A bad ballet – Fumbling Towards the Exit

I don’t post much in the way of reviews, but this one’s been bothering me. I’m not a ballet expert, but I feel that I have an opinion worth noting as an author relative to the story, as a software architect in terms of the usability and accessibility of something from an abstract interface perspective, and as a dance dad whose daughter has done competitive dance (including ballet) for Dear God Don’t Make Me Think Of How Long.

On Valentine’s Day, my wife and I went to see the ballet Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, based on Sarah McLaughlin music. It was the last night of performances and was the director’s cut. From a story and demonstrative perspective, it was a hot mess. For the record, I love Sarah McLaughlin’s music, think she has done some amazing things, and I feel like the director let her, and all Canadians by that token, down.

The story’s about a girl who grows up, has her first love who betrays her, has a second love who dies, I think finds a mature love but that was unclear, and then finds solace in sisterhood.

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Childhood – The Start

The ballet starts with a girl sitting at a book, you could argue this is the book of time or life, but all the dancers on stage behind her are, I’m guessing, supposed to represent her imagination. She didn’t participate, which made it weird to me. Every kid plays, every kid is engaged in their imagination, it’s not something that happens passively without them. It was also INCONSISTENT (you’ll be seeing that word a lot) with the rest of the ballet where the Lead (as I’ll call her) was directly engaged.

Also, rather than cut Sarah’s songs down to fit, this was the first of many times where I felt like the dancing just kept going on and on until the song ended, repeating movements to the point where you start saying “We really need three guys spinning and prancing again, oh, here they come.”

hand cursorHand Off

Every scene change involved the ballerina who had represented the last scene touching, hand to hand, with the one who was replacing her for the next scene. This was to make it clear this was the same person, but that they change. It was a nice idea. But for some reason, near the end, they just stop doing this, for no reason. It’s noticeable and one of those things you become trained to expect very quickly, and it leaves you momentarily confused as to who is the Lead.

LIMASSOL, CYPRUS - FEBRUARY 14: Portrait of a man dressed up like drummer at Carnival Parade on February 14, 2010 in Limassol, Cyprus.The WTF Moment

We’re 4/5 through the ballet, and everything goes Momma Mia (which is one of the very few musicals I’ve enjoyed). This is like someone starting a guitar solo in the middle of church kind of thing.

Now you could try to argue it’s supposed to be a celebration of wife, but no. Nice try. When you start having words projected on the back wall, each in a different font, so that you can sing along with the song. When you have characters breaking the fourth wall. When you have someone representing ice cream (Sarah music line “Your love is better than ice cream”) and fake rolling their fists at ‘everyone else’…

It really gives you a WHAT THE FRAK is going on, and then it has the nerve to have the cast bow and make-end it, and then goes back as if nothing happened for another few minutes.

If this is “great modern ballet”, please recycle. This should not be repurposed, it should not be reused, it should be broken down for its core elements and made it something good and useful, like booties for dogs.

BUT that’s just my opinion. Someone else might like it. I think some people like the McRib too.

4 thoughts on “A bad ballet – Fumbling Towards the Exit

  1. Debbie O

    So, it was kind of like a relay race with the baton being handed off to great songs that a l m o s t make you want to hate them at which point “In the Arms of an Angel” somehow becomes a banana split with “Dancing Queen” sprinkled on top!! (Was that really all one sentence? Hmmm.. Probably not.) So the name of this failed masterpiece should now be “WTF, an anthology of the term, “Hot Mess” $60 please!

    Got it! (BTW – sorry you had to endure that!)

    Reply
    1. Adam Dreece Post author

      My wife offered for us to leave half way through, and I’m glad we didn’t, because the worst was yet to come. Hehe, and look, I got a blog entry out of it!

      Reply
      1. Debbie O

        Well, if we never stuck around for the bad stuff we wouldn’t have good stuff to write about & look forward to. (That was either profound or senseless, but it’s late & I’m tired, which is often when I write my most brilliant &/or the most, “WTH?” things that I write!)

        Reply
  2. Debi Smith

    Sounds like it needs a Matthew Bourne revamp. He’s known for updating the classics, but I’m sure he could give this the makeover it needs. We went to the ballet on Saturday too – Alice In Wonderland. As much as I love ballet, I had some issues with it, but not to the same degree as you did.

    Reply

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