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The Three Act Ballet


Simon G

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I think I recall that during MacMillan's lifetime, someone wrote an article entitled "Revoke-a-Knighthood, or What Were We Thinking?" He figured prominently. It was satire, of course, as I can only think of two or three actual revocations of knighthoods in all of British history, and sometimes, even High Treason wasn't enough cause.

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I'd like to pick up on the point about fairy tales in relation to comments by Citibob and the reply by Alexandra. The original forms of those tales are VICIOUS beyond belief.

Every single taboo and sordid sexual depravity isn't just implied but acted out within those tales. Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding hood are particularly brutal twisted and disturbing. Which is probably why I like them so much (I thought I'd say it before someone else did.)

Over the centuries these tales were tidied up by Perrault and the Gimm Brothers however even in their child-friendly forms the subtext still exists. And indeed still does within the ballets, which is probably why in no small part they makes such great vehicles for classicism as dance exists and exerts its power by implication and subtext of movement implying emotion through non-definited semantic art.

On a related topic to the modern three act ballet story and Bejart. I saw that Mother Theresa ballet in London and all I could think while watching it was: "My God, My God, My God, this cannot be happening but it is." For the first time in my life I resented the fact I could see.

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Jane, I was curious about your comment about Barnes being pro-MacMillan. Was that in the 1950s? (i.e., very early?) or when he was in Stuttgart? I ask because I've read and been told by many people over here that Barnes was supportive of Cranko at the expense of MacMillanl, as he thought Cranko was more suited to the Royal, among other reasons. There were several New York critics who were very pro-MacMillan (in the MacMillan v. Cranko context) and I've always heard of Barnes being on the Cranko side of that divide, at least from the time he was in New York, which was about 1965, I believe.

Simon, I think when one starts looking at how much "darker" (i.e., to some, "more interesting") the original fairy tales are than "Sleeping Beauty" or "Nutcracker," that's the path many take when they revive them and spice them up to make them more real, just like the book. Again, with classical ballet, I'd say it's not the story. It's what's done with the story, the story is an excuse for dancing.

(I'm sorry I missed the Mother Theresa ballet, actually. It sounds like one for the ages...in its own way.)

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