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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:50 pm 
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Location: New England
I think it's unfair to compare choreographers to composers in searching for genius. NO genius turns out masterpieces every time. Painters make sketches and then throw them out. Musicians improvise and then throw it out.

But choreographers? As a choreographer, you're given 4 weeks and a budget to get a dance together. At the end of those four weeks, you simply cannot tell your paying patrons, "I experimented with some neat stuff, but it's not up to masterpiece status yet, so I'll cancel this season." No, you have to put something on stage in four weeks, masterpiece or no masterpiece.

Therefore, I suggest we evaluate Balanchine (or any artist) based on the masterworks they DID create, not on all the more mundane works they created alongside it.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 6:36 pm 
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Location: Petaluma, California
There have been many interesting posts by several folks on this thread. I always enjoy Dean Speer's balanced perspective on things...


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 7:10 pm 
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Posts: 3000
Location: San Francisco
Citibob, even following your method of evaluation, I still don't think of Balanchine as a genius. Maybe Alwin Nikolais was.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 7:46 pm 
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Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
For fun I decided to G :) :) GLE genius+Balanchine:

Genius

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 10:44 am 
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Posts: 717
Location: California
By the definition at Dictionary.com he is:
(Pedantic or what of me? :D (IMHO anyone who created Apollo, Serenade, Concerto Barocco and so many more is.....genius.)

Quote:
gen·ius (jnys)
n. pl. gen·ius·es

Extraordinary intellectual and creative power.

1.A person of extraordinary intellect and talent: “One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius” (Simone de Beauvoir).

2.A person who has an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, typically above 140.

3.A strong natural talent, aptitude, or inclination: has a genius for choosing the right words.

4.One who has such a talent or inclination: a genius at diplomacy. The prevailing spirit or distinctive character, as of a place, a person, or an era: the genius of Elizabethan England.

5.pl. ge·ni·i (jn-) Roman Mythology. A tutelary deity or guardian spirit of a person or place.

6.A person who has great influence over another.

7.A jinni in Muslim mythology.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 110
Location: USA (Midwest)
Again, I'll toss in my opinion that I've never seen another choreographer whose work transcends the quality (or lack of quality) in the performers. I've seen Balanchine performed by students (with permission from The Trust, of course :) ), by sub-par professionals, and by top-notch professionals. Each time, his work still gives me food for thought. Because I don't live in NY, London, Toronto or any other hotbeds of ballet culture, I often find myself viewing dance performed by sub-par performers. And so often I find myself recasting the choreography in my mind, wondering if better dancers would do it justice (this is how we keep our minds going in the sticks, doncha know?). But I can honestly say with Balanchine, I don't recast: it still works on some deeply satisfying level.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 5:14 pm 
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Posts: 652
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
JaneH is correct, and I think this is true about many of his ballets. Not all are "forgiving." Serenade is forgiving. Symphony is C is less so. I've seen students do excerpts from "C" but for them to do the whole thing to me, is unimaginable. No, I take that back! It is imaginable; I just don't think I want or need to see it.

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 7:57 am 
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Posts: 77
Location: Gangsterdam
Maria wrote:

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

Stuart wrote:

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

Basically, the allegation that I am being immodest here is an imaginary and arbitrary distinction between critique that you can condescend to directly and critique that you can condescend to indirectly.

I wrote an extended reply to this allegation, but surprise- surprise! it got deleted. So, let me write a shorter one: I simply do not like writing belletristic hagiographies *at all*, on Balanchine or anyone else for that matter. I want critical analysis, not critical inflation. You have made it clear that you are only willing to accept the type criticism on Balanchine that first acknowledges his "genius": "Balanchine is a genius, but he just happens to have a few human flaws that have no bearing on his works anyway etc. etc."

The idea that someone might critique Balanchine outright without first accepting his genius is unacceptable to you, because you feel that someone has to acknowledge the "Status Quo" before being allowed to criticize it. I simply don't feel the need to acknowledge the Status Quo in oder to be "granted the right" to criticize Balanchine.

It's sort of like saying that I have to acknowledge the existence of Gawd before writing an atheist analysis, whereas the whole point of atheism is that your start off from the premise that there is no Gawd (even if nearly everyone else believes there is), regardless of what the Status Quo dictates.

Likewise, in my critique I depart from the premise that there is no such thing as a "genius artist".

You respond to me as if you can't believe that someone would have the nerve to claim that Balanchine (or anyone else for that matter) might not be a genius.

Hence my comment about you not understanding my analysis. I really don’t believe that you can understand my analysis, because you cannot accept its underlying premise: the fact that a critic might *not* want to look at works in terms of excellence or quality or genius.

You are a belletrist, and I am a critic. I don't see the point of doing belletrism, and you cannot accept the fact that I reject Balanchine without first paying lip service to the Status Quo that calls him a genius.

Indeed, you just *cannot* understand it - nor, I do suspect, do you want to understand it.

Tex.

I think it takes a pretty blind state of euphoric identification to enjoy another's power to exclude you. - Allan McCollum

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 8:36 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
This is a fascinating discussion, made all the more interesting by the passions the participants are bringing to the forum.

Let's remember, though, to confine those passions to the issues, not the personalities of the participants. After all, one man's Mede is another man's Persian.

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Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 12:46 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 678
Location: Petaluma, California
Maria...Some replies in the studio and student forum were also missing last night. Three posts in a thread on learning variations were suddenly "not there." So, I don't think that your post was intentionally deleted. I don't know what the problem is, but maybe the administrators are looking into it...Also missing in this discussion (in addition to your last missing post) are a couple of posts (with,I believe, even a "smiley face") from Michael Goldbarth...

P.S. Just read the info on the hacking...

<small>[ 02 December 2004, 02:27 PM: Message edited by: GN ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 77
Location: Gangsterdam
Stuart is back, after retiring for several years to be a pastor for The Church Of The Holy Ghost of Balanchine. I’m sure that The Holy Ghost of Balanchine is watching this drama unfold with bated breath, since Stuart apparently plans to use his spoils to build a new 25-million dollar Balanchine Church with marble floors and a helicopter landing on the roof. If there’s one thing that The Holy Ghost of Balanchine loves, it’s humanity building lavish monuments in order to get closer to him. You know what else he loves? Young women wearing shiny red miniskirts

Maria wrote:

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

Stuart wrote:

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

And Balanchine, forcing the girl-child Gelsey Kirkland to undress in front of a group of inanely laughing men (as she describes in her biography), was showing more modesty? Whatever... doing something like this to a kid at a balletschool is nowadays classified as sexual harassment. I am simply giving the genius misogynist Balanchine the reception that I think he deserves. I also think he would have been good friends with Michael Jackson (could teach him some kewl new dance steps too - I mean Wacko teaching Balanchine, had B. still been alive).

Basically, the allegation that I am being immodest here is an imaginary and arbitrary distinction between critique that you can condescend to directly and critique that you can condescend to indirectly.

I simply do not like writing belletristic hagiographies *at all*, on Balanchine or anyone else for that matter. I want critical analysis, not critical inflation. You have made it clear that you are only willing to accept the type criticism on Balanchine that first acknowledges his "genius": "Balanchine is a genius, but he just happens to have a few human flaws that have no bearing on his works anyway etc. etc."

The idea that someone might critique Balanchine outright without first accepting his genius is unacceptable to you, because you feel that someone has to acknowledge the "Status Quo" before being allowed to criticize it. I simply don't feel the need to acknowledge the Status Quo in oder to be "granted the right" to criticize Balanchine.

It's sort of like saying that I have to acknowledge the existence of Gawd before writing an atheist analysis, whereas the whole point of atheism is that your start off from the premise that there is no Gawd (even if nearly everyone else believes there is), regardless of what the Status Quo dictates.

Likewise, in my critique I depart from the premise that there is no such thing as a "genius artist".

You respond to me as if you can't believe that someone would have the nerve to claim that Balanchine (or anyone else for that matter) might not be a genius.

Hence my comment about you not understanding my analysis. I really don’t believe that you can understand my analysis, because you cannot accept its underlying premise: the fact that a critic might *not* want to look at works in terms of excellence or quality or genius.

You are a belletrist, and I am a critic. I don't see the point of doing belletrism, and you cannot accept the fact that I reject Balanchine without first paying lip service to the Status Quo that calls him a genius.

Indeed, you just *cannot* understand it - nor, I do suspect, do you want to understand it.

Sycophantic belletristic hagiographies are the polar opposite of what I am interested in, yet it seems to be the only thing you are willing to accept when it comes to Balanchine. Everything else you consider too "gawdless". Well, I don't do belletrism, I consider it too *gutless*.

And as for that frankly ridiculous quote about not touching the bread dough: you actually have to punch down the risen dough to release the carbon dioxide:
http://www.baking911.com/bread101_rise.htm

But Balanchine apparently knew as much about bread-preparation as he did about feminism.

Tex.

I think it takes a pretty blind state of euphoric identification to enjoy another's power to exclude you. - Allan McCollum[/QB][/QUOTE]

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"I'm surprised you decided not to pursue what sounds like Linning's politicization of the ballet body."


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:30 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3000
Location: San Francisco
Concerning the quote about bread dough, Balanchine did know what he was talking about. Althought you punch the dough down during the process, you also let it rise again before baking. I would assume Balanchine was referring to poking it during that particular rising.


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Maria’s main argument seems to be that Mr. B created simplistic movement trapped inside pretty geometric patterns. I could argue the opposite but let’s for a moment accept this as the gospel truth. So what? All that matters is if the audience enjoyed it. And if his ballets were indeed of sub par quality, why is it most ballet companies around the globe still perform his choreography? Do you think the audience can always recognize and appreciate an extremely difficult sequence of movements? Not that there’s anything wrong with something new and original.

I think people place too much emphasis on the actual choreography. There is so much more to ballet: music, acting, costumes, set, lighting, story, ballet magic, the performance of the dancers, etc, etc. etc. So you put the whole package together and then you judge whether you had a worthwhile theatrical experience.

As for Mr. B’s relationship with women and his many wives, I think it obvious his first and last love was ballet. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
If the personal lives of artists throughout history were included in our judgment of their work, I think we would be far poorer for it. There are many examples of less than admirable behavior on the part of master artists throughout history, yet their work communicates some fundamental truth and/or beauty to us, many generations and hundreds of years later. Sometimes things come out of places through paths we don't expect at all.

Also, I think that if some critical theory fails to describe or predict the actual effect of art, then it's the theory that's broken, and not the art. If use of geometric patterns, generic dance titles, and aping of Russian classical dancing is somehow supposed to convince us that Balanchine's works aren't all that great, then the theory that came up with those reasons should be reexamined, not the piece of art that, empirically, has such an effect on so many people. The dog wags the tail, right?

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: Opinions on Balanchine
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 11:53 pm 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
You also have to watch the right company and the right dancers to understand what Balanchine did. Among the tons of work he created, not all were gems but those that survive today have to be performed right to fully convey his artistry. There are many little details that some companies, especially those in Europe, just gloss over.


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