Frankenstein in Motion: A Literary Tour de Force Through Tour Jetés

Madeleine Lucchetti Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Rocky Colavito Butler University
This project discusses the natural cohesion of 19th-century horror literature with the libretti of classical story ballets, and will negate the arguments that such performances are dated, irrelevant, or poorly showcased. Specifically, it will analyze the presentation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein through Liam Scarlett’s eponymous 2017 production, a classical ballet originally created for London’s The Royal Ballet. In the context of the 21st century, story ballets are no longer in vogue. They are expensive, exhausting to cast and produce, and produce thin profits. But they represent ballet’s illustrious history and are a testimony to the foundations of ballet technique. Thus, Scarlett took a calculated risk when adding a new title to the antiquated genre; there are critical drawbacks to adjusting the page to the stage. Notable challenges exist present themselves when squeezing nearly three-hundred pages of narrative text into a two-hour stage production-- which, necessarily, is devoid of dialogue or explicit acting. But the novel’s linear clarity and vivid scenes combine to make the perfect recipe for a classical ballet’s libretto. Such literary elements drive every successful story ballet, and by way of choreography reignite the performative power of Frankenstein. Critical analysis published within the fields of both literature and dance will be referenced in lauding the ballet’s successes and examining its failures. Most criticism orbits around a central issue, which this project will address: do the inherent risks and obvious missteps of choreographic interpretations outweigh the efforts to maintain the unfashionable art of story ballet?

English Literature & Creative Writing
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:30 AM
Jordan Hall 303