From the House of Mirth
Market Hall Performing Arts Centre: 140 Charlotte St, Peterborough
May 5, 2012
$35; sliding scale $20
Director and Choreograper
Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell for Hoax Couture
Geoffrey Sirrett-bass baritone
Sanya Eng – harp
Carina Reeves – cello
Kathryn Tremills – harmonium
Parmela Attariwala – violin
John Hess – piano
Public Energy presents
Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie
From the House of Mirth is the latest creation from the fertile mind of James Kudelka (below), resident choreographer for Toronto-based Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie (CLC). This unusual work – for four female dancers, four male opera singers and a chamber orchestra of five musicians – is perfectly suited for the intimate theatre of the Market Hall, as it is designed for presentation in smaller venues to re-create the intimacy of a 19th century salon. The source of the dance is American novelist Edith Wharton’s classic novel The House of Mirth, a devastating critique of American aristocracy set in the 1890s. Wharton’s keen social commentary, and the issues faced by her heroine Lily Bart, is in many ways as relevant now as it was then.
From the House of Mirth will use movement, music and the words of Wharton – as interpreted by librettist Alex Poch-Goldin – to establish a profound relationship between the past and present. The work has very little in the way of set, as it is designed to be performed in venues whose own architectural features, ornamentation, and rich history provide the ambiance for the performance.
Public Energy is proud to present the avant premiere of this new work, just prior to its world premiere the following week at CLC’s intimate studio theatre Toronto. This is the second premiere of a Kudelka work brought to Peterborough by CLC and Public Energy, after The Kudelka-Taylor project in 2007.
A few words on the work from James Kudelka:
“I propose to tell the story of The House of Mirth, not as a ballet, and not as an opera, and not as a sung play or music theatre. But I would like to work to create a libretto that would allow only the male characters to cue the story through song and to have the female characters be dancers. We plan to look closely at the moral issues and themes that the story brings up, and try to let each of the art forms pick up the thread of the storytelling when that particular form can do it best.
The interesting thing for me about The House of Mirth is that the novel almost never talks about love of any kind, but the book is all about relationships, and the inevitable need for a good marriage. There is virtually no sex in it. Love and sex are what ballet is all about. To be able to illustrate the heroine’s inner life through movement and her relationships to the men that help her, make demands on her and would save her, are incredibly interesting to me theatrically, because they aren’t about kisses.
I am looking to find a dance vocabulary from the inside, while directing the singers and the dancers who will appear together on stage, and to make all this seem normal and understandable. I am looking forward to unlocking it all and finding a theatrical way to bring this story into the flesh.”
James Kudelka is widely acknowledged as one of North America’s most innovative choreographers. His mastery of both classical ballet and modern/contemporary dance have earned him commissions from companies as stylistically diverse as American Ballet Theatre, Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance, and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Kudelka’s work covers an impressive range from virtuoso pas de deux through large-scale adaptations of classics such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, to boldly innovative creative collaborations with dancers, designers and musicians. After nine years as Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada (1996-2005), James Kudelka continues to undertake collaborative projects that engage and challenge him as a choreographer. He has been a resident choreographer with Coleman Lemieux Compagnie since 2008.