Dance: Royal Ballet bugs out with Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’

Edward Watson, as Gregor Samsa, completes his transformation into a bug.  Credit: Tristram Kenton
Edward Watson, as Gregor Samsa, completes his transformation into a bug.
Credit: Tristram Kenton

Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” written in 1915, is essentially a study in interiority. Nothing much happens: A man turns into a bug and his family is floored, at once compassionate and revolted.

Arthur Pita, a choreographer born in South Africa and trained in London, took Kafka’s story, updated it to the 1950s, and changed a few significant details. The result is a handsome, 90-minute dance-theater work that tugs at many emotions, ultimately leaving spectators exhausted. Designer Simon Daw’s set and costumes are crisp and functional. Frank Moon’s music, both live and recorded, saws at our nerves until we are as frazzled as poor Gregor Samsa, the salesman who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a beetle. British dancer Edward Watson rivets our attention in this role, more praying mantis than cockroach with his long limbs and articulate toes.

His devoted little sister (Corey Annand), a violinist in the story, is here rendered as a student dancer; her progress marks the passage of time. Their parents (Nina Goldman and Anton Skrzypiciel), tortured in different ways, evade the issue of their suffering son; the family’s interrelationships are thoroughly Freudian, anchoring the tale to its mittel-European roots. The most winning, least-affected performance is that of Bettina Carpi as the brusque maid charged with cleaning up after Gregor.

This Royal Ballet production won lots of prizes in London two years ago, and it’s certainly a masterpiece of stagecraft, down to the gooey stuff that oozes from the poor creature trapped in his bedroom. But Pita never solves the essential problem: how to turn Kafka’s meditative work into an action-adventure.

Royal Ballet’s “The Metamorphosis”
Through Sept. 29
Joyce Theater,
175 Eighth Ave.
$10-$75, www.joyce.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…