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E.M. Forster's "Maurice" would make a great ballet


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#1 Jayne

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 06:33 PM

The American media is dominated by coverage of the Republican presidential candidates, and their positions on gay marriage. In my own state, the governor just announced she is introducing a bill (expected to pass both chambers) legalizing gay marriage. Yesterday the Supreme Court of Iowa affirmed a lesbian couple's rights to both be listed on their daughter's birth certificate.

Traditional ballet is disneyesque in it's insistance on a young woman and a romantic leading man to partner her. But I say that the world is ready for a classical ballet with homosexual characters, and "Maurice" would be the perfect vehicle. It has parts for 3 male leads, pas de deux, solos expressing joy and grief, party scenes for the corps, and a setting in early 20th century England that would make for gorgeous sets and costumes.

American cities with professional companies have liberal-minded audiences that would support such a storyline.

If only the Kochs were billionaire Liberals and not Teapartiers, they would finance it. Alas, my dream is not yet a reality. But I hope I'm planting a seed today, and perhaps some balletomane of great influence will read this out of curiosity and make it happen.

#2 Birdsall

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 07:32 PM

I think Brokeback Mountain might make a great ballet as well! LOL Great painted backdrops of Wyoming, males and females in torment, a tragedy, etc.

There are so many possibilities!

It has been a long while since I read Maurice. But I'm sure you're right that it would make a fascinating ballet.

#3 Jayne

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:40 PM

Brokeback Mountain was a good movie, but homophobia is so strong that people prefer to make jokes / ennui about the title, rather than emotionally respond to the tragedy of the story.

Maurice actually has a happy ending. :)

#4 4mrdncr

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:23 PM

I have the book, but so far, have only seen the film (many years ago) with Hugh Grant, James Wilby, Rupert Graves etc.etc. in their younger days. I don't think Hollywood has the guts to do a remake these days. I don't remember the ending as being that happy. I still feel bad that Forster couldn't publish it when written.
An interesting thought to do as a ballet, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

#5 Birdsall

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 06:24 AM

There is going to be an opera about Oscar Wilde's trial with David Daniels (counter tenor) singing the title role. I only bring that up b/c I think these issues are so relevant today and could start popping up in new ballets, since this opera is being buzzed about.

#6 Ray

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 06:35 AM

There is going to be an opera about Oscar Wilde's trial with David Daniels (counter tenor) singing the title role. I only bring that up b/c I think these issues are so relevant today and could start popping up in new ballets, since this opera is being buzzed about.


I think this sounds great, but--to quibble--Wilde's tragic later years get so much attention (they were featured in Stoppard's Invention of Love, for instance). I'd LOVE to see a treatment of "young Oscar."

#7 Birdsall

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:15 AM


There is going to be an opera about Oscar Wilde's trial with David Daniels (counter tenor) singing the title role. I only bring that up b/c I think these issues are so relevant today and could start popping up in new ballets, since this opera is being buzzed about.


I think this sounds great, but--to quibble--Wilde's tragic later years get so much attention (they were featured in Stoppard's Invention of Love, for instance). I'd LOVE to see a treatment of "young Oscar."


I read an interview in Opera News with David Daniels, and he said the opera is not a biography on purpose. It is centered around the trial apparently to highlight how unjustly he was treated by society back then, and I guess it will draw a parallel to some issues still going on today. That's my guess. They want it to be a relevant commentary on today or the issue of homosexuality. On the one hand that might be good. On the other hand I feel that true art does not try to comment. The issues come up on their own, and we see them whether the librettist means to bring up issues or not. Maybe I am wrong.

But I agree with you. I was disappointed to hear it won't be a biography.

What other stories about gays would make a good ballet? The thread is intriguing.

#8 dirac

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 10:09 AM

Well, someone can always revive "Edward II." Posted Image

I should say that a book and a movie are quite sufficient where "Maurice" is concerned. I wish it were better. It did have a happy ending.

Traditional ballet is disneyesque in it's insistance on a young woman and a romantic leading man to partner her.


I'd suggest respectfully that's a serious simplification.

#9 Birdsall

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 02:28 PM

I forgot. The recent Little Mermaid ballet has a female lead, but the ballet makes it clear that the poet (Hans Christian Andersen or some fictional poet/writer) identifies with the mermaid, so that ballet has both a female/male plot but a gay subtext to that very plot. I wasn't sure how I would like it, but it works really well, in my opinion.


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