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 Post subject: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2001 7:44 am 
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I've split the thread 'What's the point of ballet' thread into two, as it was becoming rather confusing for a bear of small brain like me.<P>This thread will now focus on the Rachael Howard article with the link in the post below.<P>A separate thread 'What's the point of ballet' will now act as a signpost to the main discussion on this separate theme.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 19, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2001 5:30 am 
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From <B>What's the pointe?</B> by Rachel Howard in the San Francisco Examiner:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Today the story ballet is in a strange state. It's hard to believe that at their premieres works like "Giselle," "Swan Lake," and "La BaydËre" made sense not only as dance but as story -- that they were every bit as theatrical in their age as Broadway musicals are today.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.examiner.com/ex_files/default.jsp?story=X0916STORYw" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2001 5:32 am 
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I don't want to sound rude, but it seems as if Ms. Howard hasn't watched very much ballet. Certainly good productions of classics (which do not just appeal to rich and arcane people, by the way) are perfectly clear and dramatically powerful. Is her point that new story ballets are badly done (generally true), or that they are a bad idea intrinsically. If she thinks the latter, she has a rather narrow view of art, it seems to me. I found the ideas she expressed confusing, the logic poor, and the knowledge shallow.


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2001 6:03 am 
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Manon, did we read the same article? I think Howard's article hit the nail right on the head in regards to a phenomenon that many in the Ballet World are lamenting. It seems too many companies are turning to theatrical productions to draw in audiences (witness Ben Stevenson's comment that all ballets should be named "Swan Lake") at the expense of innovation and diversity.<P>It is true also that story ballets have confusing storylines. Most newbies I take to a story ballet require a preparatory synopsis before the show. "Giselle" is one of the hardest to explain: "Yes, they actually dance him to death. No, I'm not making it up."<P>The fault I do find in Howard's article however is that there doesn't seem to be a clear distinction made between good story ballets and bad ones.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited September 19, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2001 6:38 am 
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I'm with Manon here. The article struck me as ignorant too. For goodness sake, it's not too difficult to read a synopsis or programme note - I did it when I was eight. Ballet(I hope)is not Broadway musical - it's supposed to be art. It takes a little effort sometimes.<P>I agree that most newish story ballets are not very good, but it's the fault of the choreographers, not the genre.


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2001 10:28 am 
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I'm going to have to agree with Ms. Howard. I think she is as ambivalent to story ballets as I am. The truth is I am bored by them, but I still like them,and given a choice, I will see the Bourne "Swan Lake" rather than the Bolshoi's. Maybe her arguments are convoluted because her thoughts on the matter are also. I don't quite know what to think about new story ballets. I like that they are being done, but wish they were better. <P>This is a great debate. There are so many veiwpoints.


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2001 5:32 am 
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My point wasn't that Ms. Howard was or was not ambivalent about story ballets, it was that she seemed to have so little background to support her statements. To imply that Balanchine was the be all and end all of plotless ballets makes one wonder if she has heard of Fokine, much less seen Les Sylphides. And she seems to think that story ballets mean 19th century mimed full-length extravaganzas. Fokine did away with mime and made perfectly understandable ballets with plots. And again, what productions has she seen that she thinks the 19th century classics have no dramatic power? <BR>It is not an issue of "I like Bourne, I don't like Bourne."


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2001 7:24 pm 
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The classics or full-eveing ballets are a form which are as old as ballet itself. Just as Shakespeare's works are re-interpreted by every age and generation to remain fresh and relevant, so too the various story ballets are given fresh interpretation which help us to see human themes in a new light. Using archetypal characters and the drama of human conflict, they continue to enthrall us: Cinderella deals with the themes of finding true love and justice; Giselle: retribution and life after death; Copellia, humorous deception and mistaken identity. The list goes on.<BR>We don't necessarily need to "throw out baby with the bath water". If there might be a few clunkers out there, it doesnt' mean that the form itself is not valid. Also, they may not be everyone's "cup of tea". Some ballet-goers might like chamber ballets or shorter, abstract pieces, perhaps. To each, his/her own. The story ballets stand as a touchstone or culmination of the ballet aesthetic.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited September 23, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 5:36 am 
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This sounds like it is picking on Ms. Howard, but she wrote in her review of ABT (where she says that modern ballets are the future)that Taylor has created 14 works for ABT, which is just not true. I suspect that she has confused Taylor with Tharp, which is on a par with saying NYCB has a store of Ashton ballets. If she can be so ill-informed about a field she supposedly likes (modern ballets) her comments about something she doesn't like (story ballets) seem hardly worth considering.


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 6:17 am 
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I must agree with HelenB. If Ms. Howard thinks ballet stories are confusing, obviously she hasn't seen much opera - talk about convoluted and far-fetched plots! Yet I don't hear anyone saying that opera is obsolete. Yes, there have been some duds in the new story ballets, but there are plenty of Broadway flops too. Perhaps it is the lamentable sitcom-length attention span of much of today's audience that is to blame, not a defect in the art form. And please, please, don't put "supertitles" above the stage - if you don't want to make the effort to understand the art, stay home and watch TV.<P> <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 11:21 am 
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Okay, people, this is not the pick on Rachel Howard thread. She was only writing her and many other's opinions about story ballets. If she chooses to not mention all of ballet history in her essay, that is her perogative. She is also not the only critic to confuse choreographers in reviews. And why should we expect a dance writer to see opera? Just because you don't agree with her opinion does not mean you have to attack her personally or professionally.


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 1:51 pm 
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I disagree with a point of view, but do not seek to personally attack any specific person.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited September 25, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: 'What's the pointe?' -- Story Ballets
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2001 2:20 pm 
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And you didn't, trina.


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