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By Maggie Shipstead
By Megan Abbott
Ballet, as an art form, exists at a remove from realism. Dancers train their bodies into instruments of superhuman flexibility and athleticism, capable of exaggerated yet nuanced shapes and movements that form their medium of expression. Performances of the classics — “Swan Lake,” for example, or “Giselle,” or “Romeo and Juliet” — are retellings of melodramatic, sometimes magical stories of passion, betrayal, lost innocence and revenge. For the audience, too, ballet offers a knowingly artificial experience: the contrast of midnight-black theater and luminous stage, the swelling orchestral music, the sets and props that play with scale through tricks of perspective.
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