The Arts

Gardenia

Gardenia featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron

Gardenia
Les Ballets C de la B (Ghent)
Festival TransAmériques
Monument-National
Montreal
Jun. 1 to 4, 2011

Alain Platel is the well-known artistic director/choreographer of Belgium’s Les Ballets C de la B. For the dance theatre piece Gardenia, he has joined forces with writer/director Frank van Laecke. The result is a melancholy work, tinged with dark humour that touches the soul of the watcher.

The Gardenia is a drag club that is about to be closed. Seven aging drag queens come together for one last hurrah. Also in the cast, for contrast, is one woman and a muscular young man representing female reality and masculinity, respectively.

The men begin in suits looking very ordinary and middle aged. They transform themselves into women to Ravel’s Bolero, which is one of the most stunning scenes in dance theatre ever.

As they add on each layer – make-up, wig, dress, shoes – they promenade to Ravel’s rhythmic beat, each time looking more and more complete.

Stephen Prengels’ score is a wonderful mix of found and original music.

Festival TransAmériques continues in Montreal until Jun. 11.

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