The Ballet Ruse
- Lucy Ribchester
- 11 August 2011
This article is from 2011.
Sneaking a cheeky peek at the secret lives of ballerinas
2011 has been quite a year for peeking backstage at the ballet, with the BBC documentary series The Agony and the Ecstasy and Darren Aronofsky’s thriller Black Swan. The Ballet Ruse is an altogether more irreverent look at the painstaking discipline needed to make it in an industry where the rules are to be ‘thin and pretty, strong, dance by the lake and forest and fall in love with a prince’.
Irish duo Muirne Bloomer and Emma O’Kane tramp onto a stage draped with a wonky backcloth and smashed mirror, bearing the weight of a barre. Their foot-creaking warm-ups, pitting ballet against boxing, set the tone for a piece that is both illuminating and at times irresistibly funny.
There are moments of grace as they recreate classic choreography, clownish comedy – sneaking a crafty onstage fag or sending up mute ‘ballet speak’ – heartbreaking revelations about the lengths girls will go to in order to succeed, and a gorgeous finale, stunning in its simplicity as they make marionettes of their ballet slippers.
But there are also sequences which sit more clumsily, treading a slightly surreal line between humour and seriousness and breaking the flow of an otherwise perfect pas de deux.
Dance Base, 225 5525, until 21 Aug, times vary, £7.