Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Top Ten Jerks (characters) in Classical Ballet

The Thespian's next review will be of Giselle.    Count Albrecht is one of the least likeable leading men in the classical ballet repertoire.    So, The Thespian got thinking, who are the top ten complete jerks in the classical ballet canon?    The following list is completely biased and it was difficult to narrow it down to only ten.  (Okay 10.5)

10.   Franz in Copellia.   Here is a happily engaged young man, who jilts his fiancee, Swanhilde for a mechanical doll.    Yep, he's so stupid he can't tell that his infatuation isn't real.   Being a comic ballet, Swanhilde disguises herself as the doll and teaches her love a lesson.

9.  Fritz in The Nutcracker.   The ultimate bratty little brother.   During the Christmas Eve party he is always getting into trouble leading his cohorts in battles against the girls.   He breaks his sister, Clara/Marie's Christmas present from her Godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer out of jealousy.   Thankfully, said Godfather is usually portrayed as having magic powers and not only does he fix the doll, but it leads to the dream that he's Clara's dreamboat Prince in disguise.

8.  Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.   He's the same idiot from Shakespeare.   Doesn't think before he acts and let's see how many people does he get killed?  In the ballet it's four, Mercutio, Tybalt, Juliet and himself.  (the ballet omits him killing Paris in the tomb scene most of the time).

7.  James in La Sylphide.   The Scottish lad falls in love with a Sylph on his wedding day.  This leads to broken hearts and two deaths.   Lesson here: never fall in love with a supernatural being, it always leads to tragedy.

6.  Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake.   So, he can't tell the difference between the woman he swore eternal love to the day before and her doppelganger.   You'd think he would have gone up to her at the ball and said "Princess Odette, so nice of you to make it."   Instead of, "well she's been introduced at the ball as Odile, but she looks so much like Odette it must be her."   Never swear eternal love to anyone when death is on the line.   Death usually wins.

5.  Hilarion/Hans in Giselle.  Pity poor Hilarion.  Happy peasant boy in love with a happy peasant girl with a heart condition.   Then the girl mets the mysterious new guy and jilts you.  So, what do you do? You expose your rival as the playboy Count that he is and tell it to her in front of the whole village, knowing she has a heart condition.  Of course, she's going to die.   Then, you have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when you decide to visit her grave in the middle of the night and you get danced to death by the Willis.   Never go visiting a graveyard at night.   Classic horror movie mistake.

4.  Von Rothbart in Swan Lake.   Evil magician has a thing for capturing young girls and turning them into swans.   Then you set up that must declare eternal love thing to break your curse.   This leads to a lot of death, including, in most versions, your own as when they thwart you by committing suicide it breaks the spell on the other girls and they gang up and kill you, because they are really pissed about spending their best years living a half life as swans.    Why not raise chickens it's more profitable?

3.  Count Albrecht in Giselle.   Hey, you are engaged to the beautiful Princess Bathilda so what are you going to do now?   Go sow your wild oats in a village by getting a peasant girl with a heart condition to fall head over heels in love with you.  Oh, and did we mention that she has a heart condition?   Naturally the whole court is going to go hunting in the neighborhood.   Did you really think that was going to end well?   You, I understand visiting Giselle's grave in the middle of the night.   The villagers would have probably burned you at the stake in the daylight.   But, do you deserve Giselle's help in dancing until dawn to save your life from the Willis?   In a word, no.

2.  Gamzatti in La Bayadere.   Yep, my top two are women.   Gamzatti is engaged to the warrior Solor who is having a bit on the side with the temple dancer, Nikiya.    You are going to get the guy, why let your jealousy get in the way of your own triumph?    How brilliant of you to plant a poisonous snake in a bouquet of flowers and kill your rival at your own engagement party.    Yeah, he's really going to learn to love you know.   No wonder in most versions of the ballet the whole temple comes crashing down on you and kills you and Solor both.  

1. 5.  Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty.    So, the Lord Chamberlain forgot to send you an invitation to the Princess' christening.   Have you exactly made nice in the kingdom for the past several years?  No?   So don't get all huffy and curse the innocent baby to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die.  And hanging around the thorn covered castle for 100 years waiting to kill Prince Desire probably doesn't do you much good in keeping up your magic muscles.    No wonder he kills you which is the fate you really deserve as opposed to in the original production where the Lilac Fairy redeems you and lets you rejoin the Fairy Kingdom.

1.  Old Madge in La Sylphide.    Why do you want a woodland Sylph to die?   You really seem to exist to make everybody miserable.   Let's see,  you push James' fiancee to see he's pining for someone else and encourage her to marry his best friend.   Then you get together with your coven and make a magic scarf that kills Sylphs and convince the heartsick James to use it to catch the Sylph.   Sylph dies, James dies and you get to triumph at the end of the ballet.    What's your motivation beyond "I'm evil incarnate?"    You win the dubious honor of the number one jerk in classical ballet.


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