MADAME GALINA: BALLET STAR GALACTICA
Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
August, 2002

**** Drag ballet act works against all the odds

Madame Galina Korsakova is the prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi. But actually, she's Iestyn Edwards, a burly Welsh bloke in a tutu.

The thing about drag is that it works not because it's grotesque and incredible, but because there's something about the performer's en femme persona that's strangely plausible despite it all. Edwards knows ballet and has more than a little skill, his physical build notwithstanding, so when Madame Galina delivers her crash-course lecture to us, remarking, "I don't have the ideal body for ballet my back is too long," it works.

It's a fairly arcane subject for parody, but he/she handles it adroitly, with both collective and individual audience participation. She gives practicals in ballet notation and in the language of gesture, showing that only a few misplaced turns of the hand can accidentally signify "Over there is a bodybuilder with Parkinson's Disease". At the climax of the hour, she dances the mad scene from Giselle, and even through the ludicrousness of the vision, our "ooh"s and "Bravo!"s grow oddly genuine. It all sounds absurd, but it works... even with those thighs.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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