Natural hair makes its debut in Balanchine's "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" at NYCB
Last Edit: singleticket 12:38 pm EST 02/06/23
Posted by: singleticket 12:23 pm EST 02/06/23

The New York City Ballet's performance of Balanchine's "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" featured a breakthrough last Saturday (at least in my viewing). The last moment of the ballet where the female corps untie their long hair and let it flow included a least three dancers with beautiful variants of black natural hair. One of the featured dancers had long braids which looked magnificent getting whipped around to the frenzied music.

Did it alter Balanchine's original vision? Yes, I think it did. The original vision had an erotic charge that was also creepy as it seemed to feature the same (white, fine-haired) female ideal which when multiplied into a seeming infinity felt like a vision of damnation as a desired object turned monstrous by refraction through an endless house of mirrors. Was Balanchine's original vision also racist? Not personally I think but in practice yes. As a revival ballet it excluded dancers year after year not based on their skills or even their bodies but because of their darned hair.

If the ballet's intention seemed altered last Saturday then the audience didn't seem to mind. In fact, the inclusion of different types of dancers with different types of hair made the ballet feel alive in a way that it hadn't felt for years.

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