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 Post subject: Learning variations
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:01 am
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I'm an adult male "dancer" (professionally trained at a big company, but never performed at a high level and quit dancing for my mid and late twenties, having stsarted again at 31) and have started learning different variations.

My problem is that I'm the only serious male dancer at my school. I get personalized instruction from one of my female teachers, but she doesn't know all of the variations I would like to learn well. I know some of the male dancers at the local companies, but not well enough to get training for free (and I cannot afford personal lessons from them).

So far, my teacher and I have worked from her experience with the variations (she's seen them often enough) and video material to supplement that. It has worked and i'm happy with the results as far as it has gone, but it's not ideal.

So does anyone have suggestions on learning variations other than "hand me down" knowledge from choreographers or other male dancers?

Thanks for any feedback!

<small>[ 29 November 2004, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: liebling ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Learning variations
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
There might be some variations notated in Labanotation or Benesh notation, in case you can read either of those. Failing that, if you can't work with other dancers or teachers, I think videos are your best source.

The interesting thing about the male variations in the old classic ballets is how many forms one male variation can take. Even within one company's production, different dancers may do different versions of the choreography, depending on what their strengths are. Even in the new classics dancers are sometimes given leeway. In the documentary about Peter Martins, one scene shows him working with someone (I think it was Stanley Williams) for ideas about what to put in his variation in Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux." The female variations tend to be more consistent.

Which variations are you interested in learning? You could even watch several versions and piece together your own version.

<small>[ 29 November 2004, 08:33 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Learning variations
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 12:40 am 
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Posts: 678
Location: Petaluma, California
djb has given very good advice here. What she says regarding "variations" in variations is absolutely true. And it is my observation also that directors and coaches were more willing to alter male variations for individual strengths. Your teacher might also be able to incorporate sections from a variation at the end of class in lieu of a grande allegro for you. This would give you extra time to work on your technique. Practicing variations is a great way for both men and women to improve technique in a very motivating and inspiring way.


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 Post subject: Re: Learning variations
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:08 pm 
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Posts: 3000
Location: San Francisco
In a video of the Bolshoi's Mikhail Lavrovsky (a studio performance), there is a badly done cut before the final section of his variation from the grand pas de deux from "Don Quixote." At the end of the middle section, he's in the upstage right corner preparing to do something on the diagonal, but then the camera angle changes and he's doing another ending, which is all center stage.

Speaking of Balanchine, I've read that he was amendable to changing his choreography even for female dancers (to what degree I don't know). It was certainly true in "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux," as I've seen films of 3 dancers (Melissa Hayden, Violette Verdy and Suzanne Farrell) doing different choreography in their variations.

<small>[ 30 November 2004, 02:36 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Learning variations
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1451
Location: San Francisco, CA
If you are looking for an interesting read, you might try finding "Classes in Classical Ballet" by Asaf Messerer, who was at one time one of the great teachers of the men's classes at the BOlshoi.

I turned it up in a quick search on Alibris.com
http://www.alibris.com

The book has notated (in words, not Benesh or Labanotation) some of Messerer's combinations including several for the men. It also has lots of fun pictures of Bolshoi star Nikolai Fadeyechev (among others) to illustrate the positions and movements. There is a very interesting biographical essay on Messerer at the end as well.


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