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Naked or not?Nudity in ballet and other dance forms


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#91 Mel Johnson

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 02:06 PM

And I hope any nude scenes aren't at the end. I mean, who goes grave-robbing nekkid? :)

#92 4mrdncr

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 03:30 PM

In several of the Boston Ballet R&J productions I 've seen over the last 15+ yrs, (there have been versions by 4 different choreographers before BB finally settled this year on Cranko's--hooray!), Romeo was shirtless in the bedroom scene/pdd, and put on a shirt & cloak when he left. Juliet kept her nightie on throughout the scene.

BTW: The Spanish production of "La Gioconda" originally produced at Barcelona's Liceu with choreography by Georghe Iancu and contemporary staging by Pier Luigi Pizzi, which was notable for its principal dancers (Letizia Giuliani/Angel Corella) wearing not much other than gold paint, is now playing at Madrid's Teatro Real. And the reaction has been the same as previously--more ovations and accolades for the dancers and their exemplary technique (physiques?), than for the singers. There are pictures of both performances (the original 2005 in Barcelona, and this month's in Madrid) on the internet, but not sure I could post link.

#93 CarolinaM

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 07:29 AM

I thought that this La Gioconda and its « Dance of the Hours » was also performed at the MET in NY after the Liceu. I know the dancers were the same, Corella and Giuliani but can anyone let me know if it has exactly been the same version as per the opera but mainly per the dance: Choreography, dressing, etc….?

Many thanks!

#94 oyoyoyoyoy

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 11:57 AM

In the 80's, North Carolina Dance Theater (under the direction of Sal Aiello) toured with a contemporary piece by Mauricio Wainrot that had the female lead topless for the last 1/4 to a 1/3 of the ballet. It did cause a bit of a problem when performed in Denton, Texas at Texas Women's University because NCDT had failed to inform it's sponsor that there was partial nudity in the piece and, of course, being Texas, there were many young ladies in their Sunday best whose parent's were, rightfully, scandalized. There was a meeting of the artistic staff of NCDT and the univerity the next day, but other than a reprimand and advice to notify future sponsors of the partial nudity it seemed to pass without an undue amount of furor. I doubt that it would pass so quietly in today's somewhat fervent atmosphere. The NCDT dancer at the time was Dana Caspersen who is currently with William Forsythe's company where she performs "Telos" (I probably got the name wrong) completely nude. And a stunningly beautiful body it is!!

NCDT also performed Elise Monte's "White Dragon" which consisted of five dancers - sometimes two women, sometimes not. NCDT never did it topless (all five dancers are costumed alike), but I'm sure Elise's company did it topless. They also had at least one other partially nude ballet.


At the time, it did not phase me one bit or even enter into my mind that it was something one shouldn't do. But I must admit that after having a child of my own, my viewpoint changed - I would want to, at least, be informed prior to the performance (to purchasing tickets) that partial or full nudity was to be involved so that I could decide if I wanted my child to attend.

I'm not really a fan of nudity in dancing or in film for that matter, because not matter what the context, I often find it gratuitous or senstionalist. I feel the artist could have made the same statement without the nudity. But that's just my opinion. I don't mind the nudity, I just don't always see a point for it.

Isn't there supposed to be a revival of Hair on Broadway or at the pPublic Theater this year. I missed the revival last summer at the Delacort.

#95 4mrdncr

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 02:29 PM

I thought that this La Gioconda and its « Dance of the Hours » was also performed at the MET in NY after the Liceu. I know the dancers were the same, Corella and Giuliani but can anyone let me know if it has exactly been the same version as per the opera but mainly per the dance: Choreography, dressing, etc….?

Many thanks!


No Carolina, the production at the MET was choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and was quite different from Iancu's version for the Verona-Barcelona-Madrid production. For one thing, the dancers were fully clothed; wearing normal ballet costumes: tutus for the women etc., and Wheeldon integrated the corps more. The MET sets were the usual massive affairs; pseudo renaissance architecture, near actual size ship burning, not just a staircase like the Spanish version. If you do a search at the NY Times you should pull up the two articles/reviews they wrote about the MET version, with pictures of Corella & Giuliani performing. There is also a thread on BT about this, where I posted a review after seeing it opening night.

#96 CarolinaM

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 03:26 AM

Thanks so much!!!! :)

I've found the thread, read your review and found the link to NY Times.

I didn't know neither that the same Barcelona and now Madrid version was also performed in Verona.

#97 Nanarina

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 09:32 AM

:sweatingbullets:

Talk about a rude awakening! :lol:





:flowers: I should think Princess Aurora , would promptly go back to sleep again, at 116 years old, the shock would have been too much for her !!! :blushing:

#98 dancesmith

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 11:57 AM

The original question posed was:
What do you think? Is nudity always acceptable? Never? Occasionally? Have we seen any and how did we react?

There seems to be a wide range of very interesting comments here but to me they digress into addressing two related but separate questions – Under what conditions, if ever, is nudity acceptable in performance art? And/or: Under what conditions, if ever, is nudity acceptable in classical ballet?

As many others here (but clearly not all), I feel there are certainly conditions under which nudity is acceptable in performance art, perhaps even essential in certain cases. Art is generally supposed to be subversive and provoke thought and reactions. As we see in the comments here, nudity can certainly achieve this. Having said that, I believe nudity can’t make bad art good but it can make good art bad.

I’m less certain, for some of the reasons already stated, about the acceptability of nudity in classical ballet, not because of the potential of offending any prudish sensibilities but rather conflicting with the goals and aesthetics of the art form itself.

As to whether I’ve seen any performances with nudity lately, a couple of years ago I attended a performance of Bocca Tango Maipo with Julio Bocca. The choreography was a fusion of ballet and tango with modern elements by Argentinean Ana María Stekelman who, perhaps not surprisingly, had studied at the Martha Graham School. One of the duets was performed with Cecilia Figaredo, both wearing only black thongs, with the stage lights dimmed. More sensual than erotic, I felt it was very effective in capturing the intensity, mystery, romance, and passion of tango. Advance notice had been given in advertising.

As far as exposing children, I was always far more comfortable explaining nudity and even sexual themes in a tasteful, artistic context than trying to explain the degree of violence they were often unavoidably exposed to from so many other directions.

#99 innopac

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 03:14 AM

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.

Giannina


This is puzzling - perhaps there were different stagings of the final scenes for release in different countries. I was just lent a video of Ek's Giselle with Ana Laguna as Giselle. And on this copy Albrecht is totally naked while lying on the stage, rolling on the stage, dancing back to the audience and then standing at the end full frontal towards the audience. At first I thought this was necessary to show his vulnerability. But his vulnerability could have instead been expressed choreographically.

In response to dirac's post... personally I wasn't shocked by nudity. I did find some of the choreography in this Giselle confronting. But the nudity wasn't.

The nudity actually took me out of the ballet because I found it distracting. It is hard to explain but I feel that the power underlying ballet/dance is a universality of expression and my feeling is that nudity brings the expression down to the individual.

It is interesting though that we accept nudity in paintings and sculpture and not in ballet.

#100 Helene

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 02:37 PM

The subject of the article is modern dance ("Mark Morris, on Motifs of Prokofiev") but I can't resist quoting Robert Johnson in Ballet Review, Winter 2008/9 (p. 47),

But the real downside of the nudity is that it makes it harder for the characters to dance.



#101 kfw

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 05:07 PM

It is interesting though that we accept nudity in paintings and sculpture and not in ballet.

I'd think that in watching nude dancers the eye would be torn between the moving parts of the body -- the ones the dancers have worked so hard to train and with which they express their artistry -- and the, shall we say, inadvertently moving parts. :) So that, to turn around the Robert Johnson quote Helene posted above, the downside of nudity for the audience might be that it would make it harder to see the dance.

#102 EricMontreal22

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 05:51 PM

The nudity actually took me out of the ballet because I found it distracting. It is hard to explain but I feel that the power underlying ballet/dance is a universality of expression and my feeling is that nudity brings the expression down to the individual.

It is interesting though that we accept nudity in paintings and sculpture and not in ballet.


When I was a theatre major I was in a production of Cloud Nine that involved (brief) nudity. It was a production done for a directing student's thesis project so it didn't get a big audience but I was surprised at how, when I was in character in the piece, the nudity from an acting standpoint was fine and not hard to do at all. On the other hand from an audience stand point--and I think this would be the same for ballet too--everytime I've encountered anything on stage with nudity it has also taken me out of the moment of the play/dance piece. Maybe if it was a dance that was *all* nude, after a while you'd get used to it and look past the nudity.

I saw a Fringe dance/music piece based on the Russian novel The Master and Margarita that had maybe 15 seconds of full male nudity. It was a costume change done on stage but it caught the whole audience so much by surprise that it was all I heard *anyone* leaving the theatre talking about. So I think more often than not you have to be really careful about how you use it as it still causes such a reaction (not necesarily shock so much as surprise) even in non conservative audiences that it can make the rest of your piece suffer.

As for why we accept it in art and sculpture I think there are two reasons--one is we're all used to it beign a part of art and sculpture (and photography even). And another is, like nudity in film too, it's there at a distance--in ballet or stage you're there in "real time" with real people and I think that causes more of a reaction.

#103 sandik

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 08:08 PM

Like most of us, I've seen a share of nude performers, and it always seems to come down to the intent of the choreography. If the movement is designed to be seen without clothes, then it seems fine to me. If the work seems to be about a kind of shape-making that gets derailed by naked flesh, then it doesn't work.

In a strange way, it's like dancers with long hair unbound. It can be really evocative, or it can be a distraction -- it all depends on what they're doing with it.

#104 Helene

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 11:43 PM

Just this evening I saw "Bluebeard's Castle" and "Erwartung" at Seattle Opera. In this production by Robert Lepage, in "Erwartung", an actor portraying The Woman's lover, Noam Markus, was murdered in bed upstage left, and very slowly rolled naked out of bed and towards downstage right. Across the front of the stage was about 4-5 feet of water, and during that time, to the most beautiful part of the score, all I could think of was "not the water, Not The Water, NOT THE WATER!!!!" (A certain Seinfeld episode came to mind...)

Of course, he rolled with his limbs in the water, then entirely in the water, from which he swam offstage.

After the performance, Speight Jenkins said that the water was a comfortable 104 degrees (40 C), so I really didn't have to worry, and tomorrow night, when I see it again, I won't.

#105 EricMontreal22

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 03:07 AM

Helene--I saw those productions in Montreal 5 or so years ago--I'm a HUGE Robert LePage fan, so went just because I knew he was the director. I thought both were striking--but particularly Bluebeard's Castle which has become a fave opera of mine since, as well. Now that I'm in Victoria I wish I could take the boatride just to see them again--certain images have really stuck in my brain.

LePage loves using water--almost too much by this point--but always poetically. A few of his art installations have used nudity with the water--shower imagery based on Psycho in his movie adaptation of his own Le Confessional caused some controversy when I was younger I think because it was so erotic.


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