Watching various classical ballets. Thinking about the heroines, who are often longing for love in impossible situations with Princes, and who usually die.
Juliet. Giselle. Odette.
While making a new work for female ballet dancers, one of them described her role as a solo artist in classical ballet. She told me a story about a rehearsal director that asked her to sit in the audience one night to watch the other soloist perform the role that they shared. She resisted and thought it would rattle her nerves too much to watch. But when she did, she explained that she realized it was the Corps behind her that gave her strength as a soloist. She saw and experienced the massive set, lights, and the large group of women standing on stage behind her. She then understood that she was part of a community, and that it wasn’t her sole responsibility to achieve perfection on stage.
Despite the proverbial, inherently sexist storyline of the female character destroyed by love, the performance of classical ballet often includes sections of dancing for large groups of women. These moments construct an invisible, meta-connection between the bodies of those women. The relationship of their collective dancing embodies a reverberating energy that moves with and holds the soloist up.