A Dancer’s Dream: Two Works by Stravinsky
This adaptation of two of Stravinsky’s ballets—Petrushka and Le Baiser de la Fée—emphasizes the disorderly, dream-like quality of both works. While the New York Philharmonic will play the full scores of both, neither is presented here as a full ballet. Instead, the experimental theater group Giants Are Small, with whom the Philharmonic collaborated on earlier productions of Ligeti’s absurdist opera Le Grand Macabre and Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, has reinterpreted the stories of Petrushka and Le Baiser de la Fée to form a single narrative.
In this treatment, Le Baiser de la Fée becomes a prelude to the colorful, often violent, pageantry of Petrushka. Sara Mearns, a principal dancer with New York City ballet, is the link between them: in the first, she is an Ice Maiden who dreams of being a dancer, and in the second, she has been transformed into Columbine, the ballerina in Petrushka.
Giants Are Small’s approach is particularly suited to Petrushka’s story of a puppet that comes to life. The company specializes in a technique it calls live animation, which involves projecting images, film footage, live puppetry, while singing or dancing is being performed and the orchestra plays. In their Petrushka, these methods create a hallucinatory, self-referential effect: they have made puppets by taking photographs of the dancers in costume; in performance, footage of the dancers and of their puppet doubles is projected onto a screen above the heads of the orchestra.
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