Richard Kostelanetz

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)

A beautiful young girl who loses her virginity prior to marriage is turned into a butterfly, which may or may not in the end represent a punishment.

In an all-night performance, several dancers represent the planets slowly rotating around the sun, whose role is played by the choreographer.

Christ is reborn in an urban slum, experiencing again, after a period of miraculous good deeds, a crucifixion and resurrection whose significance is apparent not to those around him but to the audience.

In this version of Alice in Wonderland, all the dancers working in a studio conspire to crash into a mirror that, when it breaks, becomes a doorway to another world.

Before a projection of a bombed-out city, the dancers construct a tent from urban scrap.

A pretty farm girl, abducted by the brother of the countyıs agribusiness mogul, awakens in a house graced by a life-sized statue of the mogul. After much confusion and explanation, she consents to stay with the brother.

All available spotlights are shined directly at the audience, preferably in steadily increasing number, until everyone leaves.

A military nurse saves the life of an enemy officer, who falls in love with her, and she with he; but before they can make their affection public, they must overcome numerous obstacles that are both official and unofficial.

An American college girl marries a handsome foreign student who could not otherwise stay in the States, incidentally hoping he will eventually love her.

When a prophecy made by a psychic proves to be false, disappointed and disgusted dancers throw him into the orchestra pit.

When a pilot who dies in an ocean crash returns to his fiancee as a ghost, she agrees to follow him to his submarine cave, where they are wed. Consummation becomes impossible, given their inhabiting different realms, until she too becomes a ghost and an infant is born.

An older choreographer defines the current style of his art by performing selected passages from his earlier works, as well as describing in loving detail those he is physically no longer able to do.

During an hour of continuous movement, a game of musical chairs evolves into a brawl that requires the intervention of the police.

In a ballet accompanied by primitive music, a devilish young woman, dancing with extravagant movements, strangles prospective suitors with her extended ponytail.

The protagonist is someone, apparently a dance patron, for whom everyone is continually waiting, even though he or she doesnıt appear.

On a cruise in the Caribbean, the protagonistıs girlfriend is swept overboard, fortunately near the shore. As the shipıs crew is unable to find her in circling around the sea, he leaves the cruise, going from fishing village to fishing village until, to everyoneıs surprise, he finds her.

Two women mount bicycles at the back corner of the stage and, as they ride forward, crash into each other.

According to the program, "The purpose of this ballet is to represent male-female relationships realistically--as harmonious as they should be."

Before any human performers appear, water floods onto the stage and out into the audience which is forced to leave. Their commotion becomes the ballet.

A man new to a town finds lodging with a widow who finds him desirable and her daughter whom he desires instead.

The spook of a murdered woman returns to dance with her husband, who, in honor of the occasion, suddenly appears twenty years younger.

A man with an easily divisible personality is torn severely between body and soul, convention and dissidence, wealth and love; his role can be played by two or more dancers.

An athletic woman who tries repeatedly to do four jetes in mid-air finally succeeds, disappearing above the proscenium.

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.

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