CriticalDance Forum

Five things I hate about ballet
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Author:  Andre Yew [ Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Five things I hate about ballet

Five things I hate about ballet
Lewis Segal, LA Times

Right now, there's no major ballet event on the Southland horizon, and instead of a disappointment, that's a blessed relief.

Ballet has given us visions of limitless human potential and a sense of grace as profound as anything we have ever thought, felt or believed. But all too often, it now commandeers a disproportionate amount of money and attention in the dance world and returns only an increasingly self-satisfied triviality.

Author:  ksneds [ Sat Aug 05, 2006 2:00 pm ]
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I think Lewis Segal needs to get out of Los Angeles. Don't know what he's been seing, but I've seen a lot of innovate, modern and forward reaching ballet in the last few years. And very few tutus in sight...

Frankly it sounds like the jaded whinings of someone who's had too many years of free tickets, and needs to take a break. Let someone who's young and excited about dance take over the job.


Author:  KANTER [ Sat Aug 05, 2006 2:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Lui S'égal, ou sessi bon?

S'égal, ou sessi bon?

Sorry to be a turgid bore - THAT again ! - but I've just read Mr. Louis Segal's piece, and I must say that I agree with much of what he says.

What he writes, at length, can be summed up thusly,

1/ most "classical" dancing today is a crashing bore

2/ it doesn't have to be that way

3/ but at the moment, it is.

Simple, and, as a constant theatre goer who pays for 99.9% of me tickets and therefore STANDS in the Gods 99.9% of the time, at an advanced age when one would prefer to be carried into the theatre on a litter, swathed in Chinchilla,

somewhat irrefutable.

Yes, there are a few dancers and choreographers around who are persuaded that classical dancing has nothing to do with waving one's tentacles about the ear (are Sea Anemones man-eating, by the way?), or doing a split jeté,

but you can count them on the fingers of one hand.

All together now, sing,

Lui S'égal, sessi bon?

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Aug 05, 2006 7:01 pm ]
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Its reliance on flatulent nostalgia makes it hard to defend as a living art.

It doesn’t get more insulting than that. Personally, I am never totally disappointed when I see a classic: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, Giselle to name a few.

But ballet has cultivated an intimidation factor that acts like a computer firewall.

That’s very true. I’ve written the below somewhere on CD several times:

Make ballet more inviting for those intimidated by the snobbish stigma of its Paris Opera past.

Guilt-free hatred of ballet is reasonable, maybe even necessary.

Nobody should feel guilty if they did not enjoy Mr. K’s ‘the contract.’ Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself!

Ballet is largely invisible in the mass media.

He’s bang on with the above. Ballet receives very little free publicity.

But too much antique Western classical dance doesn't even function as metaphor — it simply buttresses a sense of white Euro-privilege by dramatizing how colorfully nasty things are elsewhere.

I assume the pointe of the article is the writer wants to see something different. Not the same old classics. I guess the writer has never seen the Four Seasons, Nutcracker, or Cinderella courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada. Are things that bad in LA LA Land? Overall, I found the whole article mean spirited.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Aug 06, 2006 8:51 am ]
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Dear Lewis Segal: You can kiss my tutu! :shock: Take that!
Long live the tutu![/url]

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:24 pm ]
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I predict ballet will outlive the LA Times! Newspapers are an endangered species with the advent of the web and sites like CriticalDance where posters are relatively free from censorship and actually have a forum to post their views. Very view readers are fortunately enough to have a letter to the editor published.

I have to assume Mr. Segal was asked to write an inflammatory article to generate heat. :wink:

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 3:13 am ]
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Excellent article and a fairly accurate assessment of the current state of the art, Classical ballet is pretty much off to hell in a handcart with its lack of fresh ideas and skeletal dancers with deficient technique. I just wish more people in Mr Segal's position would stand up and be counted.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:38 am ]
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I’m too poor to comment on the state of ballet worldwide. I have seen many companies perform via DVD but that’s it. I sometimes see dancers from the National Ballet of Canada who appear a tad too skinny but I certainly would not agree with the below from Lewis Segal:

Ours, however, too often turn out obedient classical athletes by imposing rules about where to be, what to do, how much to eat, whom to believe in and when self-esteem is deserved or not. It’s even worse for the ballet women who starve themselves to match a skeletal ideal and then stop menstruating for the length of their careers. Talk about arrested development.

The main problem with ballet attendance is competition from so many other forms of entertainment. Most kids are being weaned on pop corn movies, cotton candy TV, sugar candy video games, steroid juiced athletes, the list is endless. The home is now where most children get their entertainment or culture. Nobody goes out anymore.

How do you compete against all of the above? We are losing human contact. Most kids and adults spend the majority of their leisure time glued to the TV or web. We live in a microwavable society where everyone wants instantaneous entertainment. The world has changed and if ballet wants to survive it must change with the world to a certain extent.

I don’t want radical change. The only score in ballet is musical and it should always stay that way. The only victory is of body over nature. What ballet needs is some creativejuice! I fear the ears are plugged however. I don’t know of one ballet company that regularly surveys their fans on what they want to see.

As for Lewis Segal, he probably runs home to his bomb shelter everyday after work for fear that the Apocalypse is upon us! Yikes, talk about negativity. The article was way, way, way over the top. Just my humble P :cry: :cry: R opinion! What Lewis Segal needs is a large douse of reality. He needs a real job.

Author:  Fairwind [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:53 am ]
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Oh Michael, I love your comments ! I have been reading Lewis Segal's reviews for decades and this is da bomb! He does need a new real job! LOL
And he does need to get out of LA LA land! The article is written for 5 year olds and sounds like one having a tantrum. Where was the intelligence of writing and passion for the dance? He sounds like a man going through a bad break-up!

I just can't comment any further about the tabloid type demeanor that this article screams of. Maybe he is looking for a new job at one of Hollywood's rag sheets? :twisted:

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:43 am ]
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Wow! Things are really heating up on CD! We haven’t had this much debate since Kimberly Glasco was fired by James Kudelka! I’m so jaded I am willing to entertain the thought that Mr. Lewis was told to write an inflammatory article and did so whether it was his opinion or not.

A sensible observer will agree ballet has come a long way since Gelsey Kirkland danced on her grave-A grave which was partly of her own making. Sure ballet could use an innovator like Mr. B. Unfortunately, geniuses are few and far between on this planet earth. And usually, we only recognize and celebrate their genius after they have passed on to eternity. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart comes to mind.

I don’t know why Lewis is all in a knot about ‘the tutu.’ Part of the appeal of the tutu is the contrast of white against black and the visual spectacle rows of tutus create. Petipa knew what he was doing. Why is it we as a society must dump on those that came before us instead of celebrating their achievements?

Karen Kain will be presenting an old fashioned Sleeping Beauty with a costume face lift this autumn. Why redo something that is already very good? Why take a chance on creating a new ballet that might flop? The reality is most ballet companies are afraid to invest in a new work because of the costs involved if it flops.

I found most of the article rather insulting to the art form. The below passage stuck out for me:

For beginners, the easiest thing to hate about ballet may be the way so many 19th century story ballets depict non-Christian, non-European, nonwhite people. Happy slaves, lustful Muslims, murderous Hindus: They sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore. But why are we watching this stuff — surely not out of nostalgia for the racism and xenophobia on view?

I can only speak of the National Ballet of Canada. There is no stereotyping involved in depicting certain races as evil. There is no prejudice involved as to who gets what role based on the color of their skin. We definitely boast a diverse company of dancers reflecting the mosaic that is Canada.

I’ll say it again; Lewis Segal needs to role up his sleeves and do some manual labor! :wink:

Author:  ari [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:52 am ]
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i feel like i don't see a lot of ballet, but what this says really speaks to me and some of it raises questions i tried to raise in that thread i started.

people who disagree: i would love to hear more detailed rebuttals. i don't want to sound chastizing; i just don't know enough to make them.

Author:  Fairwind [ Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:07 pm ]
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I will try to pull my thoughts together and respond more thoroughly. The arts criticism is not the only gripe I have about the LA Times. So if anyone knows anything else about this newspaper, I would love to hear about it. There are many 'spins' taken daily in this publlication in every section, even the sports page, that have pushed us to the edge of canceling our subscription.

To ARI: I am not in full objection of some of Lewis Segal's points. I do see problems in the ballet world. I have a pro daughter in ballet. I was a pro myself. I know all about the inside/out issues. It is the tabloid style of writing that truly disgusts me. And some of his issues can be taken into similar discussions in so many other fields of work, even those non-arts related. And then, taking his title from a bad movie really irks me. OK I need to stop here............maybe he thought he was being funny.

More later. But I hope he writes about 10 Things I Hate About Modern Dance.
(doubt that will happen) :!: :evil: :cry:

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:58 am ]
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Now John Rockwell of the New York Times has jumped into the discussion! Will he join our debate on CD?

Despite the absence of major ballet company in the Los Angeles basin, Mr. Segal has seen a lot of ballet over the decades. He surely knows that ballet is indeed trying to adjust to the modern world, to find new thematic and choreographic relevance without abandoning its technique and traditions, however shallow and distorted in Mr. Segal’s view. He could have made the same arguments about traditional ballet’s failings in a context supportive of contemporary ballet. Perhaps he has been soured by the hackneyed touring programs the big ballet companies take into Los Angeles.

…Maybe if Mr. Segal weren’t the “sun-kissed Hollywood barbarian” that he self-mockingly called himself in 2002, if he had a homegrown ballet company he cared about with dancers whose progress he could trace, he might feel more sanguine about ballet as an art.

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:01 am ]
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Will he join our debate on CD?

Well, Michael, why don't you email him and invite him to do so?

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Tue Aug 08, 2006 7:28 am ]
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