Pure Art

Anastasia Isaeva
The debut performance of "Signs" took the stage by storm in 1997, earning accolades aplenty at the Benois de la Danse ballet festival.

The concept behind the ballet was the brainchild of an artist aiming to encapsulate the entire spectrum of emotions inspired by the enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. The title of the first "canvas" speaks volumes. The smile, appearing delicately on the cheek, serves as the genesis: a symbol of initial connection, the birth of language, and the miracle of life.

This ballet narrates seven autonomous vignettes seamlessly transitioning into one another, each narrating its own tale, not in terms of plot but rather emotively. A painting graces the stage first, brought to life by the dancers thereafter. The Smile Sign (in soft pastel pink, accompanied by a gentle melody), Laura in the Morning (resplendent in yellow-orange hues, shrouded in mystery), the Guilin Mountains (serene in arctic-blue tones), the Baltic Monks (a dash of black-red with a hint of aggression), the Spirit of Blue (cosmic in its blue allure), the Colors of Madurai (imbued with an Indian essence, celebrating the vibrancy of colors), and the Victory of Signs (a mystical monochrome union).

Color ignites the spark, movement captures it, and music orchestrates this vivid tapestry of artistry and motion. The imagery is spellbinding, ranging from mermaids to Egyptian pharaohs, or even ethereal flower fairies.

Choreographer Caroline Carlson sheds light on the production, remarking, "Across the seven episodes, corresponding to Debra's seven canvases, I wove intricate relationships between characters, evoking perhaps the sentiments shared between Leonardo da Vinci and Mona Lisa. Debra's paintings, with their themes of temptation, love, life, birth, and metamorphosis, inspired the creation of seven ballets. To interlink them, I introduced two characters embarking on a journey through the signs. The result is both abstract and visually captivating, offering a tangible narrative."

The sets exude a vitality of their own, in constant motion, morphing in color, appearing and disappearing, almost dancing alongside the principal performers.

The costumes are a personal fascination, characterized by their vivid colors and ornate embellishments. Simple yet striking, their lightweight texture accentuates the dancers' flawless physiques and sinewy grace — a testament to the allure of modern ballet.

Rene Aubry's electronic compositions, custom-crafted for the production, harmonize seamlessly with the abstract visuals, completing the sensory experience. Incidentally, I've already listened to the show's playlist on Spotify to no end! 😂

A symphony of light, color, form, and texture—underscored by captivating sets and ethereal music. Love, temptation, life, birth, metamorphosis — where painting takes center stage. Signs.

If I were you, I'd already be securing tickets to Paris to witness the fifth installment of this ballet extravaganza, running until July 17th.