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Ballet Watching and Critique 101


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#1 Treefrog

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 07:58 AM

This question/idea accompanies my other thread on "teasing apart the artistic elements." Do any ballet companies sponsor/market a course on how to watch the ballet? I know that some have the occasional pre- or post-performance talk. I'm thinking of something that meets more regularly and encompasses introductions to history, technique, choreography, and perhaps something about the particular style and goals of that company. Studio demonstrations would be a definite plus, as would post-performance critique sessions.

What do you think? If this isn't being done, could it? Is it economically viable? Is there a market? Would it build an audience?

#2 grace

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 08:23 AM

interesting idea, treefrog.

it sounds far more in-depth than anyone in the local audience (here) would tolerate.

however, in a major city: london, new york, SF, whatever...maybe!

it does occur to me though, that it might be a possible way to encourage and/or train potential critics...(in australia, people are most disinclined to become critics, so maybe something like this would help)...i might just pass on your suggestion to the dance magazine here...maybe they could arrange such a course, together with a ballet company, in order to draw out and/or train up some new potential writers...which i know they presently need.

good thinking! :cool:

#3 Calliope

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 08:32 AM

I don't know of any programs, other than the pre-performance talks. Although, I think ABT just sent out something about a 12 week "course"
Unfortunately schools don't have enough funding for arts education it either.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 08:47 AM

There are occasionally courses here at the Smithsonian (I taught one last year), but they don't draw the turn out of 100-plus that is necesary to make money, and so are not frequently offered.

Treefrog, I sympathize completely. I took a criticism course (with no intentions of being a critic) long ago because I wanted someone to teach me how to see. Actually, I wanted to learn how to see what wasn't there -- I thought I was doing fairly well on what WAS there, but kept reading "she's no Fonteyn," "the ballet is in total disrepair this season" -- there were times when I could SEE this, or sense it, but often I couldn't, though believed in the possibility. (I have to say I did not learn any of this from the course. The instructor, an excellent critic, taught it was a journalism/writing course, but didn't go into the analysis. He encouraged us to learn how to express what we were seeing. I had to do the rest of it on my own, and I did it by reading reviews and trying to see what the reviewers were seeing -- often I would dismiss them, sometimes wrongly, but often I learned something.)

#5 Treefrog

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 09:49 AM

It's interesting that the Smithsonian offers an occasional course. I am astounded that it takes more than 100 enrollees to make money!

But that's precisely why I was thinking of a company-based course. It might not make money, but perhaps it could pay off in the long run if it produces a more educated audience, especially one that is acculturated to the company's particular style, vibes, peculiarities, etc.

#6 BW

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 01:00 PM

Sign me up! I would love to take part in a course like this, if it were given at a higher level than the "meet the dancer" types of talks that are geared for "families".

Calliope, can you give us anymore info on the ABT "course"? It wasn't in their Footnotes newsletter was it?

#7 Paquita

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Posted 24 April 2003 - 11:41 AM

The department of continuing education at the University of Toronto is offering a course/ lecture series called "The History of Dance: Inside the National Ballet of Canada" (see http://learn.utoronto.ca) next season. I think these types of programs are great for the public. However, this particular course is quite expensive for $300 for 5 sessions...

#8 BW

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 04:46 AM

Although this is far from a course, there is a handy "library" on ABT's site and in it they have their ballet dictionary...which has some nice, little Quick Time videos of many of the steps being performed. :(

#9 Guest_FutureGiselle_*

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Posted 03 May 2003 - 08:53 PM

Most major companies give ballet talks. For example ABT is one of them. People can go there to learn more about the ballet they are seeing and find out about the cheorgraphy and other things. These can make someone going to see a ballet more enjoyable. There is usually a small fee. Also NYCB gives ballet seminiars.


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