And Now for Hugo Chavez, the Ballet

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 12/02/2014 01:30:00 AM
Wasn't the real Hugo Chavez a homely, pudgy bloke?
For those with a taste for entertainment with a political bent, there is no shortage: Evita, Les Miserables, Imelda...the list goes on and on. However, for the truly outre in contemporary entertainment, you will have to leave the confines of London and Broadway. Make that off, Off, OFF Broadway: book your flight--and make sure it's a round trip ticket lest you get stuck in a socialist hellhole--for Caracas. Sure you can have reheated boilerplate socialist propaganda from North Korea, but why settle for that when you can combine agitprop with Latin brio?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the retelling of Hugo Chavez, the ballet:
The piece, From Spider-Seller to Liberator, is roughly based on a series of personal reminiscences culled from the late president’s speeches and his weekly TV show Aló Presidente. A team of Cuban journalists combed through thousands of hours, selecting the folksy childhood anecdotes which he would drop in among state decrees and political announcements.
My Venezuelan friends inform me "Alo Presidente" was a snoozefest of Hugo Chavez rambling and ranting eccentrically about all the evils that afflict his country--especially those visited upon it by Los Estados Unidos. To go through hours and hours of such dreck in order to construct a propaganda number is, at the very least, heroic. We continue...
According to the advance publicity, the show takes the viewer from President Chávez’s humble origins in the state of Barinas to his transformation into “the guide of the fights of the Venezuelan people’s struggles”. The work’s name is drawn from the spider-web sweets which Chávez sold on the streets as a boy. A previous staging of the state-sponsored piece earlier this year saw more than 40 artists on stage, combining live music with video art and circus-like antics.

The work begins with a recording of Chávez’s voice saying: “I was like a seed which fell on hard ground,” before a female character representing the mother country takes to the stage; she later dances a pas de deux with the male dancer portraying Chávez. Throughout the work, Chávez’s voice can be heard overhead while footage of key moments from Venezuelan history and the president’s life are projected behind the dancer.

“People won’t go to see a ballet performance. They want to see their leader’s life set on stage,” said the critic Marcy Alejandra Rangel, who reviewed the piece’s debut performance. “It was both weird and emotional. On one hand you were watching Chávez as a military or a baseball player pirouetting on stage, and on the other hand you were seeing an audience rally around the memory of their late leader,” Marcy said.
So it's not the Nutcracker Suite. The statement that there is no accounting for taste holds true here, but hey, who am I to say that it's not entertaining in a highly perverse way? Given the radical devaluation of Venezuela's currency, ticket prices are appropriately dirt cheap in foreign exchange terms. How about seeing it for less than a dollar?
Tickets for Saturday’s one-off show will cost $16-$44 at the official currency rate, or $0.80-$2.30 on the black market for dollars.