Saturday, February 4, 2012

Twyla Tharp's "The Princess and the Goblin"

Twyla Tharp! (Fangirl squee!)


Anyone who has ever followed ballet and dance will be more than aware of legendary American choreographer Twyla Tharp. There's a good chance, even if you're not a dance fanatic, that you've seen some of her work in various movies and musicals [Hair (1978), Ragtime (1980), Amadeus (1984), White Nights (1985), Movin' Out (2002), Come Fly With Me (2010)] as well.

Still working hard at 70, Ms. Tharp spent last Summer choreographing and rehearsing her new full length fairy tale based ballet, The Princess and the Goblin (based on George MacDonald's fairy tale of the same name) with Atlanta Ballet. It's the first time in her fifty-year-long career that Ms. Tharp will have used children in a production.

Twyla Tharp (age 66) photographed by Annie Leibovitz

Commissioned by the ballet in conjunction with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the work is based on George MacDonald’s late 19th-century children’s tale of the same name.
“[MacDonald] came to my attention through several sources about 20 years ago because I was looking for a narrative that would apply to children,” Tharp, a New York resident, said in a statement. “This ballet will in fact be the story of a girl’s coming of age. It’s a traditional Romantic-era tale, but it’s always a male who comes of age, from Goethe on. I would say that when it was first suggested, that this might be a ballet I had to think very hard about it. Although it was written 200 years ago, there are elements in it that are timeless and that are very relevant.” (Source)

Here's a synopsis from Atlanta Ballet Blog:

The Princess and the Goblin by PJ Lynch 

Arrogant King Papa has let his vanity get the best of him.  As he and his courtiers increasingly absorb themselves with frivolous parties and protocols, they remain oblivious to the disturbing fact that their own children have gone missing.  Unable to make King Papa realize his arrogance and ignorance, young Princess Irene decides to take action. 
Together with her Great Grandmother, her best friend Curdie, and a little bit of faith, Irene ventures deep into the underworld – the Goblin kingdom – to rescue the forgotten children.  Proving that faith and goodness can triumph over evil and tyranny, Irene frees the children and teaches the adults a valuable lesson about humility and forgiveness.

You can read a little more about the creation of the ballet and what it was like for the dancers to work with Ms. Tharp HERE and see some rehearsal photos HERE. (No production photos as yet but I'm very curious to see what it will look like!)

I also recommend watching this lovely short video on Ms. Tharp and her creation of the ballet below:

The family friendly ballet makes it's world premiere next week on February 10 at The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Atlanta GA. Ticket information is HERE.

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