Genevieve PM Roy
Leonce et Lena by Les Grands Ballets
A disenchanted Prince, a Princess on the run.. Christian Spuck’s fifth full-length ballet Leonce and Lena is an entertaining piece inspired by the comic, satirical political play written by German author Georg Büchner.
A disenchanted Prince, a Princess on the run.... Christian Spuck’s fifth full-length ballet Leonce and Lena is an entertaining piece inspired by the comic satirical political play written by German author Georg Büchner.
From the 18th to the 27th of September 2014, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens will be presenting the delightful full-length ballet Léonce et Léna at La Place des Arts.
The plot is simple: The sole heir to the Kingdom of Popo, Prince Leon is languishing in his room from boredom. He dreads his up-coming arranged marriage to Princess Lena, from the neighboring Kingdom of Pipi, who equally feels trapped by the strict rules of society that surrounds her ( Popo meaning “buttocks” and Pipi “urine”). The two have never met, yet they both take the same drastic course of action and flee their respective countries along with their governess and tutor. At the busy inn where they both decide to rest for the night, fate brings them together and they instantaneously fall in love! Meanwhile in the kingdom of Popo, the King and his court have decided to go ahead with the wedding even though the bride and groom are nowhere in sight...
German chereographer Christian Spuck is excellent at establishing character traits and relationships between dancers. It is the satiric elements of the play employed by Büchner that criticizes the policies of oppression and absolutist society in which he lived and that are highlighted in Christian Spuck’s detailed choreography. For example, Prince Leonce goes through a series of unique poses, positions and movements even though he is wallowing in lethargy. His mistress Rosetta - a stunner in red, is a colorful and passionate dancer whose lips are continuously pursed as if expecting a kiss. The pas de deux between Leonce and Lena clearly captures the fresh emotions and comical insecurities of young love while in contrast, Leonce’s dance with his soon to be discarded mistress is filled with clumsy lifts and awkward movements that make her look simply ridiculous.
Emma Ryott’s set is minimal but effectively used. A central revolving S-shaped curved wall rotates between scenes to transition each act forward. The detailed costumes, also by Ryott, are set during the 1830’s - the era in which the author lived. A vast contrast is made between the elegant members of the court and the somewhat frumpy peasants with crooked arms at the inn.
Music plays an important role throughout the ballet that effectively highlights the parody aspects of the tale. The score combines both modern, scratchy dissonant sounds paired with classical compositions from Johann Strauss the Waltz King. Cole Porter's hit Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love), and folk singer Burl Ives’ A Little Bitty Tear appear alongside folksy polkas. Even the popularly mocked Dance of the Hours from Ponchielli's opera La Gioconda makes an appearance. We truly get a sense that although the ballet is light in tone, the underlying themes are much darker.
As a whole, Léonce et Léna is a delicious romp performed by a talented cast of dancers that is both light and hilarious while taking Buchner's satire play to a whole new level of visual entertainment.
Leonce et Lena, presented by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens is running from the 18th to the 27th of September at La Place des Arts in Montreal.
For more information and show times, please visit:
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens