Bridie Mayfield's Brutal Ballet
When I used to think of ballet, I pictured scantily clad, emaciated young woman moving gracefully around the stage on their satin ensconced tiptoes.
I did not think of ballerinas fitted in red PVC, adorned with inverted metal crosses, white contact lenses and corpse paint cavorting to death metal music, but that is because I had not yet been introduced to the Brutal Ballet located in Brisbane, Australia.
Bridie Mayfield, the creator of Brutal Ballet, has performed nearly every form of dance from bellydance to bollywood. She came up with the inspiration to dance classical ballet to heavy metal music from her love of metal and her experience from Ballet Deviare which is New York's premier heavy metal ballet company. One day she put a video of herself with a fellow dancer performing ballet to the Dethklok theme on YouTube and received an overwhelming response. That's when the Brutal Ballet was born.
"Since I was small I always made up dances to music I loved, so when I started getting into metal it was no different to me. When I heard about Ballet Deviare in New York I realized dancing to metal was accepted by metal fans and knew I had to either join them or start something myself, and I knew someone else wasn't going to start a metal ballet company here. I managed to pull together enough dancers to start trying out some of the choreography."Dethballet, their current production, is using the music from Metalocalypse which is a dark, cartoon parody of an imaginary Scandinavian death metal band called Dethklok. Brendon Small, one of the creators of the popular cartoon, is also a talented guitarist that composes the original death metal to accompany every episode of the show. Metalocalypse has fast become a popular icon for metal enthusiasts worldwide. The Brutal Ballet production of Dethballet uses footage from this hilarious cartoon as part of their show and has been using a live band for the past few months formed especially for their performances called Klokblok.
"I love Metalocalypse, it's just one of the best cartoons ever! I think I started seeing the choreography form because I'd watch the cartoon so much, the music in it would get in my head and a dance would start forming. It's so similar to the kind of classical I love and it was kind of forming itself whenever I'd hear it. A lot of it came fairly easily, but a lot of it was incredibly difficult too. It's very even in its composition which is something ballet works really well with. I was originally doing some stuff to Meshuggah and realized the dancers would have to be really experienced to handle it. I think it's that Dethklok felt right though, it was just one of those things."
Dancing ballet to metal music has been an exciting journey for them. Artistically, they are rejuvenating the dying spirit of ballet and bringing sophistication to metal music that it has always deserved. They are attracting a diverse crowd of heavy metal music fans and people who have never attended the ballet before. The show has become extremely popular and they find they are constantly recruiting new fans of the combined genres. They have been surprised to discover that they seem to get more respect, recognition and appreciation dancing to metal music then they did to classical ballet. Even though they are on stage in metal regalia and playing the dark overtures of metal music, they are still dancing in the traditional ballet style.
"I always wanted to bring an element of horror to ballet, and apparently have managed to do that. We do some of the dances on pointe (on our toes) some in bare feet and some in colored contact lenses, which has really set us apart from other dance companies. In ballet we have a part of the work called allegro which is mainly jumping, which we use a lot of in things like Birthday Dethday and Awaken. When it's done properly it looks beautiful. I've been doing Irish dancing for the last four years as well, which is very fast and really helped with choreographing the faster songs. I think the ultimate idea behind Brutal Ballet is that in metal, men are the dominant force and women in metal have to toughen up and be as powerful and strong as the men to be taken seriously. Doing ballet is graceful, elegant and feminine so it kind of allows us to keep our place as it were."