Bayadère: The Ninth Life. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy Martha Oakes PR.

We Are So Here for This Gender-Bent Bayadère

La Bayadère can be something of a contentious ballet, with its outdated cultural sensibilities filtered through the aesthetics of Imperial Russian ballet. But what if a production not only acknowledged the strange dualities present in the work, but used them to reinvent it? Shobana Jeyasingh's Bayadère: The Ninth Life recasts the eponymous temple dancer as a contemporary Indian man who is swept into a Shade-like vision of the past to embody the alluring woman. The gender-bending of the role highlights the ways in which Indian dancers were viewed as both fantastically desirable and unapproachably alien by European men in the 19th century, a point brought home by the inclusion in the sound score of Théophile Gautier's written account of his first encounters with devadasis, the inspiration for the ballet's original scenario. Oct. 16–17.

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