Written record of Ballet
Posted 25 March 2003 - 12:23 PM
If I want a written record of a ballet, I can get ....????
I know for the music, I can get a score, but for the movement, is there a choreographer's record? How do I, as an enthusastic amateur and audience member, get something that helps me refer to a particular movement on stage (independently of the music) ... or how do I "see", in the written sense, how a variation differs from the "standard" movements?
Posted 25 March 2003 - 02:57 PM
So there are only written librettos (sometimes with quite a lot of details, for example like Gautier and Vernoy de Saint-George's original libretto for "Giselle"),
and also sometimes some texts depicting the variations (I remember reading something like that about "Giselle") but it can't be as exact as a musical score. The easiest tool probably is video, and it's used quite often to stage some ballets, but it often isn't available for audience members, and it has some shortcomings (it depends on a particular set of interprets, some video materials get old quite quickly, sometimes it misses part of what happens on stage, etc.)
Actually that's one of the really frustrating sides of ballet for me: when one is interested in a play, musical piece, opera, etc. in general it's not too difficult to find a text or musical score and also often a recording. The magic of live performance is missing, but at least one can know what that work looks like (and also it makes it relatively easy to stage even though it has been forgotten for decades). But for ballet, there are so many great works that either got lost, or are still performed but rarely or far away from one's country and there's no way for the eager balletomane to know what it looks like...
Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:18 PM
She said that ballet notation essentially goes into archives, but is otherwise not available ... seems a shame there isn't something more like a libretto or an overview of technical items.
I can imagine it would be exceedingly difficult to choreograph without an easy form of notation ... after all, how does a choreographer capture what he/she does or is thinking?
Wow!! I've just looked at the Labanotation websites -- very interesting but very complex. The second site is especially interesting ... a high school in El Paso, TX, that teaches Labanotation to its students and then uses it to transmit dance from other cultures!!
I wish it were possible to get some of the more common ballets (or perhaps even just more common movements) annotated so one could study them at home before a performance.
Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:41 PM
There's a nice little scene in the film "The Turning Point" that illustrates this in a very simple way. The great Alexandra Danilova is sitting at a table with Starr Danias, Leslie Browne, and Anne Bancroft (as a senior ballerina facing retirement) and points around the table to each woman, saying, "From me to you, and then to you, and then to you" – signifying the passage of an old tradition to girls born in a country younger than the art form itself.
Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:54 PM
Video or DVD is certainly not the ideal solution ... unless you had multiple cameras and a way of displaying the full stage as a hologram ... what other choices are there?
Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:57 PM
Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:50 PM
Posted 25 March 2003 - 07:05 PM
Posted 25 March 2003 - 07:09 PM
Posted 28 March 2003 - 06:10 PM
Here's an old thread on the Labanotation theme.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the passing on is somewhat like Akira Kurosawa's Roshomon, in that every dancers's perception/memory of a ballet is somewhat different?
Posted 28 March 2003 - 06:28 PM
Posted 29 March 2003 - 07:29 AM
When the dancers came together, in one segment, Group A turned to the left, while Group B turned to the right. Pandemonium. Accusations. Curses. A film was found. And there, yes indeed, when they were dancing it, Group A Leader turned to the left, while Group B leader incorrectly -- and singularly -- turned to the riight. So both stagers were, in fact, doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU TOLD ME TO DO!
HOWEVER. The difference between staging and Rashomon is that there is one truth: the particular version being staged. If 10 different dancers stage something 10 different ways, it doesn't mean that all 10 are "right." Some dancers are accused of only remembering his/her own part -- and sometimes these accusations are dead on. Not all stagers are equal. Some people see better, some people remember better, some people have a deeper understanding of the work -- and some who may get 10s on any objective perception test may have learned the work from an idiot.
The first time I saw the Danes' "La Sylphide," I noticed 22 aspects of staging -- just gesture and stage business, nothing as complicated as how far the head should be tilted forward or how high the back leg should be -- that were not in the ABT production that I had "grown up" seeing. I wrote them down. Two days later, I overheard a dancer visiting from ABT say, "It's exactly like ours." I hope this person never stages. The text -- the steps and patterns -- are probably quite similar.
I liked Hans's explanation very much -- two tendus. We could have a Tendu thread -- Ballets with Important Tendus in Them And How They Differ!
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