Too much rape at the Royal Ballet?

Too much rape at the Royal Ballet?


norman lebrecht

November 13, 2017

The Telegraph has cobbled together a story from comments by disparate critics (though not its own) that rape scenes have become too prevalent in ballet.

Since the traditional ballet audience is made up largely of grannies and their little charges on a birthday treat, this might be a bit close to the bone.

But there has been no upsurge in audience complaints. All the Telegraph could find were three tweets.

The barrel is being rather noisily scraped.



  • V. Lind says:

    Your comment on the “traditional” (whatever that means) ballet audience is gapingly wide of the mark.

    I fail to see the point of such a ludicrous generalisation, based upon who knows what sources, especially in the context of a topic that, as presented, is very serious.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Forgive me if I’m wrong but I can’t think of any ballet with a rape scene so any director/choreographer wanting to stage one is probably just trying to make his/her name and hopefully dancers will refuse.

    As V.Lind says it is too serious a topic to somehow make acceptable especially if there is no reason.

    • PaulG says:

      Try Laurencia

    • Alex Davies says:

      You have presumably never seen Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s The Invitation, nor his more explicit ballet The Judas Tree, which continues to attract criticism. The Invitation is actually very beautiful, and while it is inherently violent and disturbing, it’s ultimate message is one of recovered innocence and healing through tender youthful love.

      • Alex Davies says:

        its – blame autocomplete.

      • Elizabeth Owen says:

        You are right I have never seen it but it was on my list. Think I’l give it a miss.

        • Alex Davies says:

          The Invitation is actually well worth seeing. I approached it with trepidation, given the controversy surrounding The Judas Tree, but it’s a very different production. Interestingly, given the widespread concern about the depiction of sexual violence against women, The Invitation is about a girl and a boy: the girl is raped by an older man while the boy is being sexually assaulted by the man’s wife. It does indeed sound appalling, but there is a very real sense of redemption in the final scene. The story could be read literally or as something of a metaphor for healing power of love.

  • Anonymous says:

    There’s an increasing amount of rape depicted on ballet, and on opera, stages.

    There’s also rape committed backstage. Let’s not forget that.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Why does a thread titled “Too much rape at the Royal Ballet?” feature a picture of the German National Youth Ballet and German National Youth Orchestra?

  • Alex Davies says:

    I believe the photo shown above depicts John Neumeier’s ballet set to the music of Haydn’s Symphony No. 30.