CriticalDance Forum

Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?
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Author:  Azlan [ Mon Dec 23, 2002 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Helgi Tomasson (AD, SFB) mentioned in a Words on Dance interview with Violette Verdy that back in the days of the Harkness/Joffrey Ballet the company would travel across the country in a bus with their laundry hanging from the windows.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jan 06, 2003 8:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Can we turn again to the question of taking home-grown dancers from your own school, as opposed to a globalised recuritment policy. While a few of the very largest companies with strong schools, such as NYCB, take Kirov and POB can largely follow the former route without compromising quality, for others even like the Royal, a rigid home grown approach would mean geater homogeneity at the risk pf lower standards of dancing. I for one would not be prepared to give up Cojocaru, Kobborg, Acosta, Guillem, Rojo (all from overseas) for the sake of greater homogeneity What do others think?

Author:  librarian [ Mon Jan 06, 2003 9:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Even the most rigid of home-grown approaches would seem to admit for the resident guest artist or permanent artist from abroad from time to time, as when the Kirov or Paris Opera Ballet has guest dancers from other distinguished companies. The most insular institutions (no particular one named here) seem to recognize the value of such a performer in inspiring the home team. I don't think ballet has fared too badly in that respect, in general, though there are often times when there seems to be an embarrassment of riches in a particular company (Ballet Theatre, for example, with its incredible men, almost none of whom are American). However, they have no school and haven't had for some time. In the case of a large company with its own school, although I don't know the Royal's history, for example, I have to assume that there have been times when there was no one ready to assume a particular position and they were forced, by circumstance, for instance, to recruit someone like Kobborg or Acosta. I think that a group of dancers from another tradition doesn't have as much of a "globalizing" effect on a company as the acquisition of a repertory that is identical to that of any number of others.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jan 08, 2003 9:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Congratulations to Brendan McCarthy of whose interview with Wayne Eagling get a mention:

World's ballet directors meet amid fears over 'homogenised' art form
By Louise Jury for The Independent

Artistic directors from the world's leading ballet companies will gather this weekend in an attempt to stop the dance repertoire becoming too homogenised.

Figures from the Bolshoi, the Royal Ballet and companies from Chile to Portugal are taking part in the think-tank to address how to develop new "classics" alongside the tried and tested favourites audiences always want to see.

The three-day symposium will ask whether the companies are losing their individuality as they all perform the same Swan Lakes, Nutcrackers and Coppelias.

click for more

Author:  Azlan [ Thu Jan 09, 2003 1:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Louisville Ballet Artistic Director Bruce Simpson's comments in this interview for seem relevant to this topic:

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Mr. Simpson has worked in Europe, South Africa, Hong Kong, and in the United States. Given that he has such broad international experience in the dance world, I was interested in knowing Simpson’s thoughts on the globalization process, and the internationalization of companies. “I love the fact that I worked in South Africa, which for years during Apartheid was so isolated, and then ten years ago [after the fall of Apartheid], there came a cultural explosion, when American works started coming into the repertoire.” In South Africa, “we had 42 nationalities, with 11 languages spoken. Now with globalization and the Internet, you can’t whistle there without everyone in the US knowing it. I just love that. I love that because of the Internet and the globalization, dancers can’t feel that they work in isolation. You have to have a global outlook.” more

Author:  Toba Singer [ Fri Jan 10, 2003 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Don't motive and context play a big role in how these exchanges play out? I recently saw a guest artist brought in from abroad to partner a local principal dancer in the Nutcracker grand pas for several performances. The rumor was that this was essentially an audition. It seemed to me that one performance would have sufficed to audition this individual. Since Nutcracker is in part a showcase where corps dancers get a chance to try their hand at what are traditionally soloist and principal roles, it seemed a bit unfair to deprive them of that once-a-year opportunity in order to audition a principal--over and over. I would completely sympathize with soloists and principals who felt pushed aside, especially those whose talent happens to exceed that of the individual being auditioned.

Trades can be wonderful: How nice for the female dancers at Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet to have Carlos Acosta as a partner for Giselle. How nice for the men to have him to emulate in company class and onstage. It worries me when companies persist in bringing in guests because they feel they haven't the time to coach promising company members in leading roles. That is the danger of doing this repeatedly: audiences experience their home companies as seeing their own dancers as incapable of dancing the roles they contract out for. Such feelings of inferiority are highly contagious, and morale on both sides of the proscenium can suffer the ill effects.

As far as leasing sets and costumes from other companies, again, on a limited basis, this is fine. I guess I would like the staging to reflect the style and "history" of the company that is performing, so that the entire production isn't "cloned," lock, stock and barrel. Touring a production is of course, different. It's nice when touring productions utilize local talent--including children--where appropriate.

It would be a shame if economic constraints cheated audiences out of new sets and costumes. How will new designers emerge if there is consistently no money for revivifying these essential components of a production?

It really comes down to economics, doesn't it? (Sorry, Stuart, but here I go again...) What kind of world produces tons of useless commodities, while people starve, literally as well as culturally? The kind of world where priorities are upside down.

So, motive, context and economic priorities. We need to keep an eye on those.

<small>[ 10 January 2003, 08:16 PM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Fri Jan 10, 2003 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Would height have had anything to do with the choice of the imported auditioning dancer? (I'm making an assumption about which dancers Toba Singer is referring to - I hope it's correct.)

Author:  ileana [ Sat Jan 11, 2003 6:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

Personally, I'm a French balletgoer, often seing POB and I'm delighted when an opportunity is given to me to see foreigners dancers invited as guests. Last year I thus discovered and loved Nikolaï Tsiskaridze and Diana Vishneva.
But I completeely agree with Toba singer when saying that there is a danger if that would be done repeatedly. Even excellent dancers can have some bitter feelings if their home company too often gives leading roles to guest dancers.
(I'm NOT saying that POB is inviting too many guests, at present time it seems to be just the right proportion).

Author:  librarian [ Sat Jan 11, 2003 7:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

The overall effect of guest dancers might also depend on what proportion of the performances are taken by them; 2 performances out of a 52-performance run of The Nutcracker isn't that bad, but if the company is doing 20, it's more dominant. Worth considering also is that a company only doing a few performances might be relying (whether rightly or wrongly) on those guest artists to sell more tickets, and might consider the expense well worth it if that happens. Another place where there ought to be an effort to find a happy medium, since some might argue that the extra money would be better spent for extra publicity for the local dancers.

Author:  Patrizia Vallone [ Sun Jan 12, 2003 4:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Globalisation - will 21C ballet companies look the same?

The idea of globalization in ballet makes me shudder. What does this mean? That all the companies in the world will dance the same “Swan lake”, with the same steps and the same style?
I think that all ballet companies MUST have their own style as trademark, otherwise, if they all look the same, why should they tour abroad and why people should go and see them?
What is interesting in watching different companies is just spotting the different styles and attitudes in dancing the same steps. The idea of all companies looking the same seems to me the death of dance.

I think that also repertoire is someway a trademark of a ballet company, but in a less restricted way. I don’t talk about ballet repertoire, like Giselle, Swan lake, etc., but about modern ballet. Some of the greatest choreographers of our time and of the past years, I refer to Balanchine, Ashton, Petit, and others, are or have been resident choreographers of ballet companies. This mean that they made the style of the company. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t mount their ballets for different companies, but that those companies will dance them in their own style. I don’t disagree with this possibility, I like the idea of a “travelling repertoire” from a company to another, I think that the repertoire of a company should be flexible and varied.

I only don’t like to hear complains like “such company doesn’t dance the real Balanchine”, this sounds quite snobbish and silly to me.

At the end, I like globalization in the repertoire, if this means an exchange of ballets from a company to another, but I hate globalization of the style of dancing.

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