By Dustin Wingate
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet performed a spectacular “Moulin Rouge The Ballet,” for the Stony Brook University community on March 19 at the Staller Center for the Arts.
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a 72-year-old ballet company holding the title of the longest running in North America, received their royal title from Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Since its creation, the ballet company has performed internationally and nationally featuring spectacular shows such as “Svengali,” “Wonderland,” “Peter Pan,” and the famous “The Nutcracker.”
Andre Lewis, the artistic director of RWB, took the stage and welcomed the sold-out performance’s audience for the night. He acknowledged Jorden Morris, who choreographed the performance and created a masterpiece for the RWB to perform across the United States.
The show began and the classic tale unfolded. Act I opens with a Paris setting featuring an intricate and beautiful set with an illuminated Eiffel Tower backdrop. Matthew (Harrison James), enters the scene and is immediately robbed by gypsies. Nathalie (Jo-Ann Sundermeier), lays eyes on Matthew for the first time during the scuffle and falls in love with him immeadiately. Upon meeting, the couple danced together, emulating an aura of affection.
Later in the act, the audience is introduced to Zidler (Eric Nipp), the owner of Moulin Rouge who “can take you from the streets to the spotlight.” He discovers Nathalie as she dances and places her as the head performer, which comes with the prized dressing room at the burlesque establishment. At the same time in a later scene, Matthew meets an eccentric and flamboyant Paris artist, Toulouse-Lautrec (Yosuke Mino) and the two befriend one another. With the help of Lautrec dressing Matthew appropriately for the club, he heads to Moulin Rouge to meet Nathalie once again and rekindle his relationship with her.
During Act II, Zidler begins obsessing over Nathalie. When he finds Nathalie and Matthew together, he becomes enraged and steals her away. Matthew, heart stricken over losing his love, designs a plan to win Nathalie back. He disguises himself as a waiter and with the help of Lautrec, sneaks into the club. He finds his love and during the mayhem of the Cancan tries to escape with Nathalie. Zidler discovers what is happening and shoots Matthew. The bullet unintentionally hits Nathalie and she dies in the arms of her lover.
This flawless performance is definitely a must see. Not being an avid ballet viewer or a native to this genre of dance myself, I can definitely recommend this RWB performance to the knowledgeable and not-so-knowledgeable viewer. The dances were eloquent, clean and contained beauty with no comparison. Similar to a silent film, no words were spoken in the performance. Every word was communicated through the picturesque ballet.
“It was the first ballet I have ever went to,” Sandy Ren, a Stony Brook freshman, said. “Also, it was the first time I have ever seen Moulin Rouge. The experience was phenomenal. I’ve seen ballets before on TV, but nothing, including Broadway, was like this show.”
“I thought the performance was great,” Michaela Miller, a Stony Brook freshman, said. “It had phenomenal choreography and truly captured the story and essence that is Moulin Rouge.”