Elton John’s music and life inspire ballet

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The Independent Culture

Dancers have performed to Billy Joel on Broadway, Cirque du Soleil dances an Elvis show in Las Vegas, The Alberta Ballet of Calgary is touring with a Joni Mitchell ballet and now its choreographer, Jean Grand-Maître, has created a ballet that tells Elton John's story, called Love Lies Bleeding.

The "Both Sides Now" piece from Grand-Maître's work with Joni Mitchell's "The Fiddle and the Drum" dance sequence was performed during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Games. Elton John's show will run May 6-8 in Calgary and May 11-12 in Edmonton. Tickets go on sale March 1.

Love Lies Bleeding is described as a contemporary semi-abstract ballet set to 14 classic songs by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The theatrical dances portray the narrative of the performer's life, from a young boy outside London to a man never meant to be a superstar.

Grand-Maître, the Quebec-born artistic director of Alberta Ballet, has worked for a year on the project with a design team as well as John, who approached the company on Mitchell's recommendation.

Set in a vast, dark and abandoned theater littered with mementos, artifacts and the remembrances, the ballet depicts dramatic landscapes from Elton's cycle. The choreographer blended Bob Fosse-inspired jazz-style dancing with classical ballet en pointe, urban hip-hop, rollerblading, and Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics.

The "Bennie and the Jets" number, features dancers in sequinned baseball uniforms and a spinning record that serves as a revolving stage depicting John's 1975 mega-concert at Dodger Stadium. "Have Mercy on the Criminal" views John's struggles with drug addiction and coming out. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" shows John battling his demons with a soft-shoe tap sequence with men in heels.

Elton John plans to attend the May premiere and a worldwide tour is expected to follow.