Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sexy time ballet

I am still trying to wrap my brain around the ballet I saw today. The Royal Ballet is in town from London performing Manon at the Kennedy Center. If Le Corsaire should be subtitled "Pirate Ballet", then Manon's subtitle would most probably be "Sex Ballet".

The story begins outside of Paris, where Lescaut, a dashing young man, is waiting for the arrival of his sister at a popular "courtyard of an inn", perhaps the equivalent of a rooftop at an Arlington bar? In the crowd are Des Grieux (not rich) and Monsieur G.M. (very rich). Manon arrives and she and Des Grieux instantly fall in love with each other and escape to Paris. Monsieur G.M. also takes an interest in Manon. He's a little slow on the draw, but it's OK because he has tons of money so obviously Lescaut promises to find his sister and convince her to accept the rich guy.

They catch up to the lovers frolicking in Paris. Des Grieux steps out of the house to mail a letter and in swoop Lescaut and G.M., who gifts Manon with a sparkly necklace and fancy robe. She is all "Well these are kind of nice. I like riches. OK, I'll go with you. Want to see my crotch?" And G.M. is like "Yes." And Lescaut, the pimp brother, is all "Let me help you stretch? spread your leg out further."

Eventually Manon comes back to Des Grieux. So G.M. has the police arrest her for being a prostitute and banish her to a Louisiana jail. As an extra punishment, he randomly shoots Lescaut.

Des Grieux follows Manon to America and kills the Gaoler but only after the Gaoler rapes Manon in the mouth.

Let's take a step back. The Washington Post review mentions a blow job scene, which I was looking out for but figured I had missed as it was perhaps interpretive. Right. No stretch of the imagination was required for the blow job scene. Very shocking in terms of ballet. Not so shocking for a ballet already filled with prostitutes and drunks.

The dancing did not seem as strong as the Russians', who wowed me last week with their technical mastery of the most difficult turn and leap combinations. But perhaps it was the choreography that was less classical and technical and more modern and loose. It makes sense that you would drop your lady companion on the floor or fall in a heap landing from a jump if your character is supposed to be shitfaced. And it makes sense that you wouldn't be spinning circles if you've been banished to a jail in the swamps and you are forced to wear raggedy clothing and you perhaps have syphilis.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert! Manon dies in the swamp.

No comments:

Post a Comment