Recommendation: John Cranko’s «The Taming of the Shrew» (Ballet DVD)

«What’s so wonderful about ballet is that it’s mind-driven physicality. It’s almost a Greek ideal of body, mind, and form.»
Edward Villella in Nancy Upper’s Ballet Dancer’s in Career Transition

Ages ago, I had the opportunity to see John Cranko’s «The Taming of the Shrew» in Stuttgart (Germany). It’s an impressive ballet performance that lives not only by the very well choreographed moves, but also the facial expressions and, well, the humor. A stark contrast to the Jean-Christophe Maillot version. Not sure which version is «better», it depends on the criteria. Both convey the beautiful story very well, both use the language of ballet, but in different dialects. Cranko uses humor, Maillot smoldering «I-need-a-cigarette-afterwards»-eroticism. Cranko is more traditional with stage design and costumes, Maillot is more modern with hardly any decoration. Both work very well in this regard (yes, even the modern version works, decoration would only distract from the … action).

But why should you listen to someone who is not an expert in ballet, when you can form your opinion yourself. While I have seen the Maillot version online by at least two different casts, I haven’t seen the Cranko version there yet. But that is likely only a matter of time. After all, a recording of a ballet performance from 2022 is available on DVD. Yuppa 🙂

(In retrospect, the BluRay version would probably have been better, as the DVD recording does not do the dancers justice, but still, very well worth it if it’s not available online.)

Scenes from John Cranko’s «The Taming of the Shrew» (Ballet DVD), click on image to enlarge.

An impressive, funny, beautiful, heart-touching performance — and a joy to see it again, albeit with different dancers, after all these years. 🙂

Highly recommended.