One of France’s most successful choreographers of Albanian origin, Angelin Preljocaj returns to Sadler’s Wells in London with his award-winning 2008 adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Snow White. Performed by the company of 25 dancers, this contemporary ballet is set to extracts from Gustav Mahler’s symphonies and showcases spectacular costumes designed by fashion icon Jean Paul Gaultier.
The classic story of the wicked queen who sets out to destroy her rival is told through Preljocaj’s characteristically physical choreography, while Thierry Leproust’s dark and dramatic sets transport the audience to a fairytale world of magic, drama and romance.
Since founding Ballet Preljocaj in 1985, Angelin Preljocaj has created 45 choreographic works, ranging from solos to larger formations. The company performs internationally and at home in France where it is recognised as one of the country’s leading dance companies.
“If Preljocaj has come to Snow White from unfamiliar angles, it may be partly because he grew up seeing the world from two very different perspectives. Born in Paris just five days after his parents escaped from communist Albania, he felt French while at school and Albanian when at home with his parents and their tight-knit community of Albanian friends. In 1992, Preljocaj, now an internationally famous representative of the Albanian diaspora, was invited back to the newly democratised country, and taken by presidential helicopter to his parents’ mountain village. “It’s a very emotional thing arriving by helicopter,” he says. “Out of nowhere, you see all these people running up. And then, in this crowd of strangers, I kept seeing faces I recognised – they looked like me, like my family.” Today, he is grateful to have had this dual identity. “All my life, I have this French culture, very Cartesian, very rational; and the Albanian, which is more mysterious, more instinctive.” It’s a “double way of thinking” that, he believes, has informed his entire dance career: from his teenage years when he studied classical ballet and modern dance while remaining close to his rock’n’roll-addicted friends; to his adult years as a choreographer” – The Guardian.
His choreographic work is steeped in his writing of the history of classical ballet, but is resolutely contemporary. He is considered one of the most important choreographers of dance today. He joined the repertoire of the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris in the early 1990s and has headed the company since 1985. In 1995, he received the Prix Benois de la Danse as choreographer. Preljocaj, subsequently renamed Ballet Preljocaj, has been in residence at the Black Hall of Aix-en-Provence since 1996.
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