Fri, May 14, 2004 - Page 17 News List

US ballet: A classic melange

By Max Woodworth  /  STAFF REPORTER

Ballet Internationale from Indianapolis will put on four performances over six days next week in the troupe's first visit to Taiwan.

PHOTO COURTESY OF KHAM

Starting Tuesday, the American Ballet Internationale troupe will begin a six-day run at the CKS Cultural Center, putting on four of its acclaimed performances for the first time in Taiwan.

The troupe will perform creative interpretations of classical favorites in a melange of styles that has come to characterize the group's style. In Taipei, the troupe will stage Carmen and Firebird on Tuesday and Wednesday, 1001 Nights on Thursday and Sunday and Sleeping Beauty of Friday and Saturday.

Based in Indianapolis, Ballet Internationale has joined the ranks of the most respected dance troupes in the US, under the artistic direction of Eldar Aliev, who joined the company six years ago. Aliev was able to draw top-rate dancers to Indianapolis on the basis of his 13-year career as the principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet, for which he traveled the world and took lead roles in shows such as Swan Lake and Don Quixote. His talent made him a highly sought-after guest star and a regular feature at dance events around the world.

Aliev has overseen the troupe's attempts at daring interpretations of classical pieces, such as the Creation of the World, which retells the Biblical story of Genesis in an elaborate and challenging way, as well as experimentations with new genres. Last year, the troupe staged an original piece by Vladimir Angelov titled Interzone, which borrowed the fantasy-reality dichotomy from The Matrix for a romantic tragedy that came as close as ballet can come to science-fiction.

Most recently, Aliev is credited with staging the troupe's renowned versions of 1001 Nights and Firebird, for which he managed to recruit some of the leading dance talents in the US and abroad. Both programs will be performed here in Taipei.

Tuesday and Wednesday, the troupe's versions of Carmen, the story of the fiery and tragic Spanish romance between the title character and her obsessive lover Jose, and Firebird, the Russian fairy tale of a prince who is saved by the mythical and all-powerful bird, are short performances played back to back.

For the Thursday and Sunday's performances of 1001 Nights, expect elaborate costumes to recreate the sumptuous setting of the heart of Arabia, where the sultan Shakhriar is first betrayed by his wife, who indulges in a wild orgy with her slaves in his absence, but then has his faith in love, beauty and wisdom restored through the enchanting tales of the mysterious woman Sheherazade. The beauty of Sheherazade and the entertaining stories she tells in exchange for Shakhriar staying the executions of all the women of his domain as revenge for his wife's infidelities, spark a love between the two and they are eventually united at the end of the piece.

Friday and Saturday will be perhaps the most anticipated of the troupe's four performances, Sleeping Beauty. Ballet Internationale is renowned for its rendition of this famous tale of love overcoming evil.

Performance notes:

What: Ballet Internationale.

When: Tuesday, May 23.

Where: National Theatre, 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei (台北市中山南路21-1).

Tickets: NT$400 to NT$2,500, through NTCH ticketing.

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