FROM 1001 CONCISE CONTEMPORARY BALLETS-IV
A good libretto, even an impressionist, double-exposed or portmanteaued one, follows most of the rules of simple dramaturgy. Balanchine once said the perfect type plot for a dramatic narrative ballet was the story of the Prodigal Son. Once there was a man who had everything, then he had nothing; finally he had everything again.
--Lincoln Kirstein, Ballet Alphabet (1939)
Two impresarios try to steal each other's dancers, in full view of each other.
The girls of a port town find the ship captain so irresistible that they disguise themselves as beardless young sailors to board his ship, where they discover, as he makes advances on them, that the captain must be essentially homosexual.
Several performers, as naked as acceptable, smear one another with chocolate syrup whose smell becomes so overwhelming that chocolate-hungry members of the audience on their own initiatives come onstage to lick spatulas and even the performers' bodies. (Their needs should not be spurned.)
Inspired by birdlike movements, this ballet is essentially plotless.
The assassins who appear to be male turn out to be women.
In this updated version of the Orpheus legend, a matinee idol, publicly know as homosexual, descends into hell in search of a favorite lover who recently died from aids.
Though from all appearances she looked like a contemporary woman, the prima donna was also a skilled automotive mechanic.
A prostitute enslaved by a demonic pimp is required to murder her customers until she encounters a man who, even though he is stabbed many times, does not die.
Among small slender women rehearsing gymnastics routines moves a stocky man holding a television camera devoid of extending wires.
On the white classic leotards of scores of dancers are projected both radical contemporary political slogans and abstract lines resembling the tread marks of radial tires.
Two prisoners escape to the home of one whose wife falls in love with the other, who is persuaded to kill her husband, but then, under the persistent threat of arrest, he remains hidden in her house, eventually realizing that he has simply exchanged one prison for another, the one only slightly less disagreeable than its predecessor.
An imperious woman, an employer, gives a young male employee marijuana, which he brazenly shares not with his employer but with another employee, female, prompting his summary dismissal.
In a black mass, with three archangels presiding, a young woman makes a Faustian wager, transforming herself, thanks to angelic hocus-pocus, into the contemporary embodiment of excessive knowledge--a hard computer disc that lies under a spotlight at the center of the stage.
The protagonist falls into an epileptic fit when her father tells her to marry someone other than the man she loves, and she has even more extravagant fits when her father offers yet other suitors.
In this urban horse opera, a beautiful girl is enslaved by a homosexual who exploits her to attract men whom he then rapes and, if they threaten to report him to the police, murders unrepentantly until one of his intended victims draws a gun in return, killing the rapist and falsely assuring the girl that she is free, all while making plays in an aside to enslave her for his own purposes.
The protagonist stakes all he has, including his wife, on a sports wager that he loses.
Richard Kostelanetz's theatrical text Lovings was recently produced at the Medicine Show in New York City, where he lives. He is presently working on a "mechanical opera" for eight loudspeakers.
Please visit his web site: www.richardkostelanetz.com.