Carolyn Carlson : Les couleurs de Maduraï

A visual feast of color, beautiful images and dancing combine to make a stunning ballet shown in this segment called, Les Coleurs de Madarai. It is choreographed by Carolyn Carlson and performed by the Paris Opera Ballet. The solo parts are danced by the principals, Marie Agnes-Gillot and Kader Belarbi. The stunning sets and costumes are designed by the artist, Olivier Debre and the music is composed by Rene Aubry.

Carolyn Carlson is an American born choreographer who initially trained at the San Francisco School of Ballet and at the Utah University. In 1965 she went on to dance with the Alvin Nikolai Dance Company becoming a principal dancer. In 1971 she joined the Anne Beranger Dance Company and in 1974 was invited to join the Paris Opera Ballet as resident choreographer. Carlson went on to have an impressive career in Europe as a performer, choreographer and poet. Most recently she was director of the Centre Choreographique National in Roubaix and at the Atelier de Paris at La Cortoucherie de Vincennos, Paris.

This video shows a section from the complete ballet called, Signs. It was choreographed on the Paris Opera ballet in 1997. It was a collaborative project that brought together three diverse artistic approaches between the choreographer, (Carolyn Carlson), the painter (Olivier Debre) and the composer, (Rene Aubry). First the sets were painted in seven distinct “landscapes” that set the structure of the ballet and provided the inspiration for the choreography, music and costumes.

Signs is a ballet that is an expression of life and the relationships between human beings. It also expresses the moment of death in which the spirit is reborn. In other words it is a rich, beautiful poem that speaks of the unspeakable aspects of life including our spiritual existence.

Les Coleurs de Madarai is the seventh section of the ballet, it vibrates with the lush warm and flamboyant colors of Southern India The back drop/landscape is stunning, reminding me of the rich colors of Georgia O’Keefe paintings. It begins looking like an exotic cave that is especially wonderful as it changes when different parts begin to shift and move. The costumes are also wonderful. They are moving extensions of the colors and shapes in the painted landscape. In particular the dancers’ blue suit against the pink background and the gorgeous yellow gown highlighted by the lush folds of the fabric are strong focal points for me. We can see the influence of Alwin Nikolais in how the costumes are used to create interesting images, movement and shapes of the dancers especially those worn by the performers wearing the stretchy tube “dresses/skirts”

This piece is really beautiful. It is a treat to watch contemporary dance images that are so rich and colorful exuding great warmth and joy. It is no wonder that this ballet won two French awards.

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