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 Post subject: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2001 6:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
There was a time when it was thought by many major ballet schools that if one wanted to be a ballet dancer then only ballet class should be studied. I was told that as recently as the 1980's.<P>We know that today ballet dancers are expected to be able to do many different forms of dance. However, are there some types of dance that would truly train at cross purposes with one another?<P>Would a modern dancer who spends a great deal of time in bare feet be advised to avoid ballroom dance, for instance, because the woman spends all of her time in very high heels?<P>Of even a professional modern dancer - should she avoid the pointe work of a ballet dancer?<P>Or many folk dances or dances of the East spend a great deal of time in sustained plie' - should the ballet dancer avoid that?<P><P>------------------<BR>Approach life as a dancer approaches the barre, with grace and purpose.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 5:47 am 
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Basheva, My training was in Ballet, Spanish dance (several forms)Bharata Natyam, and modern, (Graham) pretty much in that order, but at the same time.<P>It didn't seem to affect things much physically, and actually enhanced my dancing over-all. The majority of my work was in ballet, and I think that if that was reversed in that the spanish, or the indian dance was more dominant, then I would have noticed it, probably in my feet.<P> Meaning that if one of those two mentioned was dominant, my feet would be conforming more to that particular stress, the barefoot stamping in the indian dance is brutal, and can flatten your feet if you do nothing else. The spanish is danced in a low heel, so is not as much a problem as, say, ballroom where the heel is higher, and you put your weight on the balls of your feet constantly.<P> I had no problems with this, personally.


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 6:33 am 
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This thought occurs to me when I see young dancers - students - who take several kinds of dance and yet say they really want concentrate or see themselves as being really only interested, in a serious way, in ballet, for instance.<P>The three kinds of dance that occur most often are jazz, tap and ballet. How well do these go together? and should there be a particular order?


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 8:01 am 
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Location: neworleans, louisiana
As a recently retired folk dancer, I can tell you I do believe there are some conflicts with ballet.<P>One great story I have takes place even before I joined my ethnic troupe -- more about those conflicts later. Shortly after moving to the Big Easy, I auditioned for and was cast in a production of "Fiddler" at the oldest community theater in the U.S. (Helen Hayes was one of the early actresses here), with a rich history. The director didn't have enough men, so the male dance parts were danced by us women -- in drag. Every night I would put on my soldier uniform, paste on my mustache (and hope it wouldn't hang off my face too much on stage from sweating), and tuck waist length hair in a military cap. Then I would go out on stage and squat and squat and push and shove and bellow and squat some more and raise my beer stein and generally act like a big dancing buffoon. When it came time for curtain calls, we dancers would first bow, then pull off our caps and shake our hair, a la "Victor, Victoria," and listen to the gay contingency groan in disappointment. On one hand, it was kind of fun and cathartic, but on the other, my thighs GREWWWWW, and it took awhile before they settled back into their pre-rowdy state. The next show was "Applause," and I relished playing a siren of the 60s after acting like a man night after night for months before that. <P>I know I have digressed above, but that's me. I do want to address, seriously, the various aspects of conflict between ethnic dance and ballet in particular -- some ethnic dance didn't hurt at all in that respect, such as the Brazilian and Argentinian pieces, but the Eastern European stuff was murder. More on that later. Also -- I have danced and taught jazz (good jazz) and I think there's plenty of compatibility there. Interested in hearing more replies to your post.


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 10:41 am 
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Christina - terrific post!! That is very interesting indeed. It also occurred to me to wonder about something like Eastern dance - Maggie has already mentioned Indian - but I was thinking of Balinese. They are quite turned out, but the knee is kept bent for quite some time.<P>Also, belly dance - that has some very stressful work on the knees, I think. I am interested in hearing about these if you know.........


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 11:28 am 
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Location: Dortmund, NRW, Germany
I think the complete dancer needs classical ballet, modern and jazz. They belong together like yellow (ballet), blue (modern) and red (jazz). <BR>Even Mondrian (the painter) was my opinion.<P>Yes!<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 11:31 am 
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Berry - would you also say that the complete modern dancer needs ballet and jazz? and that the complete jazz dancer needs ballet and modern?


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 11:46 am 
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Location: Dortmund, NRW, Germany
Yes, of course!<P>As I observed classes "Graham" in the Graham school (the "old school") I always had the feeling: they were not really STANDING. They were missing classical. A good friend od my - Armgard von Bardeleben - was teaching at Graham and Suny at the same time. For me the Suny students where moving (BIG in SPACE Image) much more as the Graham students.<BR>I had the same experience at Julliard. <P>As far as I know, the Graham faculty adviced the students to go somewhere else and do classical ballet (ballet was not offered at Graham)<P>When dancers are "only" taking classical and modern, it makes them so SERIOUS". They need to be shaked.<P>Jazz dancers need classical and modern. It's the same, only the other way around.


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 12:33 pm 
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Location: neworleans, louisiana
Re modern -- when I was in college, the major require equal technique classes and comp. But -- I remember the secretive looks some of us gave each other in modern -- especially on the floor (I hate being on the floor!). "I hate modern," we would mouthe. That was until Ruben James came along to guest teach in his blue jean cut-offs and variety of transparent, colored jockstraps. "Please come here and correct me," we would silently plead. Sigh.<P>To this day, however, I, have felt less damage to my feet in pointe shoes than barefoot in modern. It's a very personal preference. But -- when I was in Philly some dozen years ago and there was not a decent ballet class to be had, I switched gears for the first time, and opined, "a good modern class is better than a bad ballet class," and I therefore took with the beautiful, talented, inspiring Gwendolyn Bye at the University of Penn.<P>And while we're talking about different essential forms, I hope we are not omitting CHARACTER DANCE!!!!!!!!!! This is an essential part of the study of ballet, as so many ballets incorporate character dances, and it really helps to get students to MOVE BIG as we talked about in another post, to feel their music more, and to show their epaulment.


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 2:01 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
I think a variety of training is good for any dancer. Some forms do put stress on certain body parts so that's something to take into consideration, but since dancers are called on more and more to perform choreography that crosses over into other areas of specialization, it's definitely worth investigating other forms of dance. <P>At some point you may want to focus on one particular form of dance, ie, if you're primarily working as a modern dancer then you may not continue doing pointe work or if you're a ballet dancer contact improvisation may not be your thing, but it never hurts to have different movement choices in your dance vocabulary. The language of dance is varied and complex. Learning to speak more than one language gives you more options in the long run. The majority of dancers these days work with a variety of choreographers so they need a diverse set of skills. (And now, it seems, skills that are purely movement related, such as gymnastics training)<P>All dance forms evolve, and I think the idea of training in one area came from a time when other forms were not very established or recognized as ligitimate areas of study. This has something to do with our eurocentric ideas that only european forms of dance are worthy of full-time study. However, folk dances, what we used to call character dance, provide a lot of information that challenges the perceptions of the dancer who has only studied ballet, modern or jazz.<P>Also, I think as time goes on, there is less seperation between different schools of movement such as modern and ballet. Some of that is political, there was a time when modern dance was seen as being in direct opposition of ballet so modern dance schools did not offer ballet classes and vice versa. Dancers and dance teachers, did however, recognize the benefits of study in each others "domain," so as Berry pointed out, teachers encouraged their students to get training in those areas, even if institutions did not formally recognize the need for this.<P>Sometimes it's good to shake your ideas of "what dance is" up. In my first movement fundamentals class the instructor wanted us to investigate "bound flow" and "free flow". For free flow half the class was to run across the room with eyes closed to be caught by a line of people at the other end of the room. As someone who trained primarily in ballet that was just the weirdest thing to me, and on a pyschological level, very challenging. Imagine that, someone who wasn't afraid of "dancing" was challenged by running with her eyes closed and having to rely on someone else to catch her. But that's the wonderful thing about dance, isn't it? Every time you think you have it nailed you find out that there's something new to investigate.<p>[This message has been edited by Marie (edited January 11, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 2:19 pm 
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I wanted to touch a bit on what I only briefly mentioned before -- how some Eastern European forms can be murderous for the classical dancer.<P>In one particular year, our troupe emphasized the Eastern European quite a bit. Having previously enjoyed more of the Latin forms of ethnic dance, I found that this time I actually had to put on some weight (this is back when I was much thinner) to handle some of the demands. <P>1. A Croatian dance, the "Kolo," danced in true authenticity, required that the man lifts his female partner with his fist in her stomach. This was the way that these fellas tested the women to see if they were built for childbearing. Well, after several times around the block with this one, I got real vocal, and said "Hang the authenticity, I've got vital organs in those areas. Why can't we at least use the flat of a hand instead?" Is this a no brainer, or what?<P>2. A Polish dance that year required that I had to hoist my partner over my back WHILE ALSO SPINNING. He would also use me as some kind of leverage as he shot up into the air and kicked his heels together. That was real special, too.<P>3. Finally, a Slovakian number required that the women repeatedly start from a crouching position and jump to the man's shoulder (my partner was 6'4"). After a while, if my bladder was even slightly full -- well, you know the rest. I mentioned it to my doctor. <P>He said, "Well, does this happen when you laugh?"<P>"No."<P>"Does this happen when you sneeze?"<P>"No."<P>"Does this happen when you lift something?"<P>"No."<P>"Does this happen when you dance?"<P>"No."<P>"Well, I'm not sure I understand -- when did you say this happens."<P>"When I repeatedly squat on the floor and try to jump as high as a man's shoulder."<P>"Oh, well, don't do that anymore."<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2001 3:04 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
LOL Christina ! I told a doctor once that my knee hurt when I was in fifth position - so he said to me "don't do that anymore" - YEH RIGHT !!<P>Also, Christina - when you were in Philadelphia (city of my birth) weren't classes available at the Pennsylvania Ballet?<P>I do know that the ballet classes are filled with modern dancers. But I am not sure that the modern classes are filled with ballet dancers.<P>It intrigued me that modern dancers do pirouettes (or whatever word they use to describe this movement, please forgive my ignorance) with their lifted leg turned in - or at least straight in front. I wonder if they get the same multiple rotations that ballet dancers do. I suppose not, if they are barefoot.<P>I had a ballet teacher once who said that he could tell the difference between ballet students who also took modern and those that were "pure" (his word, not mine) ballet dancers. <P>Do you think this is so?


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 5:59 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Christina - there is one thing that surprises me about the information you are giving about folk dance. I always thought one of the hallmarks of folk dance - almost the world over - was that there was little physical contact between male and female. Maybe holding a hand, or touching a waist - but that was about it. But you are talking about lifts.<P>In some cultures men and women don't even dance together - American Indian, African, etc. And, when the genders do dance together, very little touching. But apparently from what you are saying this is not true?<P>I remember my grandmother telling me of dances in southern Russian - in what is now Ukraine, in which men and women NEVER touched, and when hands were held there was a scarf or handkerchief in between the hands.


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 6:15 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
My 2c worth: <P>- Rambert Dance Company alternate ballet and Cunningham technique classes. <P>- At the Cunningham Study Day in London, his dancers said that they usually did ballet class before going to his. Cunningham's classes were the most demanding they had ever done and they needed to do the ballet in order to cope. There are lots of exposed, balances in his work, so I can see the value in the ballet technique to be able to perform his work.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Compatibility Betwixt Dance and Dance......
PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2001 7:42 am 
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Location: neworleans, louisiana
Basheva --<P>Re: Pennsylvania Ballet.We'll have to 'dish' on this sometime, as I know you're from Philly and I'm originally from Milwaukee, and the company for a short time merged between these two cities. At the time I was in Philly, I contacted the Penn.Ballet school and was told at that time that things were rather hazy, and that sometimes a class was taught, but that I would have to call on a daily basis and find out if and when. This was around 1989. Strange, eh? So -- I tried class with the Phil. Civic Ballet, and it was AWFUL. I think we both probably could concur on what an awful class is, so I won't go into any more detail. That's how I eventually found out about Gwendolyn Bye's classes (modern) at the university. She was so beautiful and elegant and intelligent and talented -- I was glad for the change for a short while. <P>Re: touching between folk dancers. I was just rereading Margot Fonteyn's book last night -- can't think of the exact name, a slim little volume published in the late 70s, which featured many photographs of a variety of dancers and dances, and my gosh --there it was, the Polish dance, showing a woman hoisting the man up to her shoulder while he did a kind of cabriole. So yes, there is not only lifting, but in many instances,the women lift the men! <P>In the Slovakian number I mentioned, the men and women are extremely close to each other to facilitate the exceedingly quick turns, and in that same number, the woman jumps onto the man's thigh as well as onto his shoulder.<P>Frankly, the Kolo felt misogynistic (testing the women for their childbearing ability,indeed), and I can get away with saying that, as I'm at least 50% Croatian by background. <P>In my troupe, I, at 5'5", was the tallest during my tenure. The other women seemed to have an affinity for being thrown, tossed, etc. (whether a hoe-down clogging number or jitterbug or Eastern European whirling dervish type number), but I always craved the more 'feminine' side of character dance. As I stated previously, I loved the Latin numbers, but I was especially appreciative of the Uzbekistan suite, where NO MEN were allowed, for a complete change. I loved the bells and the veils and the shifting of the eyes, and all of the wonderful little nuances and meanings.<P>And yes, I have danced Ukrainian numbers (I love that particular costume -- I even wore it to a party once, because I had just come from foot surgery and needed to find something that looked good with mukluks). And the Ukraine dances do use scarves and I don't recall any real contact with the men even though we were in very close proximity with them. So you are correct in your recollection of that particular genre.<p>[This message has been edited by Christina (edited January 12, 2001).]


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