A tragic love triangle, the City of Lights, and the bohemian nightlife of the late nineteenth century—Atlanta Ballet brings Jorden Morris’ Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet back to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre from February 5-13.
Created in 2009 for the 70th anniversary of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the production has since toured internationally, been adapted into a ballet film, and was re-staged on Atlanta Ballet in 2010.
Inspired by the iconic French nightclub depicted in the art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Moulin Rouge® blends ballet, Cancan, and tango to the music of composers such as Debussy, Offenbach, Shostakovich, Ravel, Johann Strauss Jr. and Astor Piazzolla, among others.
A fantasia of history and imagination, the ballet follows the stories of Nathalie–a laundress turned cabaret dancer, Charles Zidler–the sinister proprietor of the Moulin Rouge (“The Red Mill”), Matthew–an aspiring painter, and, of course, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Atlanta Ballet veteran John Welker, now in his 21st season with the company, will portray Zidler and Toulouse-Lautrec. “What I really enjoy about these roles is that they are both based on real people,” he says. “They are not just a figment of the choreographer’s imagination. I love that, in some strange way, it makes you feel connected to that time period in Paris.”
Interestingly, the historic Toulouse-Lautrec would not likely have been able to dance. After breaking his legs as a youth, the bones did not heal properly and stopped growing. As a result, he was disproportionately short and struggled to walk, even with a cane.
Nonetheless, Morris wanted to bring him to life through dance. In an interview for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, he explained, “When choreographing the dance for Toulouse, I wanted the audience to see the amazing and beautiful things going on in his mind – which is translated through dance. It would have been easy to make his choreography twisted and deformed, but then we would never see the beauty behind what was in his mind.”
As Nathalie, the rags-to-riches Moulin Rouge star whose life is fatefully intertwined with Matthew, Nadia Mara returns to a role she first visited in Atlanta Ballet’s 2010 production. She delights in the character’s creative and dramatic possibilities. “Nathalie goes through so many emotions and transformations during the story,” she says. “It allows me to explore and work on my acting, which I always love. I can’t wait to show the audience this beautiful ballet!”
If you would like to be in the audience of Moulin Rouge®–The Ballet, tickets starting at $25 may be purchased here.