Kudelka turns to America’s Gilded Age and Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel, The House of Mirth, as inspiration for his latest work. From the House of Mirth is a music/dance/theatre collaboration with original score by Rodney Sharman and libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin, featuring both choreography and theatrical direction by Kudelka.
Telling the story “not as a ballet,” says Kudelka, “not as an opera, and not as a sung play,” each of the art forms picks up the thread in turn. When the dance can no longer support the complexity of the drama, other devices take over the storytelling. When images need to be captured in a moment or themes presented in all their subtlety, Kudelka’s refined yet passionate choreography takes the focus. When emotions swell to the breaking point, the live music fills the space and carries us along its own intricate journey.
The novel tells of Lily Bart’s tragic descent from the glittering social circle of 1890s New York to poverty and a solitary death, her dreams of marriage – whether for wealth or love – shattered by convention and by her own conflicted desires. Kudelka’s challenge has been to create a vocabulary of movement, music and theatre that can evoke the story’s moral issues, while illustrating the heroine’s inner life and her relationships to the men that help her, make demands on her and would save her.
Singers and the dancers appear together on stage, but only the male characters cue the story through song; the female characters are silent, danced by four of Canada’s finest performers. The artists involved are dancers Victoria Bertram, Laurence Lemieux, Claudia Moore and Christianne Ullmark; singers Scott Belluz (countertenor), Graham Thomson (tenor), Alex Dobson (bass-baritone) and Geoffrey Sirret (baritone). They are accompanied by a 5-piece chamber orchestra: John Hess on piano, Kathryn Tremills on harmonium, Sanya Eng on harp, Parmela Attariwala on violin and Carina Reeves on cello. Hess is also the Music Director.
The whole evening is presented as a salon concert, staged in intimate venues including private homes. Plans are currently underway to tour it to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in the Berkshires, for the 150th anniversary of Wharton’s birth.
James Kudelka is widely acknowledged as one of North America’s most innovative choreographers. His mastery of both classical ballet and modern/contemporary dance has earned him commissions from companies as stylistically diverse as American Ballet Theatre, Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance and Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. Kudelka’s work covers an impressive range, from virtuoso pas de deux, through large-scale and always arresting adaptations of such classics as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Cinderella, to boldly innovative creative collaborations with dancers, designers and musicians. After nine distinguished 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. In 2008, Kudelka became CLC’s Resident Choreographer.
Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, founded in 2000 by Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux, creates both intimate, small-scale performances and spectacular stage shows featuring some of Canada’s greatest dancers, as well as now-legendary site-specific events in both urban and rural settings.
Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie presents the world premiere of From the House of Mirth
a music/dance/theatre collaboration
directed and choreographed by James Kudelka
original music composed by Rodney Sharman, libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin
May 9 to May 13, 2012 at The Citadel, 304 Parliament Street, Toronto
Wed-Sat at 8pm with matinees May 10 at 3pm, May 12 at 4pm and May 13 at 4pm.
Tickets: $50 except May 10 at 3pm is Pay-What-You-Can and May 10 at 8pm is a Gala with tickets at $100.
Box Office: 416-364-8011 or online at colemanlemieux.com