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 Post subject: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2002 2:01 am 
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Ismene Brown of The Telegraph previews some dance treats from both sides of the atlantic.

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Evidence will be all around us this autumn that New York is still exemplary in all forms of dance. Distinctively American ballet from New York City Ballet stars and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the world's only black classical ballet company. Bold modern dance, with the world premiere of a Merce Cunningham creation and the return of Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oak company. Mark Morris will finally allow his work to be danced by a British company. And there will be a West End opening for Susan Stroman's unusual dance-musical Contact, starring the former Royal Ballet ballerina Sarah Wildor.

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<small>[ 19 December 2003, 03:02 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2002 3:16 am 
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And in New York itself - when I was there recently I found that the place is full of dance and theatre - outdoor festivals in Central Park, swing classes and general dancing in front of the Lincoln Center for everyone, the best body-popping and hip-hop I had ever seen in front of the Plaza Hotel by a group of young guys improvising a show etc etc etc. It was truly a cultural feast.


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2002 3:33 am 
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Do you think this might transfer over here? There seems to be a general trend towards dance in this country - with the BBC ads and a few other ads on TV seem to be using dance as an advertising medium.


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2002 4:51 am 
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It's an interesting article because the people Ismene Brown has spoken to unanimously agree that NY has a richer dance scene - Mark Morris, for example, believes that he can do whatever he wants with dance and is not constrained by audience expectations or conservative tastes - but the money isn't there from public grants. The dance scene, as for most of the arts in the USA, needs the patronage of private sponosrship. Susan Stroman believes that we can take chances in the UK because of our public funding and says:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>New York is still the most interesting place to be in the world, but you in the UK have wonderful theatres and funding to take chances with, the sort of thing that never happens here. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>She has a point, but I really think that public funding is as controlling of the direction of the arts as private funding. Whilst private funding can appear to be opportunist and about the 'funder' rather than the 'funded' and therefore fickle and unpredicatable, in reality it has often rescued great art and allowed artistic experimentation that might not otherwise have happened. There are many examples - private sponsors got the ADI initiative in the Clore Studio Upstairs at the Royal Opera House off the ground etc etc. Public funders and well-known private funders may appear to provide for consistency and more secure support but I know companies that have been led to believe that they would be funded for 3 years, have budgeted on that basis because they had to in order to qualify for the 3 years' funding, and they have the second year denied. Funders rarely sign up front for the 3 years. That is a long-winded way of saying, I think the UK and the US have similar issues about funding dance eventhough the funders may be different in nature. New York for me has the edge over London in terms of richness of dance.<P>Why? Because it is more inclusive and the type of person in the Metropolitan Opera House the night I went to see the Kirov perform (2 Saturdays ago) showed a diversity I have never seen in the Royal Opera House here. There were people dressed expensively and obviously were rich East-coast types but there were also very average people with families and, of course, as usual in the USA, there were hundreds of different ethnic origins which is something I lvoe about the place. The tickets for the Kirov were not cheap but still less than the ROH on a non-Kirov night. The tickets for the Kirov at the ROH are absolutely ridiculous and my Russian emigre friends say that they would rather pay for the flight to St Petersburg and wrap in other culture while seeing the Kirov, than pay the extortionate amounts to see them in London. So that's one reason why you see the same type of person at the ROH time after time. <P>But it also a question of ethnic diversity - great swing clubs, great salsa clubs, great tango clubs, run by the relevant ethnic group. As one example, the Argentinean tango clubs are run by Argentineans in New York - in London they are run by anything but. Plus the friendliness of the New Yorkers. Balanchine is quoted in the article:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR> Americans keep both business and the arts in mind...I liked New York immediately: the people are cheerful, the buildings tall...Life in America, I thought, would be fun. And I was right. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>When I saw the guys performing hip-hop in front of the Plaza Hotel to the side of Central Park - there was a huge gathering cheering and supporting and parting with dollar bills. Can I see your tickets one of the cheeky guys was asking people - you haven't shown me your ticket, he said, holding up a dollar bill. And wallets came out and gave serious money. As if the art and the effort were appreciated. In London I have seen really good musicians sitting there with empty violin cases or just a few 20 pence pieces in them. It's one fo the reasons I didn't busk tango dancing - eventhough people would watch, it is too humiliating to have an empty box in front of you. It's like you have been condemned as rubbish by the lack of money given to you, yet people probably would they say to others how much they had enjoyed watching it.<P>Balanchine was right about New Yorkers - they do like the arts and do build them into their lives. All my American colleagues in London go to see as much as they can to make the most of what is here before they go home.<p>[This message has been edited by Emma Pegler (edited August 04, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2002 6:25 am 
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Sounds like New York has a lot, but maybe the point is that it is too unrepresentative of America as a whole - actually some people say New York is a different country. Here at least we have the publically funded touring around the whole country to keep us all awake. And here there is some money for choreographers lower down the chain, which they don't seem to have there.


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2002 6:35 am 
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[NOTE: I wrote this before I read laurey's post]<P>I was invited here from the Ballet Forum.<P>I concur with Emma, that funding has strings, no matter what its origin. Witness the recent Frankfurt Ballet crisis, for example. I suppose freedom in arts is like any other kind of freedom: you must always advocate for it, selling the idea to every new generation of funders, lest you lose it.<P>Government funding for anything in America can be fickle. Our government, and its priorities, change every four years. I khnow PLENTY of programs (msot of them non-arts related) that got caught in that trap: they get funding, start building a program, only to see their funding cut with the next incoming president.<P>As for New York? I think some things are being glossed over here. Maybe New Yorkers were friendly to Balanchine. But they're definitely NOT frinedly today. It is a lucky day when I can get to work and get back home again without someone being unnecessarily rude to me. People have swung fists and bags at me on my way to work. This rudeness manifests itself just about everywhere on the streets, especially in the evenings when people are more tired.<P>It is VERY easy to feel isolated in New York, even as you're surrounded by people. You interact with them, but you get the sense that very few people really care about you. For example, I go to ballet class every day, and it's the same class. I do that week in and week out. I'm doing well in it and receive an appropriate amount of attention.<P>And yet, I feel that very few people there really care about my presence. Not the teacher, not the other students. My first day back after five weeks away, no one even really said "welcome back" to me. I'm just another transient speck in a sea of humanity; why should they invest emotionally in me? I believe the man who sells me fruit every day on Seventh Avenue is happier to see me.<P>Other dancers have much worse things to say about New York. It's hyper-competetive in the wrong ways, all the way from SAB students stomping on each others' feet, to accomplished dancers teachers being hired and fired for petty political reasons. Promotion is based more on politics than innovative quality. Teachers so often teach their classes based on "favorite students".<P>The teachers I think are the best are usually relegated to the "small times", and feeling cynical about the politics that left them there. This leads to good teaching, but with a "I don't care anymore" attitude thrown in on top. I see teachers insult their students regularly.<P>Meanwhile, I can't figure out what everyone gets out of the "big time" teachers. I know one teacher who advocates forced turnout and the dislocation of hips to improve extension. Rather than being banished, she is actually elevated and revered as one of the "good" teachers. She also walks with a cane! Maybe students think she's great because she yells at them. Is this a place where mean people get ahead?<P>I heard a story about one teacher who has been called one of the "best ten" teachers ever, or something like that. My friend was trying to get an extension to the side above 90 degress. He asked her, "why can't I get my leg above 90 degrees?" She brought over her "star student" and told him "developpe a la seconde". He dutifully performed the action, with his leg well above 90 degrees. Then she turned to my friend and said "See, it's possible!" Like duhhh, I think my friend already knew it was possible, but he still had no clue why he couldn't do it. Is this what we get from the "top ten" teachers?<P>I think there's a large element of "copycat" going on here, dance students just following rather than evaluating things for themselves. If one teacher ended up teaching someone who turns out to be a star, then suddenly that teacher becomes a star as well. People don't believe in themselves enough here, their own ability to master the art of ballet through diligence and hard work. They're spending too much energy looking for that magic external force on their lives --- the right teacher, the right studio, the right pointe shoe, the right leotard, the right audition --- that will launch the "dream career". They're too busy trying to emulate the stars.<P>And then there's the issue of gnosticism in ballet. I've been told this by more than one person: at least in the past, teachers had a prevailing attitude of "I know the secrets of ballet, but I'm not necessarily going to tell you." The only students who would be told, of course, would be the favored students. Maybe that's changing now. I'm not a gnostic.<P>Then there's the issue of continued professional development. There's a big attitude here of "I've made it, I'm a professional now, so I don't ever need to change the way I do things." It's like learning and exploration stops once you graduate from SAB; people end up "doing ballet", rather than "developing ballet". In dance, there needs to be a lifelong development process, but that too often doesn't happen, not for the dancers or teachers or choreographers. Maybe this is because of the isolating sense of being in New York, that people too rarely "come together" to commit to each other and build a "school of thought". Maybe it's because everyone is struggling just to survive. Live in New York is always a struggle for anyone.<P>I could go on, but I think I'll stop here. I'm not complaining. This is a free country, and people can choose to live in New York or not live in New York as they wish. I think many of the people I've met here would be happier elsewhere, but that's my own opinion.<P>As far as dance goes: New York was the first place in America where dance really got off the ground, and that was not so very long ago; it has since been the center of the dance world in America. This has led to an unfortunate idolization of New York. So much of ballet outside of New York, it seems, is trying to emulate what happens in New York. And there's an unwillingness to look outside of New York for innovation. That's a shame. New York has its own distinct culture, some of which I've outlined above. That culture will ALWAYS color the dance produced there, for better or for worse. Why should the rest of the country try to emulate it?<P>"New York" needs to cease to be synonymous with "American Dance".<P>Rather than playing second fiddle to New York City by importing New York culture, other parts of the country need to develop their own dance identities. Just as New York offered Balanchine a nearly blank slate upon which to innovate, many other parts of the country offer the enterprising choreographer that very same blank slate today. Whereas there are so many pressures to conform to the already-established structures in New York, innovation today may be easier outside of New York. Garth Fagan and Pilobolus are two well-known, innovative dance groups "from the outside".<P>As for myself? I dance for someone who is developing ballet in his own way outside of New York; actually, 5 hours away in Boston. He is getting consistently good reviews for it as well. I am a valued member of my community and have been since the time I began studying there. There is mutual investment on everyone's part. I believe I am participating in an emerging "second generation" of dance in America: dance that is not from New York and does not look like it's from New York. I don't think we could do what we're doing if we were in New York.<P>In time, this type of activity will hopefully build a more balanced identity for dance in America, one that fully reflects the cultural diversity of this country.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2002 1:12 pm 
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A licence to thrill: Dance
David Dougill in The Observer looks ahead to the dance treats of the Autumn:


SEASONAL SURPRISE
The Nutcracker
Two of our most talented young choreographers will reinvent the annual festive treat. English National Ballet gets in early, with Christopher Hampson creating a brand-new production, below, with designs by the caricaturist Gerald Scarfe — his first venture into ballet. His innovations include soldiers in modern battle dress. Irek Mukhamedov dances the focal role of the magician Drosselmeyer. Matthew Bourne’s reworked revival of his early hit Nutcracker! is spectacularly designed by Anthony Ward.

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2002 4:55 am 
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Preview in The Times.

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THIS is the busiest time of the year in the dance calendar, when all the big companies launch their new seasons. The Royal Ballet’s will mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Kenneth MacMillan, one of the most significant choreographers of the 20th century.
The tribute starts with a revival of his sex-and-drugs blockbuster Mayerling on Oct 29, ten years to the day after he died backstage during a performance of that very ballet. A week earlier, the Covent Garden ballet season kicks off with a triple bill that finally brings Mark Morris into the repertoire with Gong, set to a fabulous gamelan-inspired score by Colin McPhee, a composer who deserves to be better known.

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2002 3:23 pm 
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Returning to citibob's comments (which I found very interesting, thank you) I have extracted a couple of comments from a Times article on the NYCB dancers coming to London this month to perform at Sadler's Wells. The comments are by Peter Boal to Debra Craine, commenting on New York and New York dance.

Give me your thoughts:

Quote:
We are very New York, explains Boal, sipping coffee in one of those ubiquitous American coffee houses that have turned ordering a hot beverage into a litany of choices. We are filled with that drive and athleticism that Balanchine found on the streets of New York and was fascinated by.

Balanchine tapped into that drive and athleticism when he arrived in New York in the 1930s to lay the foundation for what would become one of the foremost ballet companies in the world. He saw that American dancers were leaner and faster, with longer legs and a more dynamic manner than the Russian dancers of his youth. So he set about marrying the technical sophistication of his beloved St Petersburg classicism with the modernist, no-frills sensibility of his new American dancers and a new style, neo-classicism, was born.
The whole article

<small>[ 09-16-2002, 17:24: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2002 2:39 am 
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Preview in the Evening Standard of the eclectic mix of dance coming to the Capital.

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World music has proved so popular, it's a wonder that world dance hasn't caught on, if only as a collective noun for all those troupes who visit from distant corners of the globe.

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 Post subject: Re: Autumn Preview - London 2002
PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2002 1:17 am 
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One we missed from last week:

Dance
by Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


Autumn always feels like the climax of the dance season, as the launch of the Royal Ballet's new artistic year combines with the manic schedules of Dance Umbrella. This year the latter will be bringing out some of the biggest stars in the modern-dance stable, starting with Merce Cunningham, whose company is currently performing its 50th-anniversary season at the Barbican. Just as high-profile, at Sadler's Wells from October 9, should be the performances from Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project in a programme highlighting the choreography of Lucinda Childs.

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