What does the mostly wordless world of choreography do in the face of William Shakespeare? Dance—and quite avidly at that. Shakespeare’s works have been featured in ballet since nearly its origins and have been an important source for modern and contemporary choreographers. In “Dancing with Shakespeare: Lessons in Adaptation from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Theodore Bale and Joseph Campana explore the art of dance through Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to consider how works of art are adapted to other forms and media. What do choreographers drawn upon when they adapt Shakespeare: Plots? Images? Characters? What are their strategies for translating words into action and motion? What happens when we know a Shakespeare play so well the choreographer can abandon the story? How far are choreographers willing to go in adapting Shakespeare?
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Meet Your Guides
Joseph Campana is a poet, arts critic, and scholar of Renaissance literature. He is the author of three collections of poetry, The Book of Faces (Graywolf, 2005), Natural Selections (Iowa, 2012), which received the Iowa Poetry Prize, and The Book of Life (Tupelo, 2019). His poetry appears in Slate, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Conjunctions, Guernica, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Colorado Review, while individual poems have won prizes from Prairie Schooner and the Southwest Review. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He reviews the arts, books, media and culture regularly for The Houston Chronicle, CultureMap, The Kenyon Review, and other venues and is the author of dozens of scholarly essays on Renaissance literature and culture as well as a study of poetics The Pain of Reformation: Spenser, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Masculinity (Fordham, 2012). He teaches at Rice University where he is Alan Dugald McKillop Professor of English.
Theodore Bale obtained a bachelor’s degree from the Hartt School of Music, Theatre and Dance, where he majored in Piano, and a master’s degree from Northeastern University, where his studies focused on classical rhetoric. From 2000 to 2008 he was dance critic and columnist at the Boston Herald. His reviews and features have appeared in many newspapers in Massachusetts and Texas, and he was written extensively on dance for the Houston Chronicle, Dance International, Dance Magazine, CultureMap, and the blog Texas, a Concept on ArtsJournal. He has published “Dancing Out of the Whole Earth: Modalities of Globalization in The Rite of Spring” in Dance Chronicle and, with Joseph Campana, of “Pawning, Picking, Hoarding, Storing: Archiving America on Reality Television” in The Oddball Archive.