FRINGE REVIEW – The Ballet Ruse


The image of a ballerina is slim, graceful, forever dancing. So what happens when you get a ballerina who’s slightly too tall, and another ballerina slightly too fat, but both have survived the harsh ballet world? Meet Muirne Bloomer and Emma O’Kane – they are the Ballet Ruse!

They enter the stage with a ballet barre balanced on their shoulders, as if they were beleaguered yoked oxen. They start practicing their ballet warm-ups with mechanical precision and zombie-like affect, and soon the hilarity ensues as stage mishaps occur and the perfect ballerina stereotype crumbles. Indeed, there’s something surprisingly outrageous about hearing a ballerina say the F word; with that, the genteel world of ballet is shattered! The comedy is infectious, and soon the audience members can’t stop laughing.

Balletomanes will be satisfied seeing sequences from Swan Lake and Giselle, which both Muirne Bloomer and Emma O’Kane have performed in during their ballet careers. However, this autobiographical performance also reveals the strict discipline, psychological / mental / physical pain, as well as deep prejudices behind the mask of beauty. From being called slut to suffering from eating disorders, these ballerinas have seen the very ugly world in professional ballet.  The tone of the show is more serious now, and the dance sequences are a stylised version of “marking” ballet steps thrown together with classical choreographies. The transition between comical to dramatic tone needs a little work, yet the story itself is solid and the pairing of Bloomer and O’Kane is impeccable.

They fight and work (… and work … and work) to succeed in their dream of becoming ballerinas, but in truth, their success lies in the fact that they both survived.

By Ingrida Dornbrook

13-21 August, not 15 August, times vary @ Dance Base – National Centre for Dance

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