Magazine article Dance Magazine

Ballet Is Sexy

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Ballet Is Sexy

Article excerpt

HAVE YOU noticed? Ballet is getting sexy. From the brazenness of Lorena Feijoo in Val Caniparoli's duet No Other to the luscious sensuality of Dance Theatre of Harlem's Caroline Rocher in St. Louis Woman, from the oozing elegance of Peter Martins's Thou Swell at New York City Ballet to the tantalizing surrender of Alessandra Ferri in American Ballet theatre's Manon, the action on the ballet stage is beating up.

Even the publicity images that ballet companies are circulating embrace eroticism with a new ingenuity. Witness the brochures that announced San Francisco Ballet's 2002 season, in which a female dancer in a saucer tutu and bare legs enjoys the lustful caresses of a male dancer in the back seat of a convertible. Or the ABT advertising campaign that plastered a tasteful black-and-white photograph of a nude male torso--taut muscular flesh that made you want to reach out and touch--on bus shelters. Or the ad for the Milwaukee Ballet in DANCE MAGAZINE, where a dancer stands casually in a long, traditional tutu with hair flowing down.

SOME OF THIS new look is influenced by Europe, where choreographers like Angelin Preljocaj, Pina Bausch, and Matthew Bourne dress their dancers in evening gowns, lacy underwear, or leather. Preljocaj's Le Parc had scenes just this side of sadomasochism, hut entering a frankly sexual territory made stage magic. The episode in which a woman is held aloft, transferred by four pairs of male hands in one airborne swoon after another, is the stuff of erotic fantasy.

Of course there has always been an erotic component in ballet: the exposing of oneself through turnout, the strong, steely legs combined with fluid port de bras, the sly playing with music that allows a climax to build and slip away, the sweaty closeness of partner work. But usually the pristine quality of ballet dominates.

In my experience, the occasions that mined ballet's inherent eroticism (as opposed to romanticism) have been associated with the Joffrey Ballet (pre-Chicago). …

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