In the Act I of this ballet (post-prologue), the princess dances the "Rose Adagio" with her four suitors. At one point, she stands, perfectly extending one leg while balancing on the other en pointe. Betraying not so much as a wobble, she holds this pose...and holds it, as all four suitors gallantly approach her, each one elaborately twirling her about once, as if she were a top. The principal dancer in this production (Mara Vinson) was just incredible to watch, but this stilted section struck me as such a metaphor for femininity: this graceful, decorous woman holding an impossible position of display as if it were effortless; being turned and manipulated by each suitor in turn. Meanwhile, the court conjectures over who should pluck her.
Now, I don't bring this up in an angry "Boo sexism!" kind of way. Rather, the thought struck me at the time, and mingled with my amazement at Vinson's consummate athleticism. She really was breathtaking to watch. Flash forward to the next evening and, me, weeping my way through the end of "The Young Victoria" ("Oh my God but I thought these long-dead people would live forever!") This story is really one of female conquest. Prince Albert's presence is wispy, deferential, and quiet. He tells the queen "I am replaceable, and you are not." As a love story, I really liked it, but it wasn't a narrative I felt accustomed to seeing.
Three cheers for the Prince Alberts of the world (and the Victorias).
(photo credit: http://www.pnb.org/images/Season/09-10/sb_overview.jpg)