The Garden of Earthly Delights.
(photo credit: NICOLAS REUL)
The intriguing and mesmerizing 500-yearold triptych by Hieronymus Bosch is known as “The Garden of Earthly Delights” for the depiction on its central panel: an appealing paradise populated by imaginary flora and fauna, a perfect background for dozens of figures, free to explore varied, explicit bodily delights. On its left, we see Adam and Eve, next to a religious figure; on the right panel we see Hell.
This is the infinite spiritual circle taught by most religions. It starts with the Original Sin and ends with the final Judgment Day. In between, life, and its delightful pleasures, is but a transient state.
It seems that choreographer Marie Chouinard’s past artistic paths prepared her for this complex task. She dives directly to Bosch’s universe; a mixture of misleading naiveté, surreal symbolism, cultural references and hard to decipher religious and moral hints.
The painting’s main panel is projected on the back wall, filling the stage with its colorful richness, a wonderful background for the monochromatic effect of the semi-nude dancers. Their bodies are covered with off-white makeup which unifies them with the figures on canvas.
Two round screens front stage show close-up details from the painting, marking a point of departure to a series of exquisite miniature scenes; like a string of pearls on a silk thread.
The incredible beauty and clever adaptation of each two-dimensional still image into three-dimensional, breathing theatrical stage were a sheer delight.
Hell, the second act, is not the expected “torture and flames” hole depicted by Bosch’s other works. It can be a wild, mayhem affair, walking on the edge under the influence, combined with pleasure infused with pain. The stage is filled with old, used objects – a ladder, a skeleton, a yellow rubber boot, horns, empty boxes and useless junk.
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But for the characters, it’s a playground for misfits, the miserable, the broken souls. This high-volume, aggressive scene shows once more the depth and breadth of Chouinard’s imaginative invention. She seem to savor the chance to push her exceptional dancers further, tailoring for them a highly impressive showcase.
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