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Naked or not?Nudity in ballet and other dance forms


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#16 carbro

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 02:59 PM

A few summers ago, the David Parsons Dance Company performed a piece (Union?) at a free, out-of-doors event. The women danced with either one or both breasts exposed, and the dance was partly, it seemed to me, about the slow movement of the unbound, relatively small breast through various bending and stretching movements, inversions, etc. Seeing it in the park added a certain free and feral feeling which I thoroughly enjoyed.

However, being that it was a free summertime event, the audience had many families. There was no advisory beforehand that the program would include partial nudity, which was unfair to parents who may have wished to spare their children the experience.

I subsequently saw the company perform the same work, again at a free, outdoor event. This time, there was another layer of costuming. I was surprised, the second time, to realize how thin the choreography actually was!

In some european ballet companies it already has gotten that far that a dancer has to sign a policy in his contract that he has to dance in the nude if the choreograper or the costume department demand that! Ughhhhh..... :)  :mellow:

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I don't think anyone should be compelled to perform nude if they don't want to, but I guess if there are so many roles in a rep that "demand" nudity, the artistic staff has to ensure the company has enough available dancers to perform the work. Tough situation here.

#17 Giannina

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 08:33 PM

Re: trees and shrubs covering Albrecht in Ek's "Giselle". This was just on the video, not on stage. As Estelle added he does dance a bit and I don't think the censors would have gone for the nudity. It's done very well; at times it's only the position of Albrecht's body that hides his nakedness. I didn't realize he was naked until I watched the tape for the 2nd time years after my first viewing.

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#18 GWTW

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 06:04 AM

Sometimes the distraction is the women's lack of "appendages". What looks great in a leotard or tutu doesn't always conform to our perception of an ideal nude. Most dancers these days aren't odalisques!

#19 klingsor

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 07:16 AM

I've never liked it. Saw Flindt's "Triumph of Death". AWFUL!!! Might have been just as bad without the nudity, though.

I guess if someone choreographs an "Emperor's
New Clothes" it would work.

#20 dirac

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 04:42 PM

Sorry, Giannina, I didn't mean to suggest that I disagreed with you on that specific instance. Not having seen the production, I can't judge, but I'm sure you're right. :) I intended to make a more general observation.

GWTW makes another good point. If a performer's anatomy doesn't resemble the ideal, or the "norm," that can also be a distraction in itself, even if the nudity per se isn't bothersome.


klingsor writes:

I guess if someone choreographs an "Emperor's
New Clothes" it would work.


Now there's a thought.

#21 bart

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 10:09 AM

Today's Links has an article discussing the issue of extra pay nudity.

Performers question cost of nudity

#22 MinkusPugni

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 06:55 PM

Nudity is encorporated into many forms of art - mainly painting and sculpting. If this is acceptable why isn't nudity in ballet? As long as you're not just deciding to dance Swan Lake nude for the hell of it. If a ballet is nude for a reason (such as showing of the creation and beauty of the human form like many of the paintings and sculptures) then I believe it's completely acceptable. The human body is a great thing and we can celebrate it tastefully in ballet. Performing Giselle nude would be completely untasteful and I would be completely shocked that somebody would do something like that to Giselle! But, yes, in the correct circumstances nudity is certainly acceptable in ballet.

#23 Hans

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 07:01 PM

I think the difference is that a marble sculpture isn't actually a person--it's just carved marble, and in sculpture, form is generally idealized.

#24 MinkusPugni

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 11:44 PM

and in sculpture, form is generally idealized.

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I don't think so Hans. Look at The Statue of David. That's a very modest sculpture.

#25 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 06:01 AM

How many guys do you know who are built like "David"? :tomato:

#26 MinkusPugni

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 03:40 PM

He may be more muscly than the average man back then... I don't know if I'm allowed to say this... what about David's "David"? lol

#27 Helene

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 04:17 PM

what about David's "David"? lol

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It's safely out of reach of other dancers' flinging bodies, elbows, knees, feet, etc. and the scenery.

#28 Hans

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 05:22 PM

Michelangelo's "David" is eight feet tall. I don't see what's so modest about that.

#29 Cliff

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 08:20 PM

One practical drawback to nudity in ballet is dancing on pointe. Any artistic statement would be subverted by an otherwise naked woman wearing a pair of pointe shoes.

#30 bart

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 04:32 AM

Good pointe, Cliff.


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