The Concord of This Discord

Adapting the Late Romances for the Ballet Stage


  • Elizabeth Klett University of Houston — Clear Lake


This essay engages with Alan Brissenden's claim that Shakespeare uses dance as a metaphor in his last plays to indicate a complex interplay between concord and discord, virtue and vengeance. While Brissenden deliberately does not address the ways in which this interplay might have been embodied through movement on the early modern stage, this essay analyzes two recent ballet versions of The Tempest (American Ballet Theatre, 2013) and The Winter's Tale (Royal Ballet, 2014) to demonstrate how choreographers can realize this dramatic conjunction through dance. Choreographers Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon emphasize the destructive anger of Prospero and Leontes, and both ballets end on notes of sadness, longing, and loss. Yet each also incorporates harmony and hope, primarily through the redemptive relationships between the young lovers.

Author Biography

Elizabeth Klett, University of Houston — Clear Lake

Elizabeth Klett is Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Houston — Clear Lake, where she teaches Shakespeare, early modern and modern drama, and women's literature. She is the author of Cross-Gender Shakespeare and English National Identity: Wearing the Codpiece (Palgrave, 2009) and articles on Shakespeare and performance in Theatre Journal, Shakespeare Bulletin, Literature/Film Quarterly, Shakespeare, and Early Modern Studies Journal. She is currently writing a book on Shakespeare and dance adaptation.