Taking a bow
Posted 01 March 2000 - 07:13 PM
“By the way, I think about bows as very complicated art form. How long I have to bow, how low I have to bent, specifically to whom I have to make gestures, what's my relation with partners and so on and so on ...”
I agree completely and speaking from the other side of the fourth wall,
feel that watching bows is an important part of the entire experience of going to the ballet. Especially the bows of ballerinas, which are some of the most graceful series of movements that the human body can accomplish. There seems to be a few “standard” bows—or to be both more general and more specific, standard actions while accepting applause after a ballet.
There is the art of presenting a flower to her cavalier by the ballerina who was given the bouquet. The ballerina’s bow itself seems to be variations of the typical (and lovely) sinking slowly to the stage with one leg extended. And on those occasions where there is a conductor in the pit who takes a bow, it is (I think) the prima ballerina who goes to the wings to lead him to the center of the stage. After which, at least houses in the North America, there are some group calls which the conductor seems to be in charge of.
Is bowing taught or is it something that young dancers or students simply pick up from watching and imitating older performers? Are there specific schools or methods (Cecchetti, French, Russian) of bowing? It seems almost like laughing is with opera singers—a trained singer can laugh in tempo, on key and in character and has no special training to do so—singers I have spoken with almost always say the same thing, that “You just do it.” Is it similar with bowing and ballet dancers?
Posted 01 March 2000 - 09:41 PM
Posted 02 March 2000 - 08:10 AM
A nice example of "the art of bows" is the "defile" (acute accents on both "e"s) of the Paris Opera Ballet. It is done for the first performance of each season, and for some special occasions. All the dancers of the company and all the students of the POB school are involved, always in the same order
(first the girls of the POB school, then the premieres danseuses surrounded with the female quadrilles and sujets, then the female principal dancers surrounded with the female sujets, with the oldest principal dancer coming last, and then it's the same for men: the boys of the school, etc., ending with the oldest male etoile), on some music from Berlioz's "Les Troyens". It's the only moment when the iron curtain which is at the back of the stage is open, so one can see the Foyer de la Danse (behind the stage) and its mirrors, it makes a great perspective. All the dancers come from there, walking slowly, and make bows when they arrive close to the audience. I remember seeing some reharsals of it on TV, the ballet master was rehearsing with some new principals (they had to walk and make bows on the rhythm of the music). After the bows, the dancers of the corps de ballet make lines on the side of the stage and the principals exit on the side, but at the end the light goes down for a few seconds, and they all come back very quickly on stage (with a strict order there too: the oldest principals are at the center of the stage, the youngest on the side...). Of course, the audience applauses with much enthusiasm during the "defile"!
Posted 02 March 2000 - 09:09 AM
I think in-character curtain calls can be charming, if not done to excess.
Posted 02 March 2000 - 09:14 AM
Posted 02 March 2000 - 09:50 AM
Posted 02 March 2000 - 12:17 PM
Posted 02 March 2000 - 12:21 PM
They've got a new curtain call, the curtainless curtain call. (New from the last time they were here, anyway). It was part of "Giselle." The dancers step back, as they always do, except there's no curtain; only a play pretend one. So you see Albrecht lunge for Giselle's flowers. A squabble ensues. Albrecht realizes the audience can see him, calls this to the attention of the others, and they're back in curtain call mode.
I have a Danish curtain call story, from a young dancer. He said he couldn't remember who taught him, but it had to be Brenaa. It's better when mimed, but I'll try.
First, you raise your eyes to the gallery, and raise one hand to salute them, as if to say, "Thank you for appreciating my art" and then you cross your hands over your chest, smile modestly, and box to the people in the first four rows, as if to say, "and thank you for paying." Hans Brenaa supposedly once instructed a dancer to "dance for the people in the first four rows, because they have paid the most for the ticket.)
Posted 02 March 2000 - 12:36 PM
Curtain calls also lend themselves to mishaps, like when the ballerina can't get that stupid rose out of the bouquet to give to her partner and tugs and tugs in an unladylike manner. Or there was that grande-ballerina-style sinking-to-one-knee curtsey that Twyla Tharp gave at the end of Beethoven's Seventh. It certainly didn't work with the rather mannish-looking suit she was wearing.
Being an old man I'd thought I'd seen just about everything, but I was rather surprised a few seasons ago at NYCB to see Miranda Weese somehow manage to hurt herself during a curtain call. It was after Symphony in Three Movements. The curtain came up, and as she stepped to the front of the stage to take her bows with the other leading ladies, she somehow slipped or stumbled over her foot. She was grimacing in pain and noticably limping until the curtain came down, and was conspicuously absent from the bows in front of the curtain, even though she was dancing a lead and should've been there. I was kind of flabbergasted, having never seen a curtain-call injury before, but I was quite thankful when Weese returned onstage after the following intermission. So I guess it looked worse than it actually was.
Posted 02 March 2000 - 01:31 PM
From a choreographer's point of view, we generally set bows, but there are certain standard ones that you're taught, but so casually that it really is something you pick up as you go along ("OK, ladies, right leg in b-plus, right left right left b-plus, and back") NYCB is famous for not rehearsing their bows, everyone seems to walk forward starting with a different foot. Balanchine also had a preferred curtain call, he preferred the women to do a deep curtsey with their back foot on the floor rather than with a pointed foot (which I prefer.)
You pick up certain niceties as you watch others. If I was with a partner I behaved as if the applause was all for her, ("Gentlemen, escort her out, stay on her left side, take a step back and present her") but that's a continuation of the attitude you try to have in the dance itself.
Finally, when you're not dancing the principal role, or dealing with less than a world-class company, you try to be realistic about bows. My usual instruction to the dancers is to make it quick and don't out-bow your applause.
Posted 02 March 2000 - 01:43 PM
Posted 02 March 2000 - 02:27 PM
Manhattnik, there are 11 rows (and four tiers) in that Theatre. Please.
Posted 02 March 2000 - 03:14 PM
On a different aspect of this thread, audience members, try to keep the dancers from out bowing their applause. Others in the audience will join you if you clap furiously as it starts to die and the dancers are still out there. Dancers and stage managers, bows are important, yes, but please learn when to get off of the stage, or when to drop the curtain.
Guest_Just a Mom_*
Posted 07 March 2000 - 09:18 PM
Posted 08 March 2000 - 01:05 AM
I was reminded of this tonight, when I saw Contact, Susan Stroman's wonderful "dance play." After the obligatory full-cast bows, the dancers went into a choreographed series of bows in which the soloists from each of the three parts of the show took their leave of the audience in a fashion appropriate to their playlet. They weren't in character, exactly; they were their characters and themselves at the same time, and the audience loved it.
[This message has been edited by Ari (edited March 08, 2000).]
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