Ce site Web a des limites de navigation. Il est recommandé d'utiliser un navigateur comme Edge, Chrome, Safari ou Firefox.

Stella A Trois

Tennessee Williams' most spiky love triangle, the ultimate study in late 1940s Southern American melodrama, is an interesting piece to adapt in the twenty-first century. Tackling issues around abuse, class and consent would undoubtedly be a challenge for any dance company. To that end, Scottish Ballet brought in an intimacy coach—ensuring all of the dancers feel comfortable, dealing with portraying the darker themes of sexual violence, addiction, suicide and domestic violence.


Scottish Ballet: “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa


Theatre Royal, Glasgow, UK, April 13, 2023


Lorna Irvine

(Centre) Marge Hendrick as Blanche in Scottish Ballet's “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Photograph by Andy Ross

subscribe to the latest in dance

“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

Your weekly source for world-class dance reviews, interviews, articles, and more.

Already a paid subscriber? Login

Of course, it goes without saying that this version burns with intensity. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's choreography has much invention, as well as bubbling turmoil—the central motif of Blanche Du Bois (Marge Hendrick) as a fluttering moth drawn to the flame is reinforced by shaky hands and skittish physicality. Hendrick portrays Blanche with wide-eyed naivete at the outset, then seems like a broken doll as her mental decline becomes apparent, and she suffers a horrific rape at the hands of the thug Stanley Kowalski. The cliches of mental illness are skilfully avoided, as are overwrought, more obvious gestures. Even the device of having Allan, Blanche's husband appearing and reappearing as a ghost, works. His suicide after Blanche is disgusted to discover his homosexual affair, is depicted through the sound of a gunshot. Javier Andreu as Allan is an eerily effective presence throughout, as Blanche's wild hallucinations start to encroach on reality.

(Centre) Rishan Benjamin, Aaron Venegas and Scottish Ballet company in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Photograph by Andy Ross

The fine ensemble work ramps up the paranoia around ‘the other’—one scene has the townspeople move in one clump, as though congealing around the concrete; another features the New Orleans commuters, clad in grey, turning their backs on Blanche. It is as though the city itself, shadowy and sinister, has no safe place for her to stay. Crates are moved around Nicola Turner's set like building blocks of identity, a metaphor for losing her sense of self. Even the symbols of Americana, such as transistor radio; Coke bottles, swirling circle skirts and a jukebox seem steeped in long, ominous shadows.

Guest Principal Ryoichi Hirano in Scottish Ballet's “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Photograph by Andy Ross

Indeed, Nancy Meckler's direction is as much about the micro as macro details—any tells, like darting eyes and an arm tucked nervously behind a back say far more in lieu of dialogue. Bethany Kingsley-Garner as Stella brings much subtlety to the role, as the self-contained, empathic sister of Blanche trying to cling on to some semblance of order as everything crumbles around her, with her husband Stanley pitting Blanche against her. She is as small, quick and spare in her movements as Ryoichi Hirano's Stanley is a swaggering, strutting brute, prowling and animalistic. Even a simple game of bowling becomes ritualistic—with the macho men preening and competitive and the women sidelined in the background.

Marge Hendrick as Blanche in Scottish Ballet's “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Photograph by Andy Ross

But it's the zesty solos from Jerome Barnes as put-upon Mitch, would-be love interest for Blanche, which prove most impressive. He's the epitome of jazz cool, even when bringing a goofy levity to the production. His lean, lanky frame has an angularity and elegance in the lindy hopping scenes, and he flits between figure of fun and sensitivity effortlessly. He's a joy to watch, a highly instinctive soloist with equal parts excellent comic timing and pathos.

As Peter Salem's lush, sinewy score—which moves from jazz to pared-back, tense, pulsing electronics—wraps around the production, the ensemble provide potent symbolism, particularly in the latter scenes. Dressed in black and with roses in their mouths, they are the silent enablers of abuse, watching, aware and yet saying nothing; every bit a twenty first century concern now, as then. Progress is slow.

The tour continues across Scotland. For dates and tickets, head to www.scottishballet.co.uk

Lorna Irvine

Based in Glasgow, Lorna was delightfully corrupted by the work of Michael Clark in her early teens, and has never looked back. Passionate about dance, music, and theatre she writes regularly for the List, Across the Arts and Exeunt. She also wrote on dance, drama and whatever particular obsession she had that week for the Shimmy, the Skinny and TLG and has contributed to Mslexia, TYCI and the Vile Blog.



A Little More Action
REVIEWS | Karen Hildebrand

A Little More Action

Smuin Contemporary Ballet is a different company than when it last came to New York in 2012, five years after the sudden death of its popular founder. Michael Smuin was known for his highly accessible works full of musical theater splash. While his San Francisco based company continues to perform his repertory, it has commissioned a broad range of new work under succeeding director, Celia Fushille.

Summer Fun
REVIEWS | Merilyn Jackson

Summer Fun

In its Summer Series 2024, the Philadelphia contemporary ballet company offers three world premieres by choreographers Amy Hall Garner, Loughlan Prior and Stina Quagebeur. The extended run, July 10-21 at the Wilma Theater, is just about the only dance to be seen during summer’s dog days. And what a cool and breezy show it is. Just the boost we needed.

India Week
REVIEWS | Karen Greenspan

India Week

On a scorcher of a day in July, New York’s Lincoln Center launched India Week, a cultural extravaganza celebrating the variety and vibrancy of Indian culture. 

Wheeldon's World
REVIEWS | Victoria Looseleaf

Wheeldon's World

There are ballet galas, and then there are ballet galas curated by Christopher Wheeldon (he was given an OBE in 2016). 

Good Subscription Agency