Turning extreme jealousy into dance

Christopher Wheeldon explains how he translated jealousy, rage, and violence into movement in his interpretation of "The Winter's Tale"

Christopher Wheeldon CBS News

"The Winter's Tale" is one of Shakespeare's darker plays, but choreographer Christopher Wheeldon found its sweeping, emotional journey well-suited for a ballet adaptation, he tells 60 Minutes in the video excerpt posted above.

Wheeldon explains to Lesley Stahl that the main character of "The Winter's Tale," King Leontes, is driven mad with jealousy when he suspects his pregnant wife of adultery. The challenge of interpreting the King's manic emotions and brutal actions was part of the play's appeal for Wheeldon.

"I think jealousy is an emotion that we can all relate to in some way," he says. "The idea of translating that into movement was sort of intriguing."

Piotr Stanczyk and Hannah Fischer of The National Ballet of Canada

In Wheeldon's production, the ballerina who plays Queen Hermione wears a prosthetic to make her look nine months pregnant. For the audience, the sight of pregnant Hermione locked in conflict with a raging King Leontes may not be easy to watch.

"There's a very disturbing pas de deux towards the middle of the first act, when Leontes accuses Hermione in a very violent way of being an adulteress. He really, really manhandles her, and he throws her to the ground. People were really disturbed when they first saw it," says Wheeldon. "In ballet, to communicate these large emotions, you have to make them physical, and so I think people were quite shocked at how far we went with that physicality."

The video above was originally published on April 3, 2016, and produced by Rebecca Chertok Gonsalves, Kaylee Tully and Sarah Shafer Prediger and edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.