Witness the Canadian premiere of Greg Horsman’s La Bayadère. Set in 1855 India, this story of eternal love impeded by the cruel manipulations of others, is the epitome of the classic story ballet.
Solor, son of the Maharajah of Koch Bihar, has pledged his undying love to the beautiful Nikiya, a bayadère (temple dancer). When he is forced by his father to marry the Governor-General’s daughter, a string of tragic consequences is unleashed.
This sumptuous new production of La Bayadère will sweep you into the exotic world of the 19th century British Raj. Within a cauldron of colonial politics, glittering balls and opium-fuelled dreams, Solor and Nikiya are entwined through life, death and the ghostly Kingdom of the Shades.
Choreographer Greg Horseman set out to give the movement in this production the feel of a more realistic India by including classical Indian movement and style for the temple dancers (bayadères). There are many layers of La Bayadère and through his choreography, Greg kept all of the iconic key elements of the traditional story including the Kingdom of Shades; one of the most memorable ensembles in all of classical ballet.
Don’t miss this brand new co-production between Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet, and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
La Bayadère is filled with brilliant and breathtaking moments – the descent of the Shades in the light of the full moon; opium dreamscapes and drunken wedding dances; and the reunion of the lovers in the afterlife.
Elise Lawrence, Backstreet Brisbane, 2018
Greg Horsman has choreographed and directed a truly great story ballet … La Bayadère is filled with brilliant and breathtaking moments.
Backstreet Brisbane, 2018 (Queensland Ballet)
Featured Creative Team
Set & Costume Design
India, 1855 - The armies of Koch Bihar and the British East India Company have been at war. The Maharajah of Koch Bihar and the Governor-General of India decide to bring an end to hostilities, with a treaty that includes the arranged marriage of the Maharajah’s son, Prince Solor to the Governor-General’s daughter, Edith.
Prince Solor is training a garrison of soldiers. An envoy from the Maharajah tells him to return to the palace immediately; Solor agrees, knowing that on the way, he will stop at the Temple of the Golden Idol, where his beloved Nikiya is a bayadère (temple dancer).
The Governor-General and his retinue are escorting his over-indulged daughter, Edith, to Koch Bihar. They stop at the Temple of the Golden Idol, where the High Brahmin greets them and summons the bayadères to bring water and entertain the visitors. Nikiya, the leading
bayadère, concludes the performance. Impressed, the Governor-General offers generous payment for the temple dancers to perform at his daughter’s engagement party.
Solor’s garrison arrives. He sends his troops and the envoy on, while he remains, hoping to see Nikiya. When the bayadères emerge from the temple, Nikiya lingers outside and the two lovers meet. Solor proposes that they elope; Nikiya agrees to run away with him on the following night.
Returning to the Palace, Solor is told of the arranged marriage between himself and Edith. He insists it cannot go ahead, as he is in love with Nikiya. Faced with the Maharajah’s anger, he grudgingly complies, knowing he will instead elope with Nikiya.
At their engagement party, Solor agrees to dance with Edith, but rebuffs her affection. The Dance of the Golden Idol is performed and then Nikiya, unaware she is at her beloved’s engagement party, begins to dance. Unable to resist, Solor joins her dance and they kiss. With their love exposed, there is outrage. In the mayhem, Edith sees her chance to avenge Solor’s insult to her; only her father sees her treacherous action. Solor cradles his dying love.
Heartbroken, Solor seeks solace in an opium den. The owner, sensing an opportunity to profit from a man of obvious wealth, guides him to a bed and offers a pipe of opium. Nikiya’s shade (spirit) appears to him, among the star-lit peaks of the Himalayas. The Shades (bayadères who died for love) descend from the mountains and the lovers reconcile, but their bliss ends as the Shades dissolve and Solor wakes from his dream. After some days, the Maharajah’s envoy discovers Solor and he is escorted back to the palace.
Forced to proceed with his marriage while still grieving for Nikiya and riddled with opium, Solor submits to his duty.
At the wedding reception, the newly-married couple dance. Edith, enjoying all eyes upon her, is oblivious to Solor’s distant, dazed mood. He mistakes a wine servant for Nikiya and swiftly drinks the first of many glasses. Solor begins to dance around the hall, much to the surprise and enjoyment of all. Now feeling the effects of the wine, he collapses into the table with the wedding cake. Edith is mortified, and the Maharajah is disgusted by his son’s behaviour.
Confused and intoxicated, Solor fears he may be losing his mind and is taken to his rooms. He imagines Nikiya in his arms again and collapses on the bed. Edith decides to put her anger aside and seduce him. When Solor rejects her advances, she becomes incensed and screams that Nikiya died by her hand. Solor is blinded by rage and retaliates with violence. Soldiers run into the room; Solor is shot and, staggering backwards, falls through a window.
Nikiya and Solor’s spirits enter the Kingdom of the Shades where, at last, they are reunited in eternal love.