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Kennedy Center - Week 2


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#46 Alexandra

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 04:10 PM

That's what we need -- more cocky headtilts!

Ray, I noticed the lack of eye contact with the MCB dancers, too, or at least some of them. Hasn't this become the way of the [dance] world generally, though? It's all steps and counts, nothing else. It's not that one wants to see people waving and grinning in Balanchine ballets, but I think for the past 20 years, at least (and actually, for about five years before he died) the "We do not show emotion" approach was taken to extremes.

#47 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 04:21 PM

What's funny is the worst performances of Balanchine's works I've seen have the opposite problem, where people try to "sell" the choreography. I've actually seen more of that error than of the robot automatons that seem to bother other people.

Every ballet requires something different and a different situation, of course. Balanchine needs to be cast very carefully, because (at least to me) Balanchine's casting was planned that in some ways half of his work was done after he had chosen the dancer for the role. This doesn't make him all that different from other great choreographers, but it's important.

#48 Ray

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 04:22 PM

Yes, once he said "Some like it hot; I like ice cream" it was all downhill (well, maybe...). I agree--although I am always afraid of saying "those were the good old days" since that's probably what someone was saying then about an earlier time. Anyway, what's really interesting about this is that so much of Balanchine's choreography is often cleverly structured so that the dancers *can* look at one another, if only to stay in line or keep a proper distance.

#49 carbro

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 05:14 PM

Hans, sorry if my meaning wasn't quite clear. Any good ballet can be equally fun to watch or to dance, I'm sure. I am sure, too, that you wouldn't have become a dancer at all if, as a child, you didn't get enormous pleasure from just dancing around (before you did your first plie) to whatever music captured your fancy. I was assuming -- perhaps incorrectly -- that most dancers got more joy from doing than from watching. I never performed, never was taught any choreography per se, but I did take class as an adult, and choosing between class and a performance, the program and cast had to be pretty darned compelling to lure me from the studio.

My interpretation of "Just dance, dear," is that Balanchine was so fed up seeing insincere interactions and heavy-handed, unconvincing [ahem] Acting that he wanted the dancers to find their own meanings in his melding of steps and music, and he was willing to let them find them on their own. He did not see his role as an acting coach. This is very different from washing all emotion out of the dancing. Unfortunately, many of his dancers (and many who read this quote) took his words at face value. I think very few of Balanchine's famous quotes can be taken at face value. There's usually another level of meaning. Didn't he delight in being enigmatic?

I do think that he preferred his ice maidens to be aloof, though, for these ladies were objects of adoration.


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