Last week I attended opening night of Ballet Preljocaj’s Les Nuits, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The 85 minute ballet was well danced with an abundance of seductive overtones. The costumes were designed by well known couturier Azzedine Alaïa, however, there was no extravagance in design displayed. I loved the staging of the scenes and watching the transformation of the stage with set changes and props for the different scenes. I really wanted to love this ballet, but there didn’t seem to be a continuous story to follow. It felt more like watching several different scenes of dances that that revolved around an erotic theme, yet didn’t relate to each other. Many of the dances had an abundance of stacatto movements and that may or may not have contributed to my feelings of the dances being separate and the scenes not flowing fluidly together as one complete performance. Perhaps that’s what the choreographer was going for?
The highlight of the evening for me, was meeting and speaking with Michelle Hebért and Bri Seeley, two local designers who were asked to submit designs inspired by the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, (also known as, The Arabian Nights).
This fabulous full length white and gold chiffon gown was inspired by the Genie/Treasures. The gown was meticulously hand sewn to apply gold leafing applique’s to the golden plume which rises off the left shoulder. Per Michelle’s words, “Within the 1001 Arabian Nights Tales, the characters spoken of by Scheherazade are often seeking something, or come across artifacts or mystical creatures like the Genie that aids in their wealth and riches. This piece is a tribute to these aspects of her stories that relate both to the covetous desires of humans and the attainment of success.”
Scheherazade is the legendary Persian queen and storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights. Legend has it that every day the king (Shahryãr) would marry a new virgin, and behead the previous day’s wife. 1000 women had been killed by the time Shahryãr was introduced to Scheherazade. (wow.) Michelle’s two-piece white and gold design is inspired by Scheherazade and consists of a beaded lace halter and billowy chiffon slip with lace details at the waist and flowing bell sleeves. For Shahryãr, Michelle created a full body white and gold stretch suit with lace details. Hebért says she wanted “to create a piece that was feminine while still having masculine properties that would lend itself to this main male character in the story who after being betrayed by his wife, would marry a new virgin each day. But before the beginning of the next would end their lives out of fear they too would eventually betray him.”
Pieces from Designer Bri Seeley’s Chrysalis Collection
Bri Seeley’s designs captured the femininity that plays throughout the story of One Thousand and One Nights. Her use of flowy chiffon and elegant silhouettes evoked the feeling of Arabian Nights and sultry sunsets. The deep crimson color seems to pay tribute to the lives lost by Shahryãr’s many new brides, and the rich black gave nod to a desert blanketed in the darkness of night.
Such flowy sheer fabrics also gave me the feeling of tented caravans and desert breezes . . .
I love that the Music Center brought fashion and dance together for these three nights by challenging Bri and Michelle to create and show pieces inspired by the story of One Thousand and One Nights. It was such a treat to be able to cover these amazing designers and their work.