Industrial transformations

Ovid wrote all 15 books of his epic poem Metamorphoses two millennia ago as an investigation into everything in heaven and earth. His supposition, that God and man, animal and mineral, plants and the elements are fashioned from the same stuff, debunked classical order, and has since been a fertile source for artists tackling the big themes of love, change and transgression. Transformed again by the Ballet National de Marseille and the Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana, this time Ovid’s themes are clad in costumes from the material detritus of industrial production. Since Pablo Picasso dressed his soon-to-be wife, the dancer Olga Koklova, in Cubist costumes for Jean Cocteau’s 1917 ballet Parade so that she mingled and merged with the set – think 3m high skyscraper frocks – dance, art and design have cross-pollinated. Ballet Marseille director Frédéric Flamand chooses high profile musicians, composers and bands (like Michael Nyman and Joy Division), and collaborates with architects such as Zaha Hadid and Dominique Perrault (on a ballet about Le Corbusier). For Metamorphoses, the Campanas scoured Marseille’s workshops and markets for cable, wire, tubing, fabric and plastic. They worked closely with the company and choreographer, literally enveloping and mutating the dancers via found materials, ‘redrawing’ their silhouettes while playing with scale and recycling ‘poor’ materials into magical sets and costumes. Taking cross-disciplinary collaboration to a new level, they’ve upped the ante again.

The UK premiere of Ballet National de Marseille’s Metamorphoses is at the Brighton Dome, 3-4 May

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