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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 3:34 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 12, 2003 11:01 pm
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska
I find it is cause it is open to interpatation sosomeone gets what they want form it relaly and it makes the audiuance really pay attention to find a story in it insted of just knowing it


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 3:00 pm 
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Well, I am a newbie here and a dance beginner.
But I think this has to do with what Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset wrote about the "dehumanization of art".
He wrote that the artists of the 20th century were taking the "story", and the clearly human elements, out of their creations to focus basically on art for art's sake.
Instead of "manipulating" the public with a story, the artist wanted to make the enjoyment of art more of an intellectual, rather than emotional, pleasure.
My guess is that applies to ballet as well as other forms of art.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 4:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
But making something an intellectual pleasure is one of the most clearly human things you can do.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 10:19 am 
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True. I think O. y G. simply found a catchy title. ;)

<small>[ 19 May 2003, 12:20 PM: Message edited by: Rena ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 11:40 am 
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Location: New England
The development of ballet apart from story was one of the last steps in a long line of development of ballet.

For a long time, ballet was not considered a separate art form; it was part of the opera, and there would be dancing in the second act. That's why it's called the Paris OPERA Ballet. That kind of ballet still exists, but it's been eclipsed by ballet-for-ballet's-sake.

Fast forward to the Classical period, late 19th century. Ballet consisted of a story told through dancing. But increasingly, dancing for its own sake would be inserted in. "The Nutcracker" is a common example of this. Traditionally, there's a lot lf "story" in the first act and not so much dancing. Then in the second act, the story fizzles out and we watch the bulk of the dancing.

A few devices came to be commonly used for this:

1. A string of divertissements --- the story suspends while we watch a series of entertaining dances. There's usually not much more than a vague excuse for those dances. In Nutcracker, for example, the dances are "for Clara", but they're actually for the audience.

2. The Classical Grand Pas de Deux --- Pas de Deux, Female Variation, Male Variation, Coda. This sequence can take a LONG time and does little for the plot development. Yet it's included in just about every classical ballet. Why? To show off the dancing!

So increasingly in the 19th century, you had dancemakers who were putting forward dancing for its own sake, but couching it within a larger story context in order to justify it. The story was traditional, so you had to do it.

It wasn't a big step from there to throw out the story all together. Now instead of 2.5 hours of mime with 40 minutes of dance, you could have a good 90 minutes of pure dance. And as I've noted elsewhere, that dance can have quite a lot of dramatic content as well. After all, think about it --- you can always go to the movies or a play to see a good story at a MUCH lower price than the ballet.

This development is actually akin to the birth of Hip-Hop. In the Disco era, people found the best music for dancing to was the "break" between verses of a song. But that break was only 10 seconds long; so you had to go through an entire 3-4 minutes song for just 10 seconds of good dancing.

Someone got the brilliant idea of just playing the break --- over and over again. That is, extend the "good part" of the music for a much longer period of time so you can dance to it. Hence was the birth of "break dancing" and an entire generation of music and mixing and sampling, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 10:02 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
Instead of "manipulating" the public with a story, the artist wanted to make the enjoyment of art more of an intellectual, rather than emotional, pleasure.
Hmm, I'm not sure that makes sense to me. Does music for example have a story per se? I enjoy dance movement like I would music, from a purely emotional standpoint. To be honest, the reverse of the above quote is true for me: my intellectual parts comes into play only for story ballets as I try to understand the characters. When it is just pure dance without a story, I let myself go emotionally and hum or tap along with the storyless music or storyless dance.

If music doesn't have a story, why must dance?


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2003 10:18 am 
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I read the book awhile ago, but if I remember correctly when writing about music he was comparing the great romantics, like Brahms, to the (then) new composers like Stravinsky.
And I think he was absolutely advocating for story-less dance, and story-less everygthing. He was advocating for all the new art of the late 19th century and early 20th century.
But I'm not the best one to explain Ortega y Gasset, I might rather be making him a disfavor. He was absolutely great.

....Btw, Azlan, thanks for posting that old thread on modern dance. I found many of the books and now I'm reading 'The Vision of Modern Dance'. It was really helpful!

<small>[ 24 May 2003, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: Rena ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 19
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Modern ballet - if we are not talking about using classical ballet technique, then I use the term modern dance. During my performing years in the 1960s and 1970s we used the terms classical ballet, modern dance, ethnic dance, jazz, and we all knew what we were talking about.

From that period of time modern dancers had background training in classical ballet even if they performed as modern dancers. During my 2 summers at Jacob's Pillow - '63 and '64 we had classes each day in classical ballet, modern dance and ethnic dance. From this holistic training we had performing opportunities in all of the 3 forms. I performed in Ted Shawn's 'Mountain Whipporill' put to the verses by Stephen Vincent Benet. So, that was an example of modern dance with a story.

I have uploaded free texts on the internet for teaching both classical ballet and modern dance at Dance for Children


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 11:38 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
Hello, Susan - I posted a link to your website in answer to a cry for help ("babyclass problem...help...") in the "Studio" forum on this website.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 8:01 am 
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Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Thank you for passing my URL along ... My best, Susan


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2003 1:49 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 55
Location: NYC
Quote:
Instead of "manipulating" the public with a story, the artist wanted to make the enjoyment of art more of an intellectual, rather than emotional, pleasure.
Well, personally I have responded to much abstract art with intense emotion. Jackson Pollock's paintings, for example, seem to be purely about emotion in their departure from the figurative. Merce Cunningham's dances I find profoundly emotional as well, to give just a couple of examples. And yet, if you look at them, there is much implied narrative in them also.

And then The Four Temperaments I suppose would be considered abstract, but there are multiple narrative subtexts and threads running throughout. In fact, I think the question might really be how can a form that uses the human body as its instrument completely avoid narrative reference? I don't think it can.

<small>[ 24 June 2003, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: beatbeat ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 7:15 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 223
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
To me the inclusion of stories in dance, whether classical or modern, seems to make the artform more accessable to normal people, rather than just to dancers, choreographers and critics and no-one much else.

My grandfather, a car mechanic and salesman for most of his life, once came to a dance concert of mine, which was mostly full of modern works. His comment was, "Oh it's all a bit too 'arty farty' for me". He watched a couple of years later our company's modern ballet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and because it had a story, he found it much more comfortable and he could relate to it more.

In Perth, Western Australia, our state ballet company is very small and so very rarely does classics. Thus I am almost over-fed story-less ballets.

Well, that's what I've got to say on this subject. I won't ramble further.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 2:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:01 pm
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Location: New York
To me a ballet is more complete with a story. I can enjoy the beauty of the dance without it, but for a lasting impression I think integrating dance into the context of the story is much more effective. To choreograph a beautiful dance is one thing, but to fit the style and movement within the framework of the ballet as a whole is much more impressive.

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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 9:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 293
Location: USA
A ballet is simply a theatrical presentation. That is why Martha Graham called her dances, "ballets." Ballet also means dance. In my opinion, a dance can be with or without a story, but if it does not speak to my heart then it is devoid of meaning or expression whether it be telling a story or expressing or showing the music. Dance is definitely one of the stronger and more powerful arts, especially when the artists have been properly prepared for their art. This is why dance technology is so important to learn. Movements performed with perfection and expression explain why Modern Ballets can be storyless. Afterall, movement is the medium; the story is only there as an excuse to show the dance, which must not be devoid of perfection or expression. I agree that a story can help the average theatre goer relate to something, especially if that audience member is new to ballet. By the way, every age of ballet calls its ballets "modern." Classical dance to me is the most modern form of dance on earth today, as it has evolved to the most sophisticated form of movement known to man. The word itself, "modern," to many today, represents and looks very primitive, in comparison. For example, classical ballets can be storyless, too. They are called symphonic dance. We usually say they are modern because somewhere along the line, we were taught that everything after 1920's will be called modern. It is no wonder that the dance world is confused.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are Modern Ballets Storyless?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 3:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2002 11:01 pm
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Location: USA
Someone out there help me, but wasn't it Balanchine who said that there was no such thing as "abstract dance?" If there is a man and a woman on the stage, that was enough story for him.


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