Ballet review: Snow White at Sadler’s Wells

Angelin Preljocaj’s Snow White, performed at Sadler’s Wells, wrenches the audience back to the dark origins of the Brothers Grimm fairytale.

Gone are the comic seven dwarves of the pretty, anaesthetised Disney film. Instead we are transported to a perverse world of anger, jealousy and violence.

The first scene sets the tone. A lone woman cloaked in black staggers across the stage, wailing in agony she collapses, a tiny baby emerges from her final screams of pain.

Snow White, danced beautifully by Virginie Caussin, is virginal and playful, full of flowing moves. Her white chiffon dress with provocative slits embodies both her sexual na�vet� and desires.

The Queen, danced by Patrizia Telleschi, is clad a dominatrix- style black leather outfit, who storms across the stage in a ferocious, angular performance.


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In one memorable scene the Queen thrusts a scarlet poisoned apple into Snow White’s mouth. Violence seeps from the Queen’s every move as the pair dance together, physically bound by the venomous fruit.

There are no dwarves but ordinary mining workers who emerge hanging from abseil ropes. Ducking, weaving and darting up and down and side to side on a mock quarry wall, they are a fun, playful addition.

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Preljocaj’s production is at its finest at its darkest. The three woodsmen stalking the unsuspecting deer in the darkened woods to carve out its heart; the Queen, reduced to a demented looking hag, forced to wear the red-hot iron shoes and dancing furiously.

The costumes, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, are beguiling and partnered beautifully by the stripped down sets.

Preljocaj twists what we think we know about this oft told fairytale and takes us to a wholly new, dark and violent world.

* Snow White ran from Thursday until Saturday last week at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1.

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