Is ballet dying?
"With depressingly few exceptions, performances are dull and lack vitality; theatres feel haunted and audiences blasé. After years of trying to convince myself otherwise, I now feel sure that ballet is dying.”
– Jennifer Homans, 'Apollo’s Angels'.
Is ballet dead? Has the art form evolved to stagnation? Is it now decaying? Jennifer Homans’s ominous conclusion to her fascinating – if slightly skewed – history of ballet, Apollo’s Angels, is worrying.
It appears that ballet’s pulse continues to beat strongly, however, especially with a Tchaikovsky defibrillator attached. So why are some dance commentators arguing that ballet is dying? And do they have a point?
“Ballet is dead” – “Ballet is dying” – all ring tones of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical proclamation: “God is dead.” Headline grabbing, certainly. Yet can ballet be defined in such black and white terms? Surely it is more abstract, filled with shades of popular grey.. .
This is the opening of Matthew Lawrence's article in the current June/July issue of 'Dance Australia'. Read the rest of his ruminations by buying the magazine from your favourite retailer, or subscribe here, or purchase an online copy via the Dance Australia app. Readers who subscribe now will receive a free copy of Misty Copeland's DVD 'A Ballerina's Tale' and go in the draw to receive a pair of her signed shoes!