The Handmaid’s Tale: A Ballet??

Handmaid's Tale BalletThis October, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be premiering a new ballet choreographed by the amazing Lila York and adapted from the classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s the story of a woman living in a possible not-too-distant future, where religious extremists have control over all aspects of life, but especially over reproduction.

This is an intriguing choice for a ballet, and I’m eager to see how it’s going to look, since in the novel women are obliged to wear robes that completely hide their bodies, which is pretty much the opposite of your typical ballet costume. WPL and RWB figured you all may be intrigued as well, so together we’re offering a peek behind the curtain (or under the robe?) of how this ballet is being put together. Join us for some informal lunch-hour talks, at the Millennium Library on October 1st, 8th, and 15th.

And the next time you’re here, or any branch for that matter, enter to win a pair of tickets to the ballet and a copy of the book signed by Margaret Atwood!

LewisTuesday, October 1, 12:10-12:50 pm: RWB Artistic Director André Lewis will discuss the transformation from book to ballet.

LawsonTuesday, October 8, 12:10-12:50 pm: Vanessa Lawson, a current Ballet Master and Former Principal Dancer, will dicuss working on this brand new ballet in her new role.

VandalTuesday, October 15, 12:10-12:50 pm: Costume Designer Liz Vandal will discuss creating the look.

All three talks are in the Carol Shields Auditorium (just off the second floor Skywalk) in the Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street.

Can’t wait until October? Here are some Handmaid’s Tale-related and ballet-related things to do in the meantime:

Choose from our large collection of ballet performances on DVD and Blu-ray, or catch the wonderful documentary Ballets Russes. You don’t need to know anything about ballet to enjoy this documentary on the company whose innovative work in the 1930s and 40s laid the foundation for modern ballet worldwide. It features footage of renowned prima ballerinas, designs by the likes of Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse, and interviews with some of the dancers themselves.

Ballet 101Take a crash course (or just brush up) on all things ballet with Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet by Robert Greskovic. It’s great for those being introduced to ballet for the first time, and those just looking to learn more about it. A bit of ballet history, some insight into a dancer’s training and standard steps, how a ballet is put together, and what to expect when attending a performance.

In The WingsIn the Wings: Behind the Scenes at the New York City Ballet by Kyle Froman offers an authentic behind-the-scenes experience from a dancer who’s been with the company for over ten years. Photographs and Froman’s personal diary depict the pursuit of beauty and perfection despite injury, illness, and fatigue, as well as the exhilaration that hits when it all pays off.

Intrigued by the concepts explored in The Handmaid’s Tale? Here are some books that deal with similar themes:

Women's CountryThe Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper. After a catastrophic world war a feminist dystopia develops, made up of independent walled cities run by women and inhabited solely by them, their young children, and the small number of studious and compliant men who serve them. The majority of men live in camps outside the cities and rarely do the two groups interact. Like Handmaid’s Tale, this is a story that explores power, violence, and extreme control of reproduction.

Native TongueNative Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin. In the twenty-second century, a new elite has arisen based on trade with beings on other planets and the ability to communicate with them. Women are property, without civil rights or involvement in public life, and the women of elite families are used to breed translators for the galaxies’ languages. Once past childbearing age, women are retired to the Barren House, where a slow revolution is secretly brewing.

Children of MenThe Children of Men by P.D. James. In the near future, society is facing grim prospects as, due to a plummeting sperm count, no children have been born in a generation. The Warden of England is becoming increasingly  tyrannical and is conducting desperate and dehumanizing fertility studies. Then, a tiny resistance known as the Five Fishes appears, and they possess perilous secrets. 

Hope you find something of interest here. See you around the library (and maybe the ballet, too)!





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