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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2001 7:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
How about the wonderful mime in the first act Giselle - with the "he loves me - he loves me knot" scene? - I like it better when it is done without a prop. Just the gestures and the imagination.<P>And the corps de ballet in second act Giselle saying "no" to Giselle plea for mercy for Albrecht.


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2001 12:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: ITALY
Personally I think the classics should be seen as they were intended, and not messed about with to cater to the audience. So yes, the mime should be kept intact.<P>When I started to learn ballet, nearly 40 years ago (I don't think I really wanted to say that, did I?), we were taught, along with the pure ballet, the basic mime gestures, character steps and dances, and something they called 'deportment', which involved simple mimes whilst imagining ourselves in court dress, for example medieval, and we had to move as if we were wearing heavy, long gowns and high headdresses. I recall we also had to do a free interpretation of a piece of music we had never heard before, and a short mime of our choice, without musical accompaniment. Average age 7-9, and all this in the normal ballet exam, one at a time. Maybe not possible nowadays? I am talking RAD from a LONG time ago, before it got big.<P>Keith Lester choreographed a lovely little dance for one of his syllabi around Carlotta Grisi's retirement to a farm, in which she daydreams about the GISELLE 'He loves me, he loves me not' scene while she is supposed to be milking a cow... the cow runs off and she accidentally kicks the pail of milk over. A delightful and technically very simple dance, but it needed serious acting ability for the mime sections...<P>Teachers are not only teaching future dancers and choreographers, but also the future audiences, so mime should be taught in class from first pliés onwards!


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2001 2:15 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Red Shoes - well said - and you and I couldn't agree more. <P>If someone decides they do not like a certain ballet the chances are it is probably not because of the mime section. Afterall how long does that last?<P>I was also taught to move as though I had on a long heavy skirt - especially in the waltz step of the ballet and balancé e balancé.<P>But, Red Shoes, your post does bring up the following question:<P>I agree that the mime should not be tampered with in the old ballets - they are works of art that should not be changed, just as one doesn't chip away at the Mona Lisa or a Mozart symphony.<P>But then there are others who say - no, it is a living art work, and therefore must change with the times. (I am not sure that means automatically remove the mime, however.)<P>So which should prevail - the ones who do not think that a classic should be altered - or those that say if it is to live - it must change?<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2001 12:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: ITALY
No! The classics: Giselle and co, should be left intact. Call me old-fashioned, but they shouldn't be tampered with if they are being presented as 'Swan Lake' or whatever. <P>I have nothing against entirely new choreography, such as the all-male version of Swan Lake. But then the public knows it is going to see something entirely new. I don't mind that.<P>Anton Dolin did a version of Pas de Quatre, and Keith Lester did another (and I did another, but we don't need to discuss my humble effort here). We have several versions of Romeo and Juliet also (I am a MacMillan fan), but the Biggies like Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty etc, shouldn't be messed around with.<P>Red Shoes (AKA Ondine, in case you hadn't already guessed).


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2001 1:07 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Well I don't think it's quite as clear as all that. For 'Giselle', should it be the Coralli and Perrot version of 1841 which is preserved or the 1868 Petipa version. I'm not sure how close the Fokine, Lifar or Sergeyev stagings are to eachother. <P>As I understand it Petipa made changes from production to production of many of his ballets to accommadate the particular skills of individual dancers.<P>The RB 'Swan Lake' has at least one charming dance by Ashton. I enjoyed the SFB 'Swan Lake' which has several sections by Tomasson. The RB's latest 'Nutcracker' has a re-working of various parts by Peter Wright, which most think have been very successful.<P>As i understand it The Kirov's recreation of the original 'Sleeping Beauty' keeps in a lot of the male role additions from the 20th C., as otherwise there would be little for the boys to do.<P>I think most people are pleased that Ashton decided to abandon all of the various versions of the choregoraphy of 'La Fille Mal Gardee' and make his own version, but using some of the original mime sections. <P>So, it seems to me that there aren't definitive versions to preserve of any of these works and that they have changed and evolved over the years. <P>However, with notation and video we will probably see more standardised productions in the future. Ironically this will be especially so for the work of the past 50 years, which is assiduously protected, and some think over-protected, by the major Trusts.<P>The UK versions of the classics maintain a fair quantity of mime. Whether this is as much as there would have been 50 years ago or 100 years ago I don't know. My guess is that it will remain in the current format for a long time yet as part of the feel of these pieces. <P> <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited March 31, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2001 7:13 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Oh Stuart - now you've gone and confuselled me (that was NOT a typo).....here I thought I knew what I wanted to see....LOL<P>But, of course, you are right, the classics have changed many times. Vivaldi, Mozart and friends, are not quite performed on the same instruments are they? So that would change too.<P>Opera has had its changes - the bel canto style had to be revived for Joan Sutherland in some of the operas, since she was capable of doing it. Her husband, Richard Bonyage,, if I remember correctly, was instrumental in doing that.


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2001 7:13 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Red Shoes/Ondine - what a pleasure it is to have you here, truly....


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 Post subject: Re: Mime and the Ballet - is the relationship still valid?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2001 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
So, what makes a classic a classic? What must be preserved, and who decides? Even in the relatively short time since Balanchine's death, his pieces look different set on today's dancers. Never mind after death; Paul Taylor's older masterpieces performed by his own company today look different than they did when danced by former generations in years gone by. (Please forgive the modern example in the ballet site...) So even with trusts and modern technology, there will still be changes. What is the essence of a work? How much tinkering is too much? When will Swan Lake no longer be Swan Lake? What's the mime gesture for: my head is spinning?


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