Elephant-Dung Artist To Paint Ballerinas

This weekend, for two hours each night, the Turner prizewinning artist Chris Ofili — you know, the one who is known for using elephant dung in his paintings, which caused NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani to get all upset about one that depicted the Virgin Mary — will be swapping his usual canvas to paint the bodies of eight dancers. “It’s a really amazing thing to do because as you are painting the line is alive, the brush stroke is alive but the person is alive as well,” he said. “These dancers don’t ever stand still.”

Ofili has collaborated with choreographer Aakash Odedra and the dancers of the Royal Ballet for “Unearthed,” part of Sampling the Myth, a three-night programme exploring ancient myths through modern performance and visual art at the Royal Opera House. Recreating the Greek myth of Prometheus and the creation of the first man from clay, the piece brings together the Indian classical dance, Kathak, with the traditional form of ballet, creating what Odedra called a “raw and primitive confluence of two cultures.” Ofili is individually painting each of the striking figures for each performance, which opens on Friday.

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