We love ballet and that the stories that it tells through dance are reflective of love, loss and life so as Halloween is coming, we wanted to see which of our favourite ballets are a little bit creepy and why! Ballets are often a lot darker than you think, as they are based on folk stories, or fairy tales which are often very dark and deep, despite their fluffier presentation. It is this way with ballet, below the white tutu’s and pretty flowers can be very serious and emotional stories that when danced with love and passion can move us to tears, especially when they are on the dark side.
This is a quick list of ballets that are on the darker side of dance, and we have to say we love a black tutu!
The Red Shoes
A film from 1948 by Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell based on a Hans Christian Anderson tale, this ballet movie is seen as a story about how ballet has the potential to take over a life and control it, and in this way it has drawn parallels with the more modern Black Swan movie starring Natalie Portman. Moira Shearer played the ballerina in The Red Shoes where ballet took over her life and this was based on the original fairy tale.
The fairy tale is about a poor girl who is adopted into an influential family, the gets some red shoes by lying and is then cursed for the rest of her life. The curse itself is to dance in the shoes for the rest of her life, and also beyond. There are lots of creepy imagery in this story, from having to dance through thorns to trying to remove the curse by cutting off her feet – eeek!
Giselle is a well-known ballet, performed around the world by many ballet companies but when you take a step back from the beautiful music and dancing and consider the story and themes behind it, it is quite a creepy ballet.
A young woman dies of a broken heart, this is Giselle, she is broken hearted as she has fallen in love with a man, she thinks is a peasant, but he is actually a Duke and she can never marry him. Hilarion is a gamekeeper who was in love with Gisele before she dies and as he grieves at her grave, he meets the Wilis. These are female spirits who rise from their graves at night to seek revenge against men by dancing them to death! Giselle is summoned and joins the Wilis to torment the Duke. This is a very creepy party of the ballet, lots of vengeful ghosts or spirits tormenting men who have wronged them and trying to get them to dance to death! Eventually Giselle forgives the duke and disassociates herself from the Wilis going back to peacefully lie in her grave.
The Rite of Spring
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet called The Rite of Spring plays with many traditional themes and pagan rituals. Set in Russia this ballet deals with the fertility rituals of spring and actually culminates in a young girl being sacrificed by dancing to death!
While ballets are beautiful and mesmerising, they can also be based on stories that have an uncomfortable or creepy backstory. These three ballets all have the theme of dancing to death in them, a great concept for a Halloween costume we think!!