Dorian Gray – Explain In detail how the context influenced the choreography - Sample Essay
I witnessed an excellent dark seductive dance adaptation choreographed and directed by Matthew Bourne of Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray, entitled Dorian Gray, We used elements of this performance in order to inspire and influence our final piece. This bleak fairy tale, illustrates the story of Dorian Gray, a cultured, wealthy and incredibly beautiful young man who makes a pact with the devil. Matthew Bourne uses Dorian’s character to illustrate the rise and fall of fame.
Bourne successfully achieves this by using lavish party scenes to enhance the glamorous side of fame and malicious scenes of murder, seduction and deceit to highlight the extremely bleak side to fame. Bourne’s cleverly assembled choreography tells the story of Dorian Grey adventurously, creating a thrilling and captivating performance for the audience to watch. In Bourne’s staging of Wilde’s novel the central character, Dorian Grey is a poster boy for a perfume advertisement.
Bourne’s adaptation gives the audience a glance into an image-obsessed world of contemporary art and politics, focusing mainly on how social status and the constant desire to look good strongly dominates and influences 21st century celebrity culture, this reflects our chosen theme of drugs, as drugs control and influence many people’s life today and the desire and content need for drugs dominates and has become a major problem of 21st centaury life.
Bourne chose realistic themes, situations and circumstances and uses his choreography to create a hard-hitting and dramatic performance, illustrating his theme through his narrative technique; we will use this technique throughout our choreographing process as the aim of our piece is to successfully demonstrate the theme of drugs to our audience.
At the beginning of the performance Dorian has little importance, which is evident from the body language and movement Bourne has chosen for the dancers present on stage, however it is humorous to see how instantly the snobbish, distant movement suddenly change as Dorian becomes a top celebrity and everyone wants to befriend him.
Each dancer is competing for Dorian’s attention, using seductive lingering movement in a desperate bid just to be noticed by Dorian, however Dorian’s successful life and career as an iconic model is boldly contrasted by the harsher side to fame, which includes scenes of drugs, alcohol sex and murder, which is why I have chose to look into this piece, as Bourne demonstrates how these fixations can easily demolish a person’s career.
Bourne used poses and freeze frames to express the process of drug taking to the audience, like sniffing, injecting and taking pills, we used this idea in our piece as it is a clear and prominent way of illustrating to the audience what is happening on stage, We used brushing our hand across our nose to show the effect of sniffing cocaine, our hand over our mouth to represent taking pills, And stroking our hand up our arm to show injecting heroin.
Bourne also used props to show consuming alcohol and he had a white substance to show snorting cocaine, to improve our final piece we could have added in props, this would have defiantly made our theme more prominent to the audience. The theme of violence was a dominate theme throughout the performance, the lighting was dark and mysterious, creating an eerie, uncertain atmosphere within the audience. The costumes used to represent this theme were dull and simple, allowing the audience to focus purely on the choreography and not get distracted by the costumes.
Bourne’s key features to enhance this theme were, blood against a dull background an evil and good twin to show the contrast in Dorian’s personality, expressing that there is good in everyone or that there is two sides to every story. Bourne used fast paced movements, making violent scenes exciting sending an adrenaline rush through the audience, and Borne had also used appropriate expression and contact movement, like we did in our piece. All these techniques’s Bourne has used came together successfully, allowing the audience to easily distinguish the subject matter and the theme of this section.
Another important theme in Dorian Gray was obsession. This theme was obvious to the audience, due to use of smothering, lingering, over lapping, intertwining, movement. Also the fact that Dorian was the only character on stage wearing a white suit, whilst all the other dancers were wearing black, highlighted the fact that Dorian was the most important character on stage and that everyone wanted to be around him. Bourne added in over the top movements, such as the dancers, fighting and battling against each other, competing for Bourne’s attention. The lighting used was bright and natural in oppose to lighting used to show violence.
The use of costume in this scene is extremely effective, it is evident that Bourne is the central character to the piece, I feel that we could have focused on our costumes for out final piece a lot more, we opted to wear modern clothes that would fit into a club scene, however I feel we should have all wore a black or dull colour and Hannah could have wore all white for dramatic effect, especially when she falls at the end this would make Hannah stand out and add mystery and depth to the piece, allowing the audience to question why Hannah was wearing white and they would find out why at the end.
Like Bourne we worked on lighting, costume, key features, positioning, and movement and exaggerated certain actions in order to portray the themes of drugs successfully to the audience. We used flashing, different coloured lighting to show the club scene at the start of our piece and blue, dull still lighting for the comedown section, which will have shown the audience a distinct change in the mood of the performance.
The costumes used in Dorian Gray, were modern, minimalistic and lacking in colour, we decided to use costumes appropriate to a club scene in our piece, reflecting our theme. The key features of our piece were the drug related poses which we repeated throughout the piece, so the audience was able to understand our theme. We also chose a hard-hitting theme which alone reflected Bourne’s work as his themes are deep and extreme, for example Dorian Gray embodies the themes of violence, obsession, deceit, sexuality, drug abuse and murder.
Attending a Pre Show talk, delivered by Matthew Bourne himself allowed me to understand in more detail the concept and the incentive behind Bourne’s new adaptation and the story and meaning behind Bourne’s choreography whilst watching the performance. During this talk Bourne confessed that he loosely based Dorians character on a the late actor Heath Ledger stating, ‘He ended up in isolation, a lonely man in New York with everyone giving him stuff to help him to get through it. And what happened? He ended up dead. ” The pre show talk helped me disguise what parts of the performance reflected Heath Ledgers life.
The most prominent scene is the very last scene, where Dorian takes his own life, however the last scene also links in with the double life concept, as Bourne uses a twin to visually differentiate between the two lifestyles, and this is another clever choreographing technique in order to tell the story. I feel we studied Bourne’s choreographing techniques well and have successful incorporated Bourne’s method’s of illustrating his themes to the audience through, costume, lighting, key features, positioning, movement and exaggerated motion.