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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2004 2:22 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 12:34 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Maria, bearing in mind the lack of importance you attach to beauty and geometry in dance works,
I can understand your unusual perspective on Balanchine.

Nevertheless, the majority of experienced ballet fans, critics, dancers and choreographers rate Balachine very highly. And watching a couple of videos as you suggest ain't gonna change their minds.

For myself, I always look forward to seeing his work. In particular, "Apollo" and "The Prodigal Son" from the 1920's are revolutionary ballets that retain their impact and are two of my favourites from the entire ballet repertory.

I'm puzzled when you write, "Are the dance steps transparently imitative of Ballets Russes?" as for much of the 1920's Balachine was the main choreographer of the Ballets Russes.

<small>[ 17 November 2004, 01:19 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 1:38 pm 
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Location: California
Quote:
If you watch Serenade, for example, you might notice that there is nothing really good about it.
Oh my! When one is bound and determined to be "right" there's no use in arguing the point huh? Balanchine certainly doesn't and didn't need our approval.

DGH


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 3:28 pm 
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Location: New England
Quote:
Typing those two terms into Google, in fact, will yield countless sites dissecting
Greetings to all ! If I may chime in,

"google" "the net" and their likes -like anything skew and keep in perpetual motion opinions, interpretations, etc., and what ever wayward or otherwise comentary.
That said, it still hasn't kept me completely off the net or off forums such as these. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 8:00 pm 
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Well, everybody is entitled to their opinion. Maria Technosux’s post was well written but that doesn’t mean she’s right. Criticizing Mr. B. is akin to criticizing the creator of the universe. We should just be happy to know him through his ballets. Mr. B’s ballets were an act of God. Nobody is perfect but his ballets came as close to perfection as you can get. You can’t ask for anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:12 pm 
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Michael, your post took the words right out of my mouth. As a dancer who had the wonderful opportunity to dance quite a few of Balanchine's masterpieces during my time at SFB (Serenade, Symphony in C, Concerto Barocco, Four Temperaments), I couldn't agree more. Some works I do prefer over others..."Western Symphony", for example, can't quite compare (IMHO) to the previously mentioned ballets. But, my word! He choreographed so many ballets, not all of them could be "Serenades". I remember how I felt after my first performance of Concerto Barocco...I was in the corps at the time (I later danced second principal, but it wasn't nearly as challenging as the corps!). It was one of the most fulfilling dance experiences of my life. The corps really is the star of that ballet. I was exhausted, elated, and felt that I had just navigated the most amazing choreographic and musical puzzle I had yet to experience. LOVE that ballet!

<small>[ 17 November 2004, 12:42 AM: Message edited by: GN ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 7:52 am 
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Quote:
“I was exhausted, elated, and felt that I had just navigated the most amazing choreographic and musical puzzle I had yet to experience.”
Thanks for the above well-worded post, GN. It’s great to hear from someone who actually danced for George Balanchine. I never thought we would have to defend the choreography of Mr. B. I thought the posting might inspire comments about abusing his position of authority. I wish ‘Holding on to the Air’ was about 1,000 pages more! Suzanne Farrell proved that you actually can go back!

For those few :roll: none believers :roll: of Mr. B’s genius, try the following test. Pop in a tape of one of his ballets and turn down the sound. If you concentrate, I bet you’ll hear the music through the images his dancers create. Mr. B. was all about dancing music to life!

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:22 am 
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I'm somewhere in the middle of the extremes represented so far in this thread. While there are a number of ballets by Balanchine that are among my favorite dance works (especially Serenade, Concerto Barocco, Agon, The Four Temperaments), I've seen as many of his ballets that I think are not remarkable. Therefore I have a hard time thinking of him as a genius. (I think J.S. Bach was a genius; I love everything of his that I've heard, and am amazed at his ingenuity every time I hear his music.)

I enjoy the structure of Balanchine's works and, most of all, the musicality. I think the way he choreographs to the music is very sophisticated. Rather than Mickey-Mousing the music as some choreographers do, he often creates a counter-rhythm, as if the dancer were another instrument in the orchestra, and tends to make me even more aware of how the music is constructed. Even the ballets I find unremarkable are nothing if not musical, and I can always enjoy that aspect.

I'm never quite sure what "substance" is supposed to mean in dance. For me, excellent form is substance enough.

<small>[ 17 November 2004, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:17 pm 
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Location: Gangsterdam
Quote:
Originally posted by Stuart Sweeney:
Maria, bearing in mind the lack of importance you attach to beauty and geometry in dance works,
I can understand your unusual perspective on Balanchine.
Where did I say that I attach "lack of importance you attach to beauty and geometry in dance works"? I said that finding something "beautiful" or "appreciating geometry" does not mean that I agree with its underlying ideological premises.

Quote:
Originally posted by Stuart Sweeney:

I'm puzzled when you write, "Are the dance steps transparently imitative of Ballets Russes?" as for much of the 1920's Balachine was the main choreographer of the Ballets Russes.
Do I have to explain the sheer irony of a Russian ballet veteran "single-handedly inventing American ballet" just as the Cold War was developing and the witch-hunt and
and anti-communist hysteria that became known as McCarthyism was taking place?

Tex.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:20 pm 
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Location: Gangsterdam
Quote:
Originally posted by lumineyes:

I did want to comment and say that there were so many comments in this post worthy of individual response. What drove me to actually posting was the absolute charm of a few quotes here.
I must remark that Tex you have always had a way with words but this line of yours is going to get plastered on a T-shirt very soon.
Quote:
He’s unremarkable, he’s eternal, and he was a misogynist.
Please do let me know where to send you royalty checks.
:cool: :cool: :cool:
QB]
Sorry but I have absolutely no interest in one-upping other Balanchine fans, if that's what you are suggesting. If you prefer Balanchine’s neo-classical pieces, they'll say you are slightly shallow and that it is more proper to prefer Balanchine’s more "exploratory" work with Pure Movement. If you prefer his Pure Movement work, they'll say that you can’t appreciate the solid technical craft and beauty of his neo-classical pieces. If you prefer his work on Tchaikovsky music, they'll say that the Tchaikovsky soundtracks prevented the crispness and variety of his work using Stravinsky's music. If you prefer his work with Stravinsky music, then the fans will say that he was never as conceptually coherent as when he was choreographing with Tchaikovsky. There are endless possible variations on this. Remember, if it’s Balanchine vs. Balanchine, Balanchine always wins! (and feel free to make that into a t-shirt too!) :roll:

Tex.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:46 pm 
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As for the use of video in critiquing his work, re:

Quote:
Originally posted by Stuart Sweeney:
[QB] And watching a couple of videos as you suggest ain't gonna change their minds.
QB]
I wasn't referring to all the Balanchine fans - they don't need videos to know that "Balanchine was the man to transcended his origins to become one of the nation’s most respected choreographic enterprises; the genius of serious American ballet; the choreographer that shaped the course of ballet and beauty, the most venerable of American ballet masters and blah blah blah". :roll:

With my comment on watching videos I was referring to myself. I tend to make myself knowledgeable of an artist before I critique him/her :eek:

The fact of the matter is that Balanchine has such a massive generically named body of work ... he cranked out choreographies on a regular basis for over 50 years; add to this the live performances, post mortem tributes, and bootlegs and you’ve got quite a catalog to work with. Owning and/or watching all of them is a task that normal people have neither the money nor time for.

The problem is that we can’t all be expected to watch to every single one of those ballets live, let alone on video. To most people, it would be prohibitively expensive. Even to those who could afford it, who could find the time in this fast-paced modern world of ours to sit down and watch everything? By watching the videos I could find I was determined to get a snapshot of as broad a segment of Balanchine ballets as I could for under a hundred bucks, because what am I, made of money?

It seems like too much effort for too little reward to write a detailed analysis of what makes all these choreographies tick just to form an argument. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly capable of doing so. It would be entirely within my means to use my academic training in critical theory to deconstruct the hell out of these things until you didn’t know what’s what. I just don’t think you’d understand it.

Tex.

<small>[ 17 November 2004, 01:47 PM: Message edited by: Maria Technosux ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:35 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
With all the criticism of the greatest choreographer who ever lived, I suspect there maybe movement at a certain site. Click below:

Georgi Melitonovitch Balanchivadze

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 2:22 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Who woulda thunk it:

www.findagrave.com

Thanks for the link Michael. A whole new life (or after life) is opening up for me. They even have t-shirts you can buy:

<img src="https://secure.findagrave.com/store/icons2/products/logo.jpg" alt="" />

Maria wrote:

"I just don’t think you’d understand it."

Thank you so much, Maria. No one could ever accuse you of modesty.

<small>[ 17 November 2004, 03:27 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:24 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
You’re welcome. Below is a wonderful pearl of wisdom from the Ballet Master:

Quote:
“God creates, I do not create. I assemble and I steal everywhere to do it - from what I see, from what the dancers can do, from what others do.”
Mr. B. knew how to put everything into its proper perspective. His impact on ballet is eternal.

Biography

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:48 pm 
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Posts: 654
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
As there are many styles, types, and periods of musical composition, so are there in dance -- and so it should be. Each has its own place. We wouldn't expect (or even necessarily want) the Boston Symphony to only play Brahms, as nice as that might be for a short while. It's having a balanced diet.

While I adore Balanchine ballets, his is not the only work that I enjoy. My personal tastes include much of the modern dance canon as well as many ballet works, past and present. I also enjoy (and embrace) the new, the avant-garde, and the experimental -- in both the performing and visual arts.

What I can't stand is re-treading over ground that's been danced on before. This is why I believe it's SO important for both performers and creative artists to be aware and familiar with their respective cultural histories. So we can collectively help avoid "Been there, done that!"

I know it's hard for creative artists to not repeat themselves, becoming a "one-note" composer, author, or choreographer. Paul Taylor talks about this quite well in his autobiography, where he says, in essence, this is the single, most difficult part of his creative process.

What's unusual these days in the ballet, and yes there are exceptions, is to have a company that's built exclusively around the work of one person. This is less true in the modern dance. It's not the Mark Morris Repertory Company nor the Paul Taylor And Everyone Else Dance Works group. This has been a cultural change even at NYCB. While even in the past there have been works by other dance makers, noteably Robbins, I've had dancers who were in the company during the time Balahcine was alive, tell me that they couldn't understand why anyone would want to do work by other people.

So things *have* changed. While NYCB is still the major repository of Balanchine works, it has and must embrace and encourage others. Fans need to also re-tool their thinking. Before 1984, Robbins and the others were grudgingly accepted, I think 20+ years later, we need to get over ourselves and learn to trust that the Balanchine canon will survive and be cared for and to welcome, sincerely and on its own terms, the new.

Back to a Balanchine story. When I was a new director of a new ballet school in rural Washington State (the only one in the entire county!), I met with my colleague friends in the area to introduce myself and our program. When I met with one of the ballet teachers in our State capital of Olympia, over lunch this person told how *un-musical* he thought Balanchine was. Boy, was I floored! Speechless even. This, for me, was one of those moments when time froze. I can remember to this day, where we were (Evergreen College campus), where we sat (outside), and even what direction we were facing (I was facing east, he west).

Not everyone may agree with Balanchine's choices or tuck his ballets under their pillows everynight before they go to sleep, but I never expected in my entire life to hear someone acuse his works of being un-musical! :eek:

<small>[ 17 November 2004, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Dean Speer ]</small>

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