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Brandstrup’s Jeux is a cinematic, even noir, yet playful ballet that draws inspiration from Nijinsky’s 1913 production of the same name, showcasing the lead ballerina dancing blindfolded on a sparse stage as she is manipulated by her cast mates.
London-based Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup created Jeux in 2015, his first-ever work for an American dance company. With dramatic lighting by Brandstrup’s frequent collaborator Jean Kalman and costumes by NYCB Director of Costumes Marc Happel, the ballet features four principal dancers and a corps de ballet of five couples. The score by Claude Debussy, his last written for orchestra, was commissioned by the impresario Serge Diaghliev for his Ballets Russes. In May of 1913, that company premiered Vaslav Nijinsky’s original version in Paris, although it was soon overshadowed by The Rite of Spring, which premiered two weeks later.
In Nijinsky’s original 1913 production of Jeux, an innocent game of tennis develops into an ambiguous ménage à trois between the three players. The French word "jeux" encompasses a cluster of meanings, from the straightforward “play,” as in child’s play, to any game or sport. But it can also mean play-acting, role-playing with implications of masquerade and deception, as well as "gamble," implying chance, luck, and fate. “Faites vos jeux,” — "make your bets" — the croupier calls out. He turns the wheel: “Les jeux sont faits,” — "the game is done." The ball is spinning — who wins and who loses is in the capricious hand of fate — until the next game commences. —Kim Brandstrup
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