Bourrée Girl

Please explain.

Posted in American Ballet Theatre, Classical ballet by bourreegirl on July 1, 2010

A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Heather Powers (

Bourrée Girl kicks off her pretend-interview segment with a question for Alastair Macaulay. She would love to speak to all of the people she is pretending to quote, one day, but please note that she has not actually done so.

BG: Mr. Macaulay, you wrote today in the New York Times that “It’s amazing how much the whole climate of the Metropolitan Opera House improves once American Ballet Theatre stops presenting its nineteenth-century classics.” Please explain.

AM: Actually, I wrote “American Ballet Theater” and “19th-century classics,” because that’s the Times’ style. Or, if I didn’t, that’s what the editors changed it to.

BG: Right. So did you mean that the dancers seem to have become happier, the audience smaller but more intelligent, the orchestra more competent . . . ?

AM: I guess I meant that Performance Manager Jackie Archis is back from a long hiatus recuperating from knee surgery. At least, it seemed long to me. It just didn’t feel like the Met without Jackie.

BG: Oh, I agree. Let’s talk to some of the dancers. Julio Bragado-Young, I think we can agree that most of the ballets on this evening’s all-Ashton program are too boring to talk about—but how does it feel to have given pretty much the only performance of charm and interest tonight in The Dream?

JBY: Oh, gosh. I can’t believe that’s true. Look how the audience went wild for Herman [Cornejo]. Puck is a showstopping role, and he does it so well. Isn’t he one of your favorites?

BG: Yeah, I’ve always liked him, but he’s been doing the part a long time, and I didn’t get the sense tonight that he was really trying to impress me. For that matter, it’s been several years since you first danced Bottom, but your characterization still looks fresh and adorable.

JBY: Thanks so much, but really—listen, it’s a great costume. We have a wonderful costume department that created this donkey head and keeps it looking clean and fluffy. Hey, here’s Titania, Gillian Murphy, don’t you want to talk to her?

BG: Oh, my goodness, no, I’d be too embarrassed. Those elbows . . .  it’s like she and Wendy Whelan had the same teachers, you know? How do you talk to someone like that? Does she have the Changeling Boy with her? Changeling Boy, I see in the program that your name is Coco Monroe. That’s just too cute! Is it for real?

CB: No, I made some bad decisions and got into financial trouble. By the terms of my debt payment plan, set by my older sister, I have to go by Coco Monroe until I’m fully paid up.

BG: Wow. That sounds serious for a six-year-old kid. What kind of debt are we talking about?

CB: I’m sorry, I can’t comment further. Look, here comes Oberon!

BG: Oh, David Hallberg! What a disappointing day for you. Romeo in this afternoon’s matinee and Oberon this evening: two roles that should have been perfect. But ABT really screwed you over. I mean, when we think Romeo and Juliet, we think of Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Leonid Lavrovsky—some choreographer, anyway, who liked ballet and had the sense to use Prokofiev. But this pas de deux was by Tudor, with music by Delius. Did you know when you agreed to dance Romeo that there would be no dancing involved?

DH: Uh, I was a little surprised at that, sure.

BG: What was it like to perform something so completely boring?

DH: Well, it was a matinee, you know, so . . . Gillian and I do try to keep it interesting for ourselves by throwing in something intentionally bizarre from time to time, but it doesn’t seem like anyone can tell the original choreography from the ugly stuff we’ve just tried on for a joke—so the audience never gets to share in the fun.

BG: Sure, I can see how that would be. And The Dream—all those fairies clattering around, Titania with her elbows, John Lanchbery making a mess of Mendelssohn—I think Ashton’s fairy ballet is pretty lumpen on the whole. Was it frustrating to be king of such an imperfect world?

DH: Look, things could be a lot worse. Cory and Paloma had to dance the “Awakening” pas de deux tonight without scenery or even capes.

BG: God, I know, that piece is completely misnamed. The only thing keeping you awake is the question “Seriously—this is Tchaikovsky?” I can’t wait ’til you guys go back to doing evening-length ballets full of drama and pyrotechnics.

DH: The kind with music that calls to your very blood, that enchants and bewilders you and makes dance writing, and indeed life itself, feel futile?

BG: Pretty much, yeah. Oh, David, I knew you understood.


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