The Handmaid’s Tale has recently become an infamous story and metaphor for much of what is happening in the world, politically and culturally. Quite often, the ballet is seen as a refuge from the world, but it also can be used quite effectively to make an audience think without being political itself. The RWB’s The Handmaid’s Tale does this beautifully, and should not be missed!
Overall, I couldn’t have loved this production more! It flew by, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the stage at all. it is a streamlined version of the novel of the same name, and although I am sure that it will be compared with the Hulu television series, it tells Offred’s story in such a unique and emotional way. While the versions capture on screen rely much on pure shock, Lila York’s piece conveys everything through smart choreography and pure emotion. You don’t have to worry about who is who or if they are an Eye, but simply watch to enjoy, and that truly sets it apart!
The music used was absolutely fantastic, and drew on several different composers. I think that given that this is a contemporary ballet based on a contemporary novel, including several different pieces and styles brought a grounding and a realism to Handmaid’s that makes it that much more enjoyable. I myself love the classical composers but it is a refreshing change and I think it fit beautifully! My favourite pieces were those used in the Jezebels’ scene; the jazz feeling of the music coupled with the gorgeous costuming really makes it a standout scene.
Elizabeth Lamont was incredible as Offred, and I feel very lucky to have seen this performance- she embodies the grace, strength, and uncertainty of Offred perfectly, and truly immersed herself in the role. This is a particularly demanding role emotionally, and she did not shy away at all. Sophia Lee was also a pleasure to watch as Moira, and brings an edge to a complex character. It plays with and off of Lamont’s Offred in the best way, and there is a connection that you don’t often get to see! Alanna McAdie’s Pregnant Handmaid is also something to watch for- even though she is 9 months pregnant, she has a lightness and quickness that does well to emphasise the Handmaid’s role and place in society.
The choreography is very specific and stylised, but that makes it that much more fun to watch. Lila York’s choreography has a life and quality of movement that holds your eye and your attention. The Handmaids’ footwork and body lines make such striking pictures, there are few choreographers whose ballets stand out in the same way for me. What I love about this most though is that anyone can enjoy this production! You don’t need to have any prior knowledge of ballet and it’s technique, but rather just be willing to get lost in the story for a few hours.
If you are still looking for tickets, there are shows on Thursday, October 11 at 7:30pm, Friday, October 12 at 7:30pm, Saturday, October 13 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, October 14 at 2:00pm! You can find more information here for show info and tickets.
A huge thank you to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for providing my ticket, as well as all of the photos!