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 Post subject: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 7:18 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Though I know almost nothing of modern dance I have observed a few classes (while waiting for ballet class to begin)and I noticed that though the modern dancers used some of the ballet vocabulary like chaine' turns, chase' - for the most part I could not pick up a set vocabulary.<P>So I ask - does modern dance have a spoken vocabulary? And if not how do modern dancers describe a movement to one another in a context where it cannot be demonstrated like over the telephone or in a medium such as this? <P>If I am trying to describe something to another ballet dancer, like Grace, I have the vocabulary to get fairly exact -and she to me.<P>How do modern dancers do it?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 11:33 am 
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Many of the people I dance with I've been working with for a couple of years. Because of this we've had the same teachers and similar experiences. Through that comes a familiarity with movements and types of movement which sometimes have names - derived from ballet, yoga, martial arts, or whatever noise the choreographer makes to go with the movement. It seems many choreographers have their own set of words they use to describe what is happening - these lists frequently overlap.<P>Since some modern dances are scored rather than set - Steve Paxton's "Satisfyin' Lover" being performed with the White Oak Project is an example - and will have a set of instructions for relatively simple activity. These instructions being in place of strings of steps. We did "Satisfyin' Lover" in a Dance Appreciation class at University and were given little slips of paper with walking instructions on them. There are other ways modern dances are set up to not necessarily require certain set steps, but rather determine the overall shape of the piece, which is then filled in with the dancers and their understanding of how they're supposed to fill the shape.<P>Sometimes not having standardized words for things seems like a hindrance - especially when I'm trying to write down a sequence to remember. <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 11:34 am 
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Good question, Basheva!


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:12 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Basheva,<P>Modern dance has styles and schools, like ballet does, ie. Graham, Limon, Cunningham. Each technique has some specific language. In Graham you will hear things like "contraction" "release" "exercise on six" "pitch turn" etc. Many terms overlap from one school of movement to another with slight variations such as the difference between Chechetti and RAD arabesques. A lot of the terminology is borrowed from ballet. Unless you are choreographing on a company that is primarily made up of dancers from a specific school you would use broader terminology in the same way a choregrapher would while working with a ballet company: some demonstration, some verbal commands. There's probably more demonstration in modern than ballet when it gets to what I would describe as non-codified movement, such as work on the floor, contact, etc. Once a choreographer has worked with a specific group of dancers for a period of time they get to know a choreographer's patterns and proclivities just like ballet. <P>Verbal descriptions can be difficult sometimes but not always. If both parties are familiar with a specific school of movement it's not so hard. Information has been more widely disseminated over the past ten/fifteen years or so too, the second generation teaching the third, passing on the ideas of the first (who aren't really the first, but you could call them the North American first, ie. Graham, Cunningham who come after people like Hanya Holm). <P><p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited November 27, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:59 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
Basheva--in generic teaching of modern dance (not of a specific style or school) I will use generic terminology "slide " (for chasse), "low brush" (for tendu), etc. As Marie points out, several modern dance styles have specific terminology and syllabi. Part of the deal is that ballet has just been around a whole lot longer than modern dance, and as such, has evolved further.<BR>In grduate school, when we studied "how to" teach modern, we were encouraged NOT to use ballet terminology when we taught , or use it as little as possible (for example you have to use the word "plie", there's no getting around it!)To empasize the idea that modern is a technique unto itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 1:02 pm 
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Location: Glen Gardner, NJ
Thanks Marie---nicely written.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2000 2:47 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Very interesting - and thanks to all of you. Here goes another dummy question- Priscilla said that modern dance is "scored" - what does that mean? Do you notate it on a musical staff? next to the music - as in a musical "score"?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 12:24 am 
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Marie and Trina - ohh, you're good at this. Just keep posting and I'll keep reading! <P>I suppose a score could be notated however the person making it wanted to - as simple or as complicated. I gave Steve Paxton's "Satisfyin' Lover" as an example - at the diary of a White Oak Project community participant which Grace found -- <A HREF="http://www.danceinsider.com/f1121_1.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.danceinsider.com/f1121_1.html</A> -- the participant has noted her part of the score. Which is:<P>Enter when #1 pauses <BR>Walk to 1/5 across stage<BR>Stand 20 seconds <BR>Continue walk to exit. <P>She was #5.<P>It's a score for a dance as the musical score is for - well, music.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 7:15 am 
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This is hard to believe - and I even hesitate to post this - but - I once heard a teacher say - are you ready? for plie' she said "squat-a-voo".<P>ok another question - I noticed that modern dancers often turn (pirouette) in retire' (when the toe of the lifted leg touches the knee of the standing leg) - modern dancers turn with that lifted knee forward. Of course, ballet dancers turn with the lifted knee to the side. <P> Those of you who have done it both ways - does it make a difference in the turn? Is one easier to control than the other? <P>If you take both ballet classes and modern dance classes - do you have to make a conscious adjustment in the impetus of your pirouette (turn, forgive me) because of where that knee is - to the front or to the side?<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited November 28, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 10:32 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
Parallel passe, I think what you described Basheva, is done in modern and especially in jazz. Somehow it lets you do more turns, perhaps because you don't have to worry about holding turnout. Pirouettes, as such, are not done THAT much in modern, or if they are, the specific choreographer will usually tell you the impetus, look or technique he/she wants, if it's any different than the typical pirouette, that is.<BR>No,I never heard of "sqate-vous" or whatever that scary term was!!(smile)


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 12:09 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Agghhhh, I completely disagree that turning in parallel allows you to "somehow" do more turns than a turned out position does. Sitting in your hip in a turned in postion will allow you to feel more comfortable doing more turns, as will bending your knee on a flat foot but that's not something I would want to see unless it was part of some particular choreography. <BR>A properly supported leg, with an active hamstring in both the supporting leg and the leg in passe with allow you to turn numerous times whether you're turned out or turned in. Solid core support will also encourage multiple turns as will active seratus muscles. Good modern dance training encourages the same principles in turning as ballet does. <BR>Graham used a lot of turns in her choreography, sometimes with the upper body off centre or bent forward so that you don't spot the same way you would with a balletic pirouette, but always with the same underlying core principles of the supported turn.<BR>...this should probably all go in "The Studio" Image<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 2:29 pm 
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Well, back to my question - do you have trouble adjusting your turn from a parallel passe' to a balletic turned out passe' - when you go from one form to another.<P>Also you mentioned you don't spot as a ballet dancer does - how do you spot?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 2:54 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
I never found a difference between the two. When you're turned out there's the difference of whether you actually cross the foot at the knee or if you lift higher so that the toe is at the inside of the knee, it's the same for parallel. You're should be engaging the same muscle groups, the higher the passe the more control you need. <BR>As for not spotting when you're turning with your body in a less than upright position, you just get used to it. I think strength and connectivity has a lot to do with it, since you don't get as much momentum as you do when you spot, less actual torque as a result of the head moving first, you rely on the momentum of the preparation and then it's just brute strength to get you around, particularly when you're doing more than two turns--unlike a classical pirouette which, when "locked in" means that physics are working more in your favour (since you are counterbalancing your arms against your legs and your straight spine is connecting the whole thing: head, torso, pelvis, which can ride smoothly around with the action). Turning off centre can be difficult but exhilarating.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 4:51 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I would think that since modern dancers often dance bare foot that would affect the number of rotations also. But then I am not sure that modern dancers go in for numbers of rotations as ballet dancers do. Sometimes I think ballet goes for the numbers a bit too much. <P>I remember seeing a tape of Baryshnikov in China demonstrating a pirouette with 12 rotations. His initial impetus was for about 6 - and then he just held himself erect and the spot of his head got him the next 6 rotations. But, then the Chinese students asked him - "but can you do a double slowly?" And of course he could - and I liked that much better. <P>------------------<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Asks Modern Dance a Question.....
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2000 8:06 pm 
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska
I just want to turn competently and consistently, really. Oh, yeah - beautifully too. Image -- No matter what sort of footwear, though I admit I don't usually use any but maybe socks or ballet slippers. Jazz shoes if it's a yucky floor. Guess I just kind of contradicted myself, but at least in performance I don't usually have shoes on.


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