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Friday, March 9, 2012

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French steps: "Manon" retells a French tale through dance. YUSUKE MASUDA

Dancer tackles love across the class divide

Special to The Japan Times

In 1731, Frenchman Abbe Prevost's novel "Manon Lescaut" was published and promptly banned for its supposed scandalous content. Pirated editions were popular and the story line has endured over time. On March 10 and 11, the newest version of "Manon Lescaut" will be performed in Tokyo's Shibuya district as Unit Kimiho celebrates its 10th anniversary in dance.

"Manon Lescaut" recounts the doomed love between the noble le Chevalier des Grieux and courtesan, Manon, and is the basis or inspiration for numerous dramatic productions. Yet, as choreographer Kimiho Hulbert points out: "The original novel includes des Grieux's best friend who seeks him out after this great tragedy and helps Des Grieux keep on living. I wanted to pick up on these details that are usually ignored — the connections that help us keep on living."

Hulbert commissioned rising young composer Akira Kosemura for the original score, and retells "Manon" through contemporary dance founded in classical traditions.

"With this production, hopefully I've managed a balance in between," she says.

"Manon" will be performed on March 10 (7 p.m.) and March 11 (2 p.m., 6 p.m.) in Sakura Hall at the Shibuya Cultural Center, Owada, in Tokyo. Tickets cost ¥3, 500 to ¥4,500. For details, visit www.kimiho.org.

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