Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is nothing sacred anymore?

And continuing in the vein that some things are just wrong, I read in the Globe and Mail today that James Kudelka has remounted his 1999 production of Swan Lake, which was far better consigned to the historical dustbin of extremely poor and bad ideas.

Here’s an excerpt from the Globe and Mail article on how the dancers see their roles in Kudelka’s Swan Lake:
In most versions, the first act is a celebration of the prince's 21st birthday, filled with pretty dances. In Kudelka's version, the birthday guests are lusty knights returning from a bloody hunt. As the alcohol flows, things spiral out of control, and the lone female, a serving wench, is the victim of a gang rape.

Both Antonijevic and principal dancer Guillaume Côté, who perform Siegfried, are adamant that the prince is so distanced from this violent world that he is unaware of the rape. He is also harried by a domineering mother who insists that he must marry. "When Odile comes to the ball," says Côté, "it is the happiest moment of the prince's life. After being passive for so long, he makes a stand and tells his mother he will marry this stranger."

Côté mentions Siegfried's relationship with his friend Benno, viewing the latter as the prince's gay counterpart. Kudelka has given the two a provocative duet with homoerotic undercurrents. There is also Siegfried's enigmatic and questionable relationship with Rothbart.

As Côté points out, the prince's adoration of the swan could be like the gay world's fascination with iconic female celebrity divas, and Rothbart could represent homophobia. "It's significant," says Côté, "that James pumped out as much testosterone in the knights' hunting scene as he could to put Siegfried, and the more conforming Benno, in greater contrast to the others in that macho society."
And not to be outdone by the homoerotic overtones in Kudelka’s Swan Lake, the Feminist Lamentation has not been forgotten either explains soloist Stephanie Hutchison:
It's about feminism: "It is a society that renders women as meaningless chattel," says first soloist Stephanie Hutchison, "or objectifies them into unattainable ideals." In fact, from the gang rape of the wench onward, you could call Kudelka's Swan Lake feminism expressed through misogyny. Take, for example, the harrowing experience of the four princesses who appear in the third act, potential brides for the prince, who are made to perform enticing dances to a leering male audience.

Equally misogynistic are the menacing female black swans who do Rothbart's dirty work. They represent women at the beck and call of men who forego the duty of sisterhood. "In these two competing worlds -- the castle and the lake -- the women are no better off with Rothbart," says principal dancer Jennifer Fournier. "A secondary theme could be James making a statement about the objectification of the ballerina and the female image in ballet."

Call me a black swan if you will, but now you know why tonight I will be curling up on the sofa with the tribe watching Battlestar Galactica instead of shelling out $200+ to take the children to ballet and watch how Swan Lake has been hijacked by a culture that has run amuck.

2 comments:

John the Mad said...

Kate:

Your last paragraph is brilliant.

dodave said...

Sounds like Swan Lake is now the Whooping Crane Cesspool. Guess there is nothing that the secular idiots can't screw up.