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Helene

Health of Ballet Now

5 posts in this topic

In the Proteges program at Kennedy Center thread, ami1436 wrote:

I have been puzzling over the end of Alexandra's review of the program in the Washington Post.  I've not really participated in many discussions besides reviews of performances on this board, so please forgive me for being a relative 'newbie.'  :wink:  :(

At the end, she writes

If the "Proteges" program becomes a yearly attraction, it could become one of the Kennedy Center's calling cards. It's amazing what one can learn about the state of ballet from a single evening. This one showed that ballet is healthy -- or could be. If the parent companies let it happen, ballet may well be on the brink of renewal.

It's the last two sentences... ballet could be healthy? Is it sick now? And how are parent companies the impediment? And a renewal from...?

Those are four pertinent and potent questions. Anyone game?

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On the 'healthy' or 'not healthy' issue: I would hope that academies that may be veering off into 'unhealthy' territory -- such as the Vaganova Academy's current teaching of females with soloist potential -- will stand in the wings and realize what clean, classical dancing is all about.

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One of ami1436's questions is something that has puzzled me as well, as I read the ongoing debate about these matters: "how are the parent companies the impediment?"

I understand that there has been criticism of certain schools. However, what role do the parent companies play in this? Are the companies setting the direction for the schools? Are changes in company repertory creating demands for a new kind of dancer? Are company leaders conscious of -- or even demanding -- the movement towards a new kind of training?

Specifics as to particular companies and their schools would help in understanding this.

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Often, schools produce beautifully trained classical ballet dancers...for a company that performs a mix of ballet, modern, and "crossover" dance. Teachers and schools aren't blind to companies' repertory choices, and they have started to include more forms of dance in their training (such as the Washington School of Ballet, which offers both jazz and modern). However, considering that these are still ballet companies attached to ballet schools, I feel (Alexandra may have meant something different) that companies should allow their well-trained students to use their abilities to dance Ashton, Bournonville, &c.

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Thanks to those who've replied - and to Helene for starting the thread.

When I originally posted this question (in another thread), LAC pointed me to this thread on classicism to have a look at.

What I'm getting from that thread and this, is that the major argument lies in the dearth of new ballets (as opposed to "contemporary ballets"), and the pressure (real or perceived) on companies to stage contemporary ballets - thereby eventually changing the styles and technical competence of dancers, and also requiring students to be trained beyond/outside the classical rep. In that light, the end of the article (quoted above) suggests that classical training is doing well - and that companies should continue to foster and develop these dancers......

Which doesn't solve the problem, of whatever perceived pressures to stage contemporary work, and how to fund, produce, market, sell new ballet. Moreover, how to train new ballet choreographers.

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