FROM 1856 TO NOWADAYS…
The Corsair was created in 1856 in Paris on Adam’s Music by Jospeh Mazilier. The story is inspired by a Lord Byron’s poem from 1814.
Before Mazilier, several choreographers already created a ballet or a short ballet inspired by this same poem. Why such an infatuation around this poem?
From the beginning of the XIX century, exoticism is very popular. Exoticism is not only a place and its characteristics, but a point of view: the one of the old patriarchal European society, with its beliefs and certainties.
This exoticism doesn’t pretend to reproduce the reality of another world but talks about the old society itself. Exoticism reduced “the other” to the rank of object or commodity. This exoticism on stage uses often women to illustrate this point: slaves, poor young ladies who will be scarified for the sake of the European like in Lakmé… And this is not an accident.
Women are for a large part, in the XIX century society, considered like objects. Which brings us to the 1850’s ballet.
At this time, ballet is far away of what it can be today. Libretti were composed to offer sumptuous and impressive theater sets, always on the same base, and undercover allow young naked ladies to stand on the stage. The line between gallantry and art is blurred in a society where woman can not express or even think about their own sexual pleasure, where the naked body is not allowed except in whorehouses or… on stage.
Time has past since then. Society and ballet evolved. Women took a new place in society, men have new reflections, even if the way certainly is still long to equality.
That’s where our steps begin...