Classical dance does not always have to be serious business – and this short ballet sequence proves that.
Choreographer Jerome Robbins first created it for the the New York City Ballet in 1956 as part of The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody), which is a breezy satire of the performance itself. In this sequence, an ensemble of six dancers make it seem as though they are struggling through dazzlingly intricate movements set to a serious Chopin waltz. It has come to be known as the Mistake Waltz.
The version in this video was performed by dancers of the Vienna State Opera. The piece opens with five dancers on stage, in position, waiting as the sixth member of the ensemble walks in slowly, with shoulders slumped in the most non-ballerina fashion and having forgotten to remove her spectacles. From there, it is a series of unfortunate events – one dancer moves in the wrong direction, another strikes pose in the wrong place, yet another gets lost in one step and forgets to join the others for the next sequence. There are befuddled looks, withering glances, nudges and shoving as the dancers try to get their act together – and fail hilariously.