Just minutes into Karol Armitage’s The Predators’ Ball: Hucksters of the Soul—her new multi-media theater piece presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October—I couldn’t stop thinking of that strange, hothouse creature of the 1940s and 1950s, the dream ballet. These twenty-minute “ballets,” the expression of a character’s dream or fantasy, pinpointed the show’s inner conflict, poeticized it. They worked within the Broadway musical as the show’s high-art cadenza, a wordless tour de force. And they reflected the Freudian analysis that was de rigueur with the literary set, not to mention neurotic Broadway types, in mid-twentieth-century America. Couched late in the show, surrealistically staged and often sophomorically symbolic, dream ballets were little landscapes of the subconscious: an epiphany inside a pirouette. Recreated in the movie versions of Broadway shows, the ballets...

 
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