We Are So Here for This Gender-Bent Bayadère

October 15, 2017

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can be something of a contentious ballet, with its outdated cultural sensibilities filtered through the aesthetics of Imperial Russian ballet.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. sadlerswells.com.