Sonia Rodriguez and Guillaume Côté in The Seagull | Photo by Bruce Zinger

The Seagull – A Modern Ballet Masterpiece by John Neumeier

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

Anton Chekhov; a master dramatist who created plays to test ones ability to think, to experience and to feel. His works continue to engage audiences today, bringing to the forefront characters that captivate you and subject matters that test the boundaries of one’s emotion. Chekhov’s art is legendary in its own rank. His work’s have been adapted many times and to critical acclaim. However, last night’s opening of The Seagull by the National Ballet showed Chekhov’s work in a way not approached before.

Choreographer John Neumeier has taken a completely different approach for using literature as a means of inspiration. Rather than create an adaptation of Chekhov’s Seagull, Neumeier has created a story similar to that of Chekhov’s work, but highlighting the element of dance. The actors and writers from Chekhov’s play are now the dancers and choreographers in Neumeier’s story. By creating similar situations and characters to those of Chekhov, Neumeier has kept one thing that Chekhov was brilliant at: creating a situation that makes you think and feel. You are involved with the production, curious, wanting to know whats next. His choreography captures the various different emotions the characters feel. At times you are so moved by the dance that you shed a tear. The ability to communicate emotions just via dance is very difficult but Neumeier’s choreography just makes it work. Its a spectacular experience.

The dancers involved in the production are simply brilliant. Neumeier has choreographed various styles of dance to showcase the different emotions and individual characters. The dancers simply embrace it and perform. Each dancer delivers a unique performance while at the same time creating a completely cohesive and flowing production. Guillaume Côté‘s debut performance as Kostya is absolutely moving. His ingenious approach to the character highlights Kostya’s inner conflict and his means of communicating with others through his art, showcasing a character the audience can dig deep and understand. His relationship with his mother Arkadina is beautifully complemented by Greta Hodgkinson‘s performance in that role. She brings a certain charm that creates a character that embraces the art of dance as means of explaining herself. Aleksandar Antonijevic brings a tension to the production with his portrayal of Trigorin, creating an emotional conflict between Kostya and his love for Nina, performed by the beautiful and talented Sonia Rodriguez. Their dedication to their dance can be seen in their various performances and what amazing performances they are. You are left rewarded with a truly magnificent experience.

The Seagull by John Neumeier is a great example of what art should be: a representation of oneself and one’s perspectives. Neumeier has choreographed a piece that represents his interpretation of Chekhov while keeping the essential spirit of Chekhov’s work alive. You are rewarded with magical performances and left emotionally moved. This is an absolutely must see production.

The Seagull plays a limited run at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts until Sunday March 25th. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit national.ballet.ca