Go see ABT’s The Bright Stream

Here’s all I knew about The Bright Stream going in:
(mostly from Homan’s Apollo’s Angels, btw. That book is rad, btw.)
Music by Shostakovitch, choreography by Lupukhov, The Bright Stream was well received when it opened in 1935 in Leningrad. But Stalin, who was a moody som-bitch, interpreted light-hearted romance and mistaken identity funny-bidness as an insult to the honor and simple nobility of the Good Communist Worker. So the Pravda, which was the official party newspaper, totally ripped on The Bright Stream, even calling the score “Lumpen-Musik”, which is really a phrase the Adult Beginner needs to incorporate more into daily life.
Lumpen-Kostume! Lumpen-Koffee! Etc!
So the choreography was lost.
See, this is the crazy thing about ballet: unlike music, it’s not written down. Or at least there’s no universally accepted or successful method. They stopped performing, no one passed the steps along to younger dancers, so the choreo just went poof.
Until Alexei Ratmansky made new choreography with the American Ballet Theatre.
Ok Blah blah blah history whatever-
Important thing is-
There is a man in a tutu.
And it is high-larious.
And it feels really good to not be the only one laughing at the ballet! You can lol at this one!
Very smart of ABT. Like they’re saying, yeah, ballet is glorious, here’s your Swan Lake, but it can also express the goofy, here’s some Bright Stream for ya, how ya like ballet now!
Daniil Simkin was the man-in-a-tutu, and Gentle Reader, I was very curious to see him perform,
A while back Henrik of Tights&Tiaras did a really great guest post here, and Daniil Simkin commented.
And I just thought, oh that’s nice, he commented on Henrik’s post, that Daniil seems like a Good Guy.
And then kind of moved on with my day until people started to Freak The Fuck Out. I was getting dm’s on twitter, comments, it was all Oh my gawd oh my gawd omy gawd oh gawdohmygawdDaniilohmygawdlookedatyourblogohmygawd!
And I was all like, hmm, apparently I’m not recognizing the gravity of this situation. Is this like if Johnny Depp did a guest-post and Justin Timberlake commented? Would I flip the fuck out? I’m not even sure!
But, hey: Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake, you guys are totally welcome to leave a comment here and I’ll get back you.
Reminded me of the time Salma Hayek came in for a fitting, but the director hadn’t arrived yet, so she just wandered into the break room where the stitcher-ladies were having their coffee and she was all, “Hola muchachas!” and they were all, “Que pasa? Sit down, have some bread and cheese!” And they were all having a good old time sharing break time treats with Salma Hayek except for that one stitcher, who we call Crazy Louise, who just could not wrap her head around Salma Hayek being there. She kept going, “Y’all! It’s Salma! Salma, y’all! Y’all! Salma y’all!!!” and we’d be like, “yeah, Louise, we see her. She can see you too. And hear you. Try to be cool, HoneyBunny. We cool here? We cool?”
And days later she was still, “y’all!?!?! Salma!”
So, yeah.
Daniil Simkin.
You wanna see him in Bright Stream.
Really good and really funny.
En pointe, all Giselled-up in a long romantic tutu. Did this one series of side-split jumps in the air, each higher and higher in the air, with his legs further and further apart to the sides, so hilariously masculine and crass and utterly un-ladylike. In a tutu. I was howling. I mean, the man is obviously a million times more graceful than The Adult Beginner, and there he was doing a stellar job of Hulking About.
Loved it.
Go see it.
You might die of laughing though, so be careful.


About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
This entry was posted in Ballerina Class, and other pointe-y stuff, Books!, Movies, tv, and live stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Go see ABT’s The Bright Stream

  1. Nina W says:

    I read this post first thing in the morning, as I was walking to the tube, and it had me laughing out loud!! :)

  2. messengerbird says:

    Lumpen! love this word. it’s actually commonly used in Austria. A “Lumpen-Tandler” was the predecessor of nowadays’ hipster 2nd hand clothes shops. Lumpen can either mean old, outworn clothes or rags/tatters that are used for cleaning etc.
    But then there’s also the word “Lump” which means rascal, and other variations.. ;)
    Definitely gonna try throwing it into some conversation today.

  3. chrisgo says:

    We’re gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what’s Fonzie like? Come on Yolanda what’s Fonzie like?

  4. Andre says:

    How awesome was Isabella Boylston? I had not gasped at anything on stage for years until she made her huge entrance at the end of the men’s dance in act 1. Also, the dog riding the bike (and the dog costume in general) is something that every ballet needs.

    • Very. Very Awesome.
      Also loved Xiomara Reyes. Really liked her back and the set of her head.
      Loved Boylston and Reyes dancing together, and there was one little moment, when Ballet Dancer arrives and recognizes Zina, and they embrace with their feet flat in sixth and the tips of their pointes touching that was just so cute and girly.
      Also really enjoyed Gemma Bond as Gayla the Schoolgirl! Those funny funny lifts with The Accordianist where she would kind of poke her bottom up in the air, and all her tiny tiny steps whenever she had to travel across the stage!
      And the dog! Hilarious!

      • Andre says:

        AB, if you ever get the chance, you have to see Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal Garde, especially if it’s the Royal Ballet dancing it (Netflix has two DVDs: same production, different casts, but try the Marianella Nunez/Carlos Acosta one first). The costumes, humor, and just general cleverness of the ballet are pretty great, and many bits of The Bright Stream reminded me of it.

  5. kaija24 says:

    Agreed!…ballet humor is not an oxymoron :) I loved this post and wish I could see this production. Along the same lines, I think you would have adored the NBoC’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, which also had ballet humor (prima ballerina Greta Hodgkinson as the Red Queen, who did physical comedy en point ala Lucille Ball…soooo cool that such a beautiful dancer can be so versatile and throw herself into a role like that!) and “inside jokes”, like the Doormouse, the Mad Hatter and the the March Hare striking an “Apollo” pose (what I call the Array of Arabesques), The Red Queen doing a sendup of the rose adagio from “The Sleeping Beauty” etc….ballet geeks LOVE that stuff. My dear partner is endless amused and flumoxed that I am such a pop culture null and never get any of the references in Family Guy or movie references to other movies but The Tables Were Turned At The Ballet when I and others laughed OUT LOUD at Alice’s jokes. :)

    BTW, I also enjoyed Apollo’s Angels! Hooray for ballet geeks :)

    • Ballet inside jokes!
      Not sure I would get them just yet.
      Oh well, only thing for it is to see some more ballet!
      My former-ballerina yoga-master friend who came along to The Bright Stream was all excited that her oldschool ballerina heroine Martine van Himmel would be dancing the part of Anxious-To-Be-Younger-Than-She-Is Dacha Dweller.
      And I was all like, no, it says right here Nicola Curry, are you reading the program upside down or something? Are you drunk already?
      And then we figured out that she had the wrong cast list.
      Lucille Ball style physical comedy reminds me of the (totally hysterical) part when Anxious-To-Be-Younger-Than-She-Is Dacha Dweller taps Old Dacha Dweller, and, like, mashes him down into a kneeling position so she can clamber up onto his shoulders into a “lift”.

      Hope you get to see it, hope I get to see Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

      And PS, I’m so glad you liked Apollo’s Angels! All I hear is people being all, ‘Oh, don’t read that book! The author sez ballet is dead! Omg!’ and it’s like, No, stupid-heads, she’s presenting a ‘Prove Me Wrong, Children’ style challenge after totally schooling everybody’s ignorant ass on ballet history! Read that mofo! It’ll do us all good!
      I’m only part-way through and already so much more ballet-smartified. I love it.

  6. Um, ok, Johnny and JT, I notice you haven’t commented yet. But that’s cool, I know you guys are busy teaching handsomeness lessons and stuff. No rush.

  7. Oh and PS, the costumes were super-hot. High-five to costume designer Elena Markovskaya!
    Really great sleek and graphic 1930’s elements in the white dresses Zina and The Ballerina wear as disguises and the black and white hat you can just see there on the program cover.
    Dog costume was appropriately hokey.
    Peasant girls stole the show though, I totally want their white tank leotards, white headwraps and bright patterned gored skirts to be my new summer uniform. Except for the white knee length tights. Really not getting the point of those. I mean, if they’re meant to be pantaloons, like, add a ruffle? ‘Cause as is they just look like weird white bike shorts.
    And who wants that.

  8. Jess says:

    Haha has anyone introduced you to les ballets trockadero de monte carlo yet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBYFREnH32g

    (From Wikipedia: “Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is an all-male drag ballet corps which parodies the conventions and clichés of romantic and classical ballet.” How could that possibly be non-awesome?)

    If you haven’t seen them, check it out!

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