Posted by: viewfromtheriva | March 31, 2016

Split Ballet’s La Fille mal Gardee–witty, charming, wonderful!


The cover of the program of the Split Ballet's new production of the classic French comic ballet La Fille nal gardee

The cover of the program of the Split Ballet’s new production of the classic French comic ballet La Fille mal gardee

La Fille mal gardée (The Wayward Daughter, literal translation: “The Poorly Guarded Girl” also known as The Girl Who Needed Watching) is a two act comedic ballet that is one of the world’s most continuously performed works, premiering in 1789 in Bordeaux.   Based on a French painting, music and country manners, it’s fun to watch and probably even more fun to dance.

The two principals (rotating pairs depending on the performance dates) were Evan Karpilovska as Lisa, La Fille and Ivan Boiko as Colas, her ardent suitor.

Eva is such a joy to watch, wonderfully alive, light, expressive and winning.  Despite her diminutive size, she is a stunning dancer who commands the stage with her presence and style.

Eva Karpilovska and Ivan Boiko light up the stafe as Lisa (La Fille) and her suitor Colas

Eva Karpilovska and Ivan Boiko light up the stage as Lisa (La Fille) and her suitor Colas

But it was Ivan Boiko who really dazzled….it’s rare to see a male performer with so much elegance and charm leap and dance with such power and brilliance.  As wonderful as it was to see Eva soar, Ivan’s leaps were breathtaking.

LA Fille has some juicy principal supporting roles too–Simone, Lise’s ever-watchful mother, intent on marrying her off to the oafish son of a wealthy farmer, is usually played by a male and here it was Igor Gluskov who practically stole the show with his hilarious caricature.

At one point he dons real wooden clogs and somehow manages to do a version of tap, jazz and ballet–wow!  It’s choreography like this and some deft handling of meters of ribbon to spell out “I love you” in Croatian as well as being used to wrap the lovers in a sinuous duet that make you appreciate the witty, inspired adaptation of LA Fille by choreographer Dinko Bogdanic and director Hari Zlodre.

Igor Glusko as Lise's mama dancing up a storm in real wooden clogs

Igor Gluskov as Lise’s mama Simone dancing up a storm in real wooden clogs

Another wonderful performance was by Aleksander Korijakovski as Alain, the hapless son of the wealthy farmer who threw himself into his role with giddy abandon.  This is the kind of role where dancing takes a back seat to tightly controlled shtick–you have to look like you can’t dance at all–falling down, making giant hops with an umbrella between your legs as if on a horse, etc. etc.  And Korijakovski was spectacular!

The chicken chorus

The chicken chorus, sorry for the poor photo!  

And let’s not forget the chicken chorus who opened the show–a gaggle of fowls led by a rooster, all in full chicken regalia, wagging their feathers and their butts to the delight of the audience.

Since the music is such an important part of the ballet, I was happy to see a live orchestra–this is one of those ballets where musical cues, especially percussion, are critical to what’s going on stage, so dancers and orchestra really have to be in sync or we in the audience will know something’s amiss–and the musicians were spot on. Although I wish the production has some stagehands with follow spots up in the balcony loges to capture Karpilovska in her opening, the scenic design, lighting and special effects (a thunderstorm) all worked in beautiful harmony to make the evening another magical night with the always impressive Split Ballet! 


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