by Emily Kate Long
With March upon us, and no end in sight to Mother Nature’s blustery hostility, is it redundant to even mention winter weather? The aching cold of drafty studios, the slushy trudge to rehearsal, and the stale film of salt laying everywhere are enough to dampen anybody’s spirit.
For this late-winter installment of Finding Balance, I offer you a collection of dance humor. It’s my hope that these comic nuggets will bring some sunny distraction to your day. Enjoy!
First up is the “Mistake Waltz” from Jerome Robbins’ 1956 The Concert (Or, the Perils of Everybody). From start to finish, hilarious flubs in this five-minute dance for six women get me laughing every time. Every dancer can relate to wrong arms, wrong timing or that one member of the corps who never quite knows what’s going on. Do yourself a favor and watch all the way to the end—Robbins saves the best for last as the music ends and the mistakes continue.
The errors in The Concert will elicit laughs of recognition. The Ballets Trockadero give us another kind of laugh in this parody of “The Dying Swan.” The Trocks know how to do funny, and this piece stands out for just how far they take irreverence for the iconic Fokine solo. From the molting entrance to limb-by-limb paralysis and campy curtain calls, Maya Thickenthighya really hams it up. What’s best is that for all the silliness, his (her?) pointe work and port de bras are actually lovely enough to do justice to the original.
Last on the list is none other than Rudolf Nureyev and the Muppets in “Swine Lake.” I laugh at this clip for several reasons. I love the Muppet renditions of everything from Bizet to Queen, so of course I take delight in their customary butchering of a ballet. The irony of a life-sized pig dancing with an international ballet star is wonderfully ridiculous. The other irony here is time. As much as Nureyev revolutionized male ballet dancing, the feminine affectations of his style that some audiences in his time found objectionable stand out even more when compared to today’s best male dancers.
So there you have it, readers…some light-hearted treats to brighten up a winter’s day. If you have other funny favorites, please share them in the comments section!
Assistant Editor Emily Kate Long began her dance education in South Bend, Indiana, with Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice, and graduated in 2007 from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Schenley Program. She has spent summers studying at Ballet Chicago, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Miami City Ballet, and Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive/Vail Valley Dance Intensive, where she served as Program Assistant. Ms Long attended Milwaukee Ballet School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship before being invited to join Milwaukee Ballet II in 2007.
Ms Long has been a member of Ballet Quad Cities since 2009. She has danced featured roles in Deanna Carter’s Ash to Glass and Dracula, participated in the company’s 2010 tour to New York City, and most recently performed principal roles in Courtney Lyon’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. She is also on the faculty of Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance, where she teaches ballet, pointe, and repertoire classes.