Ballet kicks off American tour at Chester Fritz

Number one rated French cabaret portrayed through choreographed dance

Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers perform Wednesday night at the Chester Fritz Auditorium. Photo by Keisuke Yoshimura/The Dakota Student.

The classical love story of “Moulin Rouge — The Ballet” was told through dance and French music Wednesday night at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, where the Royal Winnipeg Ballet kicked off its American tour.

Moulin Rouge is one of the most famous cabarets in history and was first featured as a ballet in 2009. It has since been performed all over North America.

Since I had never attended a ballet before, I was surprised with the choreography and the set-up.

Even though no words or vocals were used, choreographer Jorden Morris organized the scenes in a way that fully expresses the story.

The story takes place in Paris where English painter Matthew falls in love with the cabaret’s star, Nathalie. However, the leader of the cabaret, Zidler, is also in love with Nathalie — forming a love triangle.

The first act lasted 65 minutes and introduced all the dancers. It seemed long because the actual story wasn’t revealed until the end of the act. The second act was 47 minutes and told the rest of the story.

For someone who doesn’t know the story of Moulin Rouge, it could have caused confusion as to what was really going on. The only thing clear in the beginning of the ballet was that it took place in Paris.

Continuing into the show, the dancers expressed all their emotions through their movements and the expressions on their faces. The French music in the background also helped set the tone and emotion within each scene.

The ballet dancer playing Nathalie had a lot of talent and amazed me with her continuous toe spins. She received several rounds of applause each time she spun in the spotlight, and her emotion in Act 2 had me on the edge of my seat.

The dancers portraying Matthew and Zidler also presented great emotions on stage.

Zidler amazed the most with his possessive and angered personality. During Act 2, when Zidler forbid Nathalie to see Matthew, Zidler was constantly on the edge of exploding every time he saw them together. The suspense was great, especially when he pulled a gun on Matthew.

Ballet dancer Matthew didn’t show as much emotion, but had great dancing skills. Matthew would be at one point of the stage and quickly make his way to the other side flawlessly.

The costumes used on other members of the cabaret were eye-catching and full of color. The girl’s skirts were fun, and they made me want to keep watching them in every scene. This was a problem sometimes, because, during other scenes, I would often focus on their outfits instead of what was going on in the scene.

Even though the endless dancing and costume changes kept me intrigued, the set of the stage was the most breathtaking part of the ballet. The backstage crew used three different backgrounds and sets to help set the scenes. One of the backgrounds was a gorgeous hand-painted mural that staged the original Moulin Rouge Cabaret in Paris.

The second and third sets were light colored backgrounds that changed with the tone and emotion of each scene.

In one scene the light would be dark blue to indicate darkness, and the next it would move to red to display passion. The Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge Windmill were also incorporated into the performances and added a realistic feel to each scene.

Overall, I give this ballet performance four out of five stars because of its amazing choreography and beautiful sets, but it was too long, and some parts were distracting. Tickets were only $23.50 for seats near the back, and $39 for the front, but both were fair prices for the quality of entertainment of the show.

Moulin Rouge – The Ballet will be making four more stops on its American tour including in Cedar Falls, Iowa; Joliet, Ill. and Muncie and Fort Wayne, Ind.

I would recommend this show to anyone who enjoys fine art, and has a passion for a heart-felt, professional performance.

Misti Meads is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].