by Paula Citron.
An Italian Straw Hat
National Ballet of Canada
Choreographed by James Kudelka
At Four Seasons Centre until Mar. 2
James Kudelka’s 2005 An Italian Straw Hat suitably recreates the world of French farce. The ballet was inspired by the 1851 play by Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel, and Kudelka has choreographically captured the frantic and frothy spirit of that romp which is no mean feat. The ballet is also staggeringly beautiful in design and musical score.
The slim storyline begins when the horse of an about-to-be bridegroom eats a straw hat generating a mad dash across Paris in search of a new one.
Kudelka’s mastery as a dancesmith is evident in the different ways he uses movement to depict character and situation. More to the point, Kudelka has followed the conventions of story ballet by providing the requisite solos, duets and ensemble pieces to satisfy even the most grouchy of purists.
In short, An Italian Straw Hat definitely deserves a second look.
The National Ballet’s An Italian Straw Hat continues at the Four Seasons Centre until Mar. 2.