“This ballet is the one I wish I had seen” . . .words, of course, you would expect to hear from the artistic director. The reality is that in the context of The Firebird, a Ballez this is much more than a true statement. Katy Pyle has re-envisioned Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird in a new image. A queer image. The clip from Kickstarter IS the ballet I wish I could see if I was in NYC this weekend.
I am far from a lover of ballet, I am impressed with the skill it takes to dance on ones toes (I’m thrilled to get through one day with stubbing a toe) but I’ve never felt a connection (I vaguely remember The Nutcracker and by vague, I remember this idea of child running around and the prince/princess and always been freezing cold in the theater) to ballet.
I clicked on the Kickstarter campaign because the artistic director is the sister of a college classmates. I believe in projects in Kickstarter: we are all on this planet together and well, in this country we really don’t grasp “the arts” or funding for the arts. As I watched the clip and listened to Katy’s reasoning for funding the project, I went back and watched the clip again. Without sound.
I saw me: not just the gay me. But me. The person who doesn’t look like a dancer. I saw people of different ethnic origins. I saw not male/female roles but artists expressing their craft in a very gender scripted medium. Yes, there were dancers who looked like dancers but compare the clip above to this one I grabbed from you tube.
Pyle’s project is more than just a “queer ballet and orchestra”. The dancers look like everybody. They present healthy body images with varying frames. As I’ve replayed the clip in my head all day and thought about what I wanted to write about this amazing project. I realized that Pyle is correct, this is a ballet I wished I would have seen. Maybe somewhere in the back of my childhood brain I knew I was gay. Maybe somewhere in the back of my head I knew I never had the body type to BE a dancer (even if I had the coordination).
The LGBTQ community has spent much of the spring in celebration as states grant the right to marry. Now it’s time to show how it’s getting better in different areas of life. The myths and fables of childhood which provide many of the gender norms which continue to be presented as acceptable need to be broken: not just for the LGBTQ community but for everybody. Every time I think of this ballet, I am amazed at the creativity. I am in awe of the courage and I give thanks. Maybe there will be a child watching who when s/he grows up s/he will realize s/he is LGBTQ and that the ability to dance doesn’t cross a gender bounds, that the stories presented in the struggles, the fantasy, the mythology of dances can be presented not as straight or queer but as what they are: human struggles.