Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras event
David and I booked tickets today for Matthew Bournes Swan Lake, the first of our Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2007 events. Actually we have booked Timothy Connigraves, Holding the Man, but that was because we couldnt get tickets in December.
Heres what the advocate says about it:-
Start with an all-male corps of hunky swans. Set them in a time-warp dreamscape oozing baroque ’40s romanticism. Mix with mime, dance, and a few female principals, and you have Matthew Bourne’s extraordinary Swan Lake, which may be the most overtly gay version of the classic ballet ever seen.
Yet in three years of performances — from its 1995 London premiere to its current Broadway run at the Neil Simon Theatre through January 24 — Bourne’s unique vision has been an unqualified “crossover” success and one of the rare pieces of gay-identified theater to cause no controversy.
In Bourne’s version of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, a solitary prince finds solace in the vision of a male swan rather than the female swan that has entranced audiences for centuries. But Bourne insists that his Swan Lake is not revisionist preaching about sexuality. “It’s more complex than that,” he says. “I wanted to create a character who’s not clear-cut, like, `Oh, he’s the repressed gay man.’ I wanted a man who had a lot of confusions in his mind. Someone everyone could identify with.”
Except, perhaps, himself. A Cockney who grew up “always well-adjusted, with never any confusion” about his own homosexuality, the 38-year-old choreographer jokingly wonders where he got his love of angst. “I like to make people suffer in my pieces,” he says. “But that’s not because I’ve suffered.” On the contrary, since founding his own dance company, Adventures in Motion Pictures, in 1987, Bourne has maintained his status as one of Britain’s preeminent artists.
I saw this performance in London in 1997, but cant wait to see it at home in Sydney.
Much has been made of Matthew Bourne’s decision to cast men as the swans. The original ballet is a standard in the European tradition of romanticized female–male love. The heroine, the swan princess Odette, is portrayed as powerless but lovely in accordance with conventional gender roles, and her hero is portrayed as a hunter who alone has the power to save her. Having a man in the role of lead Swan puts love between men at center stage, and the naturalistic choreography given to the swan corps discredits the archetype of the swan as a pretty, feminine bird of gentle grace. According to Bourne, “The idea of a male swan makes complete sense to me. The strength, the beauty, the enormous wingspan of these creatures suggests to the musculature of a male dancer more readily than a ballerina in her white tutu.”
However, central themes carry through both works. Both are about doomed, forbidden love, and both feature a Prince who wishes to transcend the boundaries of everyday convention through that love. Both themes have strong ties to the actual life of Tchaikovsky, the ballet’s composer.
Because it was produced in the United Kingdom, where the royal family has suffered media scandals in recent decades, this ballet is also sometimes viewed as a commentary on them. The thwarted Prince is generically royal in tone, but he has been likened by some to Charles, Prince of Wales, who suffered an arranged marriage before being allowed to marry his true love, and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, who is widely believed to be primarily attracted to men, despite repeated denials. The Prince and Queen characters in the ballet are certainly royalty in the pampered and remote mould sometimes portrayed by republicans, rather than the mould of dedicated civil servants portrayed by royalists.