Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life, documenting the music of Queen as the inspiration for the enduring ballet, will be released by Eagle Vision on 6 September. It will be on DVD, Blu-ray and digital video, with the DVD and Blu-ray also available as deluxe editions, in a 36-page hardback photo book that features images from the production.
Ballet For Life, which tours widely to this day, marked Queen’s collaboration with Gianni Versace and the choreographer Maurice Béjart. It celebrated the life and work of Freddie Mercury and Béjart’s former principal dancer, Jorge Donn, who like the Queen frontman, died of AIDS. The ballet was first performed in January 1997 at the Théâtre de Chaillot in Paris in the presence of Madame Chirac, Elton John and Queen’s three surviving members, John Deacon, Brian May and Roger Taylor.
The new release of Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life contains two programmes: the documentary about the work by Lynne Wake and Simon Lupton, and a full performance of the ballet by the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, at Théâtre Métropole in the Swiss city in June 1997. The documentary is edited by the Emmy Award-winning Christopher Bird and tells the story of the ballet’s creation and success of the ballet. It includes contributors from the worlds of both rock and dance, including May, Taylor, Gil Roman, Wayne Sleep and Arlene Phillips.
This vintage performance contains remarkable archive footage of Mercury, Béjart, Queen and Versace, whose stunning costume designs are also highlighted. The ballet film is directed by Béjart and David Mallet, much respected for his direction of live concerts by artists such as Tina Turner, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, and for his numerous Queen videos such as ‘Bicycle Race,’ ‘Radio Ga Ga,’ ‘I Want to Break Free’ and Mercury’s ‘The Great Pretender.’ The ballet has further poignancy because Versace was tragically killed in Miami shortly after the Lausanne filming.
Ballet for Life marked the first and only time that a full-length ballet has been paired with rock music, in a work that also features some traditional pieces by Mozart. The choreography’s “cycle of life” theme is the perfect complement for such songs as ‘It’s a Beautiful Day,’ ‘I Was Born to Love You’ and ‘Radio Ga Ga.’ The production culminates with the spectacular ‘The Show Must Go On.’
The release is of even greater significance to Queen fans in that it also includes a substantial segment of what became John Deacon’s final performance with the band, from the premiere performance of the ballet with Elton John in Paris.
Queen + Béjart: Ballet for Life is released on 6 September. Pre-order it here.
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