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 Post subject: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 7:09 am 
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This is the place for those questions you might have wanted to ask - but hesitated -<P>Have you ever wondered what do we mean by the word "ballerina" ? <P>If someone says "My 12 year old daughter takes ballet lessons and she is such a beautiful ballerina" - what is wrong with that statement?


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 7:20 am 
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Location: Australia
oh boy! you may have bought yourself some trouble with THIS one, basheva! Image<P>i hope not. stuart's away this week, so maybe you're OK! i know what *I* think.....and it is something i have a strong opinion about, but it appears that many americans (and others, but especially americans) don't respect the convention i subscribe to...so i'll just wait,.... and see where this discussion goes... <P>good luck! Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 10:15 am 
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Well Grace - as I said before age has given me bravery!! I, too, subscribe very strictly to the "convention". <P>Unfortunately many, many people think that the word "ballerina" means any female who dances in the genre of ballet. But to me the word has a very special meaning. I never describe myself as a ballerina - but as a ballet dancer. I have not earned the title ballerina.<P>That title means a female dancer who has successfully undertaken the major roles, in major ballets in major companies.<P>There is a rather strict hierarchy in the ballet world. In my opinion this is what it is:<P>Student<BR>Apprentice<BR>Coryphee'<BR>Second Solist<BR>First Solist<BR>Ballerina/ Principal<BR>Prima Ballerina<BR>Prima Ballerina Assouluta<P>and correspondingly for the male dancer:<P>above corps de ballet<P>Danseur<BR>Primier Danseur<BR>Danseur Noble<P>Did I miss any? <P>


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 3:02 pm 
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Lots of people, who dont know much about ballet, actually say 'oh so your a little ballerina' and i dont think that is appropriate. As Basheva said, i think the title 'Ballerina', has to be earned. <P>Bahseva, i dont think you have missed any. I didnt even know there was a 'Dansuer Noble'. Image<P>

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 4:13 pm 
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The first time you walked into ballet class - what surprised you the most?<P>I was very surprised that I had to bow/reverance to the teacher. I had never curtsied to anyone in my life - Americans just didn't do that!! Well, in Miss Ellicott's class you did...............


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 6:13 pm 
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basheva, in my experience the names of the rankings vary all over the world. in most places i am aware of, for example, coryphée disappeared many years ago.<P>some companies also use the terms Artist, 1st Artist, 2nd Artist, Character Principal; any number of other designations.<P>also, in many companies now -even specifically ballet companies- rankings are disappearing, to an extent. this trend is likely to increase in our time.<P>i completely agree that the title of 'ballerina' has to be earned. i get the distinct impression that in america, almost any dancer (and yes, even students) can be referred to as ballerinas.<P>not so long ago, stuart and i had a heated onboard discussion about this (i DO hope he's not reading now... Image ), because he seems not in favour of the idea of rankings, nor did he like my being too particular about how this word is used. <P>i, on the other hand, feel that appropriate use of the word is a mark of someone who knows what they are talking about in ballet, someone who understands and respects its conventions and its culture.<P>around about the same time, i remember making a comment about being aware of one ballerina who was reading this board. azlan responded with words to the effect that there is a lot more than one ballerina, reading CD. <P>to me, what he meant is: there is a lot more than one DANCER (even one BALLET dancer) reading CD - but the difference between even an accomplished ballet dancer and a 'ballerina', is a very distinct one, and it's huge! Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 6:47 pm 
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I agree completely Grace - with the differences between a ballet dancer and a ballerina - that is a title that has a meaning and has to be earned. Much like instructor, assistant professor, assocciate professor, professor and dean. <P>I do know that in some companies the titles tend to become blurred or are even disappearing and I am not in favor of that. By coryphee' I meant of course member of the corps de ballet. Most of the major companies still do list dancers as corps de ballet. Or, in some cases simply as "company artists", but still separately from the higher ranks.<P>I think that rank according to distinction - distinction that has been earned through work and talent - has a place. To do otherwise encourages a false egalitarianism. Ballet is not about egalitarianism.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 11:40 pm 
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In my first ballet class, i guess what surprised me most is i thought it was 'a piece of cake'. I know it probably sounds strange, but thats what i FIRST thought. I now know that its not that easy. Actually i think the better you become, the harder you think it is. As the saying goes 'the more knowledge you gain, the less you think you know'.

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 6:25 am 
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I have just looked at my latest program from American Ballet Theater. The company members are divided into three groups: Principal Dancers (large pictures and bios); Soloists - (smaller pictures); and Corps de Ballet - (several dancers in each picture). <P>The principal dancers have earned that title and place through hard work, talent and commitment. The corps de ballet members have not - YET. They have the right to work hard and increase their talent. I surely wish them well.<P>Prima Ballerina Assoluta Margot Fonteyn earned her title through years of hard work, talent and commitment - I didn't - her talent is superior to mine. I happily acknowledge that. Her talent has given me a great deal of joy.<P>Talent will emerge whether company members are listed in alphbetical order or not. Being in the corps de ballet is by itself a work of art. I know of some dancers who prefer to dance in the corps. Anyone who has seen the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadere - knows these are artists. But they are not Principal Dancers. <P>Not everyone can sit in the seat of the first violinist in an orchestra. Not everyone has the ability to win the Nobel prize. I applaud these talented people, my life has profited from their talent and I am happy to acknowledge it. And, because they have this talent does not preclude ANYONE from aspiring to the same accolades. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 6:51 am 
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i agree with all that, basheva. Image<P>i guess i feel though, that being given a label is not necessarily helpful. as you say, every dancer has something to offer the audience - including yourself - regardless of their position in any heirarchy.<P>one might say: who cares? what does it matter whether they have rankings or not?<P>it seems to me that in a practical sense, casting is affected by rankings, and not necessarily for the best. (of course, that DOES depend on how strictly each company adheres to their categorisations...) what i mean is, that i would like to see an egalitarian system where, as you say, every person has equal access to any role, according to their ability.<P>because every dancer has different qualities, more diverse csting might result, with a richer offering to the public and to dancers...that richer offering MIGHT well also include a few more 'off' performances, with some performers whose reliabliity had not been tested, or for whatever other reason did not come up with the goods on the night....but i'd rather take the chance, for the sake of the greater opportunities and the wider appreciation opportunities for the public.....<P>it also bears consideration, that the stardom of fonteyn, for example, was no accident! nor was it entirely of her own making, or necessarily her 'fair share' of the limelight within her generation of ballerinas.<P>i saw her as a child, and loved her too. i don't begrudge her anything. <P>but i AM aware that a machine basically rolls into place, to create and bolster one person at the expense of others - there IS a star-making machine....which in her case was used on her, at the expense of a fine array of other ballerinas, all with different qualities....all lovely...<P>btw, because my surname starts with 'W', i've never liked that alphabetical array of names! Image

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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 9:11 am 
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Well, Grace - my maiden name started with "V" so I know what you mean about alphabetical rankings, too. LOL (and my married name isn't too awfully much closer to the beginning of the alphabet either)<P>Yes, there is a certain "machine" that rolls into place to make a star. But that isn't always the case - the talent has to be there too. I remember going to see a now renowned male dancer on the first night that he danced "Romeo and Juliet" - he danced Romeo even though he was at that time listed as in the corps de ballet. His interpretation of the role was "empty" at that point - though his technique was certainly up to the task. And, yet, I loved watching him - because I could see him "searching" for the role and that was interesting to see. The company was obviously giving him the chance to find his way toward principal status. <P>I am not one who will go to the theater only when the "stars" are dancing. Actually I enjoy the differences between the dancers - including their physical makeup, for instance. I think it is rather boring when they are each shaped the same way. This is true of age as well - I enjoy seeing a mix of ages. <P>The same thing that happened with Fonteyn at RB - also happened at NYCB with Suzanne Farrell (as lovely as she was) eclipsing several other VERY worthy dancers. And, this at a company that claimed there were no stars. It is the nature of the beast that some dancers are more talented, or some appeal to the choreographer more than others - or some appeal more to the audience than others. And so it will always be. I still say that ballet is about dancing - it is not about equal rights - that's a given. <P>Grace, I think we agree here more than we disagree.


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 Post subject: Re: QUESTIONS QUESTIONS - MORE
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 9:53 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
And a quote attributed to Maria Tallchief: "I don't mind being listed alphabetically; but I *do* mind being cast alphabetically."


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