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 Post subject: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2000 10:10 am 
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Except for the truly, easily recognizable, classical ballets like Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, etc., I see the lines beginning to blur. What constitutes a ballet?<P>As many choreographers from modern dance and other genres set work on ballet dancers and for ballet companies, what is it that causes the result to be ballet? <P>If you are watching a dance, how do you see it? As ballets are set now, turnout is not preeminent, arms are not always classical. Is arabesque the signature of a ballet? Is it the pointe shoe? Costuming? (tutu) <P>If a dance was set totally within the canons of classical ballet - but done barefoot is it still ballet? or modern? <P>If a modern dancer puts on pointe shoes is it still modern dance?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2000 1:26 pm 
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Very interesting comment - but - er - uh - what does it mean?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 10, 2000 5:18 pm 
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Well I do dare - HA HA - <P>Fools rush in - but then I have never been an angel.......<P>To me if the canons of the ballet are presented - turnout, footwear ( ballet slippers, pointe shoes, or character footwear), recognizable ballet positions, steps that have ballet names - the ballet vocabulary, if you will - then it is ballet.<P>There is also a discernable difference in impetus twixt ballet and modern - the ballet dancer's impetus is usually up - where the modern dancer's impetus is going down to go up. I saw this, but could not put this into words - until a very well thought of modern dancer (she had her own company of some renown) explained it to me.<P>As for that choreography that is a "crossover" - that's what I call it - a hybrid. But I would not call it ballet - nor modern dance. <P>When a dance is presented to me as the audience, where turnout is only occasional, feet are not pointed as a matter of course (exceptions always for character work) vocabulary is not within the parameters of the ballet - then I feel the presenter is dishonest to call it a ballet. <P>It needs another name. <P> <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 8:43 am 
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This is an interesting area to discuss Basheva and like you I have been waiting to see what others think. Time constraints preclude me responding in detail now.<P>However, to keep the pot simmerring, I'm interested how you square your definition with work such as Nijinski's 'L'Apres Midi d'un Faune', large sections of Nijinska's 'Les Noces', and the other more avant garde works of Les Ballets Russes, Les Ballets Suedois and others from the past. Would you call these hybrid as well?<P>My general thesis is that hard and fast rules cannot be drawn and is actually counter-productive. Some, not meaning you Basheva, would try to use such a definition to purge ballet company reps of much of arguably the most interesting new work they perform today. <P>The classic example is perhaps Forsythe. The high quality ballet dancers in his company have no doubt that it is ballet. Most of his work, 'Vertigenous thrill...' excepted would not qualify under your definition.<P>Off to an Aaron Copland concert now.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 3:08 pm 
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Purge is a word and a thought that I would never use. However, I think that we do need a new word - ballet isn't quite it, in my opinion. There is no reason why the same companies and the same dancers cannot perform many genres of dance.<P> And you are right about Nijinsky's choreography and many dancers and others when they saw it had their doubts about where it "fit" in. I think there is emerging (if it has not already done so) a middle ground between the definition of the classical ballet and what was considered strictly modern dance. It is possible that there is a middle ground - and there is nothing wrong with that.<P>If you have on the program a work like Grand pas de deux from Swan Lake and a work like Nijinsky's Afternoon of a Faun - it seems to me that the very structure is different. So that is why I think we need a new word for this new genre.<P>As for discussing all of this - why not? what's the harm?<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited November 12, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 12:57 pm 
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About 6 months ago we had a discussion comparing the use of various terms to describe dance. I thought it might be useful to include it here, but I ought to warn you that it contains a sermon from Yours Truly.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000041.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000041.html</A>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 1:43 pm 
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There are several interesting "sermons" otherwise known as individual perceptions in that thread. And each surely has merit. <P>I would be happy with the terms classical ballet, romantic ballet, contemporary ballet. In some ways terminology is important because it is how we communicate - especially in a medium such as this.<P>Though I would never want to turn back the clock (not that it can be turned back) what does concern me, as time passes, is the increasing inability of today's dancers to truly capture the special essence of very romantic pieces - such as a pas de quatre. If it is not in their bones and sinews - it looks pasted on. I don't have a solution - but I do see a dilemma. I hate to see a heritage lost.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 2:00 pm 
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Then, of course, there is the Bangarra company's romantic repertoire which Stuart showed us in the About Critical Dance forum....<P> *I'm so sorry, I just couldn't resist*


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 5:13 pm 
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I think I will go out and pat my cat for awhile - oh wait - her name is "Effie" - for the character in La Sylphide - and Effie guards HER heritage well. LOL <P>I think we have got away from the thought of this thread - shame, I was enjoying it - silly woman.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2000 3:01 am 
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Right, Basheva let's get it back on track!<P>Some, who know ballet technique much better than me, have commented that the Royal Ballet seem to put less emphasise on the upper body than they have done at one stage and that attention is now focussed on the feet. It is interesting that part of the reason that Lucia Lacarre of SFB looks so interesting is the flexibility of her back and the way she uses it. I can understand that this may well change the look of some of the RB rep.<P>In general when we talk about the changed look of ballets I guess we are talking about comparisons with how it looked around the middle of the 20th C., which does seem to have been blessed with some remarkable dancers and ballet choreographers. Not a coincidence I suspect. <P>Sadly, we don't know how the Romantic and Classical rep. looked in the 19th C. We do know that the men would have done little in many of the famous Classical ballets and we do not know how those often short, squat ladies would have performed their steps. I suspect that it would have been markedly less well than current dancers.<P>With the use of video and notation, today's choreographers have a better chance that the look of their work will survive. The risk seems to be that the performance of the steps are preserved in a rigid way that allows for little artistic interpretation. <P>However, MacMillan's notator acknowledges that when she is gone, something extra will be lost. I suspect it has always been thus in this tricky art form that we love. <P>Bournonville seems to cause the greatest concerns. 'La Sylphide' apart, the rep is little performed outside Denmark and dancers get little chance to practise the distinctive style required. The shenanigans at the Royal Danish Ballet have not helped matters. But I don't relish the job of balancing the Bournonville tradition against the taste of the generally modernist loving Danish public. I hope that this distinctive ballet tradition will be preserved for future generations. <P>I wonder what we have lost from the 18th C? <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2000 7:54 am 
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Interesting Stuart that you mentioned the use of the back in dance. When I look at tapes of Natalia Makarova, that is what I see so very much of - she uses her back so expressively, she is not rigid at all. The plasticity of her back is one of her voices.<P>Plisetskaya has said (I have a tape of it) that the feet keep the rhythm and the hands speak. I truly believe that. The audience thinks it comes to see the feet - but it doesn't. When the hands stop "talking" the dance stops. (Not in Irish dancing - but in the ballet). <P>As for what we have lost from the past centuries - well, I think we have lost a great deal. Mime, for instance - again the use of the arms. Nuances of vocabulary. Today the only arabesque we see is 90 degrees or above. There arabesque can and should have a range of voice. Immediately it springs to mind the arabesque of Juliet when she first touches, and is touched by Romeo in the ballroom scene. As first performed that was 45 degrees. And that makes sense, she was young and hesitant. In subsequent years that superb moment has been lost, as the arabesque is now performed at 90 degrees. It's special voice is stilled. <P>I often ask myself - are the ballerinas of today afraid that if the arabesque is done at less than 90 degrees we will think they are incapable? I would add penche'to this list. In La Sylphide and Les Sylphides the less than 180 degree penche' has a meaning - the vertigal split, to my mind, does not - it loses its etheriality.<P>One of the loveliest pictures I have seen is of Ulanova in a 45 degree arabesque. She was not afraid that the audience would think her incapable. She was not engaged in a sport but in communication through dance.<P>Now, the question I ask is - are these nuances present and in what form is it present in what we have discussed before which I shall call modern ballet? That which seems to be the cross over genre from the classical ballet?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2000 1:25 pm 
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Basheva, speaking of Maya Plisetskaya, she's turning 75:<P><B><A HREF="http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20001117/en/maya_plisetskaya_1.html" TARGET=_blank>Ballerina To Mark 75th Birthday</A></B><BR>MOSCOW (AP)


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2000 1:59 pm 
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I was most fortunate to have seen Plisetskaya dance "Dying Swan" in the 1970's. I have a wonderful documentary tape of her dancing Swan Lake, and Don Q. She is just stunning at Kitri. On the tape is a slow motion section of her doing grand jete' entournant entrelace' - otherwise known as tour jete'. What a bravura moment!!<P>The entire Messerer family is very famous as teachers - she is Asaf Messerer's neice, I believe. His wife, (that is what I was told she was) came here to San Diego and taught for a while. I took two classes - and I have to say - should I be honest or kind? I will be kind.........and not say ....but I was offered free classes but.. ....I never returned.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet - Forward? or Sideways?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2000 6:29 pm 
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The reason I entitled this thread as I did - is because I often hear people say that the ballet needs to move forward.<P>However, there is a question in my mind as to what "forward" is? Are the inclusions of more modern movement - or rather the introduction of "different" movement into the ballet - a foward movement? or sideways?


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