There’s never a dull moment in Montreal and this past week the Houston Ballet gave an astounding performance of Marie-Antoinette by Stanton Welch. Over the course of four nights 35 dancers captivated audiences at Place des Arts with a three tiered tragic telling of the reluctant rise and terrible of fall of one of France’s most famous queens.
Opening with the introduction of teenaged Maria Antonia Josephina Johanna to Louis Auguste, the 14 year old dauphin of France the first act moved through the concerted adult effort to bring together two countries by joining their naïve children in matrimony. The dancers portrayed the awkward meeting as all of France seemed to wait with baited breath for the young couple to copulate.
The second act found the couple in stride as the old guard was out and a joyful more frivolous time fell over Versailles. The costumes in the second act exploded in vivid technicolor as the dancers feasted and drank and partied like it was 1769. Compared to the more regal first act this felt youthful and gratuitously indulgent. As the second act came to a close the colour and celebration seemed drawn off the stage as the Revolution begins and the rich are forced to suffer for their indecent indulgence.
The third act was much more somber as Marie-Antoinette and her family waited for their just desserts. One by one they are taken away to be executed by the angry revolutionary mob. The pain and anguish can be felt through the audience as the movements convey into raw emotion.
It was a pleasure to be in the audience on opening night. The show was an energetic spectacle of movement with dazzling costumes, an emotionally driven soundtrack, delightful sets and of course the expert dancers.
Photo Credit: Pam Francis