Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal started their new season with a contemporary adaptation of a Japanese tale, Kaguyahime, the princess who came from the moon. With such exceptional beauty, the princess becomes the envy of men, who all want to possess her , and even the emperor. Ensuing rivalries and battles that grow Kaguyahime, symbol of purity, to return to the moon. Extracted from Japanese folktale “the Old Man who Harvests Bamboo”, this legend inspired a host of modifications, from films to books through manga comics and video games.
There are 18 musicians on stage who played live throughout the show which means, music plays a major role in Kaguyahime. Japanese composer Maki Ishii has created a suite for traditional Japanese drumming and western percussion. He was also the first to consider a choreographic adaptation, work of renowned choreographer Jiri Kylian. This work depicts the fusion of contemporary dance and reinvention of the Japanese drum, where grace and brute force come together in a production by imposing a grandiose scene. A gust of solos, duets and trios all inspired by martial arts results in complex and dynamic gestures and finely chiseled choreagrahies. The scenes where the contenders are particularly impressive clash, punctuated by Kodo drummers of all, who are masters of daiko (Japanese giant drums) and percussionists in the orchestra of Les Grands Ballets. All Gagaku, a specialist in Japanese imperial music, produces a delicate and haunting sound with instruments like organ sho mouth and bamboo flute ryūteki which goes well with the scenes’ refined aesthetics where the princess seems weightless evolve with grace and flexibility.
In a dynamic choreography, all signed by the flexibility of the dancers excellent technique and a fascinating soundscape, this work is imbued with an all Japanese poetry.
For those interested, Kaguyamine runs until October 30 at Place des Arts.
Cover image: grandsballets.com
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