The Lady of the Camellias

On May 26, 2010, Alastair Macaulay wrote a dance review titled Parisian Courtesan Returns, Bearing Feminist Credentials.  Mr. Macaulay has an extensive resume that includes chief dance critic of The Times Literary Supplement, editor of the Dance Theater Journal, and two books.  Since 2007, he has been the chief dance critic for The New York Times.

In his review of the American Ballet Theater’s “Lady of the Camellias” at the Metropolitan Opera House, he investigates the traditional gender role of dancers.  For example Macaulay discusses that in traditional ballet, the woman follows the male lead as a partner and the woman stays on point.

In addition, John Neumeier’s version of “Lady of the Camellias” contains a twist or fresh perspective.  According to Macaulay: “What’s most striking about Mr. Neumeier’s version, however, is how close it comes to being a feminist exposé. Though not well choreographed, and often unclear in terms of dramatic action, it’s cleverly shaped so as to place itself at the end of three centuries of unthinking sexism.”

How does Neumeier’s differ?  Being a courtesan is in high demand similarly as her suitor’s needs.  Macaulay: “Men control their narratives; men contort their bodies. And what’s most creepy is that love, sex, suffering and partnering all join in one masochistic nexus after another.” Overall, love makes women appear or participate as victims in this version.

In the end, the Lady of the Camellias dies in order for her lover to continue a life of sin.

The links:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/arts/dance/27lady.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/22/arts/dance/22critic.html

http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/season/production.aspx?id=10794

http://www.hamburgballett.de/e/neumeier.htm

http://www.abt.org/

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