In Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, protagonist Jake Barnes describes the work of a veteran bull fighter. “It was not brilliant bull-fighting,” he says of a match. “It was only perfect bull-fighting.” Once, this competitor wowed crowds in the ring with daring tricks and unparalleled passion. In this late stage of his career, though, these same movements seem slick and staged. He wins his matches—but he does not win over his audience.
BalletX in Matthew Neenan's “Show Me.” Photograph by Alexander Iziliaev