Friday, February 7, 2014

Christian Spuck: Le Grand Pas de Deux

[post 355]

This very funny parody of a ballet pas de deux, choreographed by Christian Spuck of the Stuttgarter Ballet, has apparently become a repertoire favorite. Here are two versions. The first, from the year 2000, features Julia Krämer and Robert Tewsley
, and is performed in front of a live audience. The second, with ballerina Alicia Amatriain (male dancer not identified), has no audience but better lighting and tighter camerawork. Spoiler Alert: Neither has a dancing cow, much to my disappointment.

Thanks to Ira Seidenstein for the link!


AvnerE said...

Enjoyed it, but… The cow looks real, but why is it there? They certainly can dance! But comedy? Not so sure. Strangely recorded to remind us that there are blocks of wood in toe shoes.

David Carlyon said...


While this has some funny moments, I think it represents the problem that physical comedy and clowning often slide into. It piles on random bits, with little regard for relationship, reality, or internal logic.

Cow: Other than the sight gag, how does it fit anything? When the guy loses the gal, he does seem to consult it (6:00) but doesn’t look where the cow presumably told him to find her, instead simply making a conventional ballet move and going where the choreography indicated.

Purse: Why is this in it? She drops it and picks it up at random moments, not even fitting the music. Its only real purpose seems to be to hold confetti to toss (8:53), but even then, the execution is awkward and the timing is bad.

Relationship: It’s never clear how they fit together. Early, he tugs her (2:38) in a kind of comic bullying that fits the classic top banana / second banana, but other times they’re smoothly in sync. I could understand if they’re falling apart as a pair but these goofy moves are random. Sometimes they have no relationship at all: She spins till she’s dizzy (7:21-7:31) and he simply waits his turn (7:45), showing no concern for her, nor smugness that he’s better, nor even comic impatience waiting for his turn. He’s not a character in a comic piece, he’s just a dancer waiting for his cue.

Reality: The lack of a clear relationship is part of the larger failure of reality. He nearly kicks her as she crawls off (5:43, 5:48) — which is simply awkward choreography — but only 7 seconds later (5:55), he can’t figure out where she is.

Dance: It’s not good as dance. The traditional moves are often as awkward as the jokey ones, and the movement doesn’t always match the music. It seems likely that the choreographer thought what too many clowns and physical comedians do, “It’s comedy so anything’s okay.”

Parody: Even here it fails. Goofy moves interrupt classic dance moves but with no particular purpose, rhythm, or reason. The laughs hint at this failure: They’re sporadic, and often simply bursts of a laugh-like noise to indicate they got the joke.

The irony is that this mess is fixable. Gimme two hours with these two, and it’d have a comic structure, relationship, and consistent laughs

Dave Carlyon