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date: 01 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the concept of “legibility” in two contemporary dance adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Kenneth MacMillan’s Sea of Troubles (1988, Dance Advance) and Stephen Mills’s Hamlet (2000, Ballet Austin). While Mills’s full-length narrative follows the chronology of events as dramatized in Hamlet, MacMillan’s postmodern piece eschews narrative coherence. Both nonetheless find ample scope for challenging the demand for intelligibility and legibility in adapting Shakespeare for dance. Both are also eminently suited to engaging with Hamlet in particular, since it is a text that interrogates the concept of linearity and multiplies potential meanings. These choreographic works, created by artists working in different contexts and with different types of companies, reveal that Hamlet is not a stable textual artifact, but a continually evolving process, open to constant interaction and reinterpretation.

Keywords: Shakespeare, ballet, dance, choreography, Hamlet, text, adaptation

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