Deadly serious Ballet… hhmmph!!


Ballet is such a serious affair nowadays! Where has all the fun gone? I mean, there were always rules, and hard work, worries about tickets sales and injuries, no doubt about that. But nowadays it seems they have stiffled the mood for comedy and fun.

There are even awful new trends that explore pain and tortured feet and crying kids in ballet training, overthinness and weird overextensions as a way to make ballet news. No, I refuse to post an illustrative picture, it seems to me as disrespectful to show as it is of dance professionals to submit their bodies to this kind of treatment and exposure. Are pain and drama really so indissociable from Ballet?  Aaaarghh!!!

In 20th century, however, several choreographers created delicious Ballets (or, by current rules, something between Ballet and 100% danced Musicals), full of action and laughter… classical technique serving just as groundstone to pure entertainment!

The great success of Wheeldon’s “An American in Paris” gives me hopes –  link here
– but my problem is not about musicals, a genre on its own, but about Concert Dance and humour.
Trocadero is a unique phenomenon. They are really good, but so unique they don’t help to understand the depressive/ing mood of Ballet.

It would not be a bad idea if our classical ballet professionals were forced to stage this kind of work – maybe it would loosen them up a bit? and the tightlipped “ballet-is-a-high-art-few-are cultured-enough-to-appreciate” audience too? that loves La Fille Mal Gardée (it is Ashton!!!!) but thinks Don Quixote is already beneath their high aesthetical demands?

BTW, some attempts I saw lately are… pathetic! and only prove my point: Ballet is getting SO serious that just a few even know how to make jokes! There are some Cinderella versions that should be… please, forgotten!
There is Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, that I did NOT see – judging by this trailer, however… well, maybe I would like to see more verve, more sharp comedy timing?? but critics were good, so I may be mistaken!

ABT Fancy Free, 2015 Edition

Jiri Kîlian has Symphony in D, that has a dry sense of humour, you do not double yourself in mirth attacks, but it light, funny and… beautiful!

But what I’m really talking about is something like this:

Manuel Legris and Ketevan Papava in a scene of Fledermaus

The whole work (by Roland Petit, whose Coppelia is also great fun) is available in DVD with Alessandra Ferri, Massimo Murru and Luigi Bonino – what a cast!!! it used to be available in YouTube, but I could not find the link again.

And this, ah, this is absolutely charming!

Old Tango by Alexandr Belinsky, with Ekaterina Maximova

Of course, there are other works, The Concert, Birth-Day… but all in all, they are rare as oasi in deserts!

Related to lack of humour, I have a question that still needs an answer:  have you ever wondered, like me, why so many plots of the famous ballets are definitely morbid?????


2 thoughts on “Deadly serious Ballet… hhmmph!!

  1. Yes, I’m all for some more humor and fun 🙂

    I think that since dance struggles to be accepted as a legitimate profession (even compared to other art forms), companies and choreographers often feel the need to overcompensate by showing that they are “serious” artists.

    And when it comes to famous ballets, I think it’s also a question of what companies choose to preserve/revive. Tragedy is more likely to be placed into the category of art which is worth preserving, while comedy is more likely to be categorized as “entertainment”—which is considered more of a passing trend.

    I totally think that comedy is an art in itself, though!


    1. You agree, I’m glad! It makes at least three of us, hahahaha ;)!

      And I think you are right in your assessment. “Suffering and pain are terribly overvalued in Art nowadays”. Seems callous?
      Then let’s try: “Joy and fun are terribly undervalued in Art nowadays.” Sounds better? Of course, because we are still deeply influenced by Christian tradition: suffering is the path to virtue. Ancient Greeks would not agree: for them, both sides of Performance Arts were equally important. When it comes to Dance, it is specially damaging – one more easy but unused way to reach a wider audience!


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