One day when I'm old, I want some lovely young girl to say to me, "Tell me, where in your long life, Mr. Caster, were you most happy?" And I shall say, 'Well, my dear, I never knew the exact place. It was somewhere on the Mediterranean. I was with Victoria Page." "What?" she will say. "Do you mean the famous dancer?" I will nod. "Yes, my dear, I do. Then she was quite young, comparatively unspoiled. We were, I remember, very much in love."
Boris Lermontov: "The Ballet of The Red Shoes" is from a fairy tale by Hans Andersen. It is the story of a young girl who is devoured with an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of Red Shoes. She gets the shoes and goes to the dance. For a time, all goes well and she is very happy. At the end of the evening she is tired and wants to go home, but the Red Shoes are not tired. In fact, the Red Shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the street, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forests, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on.
Julian Craster: What happens in the end?
Boris Lermontov: Oh, in the end, she dies.
Boris Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?
[Vicky thinks for a short while]
Vicky Page: Why do you want to live?
Boris Lermontov: Well I don't know exactly why, er, but I must.
Vicky Page: That's my answer too.
Boris Lermontov: How would you define ballet, Lady Neston?
Lady Neston: Well, one might call it the poetry of motion perhaps, or...
Boris Lermontov: One might. But for me it is a great deal more. For me it is a religion. And one doesn't really care to see one's religion practised in an atmosphere... such as this.
Boris Lermontov: When we first met ... you asked me a question to which I gave a stupid answer, you asked me whether I wanted to live and I said "Yes". Actually, Miss Page, I want more, much more. I want to create, to make something big out of something little – to make a great dancer out of you. But first, I must ask you the same question, what do you want from life? To live?
Vicky Page: To dance.
Livingstone 'Livy' Montagne: [just before the curtain raises] You're a magician, Boris. To have produced all this in three weeks, and from nothing.
Boris Lermontov: My dear Livy, not even the best magician in the world can produce a rabbit out of a hat if there is not already a rabbit in the hat.
Grischa Ljubov: You can't alter human nature.
Boris Lermontov: No? I think you can do even better then that. You can ignore it!