PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman – a retelling of a 1917 classic – incorporates contemporary storytelling techniques and technology with beautiful choreography.
Both dance lovers and those with a fascination for storytelling and technology are in for a treat next month when PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman is performed at Teatru Manoel for one night only, as part of the Valletta 2018 cultural programme.
This dynamic performance actually revisits the iconic ballet ‘Parade’, which was premiered in 1917 by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, with music by Erik Satie to a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau with costume design and scenography by Pablo Picasso. This contemporary reworking of the ballet has been crafted to delight audiences of all ages.
Spearheaded by Modern Music Days, “PARADE & the Velvet Gentleman” presents this ballet on an interdisciplinary platform and embellishes the stunning choreography with stop motion animation, puppetry and projection dancing. It was originally performed in 2017 as part of the Ziguzajg Children’s Festival, and returns this year under the artistic direction of Ruben Zahra, with Picasso-inspired costumes by Ritienne Zammit, stop motion animation by Christ Scicluna, choreography by Moveo, masks and puppets by Charles Bezzina, projection dance sequences by MAKA Visuals, and a paper cinema by Trevor Zahra.
“I have always been a fan of Satie’s music,” Mr Zahra says, when asked what inspired him to develop this unique piece. “In a period when composers were seeking evermore-complex structures, Satie was being revolutionary through simplicity.”
The idea to work on ‘Parade’ came to Mr Zahra during a discussion with Teatru Manoel artistic director Kenneth Zammit Tabona back in 2015. It was then that he realised that most people – including leading artists and musicians – were unaware of this ‘gem’ of a ballet. “This motivated me to revisit this ballet on a contemporary platform with new media techniques featuring stop-motion animation and a video projection that develops into a choreographic ‘dialogue’ between the two dancers and their own silhouettes.”
The premiere of “PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman” was very well-received during the 2017 Żigużajg Festival, when it played to audiences of all ages, as well as in a subsequent performance for 700 children at the Catholic Institute. This time around, the performance will include a new choreography by the Moveo Dance Company to a piano cycle by Charles Camilleri entitled ‘Picasso Set. “The connection here is obviously Picasso and the costume design by Ritienne Zammit is inspired from his artwork,” Mr Zahra says. “We are so looking forward to performing it once again.”
PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman will be presented for one night only at Teatru Manoel on 27 July. Tickets are priced at €10 and available on www.teatrumanoel.com.mt. It is recommended for children aged eight and over.