Fairy tales come to life

Miller's performance reframed fairy tales through dance and song. Photo by John Brady

Miller’s performance reframed fairy tales through dance and song. Photo by John Brady

Last Thursday, April 23, Grinnell’s Dance Ensemble held their opening performance for the spring semester. Their show was split in two halves, with the first half choreographed by Olivier Tarpaga, a dance instructor who visited campus earlier this semester. The latter half was choreographed by Professor Celeste Miller, Theatre and Dance.

The piece choreographed by Tarpaga was titled “Aucun probléme tout va très bien ici,” a French title which translates roughly to “No problem, everything goes very well here.” The five dancers in the piece performed to rhythmic music. The lighting shifted over the course of their performance from darkness to a low light so that they appeared to be dancing in front of a sunset. Their choreography involved many lifts, body contortions and rhythmic movements.

After their dance, an intermission was held before the piece choreographed by Miller, “Snow White Retracted.” The original rendition of “Snow White” was created when Miller collaborated with another choreographer in 2007. When she was contacted about recreating the performance, she decided to take ideas from her initial performance and reinvent the show. Miller, a believer in tailoring every performance to its dancers and audience members, reshaped the choreography based on the improvised movements of her current cast.

Miller said that she was inspired in her work by function and phenomenon of fairy tales. She calls her piece “a feminist exploration of the perception of women in society through the lens of famous fairy tales and references such as ‘Snow White,’ ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude.’”

Once some performers came on stage, the show began with a dance where numerous dancers danced slowly on chairs while performer Lizzie Eason ’17 singing Sara Bareilles’ “Once Upon Another Time.” Once the lights dimmed, everything changed pace.

A performer and a prop apple were thrown out from a door beside the stage, in a lyrical representation of Eve being thrown out of paradise. The door slammed behind her as snow fell from the ceiling while a prop window descended onto the stage.

When the window came down, a speaker that identified herself as Snow White began giving a monologue about her dwarves and their orders for her to stay inside to protect herself from the evil queen, despite her desire to be free and run outside on her own.

Throughout the monologue, some performers ravenously ate apples in the corner while others engaged in conversations and even washed laundry onstage.

“The performance is awesome and magical with a lot of visual and aesthetic value,” said Teo Geiger ’15, who danced in Miller’s performance. “There’s also a lot of intellectual components and references, I hope the audience picks some of it up.”

Miller and her dancers incorporated numerous types of theater into the performance, which included dance, acting and singing.

“[I hope] people will take away questions, delight, humor and intensity from this performance,” Miller said.

Performances will continue on Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Flanagan Theatre.