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Dance Review (LA): Moulin Rouge by Jorden Morris for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at the Valley Performing Arts Center

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The Royal Winnipeg Ballet made a stop at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge and presented a dazzling example of their work, a ballet version of Moulin Rouge. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the longest continuously operating ballet company on North America. In 1953 it received the “Royal” title. Its company, as well as the dancers, have received numerous awards. The repertoire encompasses both classical ballet and contemporary ballet.

Moulin Rouge is based on the classic story associated with the legendary dance hall made so famous by the artist Henri Toulouse–Lautrec. The Moulin Rouge has been the subject of numerous books, paintings, musicals, and movies, including the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film starring Nicole Kidman. It is perhaps the most famous cabaret in the world.

The story involves a young painter, Mathew (Dmitri Dovgoselets), who comes to Paris and meets Toulouse-Lautrec who becomes his sponsor and protector. Young Mathew falls in love with laundress/dancer Natalie, played by a superb Amanda Green. The owner of the Moulin Rouge, Zidler (the technically skilled Amar Dhaliwal), hires Natalie on the spot, then proceeds to fall in love with her as does Mathew; the results are tragic.

The production is beautifully choreographed by creator Jorden Morris. The director is Bob Stewart. The absolutely gorgeous and colorful costumes are by Anne Armit and Shannon Lovelace. Andrew Beck designed the serviceable and fitting set. Pierre Lavoie created the lighting. Unfortunately, due to costs, the dancers had to dance to canned music. I find the canned music generally diminishes the product, as it did here, but cost is a factor. The dancers were superb and danced together, which is not always the case in productions.

Moulin Rouge was performed on February 18 at the Valley Performing Arts Center.

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