DANCE: MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES

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MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES

My life is complete—I met Sir Matthew Bourne!!!

And I wrote this sentence even before I met him last night!: “If I would ever leave Mr. X for someone else, it would be Matthew Bourne.”

Cast of the dance The Infernal Galop. Photo by Johan Persson, as is the big one at the top.

Cast of the dance The Infernal Galop. Photo by Johan Persson, as is the big one at the top of this page. Major kudos to this photographer for all these glorious images!

Before I review his new old show (I’ll explain that in a minute,) I have to first sing his praises, in general. (But please stop reading just long enough to go out and get tickets to Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. Then continue with this review.)

I’m happy to report that despite being the absolute best choreographer of our time, (and a “Sir,” to boot,) Matthew Bourne is a regular, down-to-earth guy, who chatted with me about the show I was about to see as though we were old friends. My good pal, composer Richard Sherman, introduced us before the show began, and—I’m not kidding—I teared-up! But he didn’t act like he thought I was nutty, and just put me right at ease. (And, on a shallow sidebar, he looks great, as well. So much younger than I expected of a man who’s been doing such wonderful choreography for about thirty years!!!)

The dance Country. Photo by Johan Persson.

The dance Country. Photo by Johan Persson.

The first time I saw a dance choreographed by Sir Matthew Bourne, (Swan Lake,) my teeth almost fell out of my head! I had been a dance fan (and dancer) my entire life, but had never before witnessed something so magical. I became an instant, rabid fan of his, and have tried to see every ballet of his that has been produced in Los Angeles ever since. But I always felt late to the Matthew Bourne game, and wondered just what I had missed.

Photo by Johan Persson.

Photo by Johan Persson.

So now The Wallis in Beverly Hills is answering that lingering question for me! For this whole week-end, they’re bringing us a show of exclusively Bourne’s early works! I stayed home for a few days and nights before the opening, just to make sure nothing would happen to prevent me from seeing this show. (And you know that I’m not joking about that.)

The dance Watch With Mother. Photo by Johan Persson.

The dance Watch With Mother. Photo by Johan Persson.

I had the great fortune to see it last night, and I stayed up until the wee hours writing this review, to have it ready in time for those of you who don’t already have tickets to get them right now, while the show is still here for this week-end. (Last week-end, at a dance show elsewhere, I met a couple from Kansas City who had come in to LA specifically to see this Matthew Bourne presentation!  I applaud their taste. And their corn-fed beef, but that’s another story.)

The dance Country, with Mari Kamata right in front.   (She's the girl in the incredible picture at the top of the page, too.) Photo by Johan Persson.

The dance Country, with Mari Kamata right in front. (She’s the girl in the incredible picture at the top of the page, too.) Photo by Johan Persson.

Speaking of stories, here’s one about how desperate I always am to see anything this man does. Several years ago, the day before the opening night of a show of his that I was due to attend, I had surgery to remove skin cancer from my nose. (No worries—I’m fine. It just made my nose even more of my worst feature than it already was! But now it has an excuse.) But I had told the surgeon that I would not have the procedure on that date if it would in any way affect my ability to see the ballet the next night. He assured me it would not. But the second the surgery was over, my cheek started to swell up, and by the next night, my eye was totally closed! But I was not about to miss a Matthew Bourne presentation, so I taped my eye open! I did that knowing I would be seen looking crazy at an opening night at the Ahmanson!!! But there was no way I was going to miss a Matthew Bourne show!

Matthew Bourne speaking after the opening night show, with Wallis Artistic Director Paul Crewes. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Matthew Bourne speaking after the opening night show, with Wallis Artistic Director Paul Crewes. Photo by Karen Salkin.

So, now finally, let me tell you about Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures at The Wallis in Beverly Hills, where it will be throughout this week-end only. (It’s also the only place that you can see it in the entire United States! Hence, that couple flying in from Kansas City for it.) It’s a show of a trio of his early works, and they prove that the guy was always the genius he is today! When we chatted a bit before the show, he told me he had choreographed them for himself to dance back in the day, (only he used better words than “back in the day.”) He elaborated on just how he created them when he did a Q-and-A after the opening night performance. He said he worked-out all the parts…in the mirror! All the rest of us did in the mirror when we were young was lip-sync holding a hairbrush as a microphone!

[Note: By the way, I don’t know if he even calls his style “ballet,” per se, actually. I consider it to be a cross between modern ballet and contemporary, but during the post-show talk, he did refer to these early works as “contemporary.”]

The finale of the show. Photo by Johan Persson.

The finale of the show. Photo by Johan Persson.

He also mentioned that some of the moves from these early works made it into his later, more famous dances. I’m glad he told us that because I thought I saw some of his “swan” movements in there. He laughingly asked us if it was stealing if he took it from himself. That whole concept made me happy because, during the entire run of my former television show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue, I felt that I could never tell any of my stories twice because of exactly that—I felt like I was stealing from myself. Now I feel that Matthew Bourne has given me permission to do just that, if ever I need to in this e-zine! (Like any of you have read, and memorized, all of my words to begin with!) (By the way, when they asked for questions during that Q-and-A, I was going to start the proceedings by shouting out my query, “Will you marry me?!”  Perhaps not that appropriate, but now I wish I hadn’t held myself back.)

These charming pieces feature not just his superior choreography, but superior dancers, as well. All of them are absolutely fabulous, but I could not take my eyes off Mari Kamata. She dances how I do in my dreams. She really seems to float above the stage.

Karen Salkin with her New Best Friend,  Sir Matthew Bourne, to prove she actually met him!  Photo by Mr. X.

Karen Salkin with her New Best Friend, Sir Matthew Bourne, to prove she actually met him! Photo by Mr. X.

Matthew creates moves for every part of the body, down to the fingertips, which I really appreciate. And his numbers always feature much charm and humor. I also love that the audience always knows what’s going on; we don’t have to guess what his intent is with each move.

All three pieces are brilliant, with the middle one being divided into two parts, danced before and after the first intermission. But my absolute favorite is the “Town” half of Town and Country. It’s unbelievably clever. I have no idea how a young person came up with that one. Matthew Bourne was obviously wise beyond his years back then.

I could easily see this show again this week-end, if I wasn’t already committed to review other theatre works. So, please do not miss your chance, if you’re in or near Southern California. (Or Kansas City.) They might be Matthew’s early adventures, but they’re our ones to enjoy now!

Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures running through May 21, 2017
Wallis Annenberg Theater For The Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Boulevard  Beverly Hills  310-746-4000  www.thewallis.org

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