Elton John: Now In Ballet Form
By Jon Roth
Beyond his many albums, Sir Elton Hercules (Hercules?) John has written songs for the stage and screen, but this may be the first ballet set exclusively to his songs. Presented by the Alberta Ballet, under the direction of choreographer Jean Grand-Maitre, "Love Lies Bleeding" follows the experience of "Elton Fan" as he goes through a life that closely mirrors Elton's own. There are stylized depictions of drug use (and rejection), gay oppression (and love), and plenty of conflict with a band of detractors, The Demonics.
Love Lies Bleeding
Ballet inspired by and based on the music of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin. This year's most critically acclaimed dance spectacle!
Behind the Scenes at Love Lies Bleeding
This Day in Music, November 10: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
On this day in 1973, Elton John started an eight-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the singer’s seventh album and third US No.1. Recorded at the Château d'Hérouville, the album contains the Marilyn Monroe tribute, "Candle in the Wind", as well as three successful singles: "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting".
Reginald Kenneth Dwight had arrived. America loved him, the world loved him.
Reginald was raised in Pinner, Middlesex in the council house of his maternal grandparents. He was educated at Pinner Wood Junior School, Reddiford School, and Pinner County Grammar School until age 17, when he left just prior to his A Level examinations to pursue a career in the music industry. His father, who served as a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, tried to steer him toward a more conventional career, such as banking.
That’s an interesting thought - Elton John working behind a desk in a high street bank, humming the tunes in his head that the world would never hear. That’s a very sad thought; I can’t imagine a world without the music of Elton John. No "Your Song", “Daniel", "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting", "Rocket Man”, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", "Crocodile Rock", "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". I’ll be honest here, I don’t own one Elton John record, but I know his music so well, from the radio, TV, and, well... I grew up listening to Elton John.
I remember hearing “Your Song” for the very first time and like Dylan and Springsteen, you knew there was something special about that voice. Okay, Bob and Bruce never wore platform boots, ridiculous glasses or bright yellow satin pants, but maybe they should have!
Elton John is an entertainer, and a great musician. I was lucky enough to meet him once in the middle of winter in 1982, in a very cold Helsinki, Finland. I was working there at the time, blagged some tickets to see him in concert, and through a friend was invited back to his hotel for drinks and dinner with Elton and his band. I was in my early 20s and I’d never met anyone so famous before. I was nervous, but I had no need to be. Elton was the perfect host and by chance I happened to sit opposite him during dinner. I had a great night. We talked for ages about his two passions: music and football. The only goof I made was when after the meal I offered Elton a cigarette. He said, “No thanks, I don’t smoke but I love fags,” to which I didn’t get the joke and proceeded to make a complete fool of myself.
Back to Elton. At the age of 15, with the help of his mother and stepfather, Reginald became a weekend pianist at a nearby pub, the Northwood Hills Hotel, playing Thursday to Sunday nights for £35 a week and tips. Known simply as "Reggie", he played a range of popular standards, including songs by Jim Reeves and Ray Charles, as well as songs he had written himself.
In 1964, Dwight and his friends formed a band called Bluesology. By the mid-1960s, Bluesology was backing touring American soul and R&B musicians like The Isley Brothers, Major Lance, Billy Stewart, Doris Troy, and Patti LaBelle and The Bluebelles. In 1966, the band became Long John Baldry's supporting band.
Dwight answered an advertisement in the New Musical Express placed by Ray Williams, then the A&R manager for Liberty Records. At their first meeting, Williams gave Dwight a stack of lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, who had answered the same ad. Dwight wrote music for the lyrics, and then mailed it to Taupin, beginning a partnership that still continues to this day. In 1967, what would become the first Elton John/Bernie Taupin song, "Scarecrow", was recorded. When the two first met, six months later, Dwight was going by the name "Elton John" in homage to Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.
I’m so pleased Reggie didn’t take his father's advice and get a day job, and I’m sure the 30+ million people who’ve bought Goodbye Yellow Brick Road would agree. They don’t make Elton Johns anymore; name me one other artist who writes his own music, can look good dressed as Donald Duck, wears oversized pink spectacles, and is still taken seriously. Which is such a shame as the world would be a much happier place if their were more Reggies.
It’s taken a year and a half, but Toronto fans of one Reginald Kenneth Dwight — perhaps better known these days as Sir Elton John — are finally getting a chance to get up close and very personal with a dance biography inspired by the composer/singer/showman’s life and music.
And in those 18 months, choreographer Jean Grand-Maitre, who created the work for the Alberta Ballet (where he serves as artistic director), has taken the opportunity to tweak, tighten and otherwise polish a work that seemed destined to become an international calling card from its first performance at Calgary’s Jubilee Auditorium.
It’s called Love Lies Bleeding and it opened Tuesday at the Sony Centre, where it is slated to play through Saturday.
There is nothing new in the confluence of celebrity and dance; Grand-Maitre preceded Love Lies Bleeding, with Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum set to Mitchell’s music and followed it up with Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, set to the music of Sarah McLachlan, while the National Ballet of Canada scored box office gold in ’08 with Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, set to the music of the Rolling Stones.
But what sets LLB apart from the pack is the biographical element, which opens highly stylized windows into John’s life at the same time it revisits a bouquet of hits and some lesser known tunes drawn from the songbook John created with lyricist Bernie Taupin, over his years at the top of the rock ’n’ roll heap.
It starts and ends simply, with a kid on a tricycle, an evocation and an homage to a core of childish innocence that has allowed John in his later years to carve a niche for himself composing music for family musicals like The Lion King.
As for the time in between, that is revisited through the eyes of an Elton Fan (danced by the hyper-athletic Yukichi Hattori) who inadvertently wanders into an alternate universe where he finds himself reliving his favourite rock star’s life.
From the innocent exuberance of Bennie, played out in full baseball rig-out, he goes on to explore the highs and lows of a life of excess — a life that masked but only barely, both overindulgence and sexual crisis as John struggled to come to terms with fame and his personal demons.
Over a song list that includes such classics as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, as well as lesser known works like Madman Across the Water and The Bridge, Grande Maitre imposes a contemporary dance vision that, while informed on occasion by classical ballet, owes much to the jazz, tap and hip-hop schools as well.
Similarly he raids the cupboards and closets of contemporary culture, both gay and straight, to create visuals that are delightfully in-your-face and decidedly homosexy, referencing everything from stripper bars to Andy Warhol, A Clockwork Orange and Cirque du Soleil.
There’s an eye-catching and ever-evolving set from Guillaume Lord, videos by Adam Larsen, dramatic lighting by Pierre Lavoie and barely there costumes by Martine Bertrand.
And while it all comes together in an impressively rollicking, crowd-pleasing two-hour package that will delight John’s fans, one can’t help but wish that after 18 months of practice, the corps had achieved a bit more in the way of precision to showcase some of Grand-Maitre’s work.
Or miss the fact that Love Lies Bleeding offers scant opportunity for the troupe’s ballerinas, who are to be forgiven if they are jones-ing for a similar dance-ography inspired by the work of k.d. lang.
Tiny Dancers and Larger-Than-Life Theatrics in Love Lies Bleeding
Alberta Ballet's show based on the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin delivers on glitz and glamour but has little depth.
When one chooses to see a ballet based on the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, one cannot be surprised to see some feathers, sequins, high heels on both men and women, and a few shirtless men in thongs gyrating against a white grand piano. It practically goes without saying.
But given the pair’s knack for timeless lyrics and storytelling, one should also be able to expect a little depth, too.
Love Lies Bleeding was created in partnership between John, Taupin, and the Alberta Ballet’s artistic director, Jean Grand-Maître, using a few of Elton’s chart-toppers like “Bennie and the Jets” and “Rocket Man” and more of his lesser-known songs to explore the personal turmoil, exhaustion, energy, and excess of fame and music. Having already made its way through Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, the ballet that’s billed more as a rock concert starring a spandex-decked chorus and Yukichi Hattori as the Elton Fan (but not Elton himself, exactly) made its debut in Toronto last night to the live cheers of the audience, which often mixed in with those on the show’s soundtrack.
Love Lies Bleeding certainly isn’t in the vein of traditional ballets. The choreography by Grand-Maître is more of a mix between ballet, jazz, tap, and pop, with plenty of high kicks and Broadway-inspired moves with canes. The movements are bold and inventive, and each number has a unique personality to it—mostly due to Martine Bertrand’s costumes and Grand-Maître’s use of set and props, including a giant rotating record and a pair of roller skates and sparklers for “Rocket Man.” While these songs in particular made for thrilling numbers, when every single song has its own gimmick, what is kitschy can become gawdy and distract from the real dancing. For instance, while the enormous gowns of the Marie Antoinettes in “I Need You To Turn To” were remarkably beautiful, the full skirts completely hid the dancers’ legwork.
At times Love Lies Bleeding struck a balance between the traditional and the contemporary, as the chorus created images of satellites hurtling through space with the red lights on their costumes, or as Mark Wax, Anthony Pina, and Blair Puente pulled off their dance to “Believe” in sky-high stilettos as The Drags. The use of props and over-the-top costumes made for an impressive aesthetic perfect for the glitz and glam of Elton John and certainly pleased the crowd. On the flip side, they overpowered the beautiful work of Hattori and the chorus members, Grand-Maître’s intriguing blend of dance styles, even John and Taupin’s music itself.
Love Lies Bleeding is one show-stopper after another, without a lot of room for story development in between. It nails Elton John’s dramatics, for sure, both in good times and in bad. But even through the sequined speedos, feathered shoulder pads, and rose-coloured glasses, Elton could bring audiences to tears simply with his words too.
|ELTON JOHN AIDS’E SAVAŞ AÇTI|| || || |
|Written by Omer|
| Thursday, 10 November 2011 10:48 |
Şarkıcı Elton John, Ukrayna'da AIDS hastalığıyla mücadele projesi başlattı.
Elton John AIDS Vakfı ile Ukrayna'daki bir AIDS ile mücadele grubunun ortaklaşa yürüteceği projeyle, AIDS'e yol açan HIV'ye yakalanmaları yüksek risk altında olan onbinlerce evsiz kadına test yapılması amaçlanıyor.
Elton John, evsiz kadınların tıbbi ve psikolojik tedavi göreceklerini, ''onları hayata döndürmek'' için yasal yardım da yapılacağını söyledi.
Avrupa'da en fazla AIDS'linin Ukrayna'da olduğu tahmin ediliyor. Projeyi yürütenler, Ukrayna kentlerindeki sokaklarda yaklaşık 100 bin genç kadının yaşadığını belirtiyor.
Normally we don’t like it when stores start pushing wintry goods before Thanksgiving (or let’s be honest: it’s usually Halloween), but here’s one way to jumpstart your holiday cheer early.
Elton John has joined forces with NEST on a new limited-edition candle that smells like the ultimate holiday scent.
Yep, we’re talking about pine trees.
Packaged in a pretty illustrated box and set in a gorgeous glass container stamped with a crest, this luxe candle is a perfectly fragrant mixture of evergreen and balsam fir.
And here’s another reason to buy it: a portion of the sales will go to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Do good, smell good?
Talk about a crowning achievement.
My Little Elton John
British rock tribute bands invade Westbury
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The British are coming, the British are coming!
And you're sure to get plenty of satisfaction when four tribute bands -- The Beatles faux four Strawberry Fields, Rolling Stones mock rockers Satisfaction, Almost Queen, and Almost Elton John and the Rocket Band -- take the NYCB Theatre at Westbury stage tomorrow night with their mind-blowing show "A Tribute to British Living Legends of Rock...