Balanchine’s Prodigal Son
I was not familiar with this ballet at all although I have enjoyed Prokofiev’s music when watching Romeo and Juliet. It is not a long piece to watch and the dancing although slow in parts (when the Siren is doing her solo and the Pas de Deux) it is always interesting to watch. The principle male has to really be able to act and portray lots of different emotions – it’s not all about the dancing for this character. I thought for the time it was created quite a contemporary piece which fitted the music.
I did like most of the ballet, particularly the portrayal of the male lead – very strong and evidently spoilt in the first scene (his beating his hands on his thighs when he was not getting what he wanted) to the almost foetal being he becomes in the end scene. I liked the Siren and her almost dancing a Pas de Deux with her cape. I particularly liked the imagery of the table being turned and the son sliding down the slippery slope. I found the presence of the ensemble at times confusing, such as when they seemed to turn into crabs when the son was left completely without possessions.
The story displays a spoilt young man who is confident in everything he does, this is shown in the way he commands his servants, his sisters and becomes the equivalent too todays troubled teenager when he does not get what he wants. He leaves his family to go off to the big city to have a good time and is seen doing this with his servants and people who are friendly with him only because of what he can provide. He then meets a domineering woman (the Siren with her red cape could also be seen as a prostitute as red is usual the colour of solicitation) with whom for a while he has a good time, when his fortune begins to run out she leaves and he is left with his “good time” friends who then systematically rob him of all he has in the world including the shirt off his back. The contrast shown from the confident young man leaping through the air in the...
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