Although more linear in structure and classical in vocabulary than his “Romeo and Juliet,” Gray Veredon’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will never be confused with any other choreographer’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy.
Danced by Ballet de France at Ambassador Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, Veredon’s ambitious, uneven, anti-Romantic “Dream” had novelty aplenty: a green-haired Oberon, a cigarette-smoking Puck, a Peter Quince who carried a ghetto-blaster, a parodistic wedding ensemble of surly males and silly females, plus lots of Mendelssohn rearranged for what sounded like electronic kazoo.
Beyond such innovations--and the disappointments of a dimly lit, indifferently danced production--Veredon’s purpose seemed serious and intriguing: “Dream” as a dance-drama about male control.
Thus, his Oberon attempted to subdue Titania in the most brutal, humiliating manner--never more obviously than in a gymnastic pas de deux set to the “Nocturne"--while young Lysander and Demetrius nearly tore their women apart in attempting to possess them.
Unfortunately, Veredon’s manic, acrobatic classicism needed a breed of daredevil-dancer in short supply at Ballet de France. Elisabeth Amiel coped well with the risky fouettes into splits into floor rolling demanded of Titania. Henrikki Heikkila remained untaxed by Oberon’s ceaseless weight-lifting maneuvers. David Astie threw himself off high heels into spectacular falls as Flute/Thisbe.
But only Eric Languet as Puck had enough force, virtuosity and sheer Gallic insouciance to make Veredon’s “Dream” seem as viable as more conventional versions. Although the technical brilliance and personal edge of Languet’s dancing would be notable in any company anywhere, with Ballet de France they appeared utterly miraculous.