Opus Osm Minutka: Oliver Twist
This classic English tale is probably best known for the famous line, “Please sir, I want some more,” but this orphan story is told entirely through the language of dance.
Opus Osm Minutka (Little Minute):
Five Fast Facts About Bohemia Ballet’s Oliver Twist
1 This is the first Prague presentation of the story as a ballet. French choreographer Bérangère Andréo adapted the story for dance, set to music by Rachel Portman from the 2005 film version of the story. Bérangère Andréo is a longtime contributor to Bohemia Ballet’s family-friendly repertoire, recently staging the popular 2013 production of Peter Pan.
2 The expansive cast of Oliver Twist includes members of Bohemia Ballet and students from the Dance Conservatory of Prague. Youth is an essential character to the story, embodied beautifully by the younger students. The group of child pickpockets, for example, knows exactly when to adopt perfect synchronicity (obeying a cruel boss in order to survive) and when to let their wild energy loose (acting like typically rowdy young boys whenever possible). Oliver himself, played by Jan Řiha, gives an impressive lead performance, throwing himself into fearless lifts while always keeping perfectly pointed toes.
3 Bohemia Ballet’s young professional members give standout performances. František Viček oozes charisma as pickpocketer Jack Dawkins. Gaëtan Pires’ multiple pirouettes and endless extensions almost make you want to forgive his villainous Bill Sykes. And two young ladies, Tereza Szentpéteryová and Ayano Nagamori give a sense of grace to female characters in fairly desperate circumstances. Audiences unfamiliar with the story may want to read through the outline in the program to keep all of the characters straight, but the movements alone are worth watching.
4 One of the true stars of this show is the costume design by Thalia lifetime mastery award winner Josef Jelínek. The clothes go beyond beauty and functionality and add depth to the characters. A red plaid pattern repeated on the clothes of the evil boss Fagin and his protégés show that the young men hope to follow in his rich footsteps one day. A giant comical skirt on the nasty Mrs Sowerberry takes all dignity away from her character as she tries to scold Oliver. Jelínek’s designs add their own subtle voice to the story without distracting from the dancers’ movement.
5 The themes of young orphans, the desperation of poverty, and the actions it can drive people to are particularly relevant in today’s European climate. Choreographer Andréo says that she wants “to present my own view of the people and events, accented particularly in connection to poverty and suffering. I had no intention of advocating crime and theft, but rather I wanted to relieve the fears of children who are making an effort at one thing – survival!”
You can watch the next performances of Bohemia Ballet in Oliver Twist May 15 and June 4, 2016 at The Theatre of the Estates.
– Auburn Scallon, Opus Osm writer
Photo Credits: Dasa Wharton