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 Post subject: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 1999 5:44 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
In my interview with Joseph Carman (the respected NY-based dancer-turned-critic), he introduced a very interesting subject. Having seen lots of dance from both sides of the fence, I think he is very qualified in making judgements about the state of choreography today. He thinks some works are too long and some could use "editing" to keep it focused. Hence, he suggests that ballet companies create a new position for a Ballet Choreography Editor. He has a point. Almost every other creative art form has an editor to oversee the project with a keen eye. Even primadonna authors rely on their editors for a successful project, as do moviemakers. And even in opera, you have a producer or director keeping reign on things.<P>Is an editor a useful tool in the world of dance?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 1999 7:55 am 
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Yes what a great idea. Come to think of it I knew of a choreographer that had a close friend in the studio doing just that. It did not work well as he was not a named position. This title would end that, and I think that it is a position that is much needed. You could also call it 'Quality Controll'.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 1999 11:21 am 
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Assuming this is a good idea, how does one go about doing it? Who should be responsible for selecting the editor? Would choreographers and editors come in pairs?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 1999 5:29 pm 
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Location: El Granada, California, USA
It's an interesting idea. I've seen one or two ballets recently that could have used some editing; too much going on to follow. <P>What qualities and experience would make for an ideal choreographic editor?

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 1999 6:59 pm 
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I think that the editor would have to know the choreographer very well to understand his/her movement and be able to add or detract as needed. In answer to Azlan, I would say that the editor would have to come with the choreographer in a pairs situation. You would really have to find someone willing to play GOD and have the nerve to put in his/her 2 cents to such a diverse group of choreographers as some companies employ each season. My God what qualifications must this person have? Although I am sure that there are lots of people who would be auditioning for the job at the drop of a hat.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 1999 9:16 am 
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Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Well...I must disagree. <P>Although writing/movie making/advertising and others use editing to 'polish' their final product, I don't consider that choreography fits the mold, and can't be compared to the former. I really don't see the use of a Choreography Editor in a ballet company, although some overrated choreographers could use one :-) <P>Choreography is the work of an artist alone. Do painters pass on their paintings to their 'editors' for extra brush strokes? I don't think so. If you are to admire their art, it must be left unspoiled. <P>Editing...editing...hmm. <P>BUT----->>> If anyone should do this it should be the Artistic Director. That's why they are there right? And with good directing, or even with the audiences response, the choreographer can edit his own work. Take Fokine, when he 'edited' Le Sylphide. He took out the character dances only to leave the pure classical dance because people felt he didn't appreciate toe dance. But it was he, not somebody else; You see?<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 1999 8:41 am 
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Cygnet, interesting point about painting. You're right in that a Artist's vision is spoiled if he/she had editor looking over the shoulders. However, perhaps the Artistic Director needs to be more assertive. Am I not correct in saying that a choreographer pretty much has a completely free hand. What if he/she does get too long? Who steps in?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 1999 10:16 am 
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HI! Interesting topic,but not a new one. In her book "The Art of Making Dances" (originally published I believe in the 50's), one of the "mothers" of modern dance Doris Humphrey lists the "ten rules" of choreography. One of her 10 rules is:"All dances are too long". Obviously,we can't take this literally, BUT the point is well taken. I cannot tell you how many dances (ballet and otherwise) I have sat through where the choreographer made their "point" in the first 5 minutes, then the dance went on for another 30+ minutes. Or maybe the choreographer asssumes the audience is "dim" and "won't get it". Or maybe ballet choreogrraphers just need to study choreography. I would venture to guess that most ballet choreographers have never taken a composition/choreography class. Most of them are dancers TURNED choreographers, at least one would guess this from reading their program bios. Obviously you can learn a tremendous amount "on the job" from working with other choreographers, but again, after sitting through innumerable "magnum opuses", I begin to wonder.Many modern choreographers tend to have college degree,or at least some college experience,in which they usually have to take a choregraphy/composition class. This just tends to be a main difference in the background/lifestyle of ballet vs.modern.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 1999 7:31 pm 
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trina, interesting observation. I do recall a wonderful modern dance work by Lea Wolf at SF's Summerfest that was tight, concise, and effective. She is a graduate from Stanford's program.<P>What would happen I wonder if ballet choreographers also had degrees in dance...


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 1999 10:17 am 
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Fascinating topic. I must agree with Cygnet. Choreography is an abstract art form. Artists and composers do not have editors because editors would stifle their creativity. There is already some form of quality control in the form of the Associate Director. The problem is Associate Directors give choreographers too much respect.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 1999 12:07 pm 
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Since I'm the one who suggested the possibility of dance editor, let me clarify. Too many choreographers just don't know when to quit. I don't think that literally having a person employed as "dance editor" is necessarily the answer, but choreographers need people whom they trust to give them suggestions, when objectivity is failing. The director Elia Kazan suggested that Tennessee Williams rewrite the entire second act of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to make the character of Maggie more sympathetic to the audience. And he did. And it worked. Perhaps choreographers could be aware of peers who could tell them when enough is enoughor when the piece is off course. There is nothing worse than witnessing a lot of rambling movement when the choreographer has said all that he/she can say.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 1999 12:41 pm 
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I think the Humphrey quote is quite telling. How often have we, as audience members, been subjected to "works in progress" on programs that had no such disclaimers when we purchased our tickets? This generally happens when you see a company on their home turf and happens much more often, IMHO, with modern companies.<P>About a year ago, I was in NY and saw a "Big Name" company with an older retired dancer who we know as a teacher now. She has seen dance for fifty years and I respect her opinion very much. As we left the theater, I was left with the inevitable feeling I sometimes have after a modern dance company, "Did that suck or am I stupid and just didn't get it?" and she turned to say in an invective I had never heard from her before ... I cannot beleive that so and so just stole 45 minutes from my life and forced me to sit through his artistic masturbation." Not only a humerous phrase, but how I now approach to modern "works in progress."


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 1999 8:43 pm 
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Welcome, joe! Thanks for your input.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2004 9:45 pm 
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This is an old topic but still so relevant today. I witnessed a number of ballets this past season that would have benefitted from having a ballet choreographic editor. It seems that with companies cutting back on budgets there is more pressure on the "house choreographer," usually the Artistic Director, to produce more works and for choreographers in general to pad their ballets to make them longer and fill out the night's mixed rep (why pay for three works when two oversized ones will do?).

Does anyone else seem to have noticed this?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Choreographic Editor?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:09 am 
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Can't say i have. all the mixed bill shows i've seen have had three, four, or even five seperate works in them. to me it seems that with some companies the opposite is happening: instead of teh 'standard' three 30min works they are performing works that are only 10-15mins long so that they can fit 4 or 5 works into the programme. Also, for the first point about the AD creating more works, to use Rambert as an example, weren't Alston and Bruce both criticized about putting too many of their own works in the company's programme so Mark Baldwin is deliberatley not doing this?


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