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plot synopses

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As I was reading through the links section this morning I got to thinking about how writers (usually reviewers with limited word counts) try to find really succinct descriptions of plots or premises of major ballets. General readership publications don't like to assume that readers will know the plot of Swan Lake or La Bayadere, so critics often have to craft a seriously brief synopsis. I thought, since the links section brings us a really wide variety of dance writing (thanks again to the intrepid collators dirac and Mme Hermine) this would be a good place to find these pocket descriptions.

Here's my favorite from current crop

Her portrayal of the innocent and pure Princess Odette - cursed to spend daylight hours as a swan by an evil sorcerer – was matched by a beguilingly seductive Odile (the flashy doppelganger who manipulates Odette’s love interest, thwarting the white swan’s desperate bid for freedom).

Georgina Butler

Milton Keynes Citizen

Any other nominations?

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Succinct and pithy synopses often take a very long time to construct.

It takes a lot of work to distill things way down to their essence.

And they so easily devolve into nonsense!

It's not ballet, but it's my favorite absurd capsule plot summary of a 700 page doorstopper ever. From The New York Times Book Review's "Notable Paperbacks" column of December 4, 1988:

THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, by Tom Wolfe. (Bantam, $5.95.) An investment banker takes a wrong turn on the expressway and ruins his life.

It's such a reduction, and yet absolutely true.

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