You’re in for a treat next month if you love one of these things – dance, storytelling or technology – or all. PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman is a dynamic performance which revisits the iconic ballet ‘Parade’, premiered in 1917. That time it was an instant hit with superstar crew, with Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes performing at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, with music by Erik Satie to a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau with costume design and scenography by Pablo Picasso. This contemporary reworking of the ballet will performed at Teatru Manoel for one night only, as part of the Valletta 2018 programme.

Photo credit: Stephen Buhagiar

Spearheaded by Modern Music Days, “PARADE & the Velvet Gentleman” builds on an interdisciplinary platform and embellishes the stunning choreography with stop motion animation, puppetry and projection dancing. Originally performed in 2017 as part of the Ziguzajg Children’s Festival, it returns this year under the artistic direction of Ruben Zahra. Picasso-inspired costumes by Ritienne Zammit, stop motion animation by Christ Scicluna, choreography by Moveo, masks and puppets by Charles Bezzina, projection dance sequences by MAKA Visuals, and a paper cinema by Trevor Zahra complete the work.

Photo credit: Stephen Buhagiar

“I have always been a fan of Satie’s music,” Zahra says when asked what inspired him to develop this unique piece back in 2015. “In a period when composers were seeking evermore-complex structures, Satie was being revolutionary through simplicity.” During a discussion with Teatru Manoel artistic director Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Zahra he realised that most people – including leading artists and musicians – were unaware of this ‘gem’ of a ballet. The idea to add stop-motion animation and a video projection for a choreographic ‘dialogue’ between the two dancers and their own silhouettes was born.

The premiere of “PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman” was very well-received during the 2017 Żigużajg Festival, when it played to audiences of all ages,. It was later performed for 700 children at the Catholic Institute. This time around, the performance will include a new choreography by the Moveo Dance Company to a piano cycle by Charles Camilleri entitled ‘Picasso Set.

PARADE & The Velvet Gentleman will be presented for one night only at Teatru Manoel on 27 July. Tickets are priced at €10 and available online. It is recommended for children aged eight and over.