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The TuTu Trilogy

Kimberly Jenna Simon                                                        photos by Miro Magloire


                           By R. Pikser


The TuTu Trilogy is composed of three vignettes, each of which takes place in a backstage situation; two are in a rented rehearsal studio, one backstage after a performance.  Author Richard Curtis is not so much exploring his situations as he is commenting on the differences between those who have given themselves to the discipline and the world of dance and those who are spectators, “civilians” in his words.  Many of the jokes are in jokes are about the sexuality, or at least the perceived level of gayness of the male performers.

In the first piece, a female dancer begs her gay partner to put on an exaggerated show of gayness to prove to her “civilian” fiancé that he has nothing to fear.  The fiancé, too jealous, or too limited in his outlook on life, breaks off the engagement.  This reviewer found it hard to credit the premise.  In this day and age, who doesn’t know more than we want to about the sexuality of most male dancers?  There was, however, a very funny and well-staged slow motion fight.


 Barba, Pierre Guilbault


The second vignette also deals with jealousy, this time of an older dancer towards a younger man who is to partner his wife while the older man recovers from an injury.  Presumably the couple resolves their relationship difficulties.  Again, there is a lot of lecturing going on for a rehearsal situation.


In the third vignette, a stage-door Johnny sneaks into a star’s dressing room after a performance, terrifying the object of his affections until she takes hold of the situation and becomes a sort of dominatrix, which seems to suit him.


Kimberly Jenna Simon, who appeared in all three pieces, was the most successful in the last one, when the script provided her with a strong throughline of fear coupled with anger, and then domination.  The moment at which she changes from terrified to terrifier could have been better demarcated. 


Ron Barba as the fiancé in “Civilian” and as the abject admirer in “Exposed” was not afraid to clown and director Paul Navarra encouraged this ability to the benefit of the show.  It was not so much what Mr. Barba did, but how he allowed the situations to touch him that made us all laugh.  Pierre Guillbault’s best moments were in the slow motion fight with Mr. Barba, which he executed with verve and humor.  For the rest, his parts did not offer him much scope, though he might have capitalized more on making life miserable for the injured older dancer by a few looks or a few gestures of seduction, mentioned in the script. 



Andrew Southern’s Rory, the disabled older dancer, was properly testy, but not nuanced.  Nor did we see the familiarity and edginess of two married people in the way he and Ms. Simon related to one another, though the script mentioned their relationship over and over; indeed that was the upshot of the scene.


In the first two scenes, though the dancers are supposed to be rehearsing, no one seems at all perturbed by the time spent talking rather than working.  Had this complication, or any of the complications been given some weight, the scenes would have had more tension and would have been more interesting, because something would have been at stake.  The stretches and dance steps that were not part of actual choreography seemed extraneous, rather than a preparation for work or a signal that the dancers should be getting back to work.  Dancers are nothing if not disciplined, and this we did not see. 


Choreographer Miro Magloire found some interesting movements for his dancers, especially in the tango.  However, since the actors were primarily actors, not dancers, more time spent on quality of movement, and less time on steps and lifts, which are harder to execute, might have been beneficial.


Mr. Curtis, for all his fascination with the world of dancers, imbues that world with a mystique that is external.  Dance is not voyeurism.  It is not a club.  It seems exclusive because it demands everything and few are willing to give that much of themselves.  Margot Fonteyn once referred to ballet as a blood sport.  Though the god of dance is reputed to be Terpsichore, Bacchus, god of divine madness, might be a better deity for the dance we know.  Precisely because dance demands so much, because it demands our submission to its discipline, on occasion, if we are lucky, we can attain a moment or two of transcendence.  That is what we all work towards. 


TuTu Trilogy:  Three Comedies on Pointe

November 4, 7, 8 7.00 p.m.

777 Eighth Avenue, Second Floor