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Ballet styles over time


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 10:48 AM

I think it's primarily dancer driven and not choreographer or audience driven. My "proof"? :tiphat: The Lippizaner (sp?) stallions. They are perfectly happy doing the same steps the same way they were done 400 years ago. So horses don't change? Of course they do. They have scientists constantly messing about with their genes. And they have a competitive spirit, or there would be no horse racing. Is it that they have no fashion sense???

(Guesses at OT Quiz: Mary Quant, really cool cosmetics, England, Swinging Sixies, around Twiggy Time. Rudy Gernreich, topless swimsuit, 1970s?)

#17 carbro

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 10:59 AM

Didn't Mary Quant introduce the miniskirt, in addition to her cosmetics line?

One caught on, the other didn't but may have been intended mostly as a publicity stunt.

I also believe that dancers and the choreographers (and fellow dancers) who love them drive change in ballet. Go to any advanced/professional ballet class over time, and you can see the "lesser" students adopting the mannerisms of the "stars." (Sometimes it's obviously conscious, but sometimes I think it may be a by-product of trying to emulate superior technique.)

And of course, the choreographers who emphasize the qualities they especially like in the dancers they use -- be it high extension, killer fouettes, lightning speed, etc., etc., etc.

#18 Marga

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 11:10 AM

In response to Alexandra and carbro:

Correct, and correct! One point to Alexandra for Rudi Gernreich's topless swimsuit (it was mid-60s, not 1970s), one to carbro for Mary Quant's miniskirt.

As a flower child of the 60s :flowers: (actually, I was just an onlooker of flower child age, as I still am to all that unfolds around me), Quant was famous for introducing the miniskirt. While others came up with the idea of the miniskirt, she acheived the worldwide marketing coup. The smokey eyes and pale lips look which launched her cosmetics line were triggered by the miniskirt craze.

Gernreich's swimsuit was widely debated as to whether it was a publicity stunt, especially given the times. Whatever it was, it's what put him on the map and into people's consciousness.

#19 Paul Parish

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 12:17 AM

Actually, also, people who make new ballets often respond to the social dances that are popular at the time.

When Balanchine arrived in the US, he found the Lindy hop (which was basically a fusion of the Charleston and the shag, danced to swing music) to be a hugely popular dance; it was an African-American dance that crossed over, and everybody was doing it, black people and white.

Many characteristics of Lindy hop turn up in Balanchine's choreography -- the "legomania" steps and Charleston kicks, the speed, the wit, the "cool" attitude and the emphasis on spontaneity, the pelvic tilt, the placement over the balls of the feet (the best dancers, using "cat style," at the Savoy didn't put their heels down), the turn-in-turn-out steps, toying with the beat, the jazzy postures, elbows akimbo...

Anyone familiar with Lindy will recognize it all over the place in Concerto Barocco.

And for another bit of style trivia, what ballerina had front teeth like the great 60s fashion model Jean Shrimpton?

#20 atm711

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 06:22 AM

Anyone familiar with Lindy will recognize it all over the place in Concerto Barocco.



I did a pretty good Lindy in my day, Paul, but I must be missing something; I didn't recognize it in CB. Now, Danses Concertantes as it was done way back in 1944 is another story---it was all over the place in that work.



PS--can you give us a time frame for that Shrimpton look-alike ballerina?

#21 Marga

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 06:53 AM

what ballerina had front teeth like the great 60s fashion model Jean Shrimpton?

It's gotta be Suzanne Farrell, with that wonderful look-of-innocence-and-mystery overbite!

#22 Paul Parish

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 11:43 AM

Yes, It's Farrell...

The Shrimp was a great beauty of swinging London...

atm 711, it's a pleasure to talk to another lover and practitioner of the Lindy hop.
And I sure wish I could say I'd seen Danses Concertantes.

I'm afraid I (charateristically) overstated the Lindy look of Barocco -- though I'd bet it in Marie jeanne's day it looked more like jazz dancing (she says so herself) than it does now.

The version of Lindy being danced we did in Mississippi in hte 50's didn't involve much kicking .. did yours? I was thinking mostly of all those pique ballonnes, and the coupe-releves in arabesque. They have the timing of the Lindy Charleston, which was simpler than the original Charleston.

Our verision of Lindy, which we called the Bop, was in fact pretty much straight 6-count shag, toe-heel toe heel rock-step -- it was a fun dance, but much less fun (and a lot less kicky) than the Savoy-style version I learned a decade ago. In fact, we didn't kick much if at all. SO I wouldn't say all those battements look much like hte bop, either. So maybe we're not talking about hte same thing.

But what ABOUT "Danses COncertantes"? What did that ballet look like? I;'ve never seen it, only read abut it.

COntinuing our trivia contests,
The Shrimp was a great beauty of swinging London...

What dark-haired ballerina, whose flourishing period began 20 years earlier, looked a great deal like both the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret?

Edited by Paul Parish, 11 June 2005 - 11:51 AM.


#23 Thalictum

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 06:03 PM

Could it be Darcy Bussell, Paul?

#24 Marga

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 06:13 PM

What dark-haired ballerina, whose flourishing period began 20 years earlier, looked a great deal like both the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret?

Dame Alicia Markova (aka Alice Marks) always reminded me of the young queen. She bears a resemblance to the young Princess Margaret as well, now that you made me think about it. And its seems that Princess Anne adopted her trademark ballooned hairdo!

#25 bart

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 04:54 AM

Re: late 50s Lindy. In middle-class (possibly repressed) Long Island, the basic set of steps -- as I recall -- involved only one waist-level kick to rear (right leg for male). Politeness and concern for neighboring couples, kept this in control. I recall the consevative elements: couple almost always in contact, holding hands or at least male hand at gir's waist. I can think of some Balanchine partnering patterns here. For some reason, parts of Agon, which I first saw as a 10th-grader, reminded me of high school dances, and I could identify with this.

As I recall, lindy improvisation was rare. Movement on one's own, without the partner, was rarer. Years later I saw the lindy in a 40s wartime and was asstonished by how much freer, more athletic, and exhuberant it was than the version we enjoyed on the high school dance floor.

#26 atm711

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 12:51 PM

Our verision of Lindy, which we called the Bop, was in fact pretty much straight 6-count shag, toe-heel toe heel rock-step --

But what ABOUT "Danses COncertantes"? What did that ballet look like? I;'ve never seen it, only read about it.



We tried mighty hard for the Harlem version---much jumping and high kicking.


The closest ballet today to the old 'Danses Concertantes' is 'Rubies'. It was Balanchine at his jazziest best. Imagine Danilova in those small jazzy thrusts; not a picture many people may have of her. It is amazing when I recall the talent in that early production---Ruthanna Boris, Maria Tallchief, MaryEllen Moylan. I often think it is a shame that when Danilova finally got back to Balanchine she was near the end of her career, andher technique was not up to the other works that Balanchine did for the Company, which is why she was not in most of them---except for the Sleepwalker and I always thought she was miscast in this. Jack Anderson in his book "The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo" describes the ballet well. One thought while I am still on memory lane---the old Russian Tea Room on West 57 Street in NYC had a very large painting of Danilova and Franklin in their yellow Berman costumes from the ballet.

#27 Paul Parish

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 02:26 PM

Bart, it is so cool that you can Lindy.
And atm, i'm having a LOT of fun picturing your Savoy style.
It's still necessary to watch out before kicking your neighbors; the cool place to lindy in SF is, by the way, called the Doghouse. Older dancers are revered. If you ever come out here, you MUST go to the Doghouse Saturday night, you'll have no end of partners.

Bart, you reminded me how sweet it was to recognize a lindy partnering move in "Square Dance," which FB did really well htis year.... It happens several times in hte first movement, that when after dacning round the corps couples get together and stand still, framing the ballerina, they'll stand side by side, and she'll put her hand on his near shoulder -- then he'll gently pick up her hand , and move it behind his head and place it on his far shoulder -- they don't snuggle up or anything, it's all decorous, but it's intimate in a sweet gentle way, and it has an effect on me FAR greater than the scale of the movement -- I go "AW" inside every time they do it.

Also, actually, I like both your candidates for ballerina who looks like the royal princesses - -especially since Princess Ann most certainly did adopt Markova's hair-do.... but I was thinking actually of Fonteyn, whose features to me look a LOT like theirs -- Princess Margaret's eyes are almost exactly the same. Fonteyn looks like their lucky cousin who got to have a "real" life and go on the stage and wear more interesting clothes.

#28 Marga

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 05:54 PM

but I was thinking actually of Fonteyn, whose features to me look a LOT like theirs -- Princess Margaret's eyes are almost exactly the same. Fonteyn looks like their lucky cousin who got to have a "real" life and go on the stage and wear more interesting clothes.

Paul, Margot Fonteyn was my first, gut-reaction, response. But, I thought, hey! that's too easy -- and so I went digging further into my brain! She certainly does resemble the Royals, and she could easily be their very elegant cousin who always behaved royally, in interviews and the TV shows she hosted.

atm -- Has the Russian Tea Room become the "Rush In Tee Room", now that is is owned by the USGA (United States Golf Association). I remember how aghast I was a few years ago when news of the sale came out. What is being done with the property? Is it still a restaurant? Talk about ballet styles! Another era ended. Where do ballet people hang out now?

As for Treefrog's original question, I think if such a video could be conjured up, many of us would be able to ballpark the time periods of the dancing. What an interesting experiment it would be!

#29 atm711

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 10:19 AM

atm -- Has the Russian Tea Room become the "Rush In Tee Room",Where do ballet people hang out now?





Well put, Marga. I patronized the place when it really was the RUSSIAN Tea Room and I could only afford the cheapest dinner on the menu which was something called 'shashlik'---something my southern-european-american background had never heard of. Alas, my hanging out days are long over.


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