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Review: Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White: Dark and erotic

Right: Happy ever after – Snow White and her prince. Photo by Darren Thomas.

Snow White

Choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj

Musaic by Gustav Mahler and 79D

Ballet Preljocaj

QPAC and Brisbane Festival presentation

QPAC International Series

Lyric Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


Season: September 2-11. Duration: One hour 50 minute with no interval. Bookings or phone 136 246

This is a dark and erotic fairy tale with a dominatrix queen and an innocent but feisty teen Snow White who is experiencing her first glimpses of sexual awareness. It is a heady mix that kept me engrossed for the close to two hours of non-stop dance.

The plot follows the fairy tale closely. Queen is the mirror’s favourite; Snow White then gets the nod, The Queen sends woodsmen to kill her. They don’t. Snow White lives with the dwarves until the Queen kills her with an apple. The Prince arrives and kisses her, she comes back to life, and they all live happily ever after - except for the queen of course.

The dark atmosphere of impending doom was set from the opening with dim lighting that persisted throughout, drifting through the fog. A woman suffered a painful birthing and died. The King took the baby and the mother was carried away for burial.

Thus we met the blonde and beautiful Snow White, adored by her gentle stepfather and ignored by the vain and evil Queen.

Cecilia Torres Morillo made an impressive entrance in the dominatrix outfit - leather corset, thigh boots, and bare flesh that we have seen splashed over posters and on TV commercials. She was a marvelous villain as her choreography gave her power and sexual energy enough to make grown men fall over, as they did on stage. Her pair of acolyte cats added to her witch-like persona.

The energy level was high from the company, and the seven dwarfs, shimmying up and down the roof high rock face were audience favourites, yet they were not Disney clowns – and certainly very curious about Snow White.

Now she was the glory of this special show for me. Emilie Lalande danced the inquisitive and free-spirited teenage girl dressed in a skimpy toga-like costume that managed to be sexy and innocent at the same time. Her dancing was superb and when she was partnered by Redi Shtylia as the Prince, it was awe-inspiring.

Her flirtatious first meeting with the Prince was precocious and provocative and artlessly sexy enough to let the Queen know she had some competition. The dance showed Snow White’s innocence and self assurance as she failed to see the Queen as an adversary until it was too late.

When the huntsmen, a trio of camouflage-dressed military men, set her free, she flitted wraithlike in and out of the tree heartbreakingly bewildered. Then a jittery deer was felled and its heart cut out for the queen.

We saw some lightness in the camp of the dwarfs, but it didn’t last long as the mirror revealed Snow White’s whereabouts and the poisoned apple was created. But here again the mood was intensified. We knew Snow White was about to die, but not in the violent way it did happen. It was not the poison that killed Snow White, but the vicious choking as the Queen forced the apple down the girl’s throat.

But the mood changed again to one of dark but tranquil beauty as the spirit of her mother floated down to save her.

The pas de deux with the Prince and Snow White’s corpse was heart-rending and her revival after her kiss perfect.

Good triumphed over evil and the Queen, with a frantic dance got her just deserts at the hands of the men she had tormented.

It was a stunning end to a stunning production. It is a show from which the images stay around for a long time.