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Shakespeare et les arts dramatiques

“Dancing Shakespeare – non-traditional dancing bodies and broadening the classical ballet vocabulary”

Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau

Résumés

Si certains rôles shakespeariens semblent se prêter naturellement au répertoire classique, d’autres personnages présentent plus de difficultés lors de l’adaptation d’une pièce en un ballet. Les rôles d’amoureux seront ainsi facilement incarnés par des danseurs au physique qui correspond au type du « danseur noble », tandis que Puck ou Ariel pourront être dansés par des jeunes danseurs ou des danseurs de taille plus petite, au physique plus compact, avec plus de ballon (qui pourront par exemple exploiter à leur avantage leurs capacités physiques et leur style moins « romantique » dans les tours ou la puissance de leurs sauts) ; mais qu’en est-il des rôles qui ne correspondent à aucun type physique ni à aucun style de mouvement « orthodoxe » dans le paysage de la danse classique ? Cet article se propose d’examiner comment se dansent les états physiques, les morphologies et les personnalités qui ne correspondent à aucun type dans le répertoire classique. De la grossesse d’Hermione dans The Winter’s Tale à la mégère Catharina, les pièces de Shakespeare invitent les chorégraphes à réfléchir sur les codes genrés et les codes physiques du ballet classique, et à en enrichir le vocabulaire, en faisant de la place dans un paysage très codifié pour des corps différents, des types de mouvements non traditionnels, qui les amènent à réévaluer le rapport au corps dansant.

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  • 1 See for example Alastair Macaulay’s 2014 article for The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/20 (...)
  • 2 The full video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFNcQHlJfr0. (last accessed Decem (...)
  • 3 Jonas Kellermann, “‘Like an old tale’: The Winter’s Tale on the Balletic Stage” Shakespeare Jahrbuc (...)
  • 4 “Artful Pas-de-Deuxs, (Natural) Gestures, and Subverted Ballet Conventions: Christopher Wheeldon Wr (...)
  • 5 Kellerman, op. cit., p. 163.
  • 6 See for example Buchanan’s discussion of the addition of the statue of Mamilius as an “embodied rem (...)
  • 7 See for example Mattia Mantellato’s discussion of Youri Vámos’ Romeo and Juliet in the special issu (...)
  • 8 Nancy Isenberg’s 2009 article “Beyond the black/white paradigm: casting Othello and Desdemona on th (...)
  • 9 Most modern choreographers, from Isadora Duncan to Raimund Hogue, have advocated for greater body i (...)

1Many dance critics have noted the particular, almost organic affinity of Shakespeare’s plays with dance, whether in terms of plot, character construction, or dramatic intensity.1 Ever since Noverre’s Lettres sur la danse in 1760, stage dancing has been ruled by the guiding principle that narrative dance, ballet d’action in Noverre’s words, must be expressive and convey a story to the spectators. One of the reasons for this exceptional affinity of Shakespeare’s plays with dance is that the plots are famous, especially in the case of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Romeo and Juliet, therefore making it easier for audiences to understand the intricacies of the ballet plot; another reason is that the trials and struggles of Shakespeare’s characters fit in organically with the timeless stories of love and loss often narrated in ballets. As Christopher Wheeldon explains in his interview to Clemency Burton-Hill for the “Royal Ballet in rehearsal” feature on the 2014 production of The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s plays are full of “high dramatic moments” that “lend themselves very much to physicality and choreography”;2 the “duality” Wheeldon was initially attracted to in the play echoes the binary opposition which is at the core of the classics of the ballet repertory, such as La Bayadère (the Bayadères vs the Shadows), or Giselle (the harvesters vs the wilis), where happy, festive country scenes featuring character dances are opposed to darker, highly dramatic moments. In The Winter’s Tale, the “joyous, effervescent shepherds’ festival” in Wheeldon’s production is reminiscent of scenes like the pas des vendangeurs in Giselle, while the “darkness of Sicilia” and its themes like entrapment, betrayal, jealousy, violence and death mirror the drama of classic Romantic ballets. Wheeldon’s ballet has received a lot of critical attention recently, one of the latest examples being Jonas Kellermann’s discussion of the piece for the Shakespeare Jahrbuch;3 Kellermann’s paper, like recent conference papers given by Maria Marcsek-Fuchs and Laura Levine,4 focuses on “re-materialization” and explores “how the verbal materiality of one art form re-appears in the physical materiality of the other”.5 While there have been many studies devoted to the way the story is told through dance, to what can or cannot be translated into movement, or what needs to be added for dramatic clarity in ballet versions,6 only few critics have focused on the way translating Shakespeare into dance impacts ballet technique and leads to the creation of new Shakespearean choreographic idioms.7 Some papers have examined the issue of casting, and what it implies in terms of how the piece deals with issues like body type, race, personality,8 but what adapting Shakespeare to the ballet stage does to classical technique has not been explored that extensively. It is, however, an important issue: ballet is an extremely heteronormative world with conventions and codes that have been in place for centuries, and while greater variety in terms of body shapes, ages, sizes, etc is commonly accepted in contemporary dance,9 the demands of classical technique involve specific physical requirements. Considering recent ballet adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays necessarily entails a discussion of what it means both to adapt Shakespeare into dance and to create classical ballet pieces in the 21st century, taking into account the evolutions of this very codified art form and how it can tackle contemporary issues of inclusivity, representation and diversity. The combination of two classics – Shakespeare and ballet – does not automatically result in something rigid and antiquated: on the contrary, the wide range of characters in the Shakespearean repertoire can (and does) lead contemporary ballet choreographers to expand the scope of what ballet is and what it should look like, as well as to contribute to the discussion of how Shakespeare’s works can be staged in our time.

2Focusing on productions from the 2010s, mainly Jean-Christophe Maillot’s The Taming of the Shrew and Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale (both 2014), this paper will address how “unconventional” body types and personalities are dealt with in these two adaptations, and how these “different” bodies lead choreographers to broaden the ballet vocabulary, reevaluating the codes of pantomime and the very foundations of the classical technique. After quickly establishing the bases for this study and considering “classical” body types and types of movement through the example of Alexei Ratmansky’s 2013 version of The Tempest, I will discuss how Hermione’s pregnancy is choreographed in Wheeldon’s production, and how Maillot invented a new choreographic idiom for Kate’s shrewishness.

Of princes and mischievous spirits: Noverrian physical categories and the Shakespearean roles in ballet productions

  • 10 The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance (eds. Lynsey McCulloch and Brandon Shaw, Oxford, Oxfor (...)
  • 11 From here onwards abbreviated as ABT.
  • 12 Noverre’s Lettres sur la danse are available online (Jean Georges Noverre, Lettres sur la danse, et (...)
  • 13 Some productions emphasize Romeo’s romantic side and portray him as a typical 19th-century Romantic (...)

3Because earlier ballets like the many versions of Romeo and Juliet by Cranko, MacMillan or Nureyev have been amply discussed,10 for the purposes of this paper I will only be looking into very contemporary ballet productions. Alexei Ratmansky’s 2013 version of The Tempest for the American Ballet Theatre11 provides a good example of how Shakespearean roles can fit within the categories established by Noverre for dancers, with specific body types and physical requirements. Casting choices are even more significant in dance productions than they are in the theatre, since they participate in the ballet vocabulary that is used to tell the story. For a theatre production of The Tempest, and especially in Shakespeare’s time, with Early Modern staging conditions (or in minimalistic later productions), we need Miranda to actually say that Ferdinand is very handsome when she meets him in act I so we can identify him immediately as her “prince” before any conversation takes place between them. But since dance cannot resort to verbal language, how can this future love match be just as immediately legible for the audience, even before a pas de deux – the preferred form of the expression of love on stage – begins? One easy way would of course be through costume, but the most significant way to identify Ferdinand as Miranda’s “prince” would be to cast a certain type of dancer in the role. In his seminal work that established the foundations of the école française and of classical ballet in general,12 Noverre distinguishes three main types of dancers: the “serious dancer” (danseur sérieux – also called danseur noble), the “demi-caractère” dancer and the “danseur comique” (demi-caractère and comic dancers). The danseur noble will be cast as the prince in the tragedies – Siegfried in Swan Lake, for example, or in the Shakespeare repertory, Othello, Romeo, Leontes The danseur de demi-caractère is more playful and more polyvalent: because of his taller size and longer limbs, the danseur noble is at his best in adagio, while the demi-caractère dancer (usually shorter) can play princes with a lively side and be very entertaining in the allegro. Romeo could be cast either as a danseur noble or a demi-caractère, depending on the choreography13 and whether the production wants to stress Romeo’s youth or his romantic side.

4In The Tempest, Ferdinand doesn’t do much compared to Romeo, since the play does not primarily revolve around him; the play and the ballet are great for male roles, since Prospero and Ariel dominate most of the piece, and their dancing is echoed and contrasted with their romantic counterpart (Ferdinand) and their animalistic nemesis (Caliban). Since Ferdinand’s main function is to provide a love interest for Miranda (and a way out of the Island, a return to “normal” society and the possibility for her noble lineage and claims to the dukedom to be restored), he has to be cast as the archetype of normalcy and nobility, the danseur noble – Joseph Gorak in the original production. In Ratmansky’s version, Prospero (being of royal blood) is also danced by a danseur noble, tall, regal and proud (Marcelo Gomes in the original production), while Ariel is danced by a danseur comique (Daniil Simkin). Simkin is a perfect fit for the part, since he is short, has impressive ballon, is extremely articulate in his footwork and fast – making him a natural casting choice for Ariel or Puck, who in productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is always danced by that type of dancer. On the female side of the spectrum, Miranda (Sarah Lane in the original production) is a typical romantic heroine: the role requires some innocence, but not as much fire as Juliet.

  • 14 Some jumps, like double cabrioles arrière, revoltades, or tours en l’air, are performed exclusively (...)
  • 15 The presence of a uniform group of men on stage is a lot less systematic than that of a female corp (...)

5Like men, female roles are categorized, and fall into two main categories: adagio dancers (for roles like Odette in Swan Lake or Giselle, which require length, grace, some ethereal, fragile quality) and fast, agile, allegro ones (for roles like Kitri in Don Quichotte or all the other “Spanish” roles which require attitude and sass, along with speed and ballon). This begs the question of how choreographers can tackle roles that do not fit into any of these categories: Shakespearean roles that require a certain body type or state that does not exist in ballet, like Hermione’s pregnancy, or a physical language that goes against the grain of how women are taught to dance (like Kate’s shrewishness, or we could also think of the cross-dressed heroines of the comedies, since dance teaching is extremely gendered and men and women do not learn the same technique and do not do the same types of exercises or movements).14 Contemporary dance allows more freedom than classical ballet: choreographers have used video or other media to supply missing narrative elements, different techniques to convey these problematic physical differences: for example James Cousins’ 2016 Rosalind (revisiting As You Like It) lays emphasis on gendered movement and gender reversals rather than narrative, and Crystal Pite’s 2011 Tempest Replica uses video, contemporary animalistic movement and the discrepancy in costumes to highlight the physical differences between the roles. However, ballet is extremely codified, and has been so ever since the 18th century, and narrative dance relies on immutable pantomimic codes. Ballet doesn’t have the same leeway as modern dance, and so we can wonder how, within the ballet pantomimic or choreographic vocabulary, choreographers manage to convey things that are outside the traditional classical archetypes. It’s especially challenging when considering classical female performers: ballerinas are first hired according to their technical qualities and their ability to blend into the corps de ballet – one of the foundations of classical ballet. Looking at the corps, one would be hard pressed to find a female dancer that really stands out by being much taller or much shorter than the others, but because a male corps rarely appears,15 there is a bit more freedom concerning men’s shapes and sizes.

Showing a pregnant body on stage: Hermione in Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter Tale

6Since the advent of Romantic ballet, the classical body type for women requires leanness and long limbs in order to create the famous ballet lines that stretch out and give the impression of a weightless, graceful and limber dancing body floating around the stage. A (full-term) pregnant body on stage is unthinkable for safety reasons, but also because a protruding pregnant stomach would completely break the line, notably in arabesque, and shift the center of gravity of the dancer on pointe. The character of Hermione is unusual because of her pregnancy and the fact that she actually gives birth during the ballet, and because there are very few mothers – if any – in the lead female roles in the repertory. Traditionally, in the great female roles (including the most popular Shakespearean roles) women are either maidens (Giselle, Nikiya, Juliet) or fairies and other ethereal magical creatures (the sylph, Giselle when she becomes a wili, Titania, Odette the swan) – these two categories are not mutually exclusive. However, there are no lead parts for mothers, and especially not pregnant ones; if and when there are mothers, like Giselle’s or Siegfried’s, these roles are largely pantomimic and don’t require much actual dancing. In most versions of Romeo and Juliet, Lady Capulet only dances in the “Dance of the Knights” scene and her dancing is quite formal, with none of her daughter’s athleticism and passion, and she’s not on pointe (which immediately signifies that she’s not the lead). The character of Hermione is also highly unusual because it requires particular depth in its ballet translation, since she is a tragic heroine, but also a grown woman, an image of fertile femininity and womanliness, and not a young ingénue or a fairy. The role is complex and requires a lot of acting in addition to a particular technique: Hermione has to be able to dance sweetness and hospitality to Polixenes, motherly love to Mamilius and unborn Perdita, infuse her dancing with the gestures of a pregnant body (like cradling her stomach, showing signs of fatigue, …) as well as embody the sensuous, wanton cheater of Leontes’ dark fantasies.

7There are no gestures signifying pregnancy in ballet pantomime: ballet still operates on 18th-19th-century moral codes, where explicit female sexuality would never have been shown on stage. Creating gestures to signify pregnancy and giving birth was among the tweaks Wheeldon had to make in traditional ballet pantomime. In the beginning of the first act, Hermione, Polixenes, Leontes and Mamilius dance a playful pas de quatre, and after a diagonale of two lifts where Polixenes and Leontes carry her horizontally in arabesque, landing into a fouetté quatrième, Hermione turns to Leontes, places one hand on his shoulder and his other hand on her stomach to announce she’s pregnant. She then exits the stage with Mamilius while seasons change behind the two men who perform a quick pas de deux, and then returns on stage with a significantly pregnant belly and resumes the pas de trois with the two men, during which the double arabesque lift into fouetté is repeated. When the court dance scene starts a few minutes later, she seems full-term, and she is sitting down at the beginning while Leontes and Polixenes dance the farewell pas de deux. Hermione participates in the celebratory group dance when Polixenes agrees to stay a while longer in Sicilia, but stops dancing quite quickly and returns to her seat, showing fatigue and breathlessness (which normally, dancers strive to hide after a vigorous group dance) and cradling her stomach. When she starts dancing again after this break which is meant to signify the physical demands of a full-term pregnancy on her body, the pas de trois resumes, with the motif of the double lift, after which the takes the hands of her husband and Polixenes and places them on her stomach, signaling that the baby is kicking. These familiar gestures signifying pregnancy establish Hermione’s body as a womanly, expecting body, which convey images of fragility (and later, strength and determination) for the audience; this will have a particularly dramatic and disturbing effect when Hermione is accused of carrying another man’s child, since it poses the problem of representing physical violence towards a pregnant body, which is very unsettling for the audience.

Figure 1. Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson in The Royal Ballet’s production of The Winter’s Tale by Christopher Wheeldon, photo by Johan Persson /ROH

  • 16 The nursery scene is interesting in another way since it instills the atmosphere of a benevolent gy (...)

8In the nursery scene (still in Act 1),16 the accusation pas de deux between Leontes and his wife is quite violent, as Leontes handles his partner roughly and throws her to the floor; then the guards arrive and the physical abuse to Hermione escalates, as they throw her around in the air and she falls down again. Hermione exits the stage in a dignified, determined posture, though clutching her stomach at times as if in great physical pain, and stooping as if premature labor had been triggered by all this violence.

  • 17 Traditional pantomime gestures are explained here by Paris Opera Ballet first soloist Hannah O’Neil (...)
  • 18 “For behold me, / A fellow of the royal bed, which owe / A moiety of the throne; a great king’s dau (...)

9Hermione’s regal and dignified posture in this scene establishes her as a tragic heroine whose fate places her in the same category as Odette, the white swan, or Giselle, both ill-treated by the man they love that abandons them and causes their death, but the part is not just that of another wronged woman: she’s a mother, a woman whose body, not just her soul, goes through a lot over the course of the plot. The trial scene is in this respect quite interesting, since Wheeldon draws from the original text as well as the ballet intertext to portray Hermione’s plea, and enriches the ballet vocabulary with new gestures and steps to fit this unusual character. Ballet narration is in itself multifaceted since it comprises references to the common language of ballet pantomime, but also inter-balletic references as well as textual references in the case of ballets adapted from literary works; in this scene, we find traditional references to ballet pantomime that have been slightly modified by Wheeldon to signify the fact that Hermione is a fallen queen and to signify her enduring bond to her husband. For example, what Wheeldon calls the “port de mariage” blends together the traditional gestures to signify “love”, “marriage” and “I swear”17 in order to emphasize the promise of eternal love between Leontes and Hermione, in a motif that is repeated with varying intensity and emotions throughout the piece: in the prologue, it is performed with joy and passion as the two characters get married; it is then part of Hermione’s plea in the trial scene and is a reminder of the promise her husband is now betraying; finally, the “port de mariage” motif is performed in the third act, when the wronged wife and the broken husband reassert their love for each other. The “fallen queen” gesture, where Hermione breaks the normally straight line of the hand gesture for “queen” and superposes both hands as if the crown was being taken away is accompanied by contractions in Wheeldon’s choreography, to signify the pain of the character. In a pantomimic embodiment of 3.2.36-39,18

Figure 2. Lauren Cuthbertson in The Royal Ballet’s production of The Winter’s Tale by Christopher Wheeldon, photo by Johan Persson /ROH

10Hermione gestures towards the inner part of her lower arm, from the crease of the elbow to the wrist, to remind Leontes and the audience of her royal lineage. Another addition to the pantomimic vocabulary by Wheeldon is when Hermione begins her solo in the trial scene, placing one hand on her solar plexus and another on her lower stomach, and then moves these hands away in a port de bras à la seconde with contractions and a port de bras en dedans: here, she is gesturing to her broken heart and to the missing necklace (which has been given to Perdita and will later identify her as the lost princess), as well as to her now empty womb, since she has just given birth offstage. As she performs these port de bras, she walks a straight line on pointe, as if on a tightrope, and does a series of enveloppés, as if to gather her strength and tighten her energy towards her center for the trial to come.

  • 19 The Graham technique is based on the contraction / release dichotomy.
  • 20 Here, if we look at this scene from the perspective of the Graham technique, Hermione dances from h (...)
  • 21 In this sense, she perfectly mirrors Hermione’s reminder to Leontes in 3.2.101-105 that she has bee (...)
  • 22 Irene G. Dash, “A Penchant for Perdita on the 18th-century Stage” in The Woman’s Part, Feminist Cri (...)

11The choreographic discourse in the trial scene mobilizes traditional ballet vocabulary, new choreographic idioms, direct references to Shakespeare’s text, and interballetic references: for example, the use of costume as well as the numerous contractions performed by Hermione may be read as a reference to the Graham technique,19 especially since Martha Graham was one of the first to use fabric as a dramatic device, conveying tortured feelings in the pulling of the famous tube dress of her piece Lamentation (1930). What is more, Hermione dances from her solar plexus and her stomach in this scene, which articulates her heartbreak and her empty womb, as if she was already grieving for the lost Perdita and her soon-to-die son: projecting from these parts of her body is another reference to modern dance, since this was also used by Isadora Duncan, and even more by Graham, whose technique frequently rooted movement in the chakras.20 The choreography lays emphasis on Hermione’s feminine strength and resistance: she has the resilience of a mother who has just given birth,21 the strength of a dignified, virtuous woman who has been wrongly accused and defends herself in front of accusing men – a position that Graham explored at length in her works, in pieces like El Penitente, Night Journey or Cave of the Heart, which all depict women accused of immoral deeds and facing judges. If we read Hermione’s long white dress as a reference to Martha Graham’s technique, then we must recall that Lamentation was created in protest to the dictatorship in Spain, and that Graham always portrayed strong women in her works – women who fight for their dignity and often oppose a restrictive, judgmental and mortiferous patriarchal society. Wheeldon’s Hermione is, as Irene Dash puts it in her article published in the collective volume The Woman’s Part, “a married woman who challenges male rule and male domination of female life experience”:22 this type of character is unusual in ballet, and required Wheeldon to create a new type of female role, a womanly heroine, a strong mother, along with a specific balletic vocabulary for that type of character and that type of movement, which invites us to reevaluate how we see female bodies and female roles on the ballet stage, beyond the archetype of the heroine as a young ingénue. Hermione is a woman who finds freedom and strength within the patriarchal bonds of marriage – a subversive character who transcends limitations in many ways. Another figure of female resistance can be found in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, with the character of Kate who offers another interesting opportunity for choreographers to rethink female movement within the patriarchal structure of classical ballet.

“Her only fault, and that is faults enough, / Is that she is intolerable curst / And shrewd and froward so beyond all measure” (The Taming of the Shrew, 1.2.87-89)23: creating a shrewish ballet idiom

  • 23 The Oxford Shakespeare, op. cit., p. 32.
  • 24 “Conventions generally dictate that no spectator should be shown the male body as if he were the ob (...)
  • 25 As Ramsay Burt reminds us, “Because there was no acknowledged distinction between ballet as aesthet (...)

12Classical ballet is a highly gendered world: from the early days of training to company class and the way roles are constructed, men and women are not taught to dance in the same way, and there are specific exercises, specific movements and requirements for each gender. Ballet operates on a very binary system, where women have to be feminine and men have to be masculine: queerness of any type is quite rare in ballet, whether we understand “queer” as creating “gender trouble”, as Judith Butler would put it, and destabilizing heteronormativity, or as anything that would deviate from the ordinary. Because of the history of ballet and the enduring 19th-century association of women with sexual objects, the default perspective in ballet is a heterosexual male gaze;24 this is particularly true for the 19th-century classics that are still part of the repertory and featured every season in ballet companies. However, contemporary ballet choreographers such as Nureyev for example have challenged these established gender norms, especially when it comes to the compulsory heterosexual male gaze, by giving more prominence to male dancers and redirecting the audience’s gaze towards them.25 A feminist perspective on ballet technique reexamines how some of the foundations of classical technique, such as the turnout or the very structure of the pas de deux, can be read as male-oriented, seductive for an anticipated male gaze. In her study of the Balanchine repertory, Ann Daly writes:

  • 26 Ann Daly, “The Balanchine Woman: Of Hummingbirds and Channel Swimmers”, The Drama Review 31.1, Spri (...)

Ballet is one of our culture’s most powerful models of patriarchal ceremony […]. Though the ballerina displays her beauty, power is associated with the masculine values of authority, strength, and independence which her partner, the manipulator, demonstrates. And by her compliance, she ratifies her subordination.26

  • 27 Anna Kamaralli, Shakespeare and the Shrew, Performing the Defiant Female Voice, London, Palgrave, 2 (...)

13This question of subordination, complying and submitting to a male partner (and to a male gaze, generally) is fundamental for the ballet translation of the quintessential Shakespeare play about gendered power dynamics – The Taming of the Shrew. In Jean-Christophe Maillot’s original production for the Bolshoi, Bianca was danced by Olga Smirnova, and Kate by Ekaterina Krysanova; while the role of Bianca fits quite easily in the repertoire – she is sweet, charming, and traditionally feminine, the role of Kate is harder to cast. The part is one of a kind in the female repertory: it is technically difficult, requires stamina and athleticism, as well as an expressivity that is uncommon. Kate is a “shrew”, and there are no shrews in the ballet repertory: there are feisty, even violent females, but they’re never shrewish and their dancing isn’t brutal (Kate has to be brutal, almost beastlike, and yet because this is still classical ballet, she can’t make extensive use of contemporary movement that might be more animalistic or less gendered). In her introduction to her study of Shakespeare’s shrews, Anna Kamaralli goes through the several meanings of the term “shrew” and concludes that “the term is clear both in its specific application to women and also in its emphasis on speech, on noise. It refers not to a merely sulky, obstinate or intractable woman but one who is verbally critical, who will not remain quiet or limit herself to speaking pleasingly”.27 Shrews are loud and “unwomanly” violent; a “violent” female in the ballet canon can be like Odile, the black swan, who is fast, seductive and devious, or Myrtha (the queen of the wilis in Giselle), who is merciless when she sentences Hilarion to death. But even when the wilis kill him, they are inflexible, but they’re never unfeminine: their movement is firm, but not brutal and never actually shrewish – lacking the nagging, grating quality we imagine as constitutive of a shrew. In a scene which combines 1.1 and 2.1, Bianca and Kate fight before the arrival of the suitors: Bianca’s movements are very traditional, with round port de bras, delicate épaulements and soft gestures, while Kate strikes her, makes her cry, and sometimes mirrors Bianca’s movements in a hard, brutal way. When the suitors do arrive, there’s a game of hide-and-seek with Bianca (which recalls the playfulness of the lovers in La Fille mal gardée for example, and confirms Bianca’s status as an archetype of “good” femininity), and some 14 minutes into the ballet, the music becomes more dramatic, the drums start to play, the rhythm of the violins becomes staccato and Kate unleashes her shrewish fury on the suitors. In this scene, there has to be a tension in Kate’s body, and an articulation of the movement that is both rapid, agile and tense, which is extremely hard to do and goes against the grain of anything a dancer is taught to do: indeed, in ballet training, dancers learn to make their movements look soft and effortless, even when it’s fast. For example, in petit allegro exercises or in contemporary pieces like Allegro Brillante by Balanchine, the movement of the legs and feet is very fast, but the upper body remains supple and soft, and there is no hardness to the quick movement of the legs. When learning fast combinations like this, especially when a lot of petite batterie (beaten steps) are involved, dancers are told to relax and avoid tensing, because doing these fast and intricate combinations when tense is the best way to end up tripping over one’s own feet… For the part of Kate, the ballerina basically has to unlearn everything she has been taught about ballet technique, and about dancing in a feminine way. In the play, Kate is loud and speaks harshly to the suitors: in the ballet version, her movements have to be loud as well, to take up space, to express the brutality and untamed fierceness of the character.

Figure 3. Ekaterina Krysanova / Bolshoi Ballet

  • 28 In her study entitled Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance, Dance & Other Contex (...)
  • 29 John Bean, “Comic Structure and the Humanizing of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew” in The Woman’s P (...)
  • 30 “Petruccio’s madcap antics are meant to reduce Kate not so much to hunger as to bewilderment. She i (...)

14Maillot draws on the opposition between Bianca, who behaves in a “normal” feminine fashion, and her unconventional sister, but the choreography also features shrewish additions to the ballet vocabulary, as well as borrowings from other techniques in order to make Kate’s physical language “other” in comparison to her “traditionally feminine” sister. For example, in contradiction with any ballet tradition (European, Russian, or Balanchine technique), Kate’s fingers are tense like claws, there is tension in her neck, in her face, and the way she attacks every movement is more masculine than feminine. In classical ballet, men are allowed to show some tension, when performing the physical tension and determination of warriors (in fight scenes, for example), so the ballerina has to draw from men’s training rather than women’s to dance the part of Kate. Maillot uses Balanchine-like off-center tilts and hip thrusts, flexed hands and feet – which Balanchine critics have established as “Africanisms” in the Balanchine technique:28 by referring to these codes, the choreography clearly states that Kate is other. The choreography therefore stresses Kate’s alterity – in the context of the opposition to her sister but also in the broader ballet landscape – and makes her presence explosive and commanding: in Shakespeare’s play, there is an element of farce in the depiction of this untamed woman, which is replicated in the choreography by Kate’s tripping up the suitors or sometimes literally kicking their bottoms. Like Wheeldon, Maillot makes ingenious use of pantomime in his Shrew: the “taming” scene, which performs Petruccio’s taming of his wife in act 4, relies on pantomime, with the fireside scene and the cup of tea pantomime. In this scene, Kate is not deprived of food, but attempts to make the perfect cup of tea for her husband, which he keeps rejecting. In his chapter on “Comic Structure and the Humanizing of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew”,29 John Bean insists on “the liberating power of laughter and play” and the transformative power of chaos:30 the pantomime in the ballet adaptation mirrors the destabilization and chaos of the taming in the play, especially the “sun / moon” dialogue in 4.5. Eventually, Kate’s ballet bun becomes undone during the pas de deux, a trope that is meant to signify some form of chaos in ballet: in the madness scene in Giselle, her hair is loose as well when she discovers that Albrecht is in reality betrothed to Bathilde, and in Balanchine’s Serenade, the dancer who arrives late also has her hair loose instead of in a ballet bun. According to critics like Bean, it is through chaos that Kate – like Hermione – is transformed, and this transformation eventually leads to the creation of a deeper bond with the husband, since this renewed bond is now strengthened by the empowerment of the female character who has managed to liberate herself from within the extremely restrictive and punitive framework of conventional marriage. Both come out on the other side of their trials stronger and vindicated – as their partner’s equal: Hermione helps Leontes and takes the lead in their final pas de deux, just as Kate clearly leads Petruccio (or accepts to be led just to take back the lead moments later) in the end of the Shrew. In Maillot’s Shrew, Kate’s liberation is also sexual, which is interesting in the context of classical ballet, since female sexuality is so often thwarted in the canonical ballets of the repertory: either it can’t happen (in La Sylphide, the sylph can’t be touched, or she’ll die), or desire is lethal (Giselle becomes mad and her frustrated desire for Albrecht literally kills her, Juliet’s passion for Romeo will bring about their tragic end), or the desiring woman is punished because she’s the other woman and her lover is already engaged to another (Giselle, La Sylphide, La Bayadère…). What we witness in Maillot’s Shrew is the blossoming of Kate’s frustrated sexual energy into a fulfilled, freely expressed sensuality.

15In the scene when Kate first meets Petruccio, her “unwomanly” violence is equally matched in Petruccio’s excessively macho movement: both strike their chest in provocation, as if daring the other one to fight them, they walk around each other as tigers around their prey with the energy of a caged animal about to unleash its frustrated fury.

Figure 4. Ekaterina Krysanova et Vladislav Lantratov / Bolshoi Ballet

  • 31 This is another jump that is almost exclusively the province of male dancers, except when choreogra (...)
  • 32 Here Maillot developed the “puppet” motif present in 4.3, especially in the tailor scene (“Belike y (...)

16The first pas de deux between the pair is brutal, since Petruccio throws her around like a rag doll, grabs her by the neck and strong-arms her into submission – something which is repeated in the wedding scene, with a particularly disturbing lift where Petruccio lifts Kate by the neck. The fact that they are equally matched in this fight is clearly visible through the fact that Kate performs movements usually done by men, like striking her chest, or when she does the umbrella jump31 like a man (but held by the neck by her partner instead of by the shoulders, which increases the difficulty of the movement). Despite being roughly handled and manipulated by a husband-pupeteer who seems to hypnotize her in the seduction scenes,32 Kate finds her power within the patriarchal bonds of marriage: the bedroom scene is raunchy at times, and the pair is evenly matched even in costume, since Petruccio is shirtless, which therefore operates a form of redistribution of the desiring gaze that is no longer solely directed onto the ballerina. Kate finds her sexuality and the freedom to express herself as an unconventional, desiring subject in her marriage to Petruccio. In the final pas de deux, Kate’s movement is rounder, but the pas de deux starts with the ballerina running her hand down her partner’s torso towards his groin (Petruccio humorously stops her hand just in time for the piece to remain family-friendly); the lifts, jumps and extensions are softer and more civilized, but the newlyweds retain some of their original roughness (Petruccio yawns, grabs his partner’s bottom as they walk upstage, Kate flicks him off…). Kate’s final monologue in the ballet starts by her walking a straight line on pointe, much like Hermione’s tightrope walking in the trial scene, but this time with sass and playfulness which shows how her freedom blossoms in the restrictive frame of marriage. As Coppélia Kahn reminds us in her seminal article about the play:

  • 33 Coppélia Kahn, “The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare’s Mirror of Marriage”, Modern Language Studies(...)

Kate has not been bought or sold, but has given herself out of love. Thus he makes her walk a tightrope of affirming her husband’s superiority through outward conformity while questioning it ironically through words. Portia, Beatrice, Viola and Rosalind perform similar athletic feats on their way to the altar, but their wittiness, unlike Kate's, ends with the wedding.33

  • 34 As Eric Nicholson writes in his article “‘She speaks poniards’: Shakespearean Drama and the Italian (...)
  • 35 On Kate’s irony, see for example Kahn, op. cit., p. 99, and Marianne Novy, Love’s Argument, Gender (...)
  • 36 Daly, op. cit., p. 16.

17Contrary to other Shakespearean comedies where marriage signals the end of all playfulness and ironic reversals, Kate’s marriage to Petruccio allows her greater opportunities for play;34 the irony of Kate’s last speech in the play, where she professes her absolute submission to her husband,35 is not done at the expense of her husband in the ballet, but at the expense of the patriarchal streak in ballet technique. The ballerina appears softer, and performs the attitude turns with port de bras in an outstretched fifth she did in the scene of the suitors without her original claw-like fingers, but her “raging fire” (2.1.132) is still perceptible in the underlying tension underneath the softness, which is but a performance for the benefit of her family. What Kate renounces in the ballet version of the Shrew is not her independence and her shrewishness, but the mandatory softness and innocence for female dancers: she is sensual and seductive in the last scene, and moves like a victorious black swan, who would in addition be endowed with a sense of humor. On the contrary, her sister’s more conventional marriage appears boring and devoid of any sense of play, like that of the other two couples portrayed in the final scene, which mirrors the contest between Lucentio, Hortensio and Petruccio at the end of the play. The pantomimic trope of the “perfect cup of tea” is used here again: Kate mimes making and giving a cup of tea to her husband, who seems delighted by his wife’s talents, to the obvious astonishment of the other couples – whose gazes all converge to the new couple at that moment. The other women unsuccessfully try to match the perfection of Kate’s tea-making, and Lucentio visibly strives to make a good cup of tea for his fastidious wife, who throws it in his face. In this moment, Bianca, who had established her superiority over her sister in the opening scenes as the paragon of femininity men fought to woo, is turned into a coquettish, capricious and emasculating pest, and her union to Lucentio is obviously not a harmonious marriage of equals, contrary to her sister’s. In the end, Kate never fully complies: she merely gives the appearance of complying, but this is clearly not fooling anyone, and she never “ratifies her subordination”,36 which completely subverts the very structure of the pas de deux, where the ballerina is manipulated and displayed by her partner so she can appear to her advantage for the (male) audience members. This traditional structure is further upset by the fact that the male partner in the pas de deux is not an accessory either, whose sole purpose would be to make the ballerina shine: the pas de deux in Wheeldon’s Winter’s Tale and in Maillot’s Shrew are a dialogue of equals.

  • 37 In her section on Katherine (89-110) in Shakespeare and the Shrew, Performing the Defiant Female Vo (...)
  • 38 Especially in a context where the ballet world is currently shaken by reports of abuse female dance (...)
  • 39 The Taming of the Shrew: The State of Play, ed. Jennifer Flaherty and Heather C. Easterling, London (...)
  • 40 Idem, p. 2.
  • 41 Idem, p. 3.
  • 42 Kamaralli, op. cit., p. 3.
  • 43 Idem, p. 110.
  • 44 On Waltz’s Roméo et Juliette, see Jonas Kellermann, Dramaturgies of Love in Romeo and Juliet: Word, (...)

18Although they are diametrically different in terms of the emotional charge of the role, Hermione and Kate are characters whose ballet performance necessarily entails significant changes in the classical ballet technique in order to accommodate these unorthodox ballet roles. In their own ways, both these characters are subversive because they challenge and subvert the patriarchal codes of classical ballet about how a woman should dance, what a woman’s movement should be – a subversive charge which in the end is very similar to Shakespeare’s own characters in the plays in the way they resist male domination. However, much like the end of Shakespeare’s Shrew has been debated multiple times by critics,37 showing two women whose femininity triumphs after enduring physical abuse from their partners remains fraught on the ballet stage.38 As the editors of The Taming of the Shrew: The State of Play39 underline, #MeToo and the 2020 COVID crisis have “revealed ‘prevailing structures’ of gender inequality in the public sphere” and “brought the domestic sphere starkly into view and provoked new questions about gender, power, and performance in this most private of spaces”,40 therefore urging us to re-read texts like Shakespeare’s Shrew and reevaluate them “not in spite of but because of its struggles and our struggles with it”.41 While Wheeldon and Maillot have both produced female roles that bring diversity to what is traditionally expected of female movement in ballet, it seems nonetheless worth remarking that this is the (perhaps slightly romanticized?) vision of two established male choreographers in a largely male-dominated ballet world, where female choreographers are widely under-represented. Kate is powerful, but her resistance provides very heteronormative erotic friction in the duo she forms with Petruccio, and Maillot turned the “nag” archetype42 into another one – that of the feisty woman who challenges her male partner, gives him a run for his money, but still gives in to his irresistible seduction in the end. Both ballets in fact enact the necessary female forgiveness Kamaralli identifies as an enduring streak in Shakespeare’s works: “Shakespeare wrote no fewer than six other plays in which an unworthy man is forgiven by a woman who is much better than he deserves, for the sake of love and community stability. This still puts women in the confining role of the redemptive force”.43 Equality comes at a very dear price in both ballets, as it does in the plays, but as the work of female choreographers continues to gain visibility on major ballet stages worldwide and to challenge established gender norms in ballet, other thought-provoking reinterpretations of Shakespeare’s works like Sasha Waltz’s 2007 Roméo et Juliette44 will no doubt appear and further broaden the ballet vocabulary.

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Notes

1 See for example Alastair Macaulay’s 2014 article for The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/arts/dance/shakespeares-plays-are-a-natural-fit-with-dance.html, which underlines how seamlessly Shakespeare’s plays fit into the classical repertory. (last accessed December 221). Recent publications like Elizabeth Klett’s Choreographing Shakespeare, Dance Adaptations of the Plays and Poems (New York, Routledge, 2020) or Lynsey McCulloch and Brandon Shaw’s Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance (Oxford, Oxford UP, 2019) have also explored this affinity between Shakespeare and dance.

2 The full video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFNcQHlJfr0. (last accessed December 2021)

3 Jonas Kellermann, “‘Like an old tale’: The Winter’s Tale on the Balletic Stage” Shakespeare Jahrbuch 157, “Aufsätze: Tanz”, eds. Norbert Greiner, Stephan Laqué, Felix Sprang & Lena Steveker, Stuttgart: Kröner, 2021, 162-179. This issue also features another paper on The Winter’s Tale by Maria Marcsek-Fuchs (“Von Shakespeare zum Ballett und zurück – Der intermediale Blick auf eine polydirektionale Shakespeare-Adaptation: Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale, 180-197). The impossible resurrection of Mamilius, the broadening of the tragic ballet vocabulary and the place of child dancers in Wheeldon’s ballet have also been discussed by Judith Buchanan in her article “The Winter Tale’s Spectral Endings: Death, Dance and Doubling” (Shakespeare on Screen, The Tempest and Late Romances, eds. Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2017, 110-132), and Gemma Miller in her introduction “Simulacrum and Surrogation: The Children of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale (2014/16)” to her book Childhood in Contemporary Performance of Shakespeare (London & New York, The Arden Shakespeare, 2020, 1-22).

4 “Artful Pas-de-Deuxs, (Natural) Gestures, and Subverted Ballet Conventions: Christopher Wheeldon Writing Back at Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale” (Maria Marcsek-Fuchs), “Imagining Stages and Staging Images” (Laura Levine), ESRA 2021 conference, “Moved by Shakespeare: ‘natural’ tempos, movement and physical expression on the ballet and opera stages” seminar, Athens, June 4-5 2021.

5 Kellerman, op. cit., p. 163.

6 See for example Buchanan’s discussion of the addition of the statue of Mamilius as an “embodied reminder” of the boy’s tragic death in Wheeldon’s production, which, she argues, “obstinately articulates the thing that in Shakespeare remains unspoken and the principal effect of this is the unrelenting mortification of Leontes” (Buchanan, op. cit., p. 119).

7 See for example Mattia Mantellato’s discussion of Youri Vámos’ Romeo and Juliet in the special issue of the Cahiers Elisabéthains on Shakespeare and Dance (“(Re)Playing Shakespeare through Modern Dance: Youri Vámos’ Romeo and Juliet”, “Dancing Shakespeare in Europe: Silent Eloquence, the Body and the Space(s) of Play, ed. Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau, Cahiers Elisabéthains 102.1, 2020, 54-68).

8 Nancy Isenberg’s 2009 article “Beyond the black/white paradigm: casting Othello and Desdemona on the Ballet Stage” looks into casting choices for the Lar Lubovitch 1997 production of Othello for the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet (Postcolonial Shakespeare, Studi in Onore di Viola Papetti, ed. Masolino d’Amico and Simona Corso, Rome, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2009, p. 157-169). Mantellato also discusses casting choices in his aforementioned paper (Vámos chose to cast the youngest, most inexperienced members of the company for the lead roles in his production).

9 Most modern choreographers, from Isadora Duncan to Raimund Hogue, have advocated for greater body inclusivity in dance; Duncan celebrated the liberated female form (for example in her essay “The Dancer of the Future”, in Roger Copeland & Marshall Cohen, eds., What is Dance? Readings in Theory and Criticism, Oxford & New York, Oxford UP, 1983, 262-264) and Raimund Hogue was one of the pioneers and leading figures in choreographing “different” bodies and challenging disability culture (see for example Petra Kuppers, “Waltzing Disability Culture: Moving History with Raimund Hogue”, Choreographic Practices 6.1, April 2015, 41-57).

10 The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Dance (eds. Lynsey McCulloch and Brandon Shaw, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2019), for example, features papers by Lynsey McCulloch and Julia Bührle (“‘Hildings and Harlots’: Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet”, 343-358, and “Shakespeare Ballets in Germany: from Jean-Georges Noverre to John Neumeier”, 359-386) discussing such classics.

11 From here onwards abbreviated as ABT.

12 Noverre’s Lettres sur la danse are available online (Jean Georges Noverre, Lettres sur la danse, et sur les ballets, par M. Noverre, maître des ballets de Son Altesse Sérénissime Monseigneur le Duc de Wurtemberg, et ci-devant des théâtres de Paris, (first edition) Lyon, Aimé Delaroche, 1760): https://obvil.sorbonne-universite.fr/corpus/danse/noverre_lettres-danse_1760_orig. p. 229, Noverre writes: “il y a trois genres de Danse, réservés à des tailles & à des physionomies différentes, les Danseurs en s’éxaminant avec soin, & en se rendant justice, pourront tous se placer avantageusement. Leur objet est égal : dans quelque genre que ce soit, ils doivent imiter, ils doivent être Pantomimes & exprimer avec force.” The “danseur noble” is described on p. 232, and the characteristics of the “demi-caractère” dancer are delineated on p. 233-234.

13 Some productions emphasize Romeo’s romantic side and portray him as a typical 19th-century Romantic hero, others insist on his youth and liveliness: for example, in the 2021 production of the ballet by the Paris Opera (dancing the Nureyev version), the tone of the show varied depending on whether Romeo was danced by the company’s quintessential danseur noble (Hugo Marchand, one of the tallest members of the company), one of the youngest members of the company (Guillaume Diop, who brought freshness, liveliness and youthful energy to the role), a more senior and experienced principal (Mathias Heymann, who is famous for being a very sensitive, expressive and delicately graceful dancer), or a young homegrown principal (Paul Marque) and a guest principal trained in the Cuban National Ballet (Osiel Gouneo) who are both famous for their jumps and impressively fiery technique.

14 Some jumps, like double cabrioles arrière, revoltades, or tours en l’air, are performed exclusively by men in class and on stage.

15 The presence of a uniform group of men on stage is a lot less systematic than that of a female corps, which is a staple of any Romantic ballet, or “ballet blanc”.

16 The nursery scene is interesting in another way since it instills the atmosphere of a benevolent gynæceum, where women take care of each other, with Paulina warning Hermione about her husband’s suspicions and comforting her. Hermione is visibly worried, but she still pays attention to her child and plays with Mamilius, even when she’s in the middle of a very dramatic conversation with Paulina; this establishes the character as a warm and loving mother, with a degree of care, gentleness and nurturing which is usually the prerogative of characters of nurses (like Juliet’s nurse), royal mothers usually being more detached from their children. However, the bawdy dimension usually associated to nurses and servant characters is completely absent here, which further sets Hermione apart as a heroine in the classical repertory.

17 Traditional pantomime gestures are explained here by Paris Opera Ballet first soloist Hannah O’Neill who performs the famous Swan Lake pantomime: https://www.operadeparis.fr/magazine/decoupage-dun-pas-1. (last accessed December 2021). Wheeldon’s port de mariage modifies the traditional gesture to say “I swear” and instead of crossing the hands as in the normal pantomime for “love” and “marriage”, the dancer places one hand in the crease of the elbow and holds their arms at a perpendicular angle. The port de mariage is demonstrated by first soloist Fumi Kaneko about 9’49’’ into the Royal Ballet in rehearsal video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFNcQHlJfr0&t=810s (last accessed December 2021).

18 “For behold me, / A fellow of the royal bed, which owe / A moiety of the throne; a great king’s daughter, / The mother to a hopeful prince” (The Oxford Shakespeare, The Complete Works, second edition, eds. Stanley Wells & Gary Taylor, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2005, p. 1135).

19 The Graham technique is based on the contraction / release dichotomy.

20 Here, if we look at this scene from the perspective of the Graham technique, Hermione dances from her heart and her sacral chakra, the places in the body where love and compassion (heart) as well as sexual and creative energy (sacral) originate. See for example Eileen Or, “Body and Mind: The Yoga Roots of Martha Graham’s ‘Contraction’ and ‘Release’”, in Proceedings of the Conference ‘Border Crossings: Dance and Boundaries in Society, Politics, Gender, Education and Technology’, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (10-14 May 1995), 203-213.

21 In this sense, she perfectly mirrors Hermione’s reminder to Leontes in 3.2.101-105 that she has been denied “the childbed privilege (…), which ’longs / to women of all fashion” and “hurried” to her trial before she has had time to recover from giving birth (The Oxford Shakespeare, op. cit., p. 1135).

22 Irene G. Dash, “A Penchant for Perdita on the 18th-century Stage” in The Woman’s Part, Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare, eds Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz, Gayle Greene and Carol Thomas Neely, Urbana, Chicago & London, University of Illinois Press, 1980, 271-284, p. 274-275.

23 The Oxford Shakespeare, op. cit., p. 32.

24 “Conventions generally dictate that no spectator should be shown the male body as if he were the object of a pleasurable gaze. This is because the spectator is presumed to be male and his dominant male gaze a heterosexual one” (Ramsay Burt, The Male Dancer; Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities, London & New York, Routledge, 1995, p. 70).

25 As Ramsay Burt reminds us, “Because there was no acknowledged distinction between ballet as aesthetic experience and ballet as erotic spectacle, let alone any understanding of the way art expresses social and political meanings, the pleasures of watching men dancing became, in the mid-nineteenth-century, marred by anxieties about masculine identity” (Idem, p. 27). Burt’s book starts from 19th-century conventions and examines the reevaluation of the gaze towards the male dancer from the Ballets Russes onwards.

26 Ann Daly, “The Balanchine Woman: Of Hummingbirds and Channel Swimmers”, The Drama Review 31.1, Spring 1987, 8-21, p. 16.

27 Anna Kamaralli, Shakespeare and the Shrew, Performing the Defiant Female Voice, London, Palgrave, 2012, p. 3.

28 In her study entitled Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance, Dance & Other Contexts (Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 1996), Brenda Dixon Gottschild examines Africanisms in the Balanchine style and writes: “the displacement and articulation of hips, chest, pelvis, and shoulders, instead of the vertical alignment of the torso; leg kicks, attacking the beat, instead of carefully placed extensions; angular arms and flexed wrists, rather than the traditional, rounded port de bras, all of these touches usher the viewer into the discovery of the Africanist aesthetic in Balanchine” (Gottschild, op. cit., p. 70). In her seminal essay Playing in the Dark, Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York, Vintage Books, 1993) Toni Morrison delineates how American whiteness is constructed in opposition to the “Africanist” Other – a process which is also at work in the creation of the modern American choreographic idiom, since dance pioneers like Balanchine or Graham have extensively borrowed from Native American and African-American dances whenever they wanted to highlight American otherness in comparison with the European tradition of dance (see for example Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau “Martha Graham, ‘An American, A kosmos’: Border-crossing in Martha Graham’s Early Works”, E-rea 17.1, 2019, 167-210).

29 John Bean, “Comic Structure and the Humanizing of Kate in The Taming of the Shrew” in The Woman’s Part, op. cit., p. 65-78.

30 “Petruccio’s madcap antics are meant to reduce Kate not so much to hunger as to bewilderment. She is to be immersed in chaos, in that irrational world where we lose our bearings and our old sense of truth, and she is challenged to respond as Christopher Sly does in the Induction by yielding to the confusion, abandoning her old identity in favor of a new one” (Idem, p. 72).

31 This is another jump that is almost exclusively the province of male dancers, except when choreographers want to blur gender lines, precisely.

32 Here Maillot developed the “puppet” motif present in 4.3, especially in the tailor scene (“Belike you mean to make a puppet of me. / Why, true; he means to make a puppet of thee. / She says your worship means to make

a puppet of her” l. 103-106).

33 Coppélia Kahn, “The Taming of the Shrew: Shakespeare’s Mirror of Marriage”, Modern Language Studies 5.1, 1975, 88-102, p. 97-98.

34 As Eric Nicholson writes in his article “‘She speaks poniards’: Shakespearean Drama and the Italianate Leading Lady as Verbal Duellist” (Early Modern Literary Studies 27, https://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/journal/index.php/

emls/article/view/41, last accessed December 2021), Kate, like Beatrice, can “exercise their competitive rhetorical skills and sometimes come out on top, and perhaps ultimately achieve reciprocal balance with their witty mates” (Nicholson, op. cit., p. 16).

35 On Kate’s irony, see for example Kahn, op. cit., p. 99, and Marianne Novy, Love’s Argument, Gender Relations in Shakespeare, chapter 3, “Patriarchy and Play in Taming of the Shrew”, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina, 1984, 45-62.

36 Daly, op. cit., p. 16.

37 In her section on Katherine (89-110) in Shakespeare and the Shrew, Performing the Defiant Female Voice (London, Palgrave, 2012), Anna Kamaralli summarizes the (often contradictory) “various possible conclusions” to the play, op. cit., p. 93-94. In “‘Fie, what a foolish duty call you this?’ The Taming of the Shrew, Women’s Jest, and the Divided Audience”, Pamela Allen Brown also points out the lack of agreement on the play among critics: “the play has deeply split its critics, too, creating a virtual stalemate in interpretation. One camp maintains that original audiences would have taken Kate’s final lecture as an incontrovertible statement of God’s truth, leading to comic resolution; another reads the same lines as deeply ironic and subversive, in a farce rife with games and role-playing; and yet another sees the play as offering a delightful lesson in the humanizing, transformative power of love (summarized in Freedman 1991: 119–21)” (A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works: The Comedies, eds R. Dutton & J. Howard, Oxford, Blackwell, 2003, p. 289-290).

38 Especially in a context where the ballet world is currently shaken by reports of abuse female dancers have endured from company directors, fellow dancers or ballet masters (like the sexual harassment lawsuits against Peter Martins and dancers of the New York City Ballet, for example) in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and if we consider ballet’s long history of objectifying female dancers and representing them both as commodities in life and icons on stage in the 19th-century ballet culture.

39 The Taming of the Shrew: The State of Play, ed. Jennifer Flaherty and Heather C. Easterling, London, Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2021.

40 Idem, p. 2.

41 Idem, p. 3.

42 Kamaralli, op. cit., p. 3.

43 Idem, p. 110.

44 On Waltz’s Roméo et Juliette, see Jonas Kellermann, Dramaturgies of Love in Romeo and Juliet: Word, Music and Dance, London, Routledge, 2021.

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Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau, « “Dancing Shakespeare – non-traditional dancing bodies and broadening the classical ballet vocabulary” », Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [En ligne], 40 | 2022, mis en ligne le 29 juin 2022, consulté le 19 août 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/7159 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/shakespeare.7159

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Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau

Université Clermont-Auvergne

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