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American Dumbed Down vs. Euro High Falutin'?Can we generalize about the worst?


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#16 kfw

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 10:48 AM

carbro, I love your example. I didn't take your questions as rhetorical, I just blame -- too strong a word, but that's my drift -- the artists not the audiences.

#17 Ari

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 12:45 PM

Jonas is talking about opera, and the situation there is very different. He takes works of art created by others and gives them provocative new stagings. Which is fine. Just don't tell me that's the only way to do it. Imagine ballet getting to a similar point

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Unfortunately, ballet got to that point a long time ago. Look at all the stagings of Swan Lake that detour radically from Ivanov's/Petipa's outline and choreography. Someone mentioned here not too long ago that no major company nowadays has a traditional Swan Lake -- even those that keep the white acts pretty much intact smother them with clever-clever concepts and costumes/scenery. And think of all those productions set in a madhouse, etc. . . .

There does seem to be a fashion for victimizing certain ballets like this. Swan Lake suffers the most. But most productions of The Sleeping Beauty are fairly conventional.

#18 dirac

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 01:48 PM

I suspect that Swan Lake invites this unfortunate manhandling for more than one reason. It’s the most immediately identifiable brand name in ballet with probably the most celebrated score, and there’s something about the angst of the subject matter that makes it attractive to “revisionists.”

#19 carbro

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 02:46 PM

I just found myself pondering Balanchine's Swan Lake -- how it is a commentary on Ivanov, a sort of "If he were around now and had my dancers, he would have done something like this." I know that when Balanchine made his, the stagings in Russia and London were still quite orthodox (except for the Soviet happy ending), and I assume (but don't know) that Paris also had a traditional staging. But I don't know about other major houses.

Swan Lake has almost become a metaphor for its own story: you can only appear as your true self under very limited circumstances. Maybe someone will fall in love with you then and rescue you from your uncertain fate.

:pinch: Siegfried, where are you????

#20 keguri

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 09:08 PM

Having lived in both Europe (in Freiburg, Germany for 1.5 years, as also Vienna) and America, and also Asia I feel that there is some truth to this. When I was in Germany as a student I had many friends that had an active and seemingly profound love for Classical music and opera. They would participate in informal choir groups, play music together, and even organize small gatherings where they would listen to demanding operas (Tristan and Isolde, Moses and Aaron), in their entirely. I felt that their love for culture was sincere and not pretentious, and many of them came from rather modest backgrounds. In the Unites States, in contrast, it was very rare, even at an "elite" University, to find students my age who loved classical music without having aspirations of a career in the field. It was much more common, indeed, to find extraordinarily gifted classical musicians who would never actually listen to classical music on their free time. This widely-diffused love for culture was reflected in the sorts of cultural offerings available in a relatively small provincial city like Freiburg: there was a small but good opera, and a Tanztheater, both of which seemed to have a fairly regular schedule of performances.
But of course, this also has to do with the very different way that the arts are funded in Europe.

#21 diane

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 01:59 AM

quote: But of course, this also has to do with the very different way that the arts are funded in Europe.


yep.
Very true.

There has to be the idea that things which are worthwhile having are worthwhile having for everyone, and therefore everyone will pay for them; in the case of Germany through taxes.
("taxes" are a wonderful thing, if used got msnx people!)

I have lived in Europe - in four different countries - for over thirty years.
There is a different feeling here and a stronger respect for things-which-have-gone-before than I have noticed in many parts of the USA.

-d-

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:53 AM

("taxes" are a wonderful thing, if used got msnx people!)


Huh?

#23 diane

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 04:27 AM

?????? No idea what happend there! I did not even use the "b" word!! (round object ....) :huh: weird....


what I had actually typed was more along the lines of, "... if used to help many people."
But, hey, that is obvious anyway, I guess.

Never mind. :D
(say it in Edith Bunker voice :wink: )



-d-

#24 dirac

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:31 AM

Thanks for bringing back this old thread, keguri. I think you and diane make a good point about arts funding in Europe and the difference it makes (along with the underlying attitude to culture that makes such funding possible). Ib Andersen said something similar recently at a Ballet Across America discussion.

There has to be the idea that things which are worthwhile having are worthwhile having for everyone, and therefore everyone will pay for them;


Well put, diane.

#25 sandik

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 10:46 PM

Thanks for bringing back this old thread, keguri. I think you and diane make a good point about arts funding in Europe and the difference it makes (along with the underlying attitude to culture that makes such funding possible). Ib Andersen said something similar recently at a Ballet Across America discussion.

There has to be the idea that things which are worthwhile having are worthwhile having for everyone, and therefore everyone will pay for them;


Well put, diane.


Maybe this is just catching me in a sad moment, but in my community we're having so much trouble finding adequate funding for the public schools that I wonder what universal good we would be willing to support. If not the arts, if not education -- then what?

#26 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 08:05 AM

... I wonder what universal good we would be willing to support. If not the arts, if not education...

...if not public health...

#27 keguri

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 01:35 PM

... I wonder what universal good we would be willing to support. If not the arts, if not education...

...if not public health...


Sadly, it is all too clear where and when the government will spend money: wars to fight regimes we once supported, prisons for those who we have failed to educate, bailouts to save industries from their malfeasance --- not to mention all the industry subsidies and pork. I guess when a country has lost a deeper sense of some kind of universal will, it can only find the political will to back "emergency actions." Everything else is done by political extortion. What we need is a positive, rather than reactive and negative, sense of the public good. But this is more difficult, since it means coming to a general consensus about what we as humans (or as Americans) should be and become, rather than merely what is necessary to survive as we are. European countries like France and Germany seem to have a strong sense of culture as a part of their national identity, not least of all because, especially for Germany after the second world war, this was one of the few ways they could continue to assert national identity without renewing militarism and imperialist ambitions.
I also wonder if things are not worse now than before: during the cold war, Americans saw themselves in competition with a real communism that had to be taken seriously as a military, cultural, athletic, even economic power. So we needed to do well at those things where the communists did well. The Russians, of course, did well at ballet. But now the communism American politicians and ideologues fight against is truly, again, a specter, and so resistance to communism has taken the form of resistance to all forms of government support for any common good beyond the barest conditions of economic activity and personal liberty --- without realizing that most "socialist" policies instituted in Western Europe and America were done to avoid the sorts of economic, social, political crises that were thought to lead inevitably to communism (or fascist) revolution.
But this is ballet talk, not political rant, so back to the point: I feel that if institution-intensive arts like ballet or opera or classical music are to survive in America, arts organization need a powerful, multi-pronged approach for integrating them better into American life. I don't think there can be a simple political consensus in support of arts that demand so much of their audience. But it might be possible, through a number of convergent strategies, to achieve a flourishing cultural life.

#28 diane

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 11:14 PM

keguri,
very well said!
Thank you for your thoughts on this.

Another thing:
There is of course also a much more homogenous society in many european countries, which does make it _somewhat_ easier to decide which things are important.

I would venture to say that all cultures are important, and nearly all of them have at their center music, dance, literature (and more).... and this we can (and really should) find ways of supporting.
Where to begin, when so many citizens are struggling to keep up a minimum of life-quality is a huge challenge.


-d-

#29 Mashinka

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 04:42 AM

Interesting thread: for the record though the UK is as dumbed down as it is possible to get. Mainland Europe's cultural attitudes have never really made it across the Channel.

#30 leonid17

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 12:47 PM

Interesting thread: for the record though the UK is as dumbed down as it is possible to get. Mainland Europe's cultural attitudes have never really made it across the Channel.



Well, you are correct in that many people enjoy simpler interests and pleasures, but one has to be inclined to say it depends on the milieu you inhabit whether it is in the UK or Europe.

I find the nouveau riche snobisme of the French unpalatable and the German and Austrian snobistisch unbearable in their appreciation of their own arts and would be loathed for the UK to adopt their cultural attitudes.

People from almost every walk of life in the UK today attend arts events in greater numbers than at any other period of the past.

It is too easy to generalise about the cultural activities of any country and it is an unattractive designation to describe any element of a population to be described as "dumbed down."

For those who know, the USA has for more than a hundred years welcomed great artists and produced a good number as well. Its academic activities in respect of the arts are expansive. You have great orchestras, a number of good opera houses, significant museums and art galleries which are renowned. Academic study of the arts in America is so rich it’s impossible to keep up with every dissertation and publication.

These are things for America to be proud of but, in a democracy it has to be arts for everybody. Some of my interests were further encouraged by the TV shows that Leonard Bernstein made way back when and I am sure such an open for everybody to see and hear approach is one of the right ways to introduce culture to those who have little or no understanding of the word.

However you approach the problem of funding for education arts and events, I may be wrong, but the problem lies with American history which to my English mind, has reflected the feeling that although central government and state funding for the arts exist, they are not deemed a necessity or a right by everyone and for some American politicians, the concept of funding arts and cultural education and their activities by the state, still smacks of socialism and effetism.

The important question is how committed are governments to broadening the experience of all their citizens and of course this works two
ways. You either offer opportunity to learn or you impose cultural education. In many homes, family values will be the deciding factor for many children and young people.

The rejection of the high arts is commonplace. "How will such knowledge of culture put bread on the table and what do you have to show for going to the opera, how will it really help and you and your family, " may well be the damning of a spark of interest.

I cannot think of any country where a sincere elevation of knowledge is a guiding principle for all people from disadvantaged groups. After all who would do the jobs that educated and cultivated people do not want to do.

In England state funding for the arts began with the founding in 1940 Committee for Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) set up by Royal Charter and one the most important events for the arts in Great Britain was the appointment of John Maynard Keynes as it chairman in 1941 who established funding for 46 arts organisation by the end of the 2nd World War. Its successor The Arts Council of England (There are Scottish. Welsh and Northern Ireland Arts Councils) now regularly supports some 880 arts organisations. Our major arts organisations are all supported by government funding.

As to Europe, if you want to discover the German Arts Funding Model might like to read:
http://www.osborne-c...nding_model.htm

France has a Ministry of Culture and the modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959. Wikipedia gives a very good background to the concept of the, "right to culture." See: http://en.wikipedia....ulture_(France)

Interestingly, the so called real upper class of the UK are no longer to be seen at the opera and ballet in London. I wonder if they have become dumbed down?


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