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 Post subject: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2000 7:10 am 
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in THE STUDIO, <B>elizabeth</B> commented on the extreme turnout which has become more apparent in ballet in recent years, and went on to ask: <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>If ballet is pushing people to be very 'hard' on their bodies, then it makes you think 'what will come next?' but i guess that will be another thread. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>so, here IS that "other thread"! Image<P>thanks elizabeth. what do people think?

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2000 7:44 am 
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Interesting Grace - I was about to start a thread called "Back to the Future". We often hear, and say, that an art form must evolve/change/move on. But exactly what do we mean by this? What do we want from the ballet?<P>In several threads in The Studio we have discussed, and generally deplored, the advent of extremes of extensions, rotations, speed and physique.<P>Do we want the ballet to depict more of life as we know it or life as we wish it to be? Ballet seems particularly suited to showing us a world of "other beings"; swans, bayaderes, sylphs, or a masterpiece from literature - like Romeo and Juliet. <P>Should the ballet move to more contemporary themes? Can we accept a contemporary story en pointe? Modern Dance is already addressing modern themes. Does the ballet belong in our time?<P>Music has moved to some degree into other modes. The opera has not dealt with much enduring success with contemporary subjects - but I don't think its demands on its performers has changed very much. If anything coloratura is not as much in evidence today as it used to be. <P>However, the demands on the technique of dancers has increased exponentially, often at the expense of vocabulary and subtlety.<P>Do we want it remain as it is/was - to remind us of where we came from? To what end? Whither goest ballet?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2000 1:43 pm 
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Ok, ill answer my own question. <P>I think that ballet will evolve and change, as nothing ever stays the same. It has changed soo much from the 'trational' times already. <P>Yes, i also think that women will become more powerful within their bodies, like grace said. But there is only a certain limit to how far you can go in one 'deirection'. Once you get beyond that point you start to revive things from the past, or maybe start something completely new.<P>About more men being involved in ballet, maybe this will be the case. But i think it was men who traditionally started ballet, and it was a 'men' thing back in those times, but the women just took over. But in the future maybe men and women will have equal competition. Or maybe there will be 2 kinds of ballet, ballet will be split in 2, and there will be one for men and one for women, to try andget more men involved again. But i think it will be unlikely. <P>The age at which the dancers retires, depends on how much pressure they put on their bodies. If ballet keeps going in the direction it is going, dancers will start to retire alot earlier than what they are now. e.g in their 20's. I think that is rediculous, but anyway. Already dancers are retiring much earlier. Like Anna pavlova retired when she was 52, and Morgot Fonteyn retired when she was in her 50's, or 60's. But dancers today are retiring when they are 30. Only half the age. <P>I think computers will have a HUGE impact on ballet, if it keeps going like it does. In the technique aspectg, i think dancers will start using computers to improve their technique. e.g, filming themselves doing a dance, downloading it to the computer and seeing if there are any flaws in it. If there are trying to fix them and then doing the process again. Also in the stage department. They can have movable images in the bg. e.g the water of the lake in Swan Lake, can have ripples while the dancers are dancing. Also, they might not even need to paint the bg's anymore, just have a computer image. <P>Well, this is just what i think MIGHT happen.<P><p>[This message has been edited by -Elizabeth- (edited October 18, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2000 3:49 pm 
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Hello Elizabeth - I think your comments are very interesting and thoughtful. If you go to the thread in "Ballet" (right where we are now) you will see a short history of the ballet - I called the post "From Balleto to Ballet". You might want to read that.<P>As it turned out (no pun intended) women didn't purposely take over the ballet. In the early 1800's the women began using pointe shoes and this fit in so well with the ballets being choreographed at that time - it was called the "Romantic Era", that is what the audience wanted to see. They wanted to see the women on pointe with the men carrying them around.<P>I think today, while it is true that there are far fewer men in ballet classes than women - and we would love to see more of them - male dancers can be HUGE stars. Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Nijinsky, Makhamedov come easily to mind - but there were many, many others - Vasiliev, Bujones, Dowell, Dolin, Eglevsky, Youskevitch - all major stars. <P>As for Anna Pavlova - you are right she danced into her 50's I believe - but she did not retire. In fact, as I understand it, she was supposed to dance the night she died. She was supposed to dance "Dying Swan" among other things and the audience was waiting for her to appear on stage when the announcement was made that she had died. The music played anyway - and everyone sat there before an empty stage. <P>But that doesn't change what you are saying - dancers did - and occasionally still do dance until they are well up in years. Sometimes the audience wants to see younger dancers - but you are right, there are far too many injuries among dancers and that does shorten their professional careers.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited October 18, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2000 3:10 am 
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Basheva, thanx for directing me to the thread, "From Balleto to Ballet", i have read it and i thought it was a great re-tell of how ballet started. <P>About the pointe shoes, i think that it was Marie Tagolini who first danced on pointe, and after she done it, people wanted to see more, so it become popular. And yes, she was in the Romantic Era, and i think it was 1816 when she first danced on pointe. If you want to know the history, her father made a dance for her (i think 'La Sylphide' could be wrong) in which she had to prepare for in 3 months. On the opening night, she decided to dance on pointe with no toes pointe, and the shoes were soft, as it was a new thing. So she must have been in pain. But that is a 'little' of topic. <P>I think the reason why male dancers can be huge stars is because there 'are' less of them. If there were more of them i think it would be just as hard for males to become stars as it is women. <P>Yes, i agree with what you said about Anna Pavlova about how she still danced, but i dont think she didnt danced as often as when she was younger. Also, your correct about how she was supposed to dance the Dying Swan the night she died. I think its kind of strange how she was supposed to dance the Dying Swan the night she died, but i dont think it was intentional. <P>I actually havent heard of many dancers dancing up into their 'later' years. What i think the audience likes to see (i could be wrong) is the dancers that they like to see, or know/ heard of. <P>

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2000 6:26 am 
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You are right Elizabeth - people do fall in love with special dancers and want to see them. This was certainly true of Ulanova, Fonteyn, Alonso, Dudinskaya, Markova, Nureyev, Eglevsky, Franklin, Youskevitch, to name a few who danced well into their later years.<P>You are right again that it was not intentional that Pavlova was to have danced Dying Swan the night she died. As I understand it, she died fairly quickly of pneumonia. The program had already been set. <P>You are also right about Marie Taglioni as being the first (so we are told) to dance on pointe and the shoes were really not boxed as they are now. <P>But, I think that the Romantic period did help women gain ascent over the male dancer. At that time, as I understand it, in all of the other art forms women were ascendent too, as ideal creatures - unobtainable. So dancing on pointe really fit right in. <P>You are also probably right that if there were more men - perhaps it would as difficult to attain stardom as it is for the women. But, I would also say that men are very exciting dancers. They are just marvelous to watch.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 1:49 am 
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Yes, men are marvalous to watch, but also i think women can be too. Men i think are more associated with high jumps and their main focus is the allegro. Women are more about the extensions and dramatic. Thats is what i understand anyway. <P>Also, with the romantic perios, i thought that women were still in the 'background' to the men?<P>About competition, i think it does have a big impact on who and how quickly people gain stardom.

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 6:17 am 
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One of my favorite pieces in the ballet repetoire is the male adadio at the very end of the first act, Swan Lake. The first one I saw do this was Rudolph Nureyev at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. There are a few male adagio solos - and this is one of the best, in my opinion. I often wish that men were given more adage work and less of the jump, jump, turn, turn combinations.<P>I don't think that I would agree that women are more about the "dramatic" - in that I think the genders are equal. But, it is true that the women do more of the extensions mostly because women tend to be more supple and also because they are on supported pointe. <P>Wouldn't it be interesting to see something like the Kingdom of the Shades scene from La Bayadere with a male corps de ballet? <P>But, I think the bigger question - that started this thread is - where does ballet go from here? Stick with the tried and true classical ballets? Incorporate more modern themes? Demand endlessly more rotations or higher extensions and jumps? <P>At one time painters were asked to show the world - as camera perfect as possible - on canvas i.e. Vermeer. But with the advent of the camera this was no longer necessary and so painting went in other directions - impressionist - abstract, etc.<P>What do we want from the ballet?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 6:32 pm 
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Exactly right Grace. That constraint of being on a pedestal for women - well - there's not much room up there to move - and lots of room to tumble. It has indeed plagued women to this day. <P>At the same time as they were put on a pedestal they were restrained through just about every other means - in law, in society, in mores, in occupations, in education and in how they thought about themselves.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2000 11:46 pm 
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Thats interesting. Because i actually read it in a book, saying that Marie Taglioni was the first to dance on pointe. But not to worry.<P>I certainly wouldnt say that women still have that longing for 'unattianable perfection' today, i would say women have become quite 'fierce'. <P>Grace, please tell us the story Image

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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 6:49 am 
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Well, I just read through Grace's list of the perfections that women aspire to (or some women at least) and I have come to the conclusion I am perfect at none of them; especially in the finger nail category. <P>But I am "perfectly" happy about that, and now I am going out to try to have a perfect day as I pedal my bike with perfection, around the lake - which is not, however, - a perfect circle.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 6:50 am 
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I am making this a separate post - because I would still like to get back to the topic:<P>What do we want from the ballet?


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 8:19 am 
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Here in the UK I would like to see some small high quality ballet companies, about 10-20 dancers as they have on the Continent and the US, so that there was more scope to do new work. <P>This would be good in itself and also give young choreographers, particularly those who come from the ballet world an opportuntiy to create work. Sadly, I can't see it happening as, by and large, UK ballet audiences don't want to see new work. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited October 21, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 9:21 am 
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Stuart - this seems to be true in opera also - why do you think it is that audiences don't want to see new work?<P>Here in the US - as I understand it - when the major companies tour they "have" to include the full classical story ballets in their schedule of performances in order to fill the theater. So, to some extent that problem is here too.<P>As for me - I enjoy the ballet because it takes me to another world. I am not sure that I want to see my world - the world that I tread through everyday - on the ballet stage. It doesn't mean I want only to see swans and sylphs - but I really don't want to see "Modern Times" danced. <P>The great stories from literature danced is great with me. I can only give you my personal preference here - because that is all I have - and that is what taste is, I guess. For better or worse.<P>I am quite sure, however, I don't want to see a contest of high extensions and multiple rotations, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet: "What next?"
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2000 3:49 pm 
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If dancer A's extension is 5 inches higher than dancer B's extension - who cares? not me. It surely isn't worth the price of a ticket to see that. <P>The reason I go to successive Giselle's, or Swan Lake's etc., is to see the interpretation - I don't sit there and count fouettes'. But I do remember Carla Fracci's mad scene in Giselle. The way Fonteyn's Juliet looks when she first sees Romeo at the ball - that is indelibely marked in my memory.<P>And, I am interested in seeing new works. For my own taste I mostly prefer story ballets, not entirely, but mostly.


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