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 Post subject: When has ballet crossed over into acrobatics?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:17 am 
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First, check this video out in the Ballet in Asia, Africa and Oceania forum:

Guangdong Military Acrobatic Troupe's Swan Lake


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:15 am 
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I LOVE THAT VIDEO CLIP :D !!! I have been showing it to everyone and am glad to see references to it on this BB.
So tell me, what syllabus do you have to study to do that? :P
That poor guy's head :shock:
In answer to your question Azlan, I would say that you can thank much of the "ballet competition" type organizations for the more acrobatic influences in the dance industry. However, this Swan Lake video is definitely over the top but I would predict that it if it is marketed corretly that is going to do well on an international level. Looks very Cirque Du Soleil'ish and that kind of stuff sells like crazy if you can get a good enough buzz going about it.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:35 am 
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I'm impressed too, but then I always enjoy Chinese circus.

In answer to Azlan's question, I see this as definitely over the line into acrobatics/circus/whatever and I do not see it as ballet, although it uses ballet steps.

I have to say that I also see 32 fouettes and the Rose Adagio balances as well on the way to circus, although staying this side of the line. To sum up, mere technique doesn't do it for me as the key element of the art form. Although the "Will she/won't she" aspect of these advanced techniques is intriguing, it ain't high art in my book. In a similar vein the fussy, technically demanding variations that instrumentalists sometimes play have no artistic interest for me.

I didn't see the Mark Morris solo for Joanna Berman's swansong at San Francisco, but from what I heard it was technically simple. But as the thing that he admired so much in her dancing was her musicality, I could understand that he wanted to make a dance that emphasised that aspect of her Art rather then mere technique.

This discussion ties in with the ballet in the Olympics topic, as I can see that this move would score a bundle in a freestyle section in such a competition. Another reason not to go down the ballet in the Olympics route.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:43 pm 
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I've seen several performances of that sort, though this is the first that has had pretensions to being anything other than circus. And I don't think having the music from Swan Lake in the background makes it anything other than circus. By the way, why does the woman never do hops on pointe on her partner's head?

Stuart, I agree with you about the 32 fouettes. Every time the ballerina runs onstage and prepares, I think, "Oh, God, here we go again." It seems like such a disruption of the flow of the ballet. But I think that about the entire coda of the pas de deux, and I blame to music, which is very circusy.

The balances in the Rose Adagio, as well as those in the grand pas de deux from Don Quixote, are pleasant enough if done musically. Unfortunately, more and more dancers are taking great liberties with the music to give themselves lots of time to get ready for the balance and then holding the balance with, often, visible see-sawing, so the choreography no longer fits the phrasing of the music.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:59 pm 
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If anyone has a link to the video clip, I'd like to see it. The NYT link has gone into their archives.

Having said that and not seen the video, have you seen hip-hop dancers do their thing? I'm talking about not only piques onto their knees, but piques onto their heads. Is it high art? I don't know, but it can be very musical, and moreover, I doubt that acrobatics or any kind of extreme technique disqualifies something as art. Not any more than textbook technique qualifies something as art. The comments I've seen so far seem to blame the clumsy deployment of technique over art rather than just the mere presence of technique. A tendu at the wrong time is just as disruptive as perfect double barrel turns done against the music.

I've seen performances where the 32 fouettes and the Rose Adagio balances are very effective in the context of the whole ballet, as well as many for which the variation was just a vehicle for the dancer's technique. Forsythe's neo-Balanchine pieces seem have molded extreme technique successfully into art, too.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:30 am 
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Try this link, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/02/arts/ ... ad&ei=5070
It should work, the video is on the left side of the page second option down.[/url]


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:59 am 
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Thank you! I'm trying to find my jaw which dropped on the floor somewhere around here ...

--Andre


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:19 pm 
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As amazing as it is acrobatically and technically, it doesn't seem to me to have much to do with Swan Lake; it's just people doing something to show that, well, they can do it.

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Last edited by salzberg on Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:26 am 
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So Jeffrey, you have seen the entire production?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:00 am 
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No, I'm referring specifically to the video.

I suppose it's possible that the production could be based on a concept in which that snippet of choreography might be relevant, but I can't imagine how it could do so and still be...well...Swan Lake.

...And even if it is/does so, the very nature of the choreography calls attention to itself in a "Look how clever I am!" way that cannot possibly not distract from whatever narrative there is.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:54 am 
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salzberg wrote:
No, I'm referring specifically to the video.

Not a problem, I thought somehow you saw the whole thing, maybe a torrent file floating around somewhere.


salzberg wrote:
...And even if it is/does so, the very nature of the choreography calls attention to itself in a "Look how clever I am!" way that cannot possibly not distract from whatever narrative there is.

Very true but the same could be said of many modern day Ballet Company productions of Swan Lake.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:07 am 
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Quote:
Very true but the same could be said of many modern day Ballet Company productions of Swan Lake.


...Or even, I suppose, of the first production in which someone did 32 fouettes.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:43 pm 
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salzberg wrote:
...Or even, I suppose, of the first production in which someone did 32 fouettes.

Absolutely, very true. Maybe we have found the answer to this thread :) Which was the first ballet to incorporate 32 fouette's? I would say Swan Lake before Don Q but am not certain. Are there any other ballet's that have 32 fouette's? Grad Ball has the fouette girl(s) but I don't think that is 32 :? . Anyone?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:22 pm 
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I just think it comes down to the simple fact that it is not 1960 anymore and the level of technique has dramatically increased. It's a whole new world. And there is nothing wrong with it. Dancer's put their bodies through so much in training, and are then scorned when they get on stage and use it. Personally, I couldn't care less about how believable Paloma H. or Sofiane S. are as princesses, likely because my generation is so far removed from it. You're darn right that I want to go and enjoy my peers' DANCING, not their mime or character work. I want to see 32 fouettes, (preferably with some doubles and triples thrown in) and Carreno's perect pirouettes, Cornejo's amazing jump, and even "gymnastics-like" extensions. It's all simply exciting to watch and I just dont see why that is a problem.

Is it ever okay to be simply a dancer, and not a sylph or a swan? I more than understand the importance of acting ability for the classics, but I think it's also important to realize that these are dancers and not the Shakespeare Repertory Company.

My generation is simply coming from another side of the spectrum. If the "exciting" and visually pleasing aspect isnt recognized and utilized, then where will the ballet audience come from in the future? I mean, I know that my friends are going to choose a mixed bill over Coppelia any day. Not that we wont go and see classics, but I like to see dancers enjoying themselves dancing, rather than staring off into the enchanted forrest with his fair maiden. Give me Balanchine and Wheeldon over Bournonville anyday.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:30 pm 
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Quote:
Is it ever okay to be simply a dancer, and not a sylph or a swan?


Part of being a dancer is acting the part, when there's a part to be acted.

In a plotless ballet, dance for dance's sake is perfectly appropriate; when the ballet tells a story, however, character becomes equally important.

..And cheap technical tricks, no matter how well executed, are never appropriate. That's what makes dance an art.

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