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"Here's the key: Carmen is the 'man' and Don Jose is the 'woman,'" said choreographer Robert Weiss about his adaptation of Bizet's Carmen which the Carolina Ballet reprises this weekend at BTI Center. "She says 'What's your problem? We had a great couple of years and now I'm moving on and you shouldn't be so upset.' Don Jose says, 'I gave up my whole life for you, how can you leave me now?'"

As everybody knows by now, the story ends in tears and blood, but not before some really cool dancing ensues. In the traditional dance versions, this story of illicit passion, love--and gender role transgression--in 17th-century Seville tends to come off more as something out of True Crime.

"What really bugged me," Weiss admits, "is in the novella, Carmen and Don Jose's relationship grows in a very organic way. Even though she's just impossible, you see why he goes crazy for her. They have a relationship that lasts almost three years in the novella. Then when she chooses the toreador, he goes berserk."

Glenn Mehrbach's seamless score unites the best of the Sarasate and Waxman variations, and Weiss' choreography for wife Melissa Podcasy (pictured below) in the title role was one of the highlights from the company's 2000 season.

The original principals--Podcasy, Timour Bourtasenkov as Don Jose, Lilyan Vigo as Micaela and Isanusi Garcia as the toreador Escamillo--reunite Thursday night, Sept. 26, and Sunday afternoon, Sept. 29. --Byron Woods

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