Dancing the Casanova Dance

 

33161_fullScantily-clad ballet dancers? Okay!

Casanova’s life has been depicted as numerous films, TV dramas, graphic novels, fiction, and cartoons. The latest–a ballet.

Check out the website here: Casanova by Northern Ballet

There’s a trailer, behind the scenes video, some stills shots, and more, and finally the plot outline.

Choreographer Kenneth Tindall has taken parts of C’s life and created a new narrative in dance. As someone who has spent years reading and writing about Casanova, my first reaction is annoyance that they’ve taken such liberties with C’s story. The website outlines the ballet’s plot, and, while principle characters and some events are true, great liberties are fabricated. So the purist in me rebels.

But the dancers and costumes and scenes look so lush and sexy, that it’s hard to not be pulled toward them.  Besides, what is art if it is not about creation? Tindall was inspired by C’s life and used it as a starting point to create his own work of art. In this podcast where he is interviewed, he shows his admiration for Casanova, particularly pointing out that Casanova was about so much more than just seduction (though the ballet website’s images only promote the sexy part). In fact, the ballet ends with Casanova yearning to pursue writing.

Here’s a link to the podcast. The first 20 minutes is about Tindall himself and his start as a dancer; if you wish to hear just about the Casanova ballet, skip ahead to 19:05.

Podcast: interview with choreographer Kenneth Tindall

Kenneth Tindall also talks about working with Ian Kelly, who wrote the biography titled Casanova: Actor, Lover, Priest, Spy. Tindall initially only knew of Casanova as the great seducer, which is where most people’s knowledge ends. He then learned C’s full story and became fascinated by the man, the times, and the place, which he tries to bring to life through dance.

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How I wish I could see the production in person! It premieres in March and runs through May. I’m pretty sure there’s no way I can get there to see it, given the cost of a plane ticket and my limited time off from work during that period. Those of you who do go, please write and tell me what you think. I’d also love to hear from you all about your opinions regarding the creative process of art–Is it okay to take a real life and deviate so drastically from the facts? What is gained and what is lost? Should we all be purists or should we sometimes shut off that voice and let a different part of us take over?

Thanks to my friend Linda for telling me about the podcast.

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About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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7 Responses to Dancing the Casanova Dance

  1. Nancy Schwalen says:

    Interesting question when one is dealing with history. How much leeway should be given to achieve art? Not an easy one to answer. I wonder how much leeway Lin-Manuel Miranda took when eh was writing “Hamilton?”

    • Good point! And I also wonder who knows the difference? Probably the majority of people who see the Casanova ballet won’t know that it’s not historically accurate. But if I went to see Hamilton, I wouldn’t know if it was, either.

  2. I’m all for things like this if they somehow capture the essence of Casanova. Plus if they end up being a starting point for someone exploring his actual life that’s great. I can’t help but think if it’s not “strictly accurate” but creates a sensual spectacle isn’t that sort of Casanova’s entire ethos anyway? Truth is fantastic but the thing is – as we all know – to dazzle!

    • Thanks for this perspective–you said it well. 🙂 I can be a real stickler about facts and details, but I think you’ve hit on something essential here.

      • Ok I went to see this on Saturday and, I have to tell you, it’s great! It may well, as you sa,y take some liberties with some facts but it also manages to really hold on to the essential seductiveness of Casanova.
        The sets are fantastic, the costumes very sensual and the sex scenes – orgies, threesomes, gay, straight, on the floor, on tables (quite a bit on tables actually) are really beautiful and imaginative. It’s amazing what very fit, very flexible, very toned people can suggest with their bodies. Watching all this unfold – with haunting music and stunning visuals, all choreographed so precisely – is almost like being invited to step into Casanova’s sensualist head. You almost hope this is how he saw the world around him – as a hyper erotic stage of possibilities to dance into. This is particularly good in scenes that are authentic – like his first sexual experiences with Nanetta and Maria, his romps with M.M. It’s so good to see tales you’ve read in Casanova’s own words brought to life so vividly, so turned up to a sensual eleven.
        So, as you’ve guessed, I liked it.
        It has the same feel as the Ian Kelly book in that Casanova might be fueled by passion but there’s the sense he’s someone interesting you’d want to know. A definite success.

  3. Thanks for sharing these impressions, Mr. Drink Wine Today! You’re my eyes on the ground there. Your description fits the feeling I had just watching the tiny previews they released. How I wish I could see the whole thing!
    I was recently talking with my students about Modernist and Impressionist works, and it seems that this ballet fits that category in that it captures the emotions and impressions of Casanova’s experiences, if not the factual reality.

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