CriticalDance Forum

Tradition - do we need to reconsider old habits and prac
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Author:  citibob [ Tue Jan 07, 2003 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tradition - do we need to reconsider old habits and prac

Stuart... I've heard varying opinions on this one. Basically, if you're a principle, you will only dance principle roles some nights; they're just too hard to do every night. Given that fact, would you rather dance "every day", or would you rather have some days off?

I've heard it both ways (these quotes are approximate)
* (from someone who danced for ABT in the 1960's) "Back then, we danced every day. I'm not sure if I would like the new bigger ABT, where you only dance some of the days."
* (one principle from my company) "I'd feel left out if I didn't dance every night"
* (another principle from my company; I asked if the dancer thought she could do a better job if she did have to dance corps and soloist roles on her "off nights") "Yes, I would get more time to focus on class and improve my technique inbetween"

Remember that dancing "every day" means something different if your company puts up shows 6 nights/wk for 10 weeks going than if your company does 3 nights/week for 3 weeks (or even 4 nights/week for 5 weeks). Even dancing "every day" for my company, we don't really dance any more than the principles do for today's ABT or NYCB.

It's the NYCB and ABT corps members who work harder than we do, going out there every night in corps roles. Sometimes, the challenge of corps work is simply quantity.

On the other hand, I've heard of people who really did dance principle roles 6 nights/wk for a long time. Sounds rather super-human to me, but I've heard it's been done.

Author:  citibob [ Tue Jan 07, 2003 4:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tradition - do we need to reconsider old habits and prac

Another observation, I don't know quite where to put it: dance is one of the few endeavors in which the customers (audience) take so much interest not just in the finished product, but in every detail of its production. When was the last time you examined the labor contract in detail when you went to the supermarket?

Every dance company operates under different circumstances. It's no surprise that a range of management styles and traditions are used.

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Jan 09, 2003 1:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tradition - do we need to reconsider old habits and prac

Bruce Simpson (former Ballet Master-in-Chief of Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet and current Artistic Director of the Louisville Ballet), in this interview by Toba Singer for, had this to say:

“The worst thing would be to become complacent. I don’t mind if people hate my dancing. I worry more if there’s no reaction. Conflict is important. Artists function within the society in which they live. There has to be a chemical reaction with the audience because there are no words, and we have to affect people. As Artistic Director, I have to affect dancers, or they won’t affect the public and by extension, the society in which we live. That’s why conflicts within the art form make me hopeful, because if we get too comfortable or complacent, we just reproduce mirror images of what has been done before. One often longs for the original cast, but that was a piece of the time.”

As if he were balancing a line of dancers, Mr. Simpson weighed in on the other side of this question: “Now this may seem like a contradiction, but I am at the same time a traditionalist. I see myself as part of a 400-year tradition. Every day that I walk into the studio, I see myself as a custodian of classical ballet technique.
He has a number of things to say about the role of ballet companies and what it takes to run one.

Click here for more of the interview.

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