Ray, on Aug 8 2007, 10:41 AM, said:
Has anyone ever choreographed a Jane Austen ballet? WHAT would/could that look like? Which novel would be best suited for such (mis?)treatment? My vote, if there was a gun to my head, would be for Northanger Abbey.
Interesting question. There's a problem with Northanger Abbey
, though. Catherine Morland's fantasy's about horrible Gothic secrets at the Abbey -- which would make for wonderful theater-ballet -- turn out to be a young girl's fantasy. It's a case of "less here than meets the eye." (As opposed to "La Sonnambula," for instance, where mystery and menace are slowly revealed.) It would be hard to create dramatic interest out of the situation, and the characters may be a little unfamiliar for the audience.
Why not go for the big one? Pride and Prejudice
. You could reduce it to the stories of 4 couples:
Elizabeth and Darcy,
Jane and Bingley (without his sister),
Mr. Collins (untimately with Charlotte),
and Lydia and Wickham.
Each represents a distinct character type, as well as a unique way of resolving individual aspirations and differences into a viable relationship.
I'd actually have all the action take place at the country ball. Or, rather, 2 acts at two country balls
. I know; I know: in the novel several of these characters have not been introduced at the time of the first ball. But think of the opportunities for dancers.
The 2 act =2 ball format allows for development as in "Liebeslider Walzer."
In Act I You introduce each group of characters (the Bennett party, Darcey/Bigley, etc.) as they arrive -- you establish what and whom they like and don't like -- you pair them off, re-pair them, and pair them off again. Pas de deux, pas de trois, moving on and off stage amid the dancers, tete a tetes among the corps: lots of opportunities. There's also a chance for character dancing by Mr and Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (minus her daughter). The Act I dancing can reveal the illusions/delusions and the resolution as well.
The Act II finale -- perhaps at another ball -- would allow us to see (briefly) what has happened (or will happen by the end of the novel) to each couple:
Mr. Collins, whose character does not develop at all, despite his repeated failures and humiliations, continues to dance self-importantly around a stable, resigned, but altimately supportive Charlotte. (I can see her actually promenading him
, as he does elaborate port de bras in a strange arabesque.)
Lydia finally becomes the boss in a strained by ultimately companionable relationship with Wickham. (Image: keeping him on a short leash.)
Lydia and Bingley have a sweet little Ashtonian pas de deux of domestic happiness. It's short, sweet, and just a bit smug.
Elizabeth and Darcey have the big dramatic/romantic pas de deux (not without some flashes of brief disharmony).
All ends happily, or at least in a kind of resigned, cosmic resolution, as all the couples join in a waltzy country dance. Just before the end, Elizabeth and Darcy leave the dancing, slowly mount a central staircase, look down at the dancers, smile at each other, and quietly depart. Curtain falls as the others continue swirling around the stage.