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Is this still ballet?cuban ballet


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#1 regularjoe

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 12:12 AM

Hello everybody,

I'm a new poster here, and just a regular guy. I must admit that I don't have any special love for ballet, and probably only have seen one or two just for a girl.

Anyways, I have a question about whether or not the following should be considered ballet. There was a recent story in cnn: http://www.cnn.com/2...s.ap/index.html

To me, I don't think its fair to label this as ballet, especially since they've 'limited' some of the movements expected. Just from a physics standpoint, it seems that they probably have eliminated most of the leaps and lifts. How does one determine whether or not something is ballet or modern dance. Are there certain movements that you need to incorporate before one can call it modern dance? Even though I wouldn't normally go out and watch ballet, I still respect all the hard work that those professionals have gone through. It just seems to be PC gone amuck, where anybody can call itself ballet.

#2 Helene

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 12:35 AM

Whether dance is ballet is determined by whether the dancers have been schooled in ballet technique, which most modern dancers are as well, and whether the choroegraphy uses ballet vocabulary, or what is formally known as "danse d'ecole."

(For a more detailed explanation on the differences between ballet and modern dance, please see the Mission Statement for this site at:
http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=9771)

However, that does not mean that every ballet step must be included in every ballet, nor must a ballet emphasize leaps and lifts. Swan Lake has many, but, for example, in many ballets, the majority of the corps de ballet -- the women who perform mostly as a group -- are never lifted and rarely leap.

Weight would not stop a dancer from any leaps, but would limit height. There are two types of lifts -- low and overhead. In neither case is the man doing a dead lift, because the woman plies -- bends her knees -- and pushes up into the lift. In the Bournonville repertory, one of the longest surviving in ballet and performed mainly by the Royal Danish Ballet, there is minimal partnering and few lifts. Ballet does not require pointe shoes for women, and may be performed in ballet slippers.

The only place that ballet is reference in the article is in the opening paragraph by the author (unattributed). "Ballet" is neither in the name of the Company, nor have any Company members quoted claim that what they are performing is ballet. Labelling what this Company does as ballet may very well be the common misunderstanding and misconception of what ballet is vs. dance or modern dance.

#3 carbro

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 01:04 AM

How does one determine whether or not something is ballet or modern dance. PC gone amuck, where anybody can call itself ballet.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Sure-fire giveaway: If the women are in pointe shoes, it's ballet; if the dancers are barefoot, it's modern.

"Modern" is a catch-all phrase, and different "schools" have slightly different vocabularies and/or techniques. In general, a modern dancer has a weighted quality -- the way the muscles work to create movement, where a ballet dancer is lighter -- lifted through the torso. Also, the spine of modern dancers generally has a wider range of movement.

These are gross simplifications, and the lines that divide Ballet from Modern are not as clear as they were a generation or two ago. Except the part about the shoes :wink: Come to think about it, New York City Ballet recently danced a true ballet with barefooted women.

See what I mean about blurred lines? :D

--Carley

P.S.: Oh, and welcome to BalletTalk, regularjoe! :P

#4 regularjoe

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 06:17 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

So, if weight isn't an issue, then how come we don't see heavier ballernias? Is this just the aesthetics of the art? Somebody was arguing with me that because of all this weight discrimination, it leads to a lot of unhealthy and malnourished ballerinas.

#5 Helene

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 06:35 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

So, if weight isn't an issue, then how come we don't see heavier ballernias? Is this just the aesthetics of the art? Somebody was arguing with me that because of all this weight discrimination, it leads to a lot of unhealthy and malnourished ballerinas.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Weight is an issue; it just doesn't define whether a dancer is dancing ballet. The aesthetic for ideal and acceptable weight for professional dancers has changed over the years. Balanchine, who used to urge his ballerinas to thinness, didn't let weight stop him from recognizing and falling in love with the young Suzanne Farrell, one of those he urged, or from keeping Gloria Govrin in his Company for many years, creating new roles for her, and even casting her in a televised version of Apollo. But the current aesthetic of thinness and whether it is necessary is one that is argued vociferously, with many definitions of "too thin," "too heavy," and "just right." While modern dance has traditionally accepted a broader range of body types (and hair lengths), I don't think it's a coincidence that one of the most acclaimed dancers in Mark Morris Dance Group, Julie Worden -- the female equivalent of a heartthrob -- looks more like a ballerina than your average modern dancer.

In my opinion, an even bigger question than whether weight discrimination leads to a lot of unhealthy and malnourished ballerinas -- many of whom smoke like chimneys -- is whether it leads to unhealthy and malnourished girls and teenagers who fight their weight to in order to become professional ballet dancers.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 07:08 PM

This is ballet only in its extended sense. In some circles, it would be quite all right to define "Appalachian Spring" as a ballet. In ballet circles, it would cause several cases of apoplectic rage. Martha Graham was a modern dance dancer and choreographer.

#7 regularjoe

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Posted 22 January 2005 - 11:04 PM

So, right now, what is the ideal ballerina figure, i.e. weight or size?

#8 Treefrog

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:06 PM

Joe, I think it's difficult to give an ideal weight, as that will vary so much with height and other factors such as bone density. Besides, the ideal "look" varies a lot by company. Some companies do look for body "types" (I'm told; I'm not an expert on this by any means), but I think that has more to do with proportions, i.e. arms and legs in relation to torso. Other companies have a reputation for being more forgiving of body type.

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:23 PM

And some companies go out of their way to find marvelous dancers that don't fit anybody's idea of ideal, physically, but who can really dance! The case of the "Voluminous Ballet" is an extreme, but sight unseen, I'd have to stack their work with the modern dance companies, as the dancers use naturalistic movement, and their very size to create the stage pictures. I won't be looking for a Swan Lake from them anytime soon.

#10 Treefrog

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:27 PM

Right! The Joffrey Ballet has a male dancer who, at 6'4" or so, literally stands head and shoulders over the other dancers. But, man, can he dance!

#11 carbro

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 05:16 PM

Also, it is important to remember that in addition to being artists, ballet dancers are extraordinary athletes, and like athletes in sports, they must be in condition to move quickly and precisely, to jump high, to cover space efficiently.

At ABT, for example, women range from Misty Copeland, who is petite and muscular, to Carmen Corella, who is tall and willowy.

#12 Farrell Fan

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 07:42 PM

This is ballet only in its extended sense.  In some circles, it would be quite all right to define "Appalachian Spring" as a ballet.  In ballet circles, it would cause several cases of apoplectic rage. 


Especially on Ballet Alert.

#13 Anne74

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Posted 23 January 2005 - 08:30 PM

I would like to add a couple of things: First of all, for most female ballet dancers the issue is more of a desire to achieve a certain body shape, as opposed to an actual need to lose pounds or fat. And because of the inevitable frustration that occurs when trying to change the unchangeable, we see the tendency of (especially young) female ballet dancers towards disordered eating habits in an attempt to get different physical attributes through weight loss.

Also, most ballet schools (and companies as well) nowadays emphasize health first and foremost. Student dancers with genuine weight problems are usually given lots of good guidance and sound, practical advice and help.

#14 regularjoe

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 10:38 PM

I remember watching the news several years ago where there was a controversy concerning a russian ballet dancer. I believe she got fired because her company felt she was overweight. Should she have been fired, was she really overweight?

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 January 2005 - 10:56 PM

Actually, we all here recognized that the "weight" issue was a figleaf for management to get rid of a dancer who was a prima donna. She was just plain difficult to work with. I'm remembering the original production of Nutcracker in 1892, and its ballerina Antonietta dell'Era, the first Sugar Plum Fairy. The Maryinsky management knew that she wasn't a first-rate dancer, and one of the dancers even applied the ultimate dancer damnation to her, "She's FAT!" Photos of her survive, and she doesn't look any heftier than any other ballerina in that well-upholstered age.


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