This story was first published on Limelight August 28, 2016.

Here in Australia, ballet fans have an almost limitless supply of new fairytale fare on offer. In the Northern Hemisphere, where tastes are little more avant-garde, saccharine story ballets are more scarce, particularly in the repertoire of contemporary choreographers. So when French ballet icon Angelin Preljocaj announced in 2007 that he would be creating a new full-length show based on Snow White, it raised some eyebrows.

It seemed to be an inexplicable break from his typical, viscerally challenging concepts; even when tackling conventional narratives – his 1990 setting of Romeo and Julietreimagined in a Cold War gulag, for example – the bones of the plot are always stretched over with thematic muscle that flexes towards a darker psyche. “I have a very wide range of work, but sometimes I think it’s important to un-join myself and un-join my company from the predictable, to do something more disorientating,” Preljocaj relates in his deliciously thick French accent.

Snow Whiteisn’t like other fairy stories – it’s not like Swan Lakeor Sleeping Beauty. Snow Whiteis a thriller. It’s dark and vicious and complex; there’s a lot in this story to...