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Monsters at the Ballet! Is Ballet ever scary?

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#16 Alexandra


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Posted 03 February 2002 - 11:10 AM

I wonder how much the fear factor has to do with shock? Once we know the monster will die, we can sit there in safe superiority and watch it happen.

This question has been dancing out in the back of my head all week. I can remember two instances where I was surprised -- not quite frightened, but not completely sure of the outcome (aside from Romeo and Juliet, where it so often looks as though the men have been given their swords an hour before showtime, and I just can't watch). Once was Nureyev in "Swan Lake" (Royal Ballet, c. 1977) in the final fight with Rothbart. For a few seconds, you really thought Nureyev would win. The moral force of his fighting made Von Rothbart seem weak and evil. I think Von R had to remind him that HE was the winner here, because the impetus of the fight changed rather suddenly, but for just a moment.....

Another time was in the Royal Dane's Giselle, with Peter Bo Bendixen as Hilarion. He's a tall man and looks like a stage villain. When he's first surrounded by the Wilis, he scoffs at them. You could hear him think, "Get real, they're only girls." When they begin to dance around him, his reaction to them makes them monsters -- they're just dancing, he's terrified, like a man caught in quick sand. You can see the moment he realizes that they are not just girls, they're malevolent and he is going to die.

In the 19th century, story telling was often done by inference. In Folk Tale, you know the earth moves not because the stage shakes, but because Ove looks at the ground in something between wonder and terror. Maybe the monsters in Firebird don't look quite as scary to us now at least partly because the other characters don't react to them?

#17 Alymer


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Posted 03 February 2002 - 01:05 PM

Stephen Jefferies as Archduke Rudolph in MacMillan's Mayerling was truly terrifying in the wedding night pas de deux with Stephanie. If the dancer playing that role had run off the stage and locked herself in her dressing room, it would have been quite understandable.

#18 Miss



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Posted 05 February 2002 - 06:58 AM

Drosselmeyer in the PNB movie version of the Nutcracker gave me a GIANT case of the willies!

We have often had small children cry during the Battlescene in Nutcracker.

We did Firebird with a bug theme and Kaschai was a spider and she was REALLY scary!


#19 Andrei


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Posted 11 February 2002 - 01:09 AM

Two creatures by Yacobson were really scary. First is Shurale in ballet with the same name. All children in the auditorium were frightened and even we, children who danced on the stage, were afraid of the dancer, specially, when this part was danced by Sapogov. Yacobson used his unique talent also in "Wonderland", where Sapogov was an evil creature without bones, so, he even can't walk himself and has to be carried by two servants.

[ February 11, 2002: Message edited by: Andrei ]

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 February 2002 - 08:36 PM

Andrei, in that "other" company, didn't Shamil Yagudin create the role of Shurale for their production? It would be hard to imagine anybody backstage being afraid of him! I remember him as a pretty humorous fellow.

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