Friday, December 20, 2013

Danse Macabre chapter 52

Sorry for the spotty updates, guys. I've been fighting some INCREDIBLY nasty crud the last couple days and have been more concerned about the things going into (and coming out of) my lungs than I have been about the blog.

I'm better today. Or at least I was before I read LKH's attempt at writing a ballet.

This is what I've been dreading this entire book. And oh my fucking GOD does it hurt.

Anita goes back to the ballet. LKH tries really hard to make us be impressed with her description of vampire ballet, but contemporary ballet is more about watching people do awesome things with their bodies while telling a provocative story and not...sigh...this shit.

The air sparkled with glitter. Out of that scintillating cloud a vampire floated. It was Adonis, the vamp who had almost rolled me with his gaze earlier. His costume had changed to a ballet version of 1700s dress, which meant: fairly accurate from the waist up, and tights from the waist down. I’d seen vampires fly before, but not like this. He hung in the air as if he could have hung there forever. Other vampires appeared out of the glitter, hanging in the air as if they’d been pinned there. Adonis hovered just outside our box, so close I could see his blond curls moving in the wind. What wind? The wind of his own magic.
That's the tamest fucking thing I've ever read about. That's the Cirque du Soleis meets David Copperfeild on a required G rating night.

That's the Rite of Spring. When it was released it caused fucking riots in the theater. In 1913. This version's been updated a little bit, but it's still disturbing as fuck. And again: That's what LKH is trying to upshow with foofy shirts and glitter. It ain't working. Now, if (gag) Adonis up there were doing arabesques or the 32 fouetee turns from swan know, this?

Yeah. We might be talking something impressive.

My point is that ballet is an incredible, physically demanding sport that utterly, totally and completely destroys everyone who participates in it. It destroys your feet, your body, and if you're female, large chunks of your soul because you'll probably walk away with some kind of eating disorder. AND YOU KNOW THIS GOING IN. I would LOVE to see a vampire version of Rite of Spring or Swan Lake or even Peter and the Wolf (...actually that would be really fucking sexy, given the context). Or even something new and even more disturbing. And again, given LKH's hard on for french terms you'd think we'd get a few of the actual movements in the text. But nope. It's non existant wind, glitter, and accurate french costuming over tights, which is something ballet threw out about the time the french disposed of its monarchy. This ought to be something violent and controversial--for fuck's sake, human ballet companies have managed to incite fucking riots--and instead we get fucking Fabio lounging on a glitter cloud.

The glitter had fallen down, so that the vampires were revealed in all their grace. They danced in the air. They held their places, and danced. Damian leaned in and whispered, “Do you have any idea how much strength it takes to do what they’re doing?”
No. No I don't have any idea how strong they have to be because I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. This is vague to the point of pure fluff. DID YOU NOT RESEARCH ONE THING ON BALLET LAURELL? THERE ARE BOOKS. THERE ARE GLOSSERIES.

Apparently it takes a lot of energy for a vampire to resist the call of gravity. I am not impressed, given that dancing until you split your own toenails is considered a good dress rehearsal in ballet circles. Broken toes? That's opening night.

A woman stepped on stage, dressed in one of those long white gossamer dresses.
No. You don't do pointe work in fucking Ophila's dressing gown. I am sorry. NOBODY, not even a vampire, would risk stepping on the hem and taking a header into the first chair violinist during the pas de deux. You're talking about a gauze skirt that ends at the calves. I would not call that a "long white gossamer dress".

I would have said the dress floated around her as she tiptoed on stage,

 bourree. The word you are desperately, desperately needing here is bourree. What the fucking blue motherhumping fucking FUCK are you doing describing a basic movement in pointe work as motherfucking "tiptoe". THAT IS NOT WHAT THAT IS. 

I suspect, dear readers, that not only did LKH do approximately ZERO research into ballet before writing this abortion of a dance sequence, she has never fucking SEEN a ballet before. Maybe she saw a black and white recording of somebody jumping rope while En Pointe (which would be utterly fucking stupid and incredibly dangerous) but there is no way in fuck you would describe a bourree entrance as fucking "tiptoe". 

And of course, she's playing the fucking human and of course, the pretty glittery vampires above are going to kill and eat her on stage, because it's the only way LKH can think to be fucking edgy.

She went up on her toe shoes, as the girl did.

Sometimes the ballet leaves me confused, but there was no confusion here.
No fucking shit. But you know what, Laurell? That's why ballet companies print the plot of the ballet in the fliers they hand out to ticket holders. So either you gate crashed whatever you went to see, or really can't stand to read anyone else's writing except your own. I could follow fucking ballet when I was ten, mostly because hello, I could fucking read. 

 Once you’ve seen someone fly, what’s a little grand jeté?
Congratulations.  You managed to find one ballet term to use in this climactic scene about ballet. Did you leave it under the couch? I bet you did.

Also, this brings up a good point: This company has an incredibly shitty choreographer. They should have saved the flying vampires for the climax, and focused on proving that the company could be fucking unsettling and scary and also GOOD in purely human limitations before they moved on to the vampire stunts. 

So the vampires chase the designated victim--who is also a vampire--around the stage for a while.

They danced, and showed that they could do traditional ballet.
Really? Cause one, I haven't seen that and two, the nearest you came to using a proper ballet term, you used it to shit on real ballet. You can't just say this shit and expect us to believe it when you have done exactly shit all to sell us on the concept. 

The saddest thing is, I can totally visualize what LKH was going for, and with the right (IE non traditional) music, the right staging, and good choreography, this would actually have been fucking chilling to watch. But between LKH's utter allergy to research (she must get need an epi pen every time she gets near an encyclopedia.) and the fact that, hello, BALLET IS NOT A WRITTEN MEDIUM, everything about this just fucking fails. The beauty of ballet is seeing a very tallented prima ballerina do an intoxicating arabesque and tracing the muscles of her inner thigh through her tights. And there's nothing sexual about that statement (Unless you're turned on by that). You will never see anatomy the way it's displayed at the ballet. And the key word here? It's seeing. Writing about ballet is like carrying water from Niagra Falls home in a bucket. It doesn't have the same impact.

They danced, and showed that they could do traditional ballet. Then the music changed. The couples gave themselves more room, and they began to do dancing that would have looked more at home on the stage at Guilty Pleasures than at the ballet. It was still beautiful, graceful, predatory, but it was also very sexual. Nothing that would get you arrested, but as they had been able to convey menace, pity, and derision, with a gesture and a look, now they conveyed sex.
She couldn't make it through an entire chapter without making it about sex. Also, I like the implication that traditional choreography can't convey sex. I mean, it's not like it's just a bunch of men and women in skintight leotards and tights rubbing bodies for hours on end.


The vampires kill the designated victim with lots and lots of fake blood. The audience gasps. The Designated Victim's vampire lover comes on stage and sees that his love is dead, and decides to fight with the head vampire. So this is basically something between Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. Both of which are older than fuck. LKH really thinks she's describing an edgy ballet? REALLY?

...I have to say the idea of a vampire company dancing Giselle would be tight as fuck. Can you imagine what the Willis would look like? 

The ballet ends with humans "killing" the dead girl's vampire lover and taking her body off, and this is seriously so incredibly tame for ballet. I think motherfucking Coppelia has edgier moments than this, given that a central point in the plot is stealing an innocent man's soul. It ends with a standing ovation, curtain calls and this:

You don’t hear screaming much at the ballet, but you heard it now.
Oh for fuck's sake Laurell, you're going to the wrong ballets. Tame plot, bad choreography, gimmicks instead of actual dancing? PfffhhhhHAHAHAHAHA. Did ya'll note that halfway through the 32 turns video, the audience erupted into applause and screaming? Ballet fans get into their ballets.

 The chapter ends with Anita wondering how they're going to survive the after party for the cast.

...That's actually a good question, given that opening night after parties are usually booze-fueled angst fests with high strung personalities while everyone waits for the reviews to hit the morning papers. But of course it's going to be a fucking dick measuring contest because NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANITA, including the dancer's careers. 

Oh, and traditional ballet and traditional music can't convey sex? 


  1. I just want to point out that I think eating disorders are pretty common among everyone in ballet regardless of gender. As to the rest, well, I suppose I could defend it insomuch as maybe Anita doesn't know shit all about ballet and would describe it like a layman, except then why the random french term at the end as if she DOES know what's happening? And really flying vampires? That's just cheating. It's like cooks who are all oh this needs flavor let's put in BACON and MORE BACON and SOME BACON. It's a cheat and a shortcut is what I'm getting at.

  2. So first off, we have another LKH research-fail: Depending on where and when she means by "the 1700s", tights can very well be authentic menswear.

    Second off, I've just finished re-reading Lois McMaster Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity and there is a scene involving a free-fall ballet performed by people who have been genetically modified to have arms instead of legs as lower limbs. This is a dance taking place in an environment that no one has ever danced in before, involving people built on a body-form that doesn't exist. It's described in greater detail and with greater enthusiasm than LKH's attempts here.

  3. Hit publish before I was actually done...

    Third of all - TG, I would eat the hell out of that bacon, bacon, and bacon dish. Where is that restaurant?

  4. Out of curiousity, is the section with the ballet remarkably short? Because I've been noticing the trend of scenes that don't put Anita in the spotlight getting shorter and shorter as the books grind on.
    Re: the whole flying thing, she cannot seem to decide how flying works with vampires. Sometimes it's "Oh, only the really powerful vampires can fly and even then it's more like hovering" and then sometimes they're carrying a person and swooping over miles and miles of ground, and sometimes three of them fly in and land in a scene cribbed directly out of the Matrix sequels like it's no big thing. Add that to the stated "vampires have been out since forever" and grainy Super 8 footage of vampires flying would be available to schools and colleges everywhere, which would sort of take the edge off whatever amazement there is to be gained by seeing people levitate on stage without wires.