Finer points of bondage-style Snow White lost in the dark

Anna Tatarova as the Queen.

Photo: Mark Gambino

DANCE
SNOW WHITE ★★
Ballet Preljocaj
State Theatre, Until August 5

Ten years since its premiere in France, Ballet Preljocaj's full-length, one-act ballet Snow White has embarked on a world tour.

The production delights in being paradoxical: the music combines contemporary electronic sounds by 79 D with music by Gustav Mahler. The costumes, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, are conceptual interpretations of peasant outfits that layer bondage harnesses over flowing dresses. Angelin Preljocaj’s choreography, meanwhile, draws on the spatial sensibility of line dances and ballet, but with a contemporary vernacular.

Mirea Delogu, left, gives the best performance as Snow White; right, Anna Tatarova as the Queen.

Photo: Mark Gambino

It is a spectacular line-up of creatives, but perhaps because of its self-conscious desire to be "edgy", parts of the production end up feeling tortured and choreographically unresolved.

There are moments of success in the design. Seven woodsmen abseil down the theatre wall, giving the impression that we are watching them somersault through tunnels from our birds-eye vantage point.

Preljocaj also clearly understands how to craft a duet that sparks with energy. Snow White and the evil Queen battle over a poisonous apple, and the fruit becomes a device for the queen to control and humiliate her prey.

Redi Shtylla's prince to Delogu's Snow White.

Photo: Mark Gambino

The love duets between Snow White and her prince, meanwhile, are complex and passionate, telling a story of love then heartbreak through often violent movement.

Mirea Delogu is outstanding as Snow White, offering what is by far the strongest technical and emotive performance onstage.

Gaultier’s much-anticipated costumes are certainly unusual. Snow White's outfit reveals Delogu's entire leg, highlighting the lines of her body beneath a short romper (well, a nappy); her wedding frock, with tiers of white fringe, is wonderful.

The exquisite detail of Gaultier's costumes is largely lost.

Photo: Mark Gambino

The Queen is dressed in a leather harness - ideal for stalking in front of a magic mirror. Unfortunately, much of Gaultier's detail is completely lost amid the movement and low light.

Mahler’s score is performed beautifully by Orchestra Victoria but is a challenging choice for a narrative work. As with so many elements of Snow White, each component makes some sense individually - far more than they do together.

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