Dutch National Ballet & ISH Dance Collective’s GRIMM ballet, choreographed by Ernst Meisner and Marco Gerris, displays a potpourri of dance styles in a fairy tale mash-up, much like Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods film. Members of the Het Nationale Ballet Junior Company perform alongside ISH Dance Collective professionals in a dynamic show that features beloved characters from Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood. Expect hip-hop power moves, pirouettes, dizzying aerial silk spins and Latin social dance – it’s all here.
Het Nationale Ballet is showing a recording of GRIMM from 2018 as part of their Streaming Ballet programme – and it will remain available until 13 June 2020. The two-act dance show runs approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes without intervals.
ISH Dance Collective & Het Nationale Ballet Grimm Review
Two brothers play video games before they get sucked into another dimension – in the style of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. They dance in the lush green surroundings, Jack (Thomas Krikken) with acrobatic flips and Will (Nicholas Landon) with balletic tricks. When Red Riding Hood (Alexandria Marx) waltzes in, their adventure kicks off. The duo continually chases and flees from a whole host of characters, much like Lewis Carroll’s Alice when she falls down the rabbit hole.
The pair help Red Riding Hood escape her fate as the Wolf’s lunch (he [Gill Gomes Leal] sure works up an appetite with his crisp robotic movements) and stumble into seven plaid-clad dwarfs. Happily, hip-hop is not a lazy choreographic shorthand to define villains. The amiable dwarfs get down, too, locking and boogieing with charisma. You can even spot individual characteristics: a dozing Sleepy, a slightly off-balance Dopey and a Grumpy that defiantly sticks his impressive fouette and pirouette turn sequence.
Snow White (Madison Ayton) entrances the dwarfs en pointe, but a female vogueing villain breaks up the festivities. The Witch (Sarada Sarita Keilman) captures the dwarf gang and Will, while Jack helps Snow White to flee. Once the escapees meet a silver-shoe-d Cinderella (Raquel Tijsterman) with a penchant for Latin dance, it’s off to the palace, where dainty Sleeping Beauty (Ines Marroquin) emerges belle of the ball.
Party poppers and colored confetti invite the dancers to drop the decorum and pull out their freshest moves. While everyone is grooving, the Wolf and other minions infiltrate the gathering. Their apples cast everyone into a deep slumber – but Jack escapes, yet again, with Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in tow.
The second act of the GRIMM ballet loses momentum, compared to the action-packed first half. Following a beautiful balletic pas de trois by three of the witch’s cronies to stirring strings music, we see Rapunzel (Micka Karlsson) fall in love with her prince (Anatole Blaineau). She starts high in the aerial silk, which represents her impossibly long tresses, and the pair fly through the air. When they come down, they are captured by the Wolf.
Next, we are taken to the kitchen, where the Witch holds the dwarfs hostage. Although it’s fun to see their goofy personalities, this scene is quite random. Highlights include a single sneeze and the Witch’s vogue death drop into the fire – topped off with a comical ‘ding’ to signify she is done cooking. Jack rescues Will, and the two attempt to save their fairy tale friends.
The plot runs thin here. The Wolf begins to play matchmaker, tearing apart our favorite couples and reassembling them incorrectly. Then the Witch summons magic that turns would-be allies against each other. Red Riding Hood arrives in time to help save the day, a karmic reward for the brothers, and the good citizens celebrate with a showy dance typical of curtain calls. Hip hip hooray.
GRIMM is a cleverly choreographed modern ballet that incorporates multiple dance genres without simply pitting them against each other in some kind of dance battle format. The delightful ballet is easy to follow and contains distinct characters in a fascinating world, brought to life by Aitor Biedma’s projections and a stimulating soundscore by Scanner (Robin Rimbaud).
Were you able to catch Dutch National Ballet’s GRIMM online or in person? Let us know what you thought about the GRIMM ballet in the comments below.