Posted 06 July 2006 - 05:45 PM
Posted 06 July 2006 - 06:21 PM
In my American training, technique was considered to be the mechanical aspects of movement only. Coordination, musicality and artistry were considered separate entities. I am not sure if this is the case everywhere in the US, but that was my experience.
Posted 06 July 2006 - 06:49 PM
Posted 07 July 2006 - 05:28 AM
In my American training, technique was considered to be the mechanical aspects of movement only.
Technique, in my (American) experience also, covered the physical mastery of the classical vocabulary.
In common understanding, as vrsfanatic pointed out, interpretation, musicality, stage presence were spoken of as issues separate from the mastery of technique.
Training for over a year in Paris (Mme Rouseanne, Ana Ilic), the approach seemed to me to be the same: classes were designed for technique, ie. physical mastery.
Posted 07 July 2006 - 08:59 AM
For purposes of analysis, I can understand breaking down the training into mechanical and artistic/expressive components.
But, how does this actually work in class settings?
Is it really possible to WORK on technique separately from these other elements?
And if you do so, aren't you creating the possibility that some dancers will have difficulty, later on, in integrating all these aspects which they have worked on separately?
Posted 07 July 2006 - 10:37 AM
Is it really possible to WORK on technique separately from these other elements?
I think working on technique separately is not only possible but the explicit goal of a class.
Another way of saying it is that dancers don't usually role-play or 'perform' in class.
Many teachers don't favor familiar 'ballet' music for classroom, for the reason that it
distracts from the task at hand.
Rehearsals are where the integration of all elements for a performance take place.
Posted 07 July 2006 - 05:22 PM
When I say in my American training technique was about mechanics, for the most part I am discussing perfecting the leg movements, balances, turning movements, turn out, and pointing the feet. Arms were important, yet there were no real answers about how the arms moved. It was known that they were held in the back and that the shoulders were down with a long neck, but it was never taught exactly how to do it so that it looked to be part of the whole. There were arm positions but no answers to how the arm moved mechanically from (for example) over head (3rd position) to the side (second position). Although this is a mechanic, it is a mechanic that becomes the artistic expression of ballet. The study of focus (eyes) and the head were never isolated from the the shoulders. Yes, of course I was told they should be used separtately, but again it was never studied how to do it. There was a lot of talk about the idea that it should be done, but the study did not produce the results.
In Vaganova schooling there are strict goals mechanically and artistically for each level of study that are directly related to stage work. In this way, the ballet class must continue to be for the development of the whole artist not just the mechanic or in American terminology, the technician.
As with language, perhaps the cultural differences of the two countries allow for differing sentiments in the teaching of goals of ballet. Please just a thought. Not a dogma!
Posted 07 July 2006 - 05:59 PM
It seems to me that much artistry is rooted in technique, in dance effect: the two cannot really be divorced, unless we are speaking of simply warming up the body. Similarly, it is impossible for me to say someone is a great technician if they have no nuance, or lack a complete style (like the student's development of Vaganova style vrsfanatic describes). It does not matter what the style is, just that there is one.
Posted 07 July 2006 - 07:18 PM
Beck_hen you have steered things a bit more in the direction of my next question.
When one says that a dancer performed with 'Good Technique' does that refer principally to performing 'Correctly' what has been 'Taught' or 'Systemetized'? Is there a 'Broader Interpretation' of the word 'Technique'?
Beck-hen has suggested that personal(?) "Artistry" might be a factor as well. Can a dancer not perform 'Correctly', if this is the right word, and still be 'Technically Good'?
I only search for precise definitions because 'Good Technique' is such a widely used term in describing ballet performances.
I guess I should add, "What do you think most reviewers have in mind when they refer to "Good Technique"?
Posted 07 July 2006 - 08:38 PM
For example, for each position or step there may be one accustomed position of the arms, head and shoulders (epaulement). I would expect a dancer to have internalized this so she could present to me a beautiful image or movement. However, I would also expect the dancer to have mastered alternate versions, so that she could show me the step with a different emphasis. In this case, where an artist must be sensitive, she is not a technical "robot" or "machine". If a dancer really understands "the system," she can select from it or expand on it appropriately. She must master it fully, but if she adheres to it slavishly, with no imagination, she is a classroom dancer.
As to reviewers, one begins to judge their relative sophistacation—they will mean different things. But I generally assume they are speaking of the lowest common denominator, or what vrsfanatic referred to in her first post as "the mechanical aspects of movement only." In the worst cases, the reviewer will be impressed that a dancer has performed a triple pirouette, without analyzing how well it was done. Technique is a question of taste—on this board we assume it is better to perform a good double pirouette than a bad triple.
Posted 08 July 2006 - 08:10 AM
Could this also explain a distinction between American training (however this is being defined) and other styles? Maybe it even explains why Americans sometimes fail to make much impact in international competitions (Lausanne for example). Could it be part of the reason ballet does not have broader appeal/support among American audiences? Less artistry and more technical emphasis would make ballet more of an acquired taste and reduce its general appeal. That would be ironic if American training is producing artists less accessible to American audiences.
All this explains why a dancer would have to be so well trained to be well enough informed to even understand how and why they have the responsibility to make choices artistically. I've noticed some young dancers do not seem to realize they even have this responsibility, and exercise little or no reflection inside or outside the studio. Having said that, where do the Vagonova or other style recommendations/prescriptions about choice come in? Are there only a certain number of pre-defined alternatives in a given style, or is a dancer free after mastering a given vocabulary (the training) to make unique or unprecedented choices? Where does the artist's own imagination and creativity come in?
I am interested in hearing feedback on the relationship among technique and types of training, artistry and a distinction beween Vagonova and an American style. Where would Balanchine style, Checetti, or Royal or Paris Opera style fit? I am especially interested in the implications for American audiences of American training producing certain styles of dancers. Many have commented on how in the top American companies there are more and more internationally trained dancers. How are the American trained faring outside the US? Finally what are the implications for the economic future of American ballet.
I would like to mention here a post that I made today in the musicalty thread that may be of interest to some engaged in this technique thread. Warning, my musicality post is even longer than this one
Glad to have come out of the shadows at last.
*For those who don't read BalletTalk for Dancers, dks=Dancing Kids.
Edited by carbro, 08 July 2006 - 11:03 AM.
Posted 08 July 2006 - 10:43 AM
I was also interested in this comment:
I realize that your generalization was not intended to apply to everyone. But it got me thinking. I wonder whether, when we talk about the balancing of technique, artistry, "mastery", etc., we don't have to pay more attention to the personality and history that the young dancer brings TO the studio.
All this explains why a dancer would have to be so well trained to be well enough informed to even understand how and why they have the responsibility to make choices artistically. I've noticed some young dancers do not seem to realize they even have this responsibility, and exercise little or no reflection inside or outside the studio
It seems to me that some young dancers start out with a greater predisposition to expand beyond the studio and beyond the physical movements -- even BEFORE they begin serious dance training. This predisposition may come from greater musical aptitude, more stimulating and demanding cultural backgrounds, a higher level of intellectual curiosity, a greater need to find meaning in things, and possibly even from their genes.
Maybe that's why so many of the greatest dancers have also been quite fascinating human beings, and have often continued to contribute in highly creative and disciplined ways after their dancing days have ended.
It raises a couple of questions: what kind of young people are pursuing serious ballet study today? and what are their motives?
I guess the old "nature" versus "nurture" dichotomy rears it's head again.
Posted 08 July 2006 - 04:30 PM
Hi beck_hen. Your ideas about different viewers perceptions are very welcome. The idea of artistic input into the technical process seems like a very worthwhile topic to explore.
bart, interesting comments about children. Give me a soap box to stand on and I will give you my views on children. They are quite favorable. So you touched off the whole idea in my head about the incredibleness of spontaneous child behavior contrasted to the learned beauty that we are discussing here. Another time maybe.
2dds, thanks for your wide range of observations (also at the "Musicality" topic). Certainly a lot to think about. Your children sound very sensitive and intelligent.
Posted 08 July 2006 - 05:56 PM
Posted 08 July 2006 - 09:03 PM
I promised myself when joining this board, not to go into too many details about my dancers who I also (of course) believe to be intelligent, thoughtful, talented, and sensitive. They are still seeking the best dance fit and/or personal path for themselves. When this becomes more clear I will share more details, at this point, I'll just leave them their personal space. Thank you though for the compliments and support, and please forgive my reticence. Hopefully, I've shared enough relevant material to interpret my post.
I think many kinds of kids are pursuing ballet these days (with the proviso that it is too expensive for many without some sort of subsidy--another contrast with much training abroad, I think). The commitment required begins to sort these guys out after around age twelve I've found, when it's harder to sustain tutu fever because so much sacrifice is involved.
Nature/nurture???I don't know. This gets into questions of what is innately in a dancer or any artist and how much of their craft can be taught. This question is beyond me, but provides another important contrast with other training outside the US. My understanding is that access is more strictly limited in state-supported systems. I guess predictions about career potential rather than economic status more often limit the ability to receive elite training. Does this also have implications for the art of ballet as well as the patrons?
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