CriticalDance Forum

A Dancer of Air Born Splendor and A Festival in The Sky
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Author:  Diane [ Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:46 am ]
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Well, for the companies I know of in Europe, almost all of them also do some more modern works - the smaller companies do more modern, as it is also less expensive. (no pointe-shoes, often less extravagant costumes, often less dancers in the companies, etc.)
So, yes, it is highly recommended that dancers who want to dance in Europe develop another dance style as well - usually some type of modern-dance. :) As far as "how high" to develop it.. that is something that surely depends on the company, the choreographer, etc.
Even when I was still dancing, (I stopped 20 yrs ago) it was very good that I had had a good basis in modern (in my case, Graham). It really helped with the pieces we did which were not purely classical.


Author:  Buddy [ Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:46 am ]
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Diane wrote:
Many choreographers - esp. in Europe, as far as I can see - also employ improvisation techniques to arrive at their finished choreographies.

"Improvisation techniques", that's kind of an interesting one. I guess if I think about it awhile it will make sense. I do like the idea of improvisation and the dancer expressing her/his own particular capabilities and background. I guess George Balanchine was known for being aware of and working with his dancers' individual abiliities. Christopher Wheeldon has expressed his interest in letting his dancers create their own stage identity.

Thanks for telling us more about the demand for modern capabilities in Europe.

For what its worth, I noticed some changes at the Lausanne competition. It's been maybe four years since I saw my last one. Several years ago there were three programs required--classical, modern and a free choice.

The free choice program has now been eliminated and the modern, this year anyway, is all from the works of John Neumeire, who someone on the internet described as a "neoclassicist".

The now eliminated free choice program was very interesting to me. It was usually a modern selection, sometimes created by a choreographer from where the dancer came. It was about the only chance for a dancer to make a personal statement and also one from her/his own culture. I thought it was a good idea. I thought that the last program that I saw with this was very interesting and very enjoyable.

This year, on the other hand, without the free choice program and with a 'neoclassical' replacing a 'modern' choice, the classical dancing seemed better. I'm not sure if this new format changed the nature of the selection process* or if there are any correlations here, but it is interesting to think about.

*selection of dance candidates

Author:  Diane [ Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:35 am ]
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I agree with you in missing the "free choice" section. I used to most enjoy watching that one - on youtube, as I of course never get to the prix in person. (busy time of year, not enough €s :wink: )

Yes, it appears that today's dancer must be basically prepared for anything.
I also like the idea of working with a choreographer to develop a role, or even just the movements in a piece. This sort of thing (impro) was not emphasised when I was studying.


Author:  Buddy [ Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:37 am ]
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Diane, when I think of improvised dancing, I think of the dancer making instantaneous decisions during the actual performance as to what to do next. These may vary significantly from one performance to the next. How you develop a "technique" for this, I'm not quite sure.

Savion Glover, the tap dancer, is probably the most improvisational dancer that I have seen. He doesn't seem to do anything exactly the same twice.

Since we are mentioning the free choice program, I have a few related ideas. I have always been interested in extending the nature of 'lyrically beautiful' dance, of which ballet is probably the most noticeable example. It is the Lyrical Beauty of ballet that totally enchants me.

I like some of the ideas of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn during the first half of the 20th century. Martha Graham was one of their students. They took the essence of ballet and changed it around somewhat. Perhaps they relaxed it somewhat. I don't believe that they used any pointe dancing and Ruth St. Denis was always exploring the dance of other cultures and trying to interpret them into her choreography. She seemed to have maintained much up the upper body lyricism of ballet.

What is called Lyrical Jazz dancing in the United States, probably is the closest to this style today, that I'm familiar with. It is an area of dance that I would really like to see developed more.

Christopher Wheeldon, although I have only seen four examples of his work, is the most ballet oriented of the 'established' choreographers that I know of, who seems to be exploring this area. I like some of his work immensely.

Thanks again, Diane, for your insights and comments.

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