Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ballet David Campos' Giselle

Last night was really an extraordinary and amazing theatre experience for me. I've never experienced such amusement in watching a theatre performance, most especially a classical ballet performance. David Campos' creativity merged classical ballet + modern styles and technology to create a whole new theatre experience. They made it seem like you're watching a movie, with all the videos and motion graphics.. but for sure better than 3D! The "actors" are real in front of you - dancing, emoting, and making you feel that you're part of the whole show.

Sad I missed Sleeping Beauty, which they showed Thursday and Friday. I actually prefer to watch it over Giselle, because I know it has more "fun" than the tragic story of Giselle. But after last night, their performance made me look at Giselle in a different light. They modernized the story, with the first act happening in a bar, rather than the usual town scene, and instead of peasants, they had bartenders and waitresses. They added techno mixes on the classical tracks, with motion graphics on the cycloramas and lights to add a real "party" mood. Instead of Giselle dying after going crazy discovering Albrecht's soon-to-happen wedding, she died after being raped. They still retained the grave setting for the Act II, but they tweaked how the Wilis moved. With hair down (like Sadako from The Ring), spider-ish moves, and human-eating acts, they were really creepy and scary. The dancers really looked like they were dead, for they were so white (well, Europeans) and skinny. Skeleton skinny.

We danced Giselle way back in 2006 with Philippine Ballet Theatre. We did it full classical, of course. We were like more than 20 (or maybe even 30?) dancing on stage, while the David Campos company had only 15 dancers, with 2 leads included. Yup, they did a full-length ballet having only 15 dancers. They were exceptional. Beautiful feet, clean lines, strong technique. Even though they were combining contemporary steps, their classical technique is still so evident. The choreography was still classical based, with the choreographic handles still present and added with contemporary flavor. As Teacher Chelo kept on saying, "Who would have thought of doing those kind of steps?!" I liked how they did the chugs part: they didn't complete the arabesques from one side to the other, but rather inserted different chugs in between. And also the entrances of the Wilis in the first part where two of them were being dragged while standing on a cloth, and another where they were entering one after the other. They made the boring Act II into something worth watching! (for sure you skipped the video there, but please WATCH IT!)

And the most important part that amused me was their multimedia incorporation. Being a multimedia arts graduate, it enlightened me into being able to create something new and different. Their production design were based on motion graphics and backgrounds by using 4 projectors for the sets. During the scene where Giselle was being chased by the two evil men, they used to back cyclorama to project a moving set while she was running in place on stage. On the front screen, they showed snippets of footsteps of the men chasing her. Aside from the footsteps, they added panting sounds to make the audience feel the intensity of what will be happening. They used videos to further build up the scene. While Giselle was in the hospital (yes, that modern!), as she was battling with death, they used a motion graphic of the heartbeat rate and some sort of wall she was trying to knock off to escape from it. They also ended with a short video, showing the male lead, Albrecht, in old age, seeing the reflection of Giselle in water.

My amazements are still not over. And there are no other words to explain the feeling; one MUST see them to be able to know. In truth, words are not enough to describe how great they were in all production aspects. David Campos, as a director and choreographer, is indeed one of a kind. Bravo to his brains and creativity! 

I don't know when I will be able to experience something like this again. Maybe I should start working on one that can lead to something similar. I was challenged as a dancer and as a multimedia artist. We can do the same, we can match them.

If you're a dancer a you missed it, I feel sorry for you. :(

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