after seeing Sleeping Beauty Dreams. This multimedia performance art event opened its two-night run at the Beacon Theatre last night. After waiting for a half an hour, the show finally started at 8:30. Turned out it was not the Beacons fault for this delay, but the production who had not finished all their lighting cues. Intermission was also a half an hour and the back doors letting the audience out where closed, because the shows equipment was blocking the exit. Now that is a first!
Also the programs didn’t come out until intermission, which in a strange way boded in the shows favor, because my reaction to act one was this is pure evil. Turns out I was right, Sleeping Beauty Dreams goes into the dream world of Princess Aurora while she slept for 100 years. Avatar mapping projection technology by Tobias Gremmier and Fuse integrate the exquisite Prima ballerina Diana Vishneva’s movements into large, scale digital animations. These didn’t always work because the technology seemed out of sync. The choreography by contemporary ballet guru Edward Clug, is disjointed and makes the graceful Vishneva seem like a broken doll. The projections by Nick Assunto seemed like nightmarish insects, flower combined sexual spinal reptiles and science fiction sea monsters.
This Modernism view of ballet had the male dancers clad in white mesh skirts making them gender fluid. Even Prince Peter (Marcelo Gomes) seemed androgynous. Vishneva performs with such precise movements and symmetrical synergy, but the beauty of ballet escapes this performance, thanks in part to the broken movements.
Act two at least has some palatable imagery, but here Aurora is seduced by temptations, turning cold and unfeeling into a heartless Goddess of destruction. La Tempete, Ava in Ex Machina and Matthew Barney’s work all came to mind. By the end, all I could think was does the director and creator Rem Hass, have a severe hatred of women?
The costumes by Bart Hess give the show a futuristic feeling of being caught in the matrix. Hess is internationally known for creating Lady Gaga’s ‘slime’ look.
Thijs De Vlieger score was jarring and unsettling.
Sleeping Beauty Dreams: Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway. You can still catch this tonight December 15th. Tickets are available at http://www.sbdart.com