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    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Edward Scissorhands: The Ballet


    Matthew Bourne, of course, takes on a contemporary myth:

    Over the last decade, the choreographer Matthew Bourne has carved a popular niche between dance and theater, starting with his 1995 version of "Swan Lake," in which the women in tutus were replaced by hunks in feathers, and continuing with restagings of ballet classics like "Cinderella" and "Nutcracker."

    Matthew Bourne, left, at a rehearsal for his new work, "Edward Scissorhands," which begins performances in London tomorrow.
    Mr. Bourne, 45, has always been better known for his directing skills and highly collaborative working process than for his choreographic imagination. He uses movies as muses and reference points and urges his performers to create their roles like actors, a process that results in productions that read more like silent films than works of dance.

    So it may seem inevitable that Mr. Bourne's latest project, for his New Adventures company, is an adaptation of a Hollywood film - Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands," the gothic fairy tale about a boy with scissors for hands who tries to find love and acceptance in suburbia. ...

    Mr. Bourne stressed that his "Edward Scissorhands" was not a copy of the movie, but a reinvention of the story. "It's not something we've studied as a group or talked about much," he said of the film. Nevertheless, he said he sent his dancers home with "a suitcase full of DVD's" to help them develop their characters - "American types," he said, also gleaned from sitcoms like "Roseanne," "All in the Family" and "The Brady Bunch." ...

    "He's the ultimate outsider, isn't he, really?" Mr. Bourne continued, adding that Edward's difference is a universal metaphor for anyone who has ever experienced prejudice or bigotry. ...

    "You could tell another story - they could run off together and live in a more liberal place," Mr. Bourne said. "But I think because he is essentially made out of pieces lying around a room, he's symbolic rather than real in many ways."


    This may be obvious, but there's some real similarities to Swan Lake.

    For all the gimmicks, Bourne is a hell of a choreographer. One of those people who understands what dance can do and why it should be more popular than it is. In a culture so fascinated by the body, the physicality of dance should appeal to "the masses", but doesn't, only by reputation. Sure, it costs quite a bit to see a ballet, but it costs more to see a rock concert.

    I will definitely be in the audience when this hits NYC.

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