Jul 26, 2013

Bolero: Not for Heterosexuals Only

Classical music is usually a relief from heterosexism  -- you can't hear a refrain of "Girl! Girl! Girl!" if no one is singing.  But Maurice Ravel's Bolero has been definitively associated with heterosexual sex.

On a 1972 episode of The Partridge Family, pop star Keith (David Cassidy) moves into his own apartment, invites a girl over, and intends to play Bolero in the hope of seducing her.  Before the episode ends, his mother, sister, younger brother, and manager have all asked "Bolero?" with surprise, bemusement, or disgust.

The terrible Allegro Non Troppo (1976) which includes such "delights" as a satyr wandering around on a giant woman's body, uses Bolero in a segment illustrating the evolution of humanity.

In 10 (1980), Bo Derek asks "Did you ever do it to Bolero?"  Later she starred in a softcore porn move entitled Bolero (1984).

In The Closing of American Mind (1987), right-wing pundit Alan Bloom claims that, because teens are obsessed with heterosexual intercourse, Bolero is the only piece of classical music that they listen to.
Apparently it has beating rhythm that emulates the back-forth movement of...you know, and lasts just long enough to get it done.

I still like Bolero.  It's fun to perform, and the composer was gay.  Besides, it doesn't have to be about heterosexual sex.

Last spring there was a new ballet set to Bolero at the Opera Garnier in Paris.  It featured semi-nude male dances and an intensely homoerotic choreography (left)  by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (also known for Tempus Fugit and Man of Wood).

You can see another ballet Bolero on Sky Arts tv on August 1st, with choreography by Maurice Bejart.  It alternates male and female dancers, so no doubt there will be considerable homoeroticism as well.