Posted 09 July 2006 - 08:15 AM
It seems to me that this situation would make it more difficult to become a great dancer, but there may be compensations. I noticed recently that Maria Kowroski and Julie Kent were given bad reviews by Russian audiences for performances of Swan Lake in St. Petersburg. I wonder which American artists are taken seriously abroad, and why. Are they handicapped, because they aren't seen with the weight of a tradition behind them? I find it upsetting to think about, since American audiences have been eager to be thrilled by dancers of many nationalities.
Posted 09 July 2006 - 10:32 AM
As for an American style of training, as of yet this has not been established. There are noted teachers of children such as Marcia Dale Weary who have studied with various teachers of pedagogy to develop their own programs of study, however only time will tell if such programs produce lasting results that will enable choreography to develop into an American style.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 04:57 AM
As my interest in ballet grows I am facing the task of looking inside of ballet to see how it is created... what makes it beautiful, what makes one dancer "better" than another... and so on. Obviously when you look more deeply than the surface (at anything) the mystery revealed is very rewarding.
My own naive concept of ballet is that it is composed of a series of "steps" and "positions" that the dancer's body assumes in the course of a ballet. Each of these isolated steps and positions has an ideal form. These are what I assume are taught in ballet classes. Students struggle to get their bodies to perform these as "perfectly" as possible. This is analogous to the standards in dog breeding... where some ideal exists and each breeder is attempting to create a dog which represents the standard to perfection.
But of course, a dance is also a series of transitions in time where the steps and positions and other "gestures" are blended into a continuous flow like a river. Technique would also involve timing and making these transitions... I would assume. Someone who has perfected ballet technique can blend the steps, positions and gestures into a seamless "event".
Learning how to do this is about teaching and training and i haven't a clue how this body knowledge of movement, timing and position is installed in the dancer. But once the body has assimilated ballet movement... there is still room for the elusive element of "artristry" which is the intangible element which makes one dancer different from another.
When one thinks of language (which ballet surely is) it is composed of words, and rules of syntax. Words have definitions which in fact change subtlely in context. A great author can string together words into sentences, paragraphs, ideas and so on. The words have meaning, the sentences may have a musical quality related to the sound of the words and their place in the whole collection of words. Poetry seems to extract more music from words than mere prose.
Technical perfection and how to acheive it and who has acheived it and so on are interesting... as is who hits the most home runs or throws the most strike outs etc... in baseball. It sure does help to be able to know HOW it is to be done so that when you see it done that way you recognize it. But this may not be as important to the viewer as much as the overall reaction they are left with. Technical prowess and virtuosity are definitely eye catching and jaw dropping.
But without the mysterious artistic expression a techinically perfect performance is lacking.
What intererests me more than what is technique in ballet, is what ELSE is there in ballet what belongs to the dancer? What part does the choreographer play in providing this mystery?
My impression of the ballet is not one of the brush strokes of a painting, or the sentences of a novel... but of the over arching emergent themes that the artists and the choreographer manage to extract... from the music via technique. Behold a great painting and it was one colors in a tube, but with the vision and technique of the artists it is laden with meaning, emotion and power.
The miracle of ballet is to use the technical vocabulary to take us away and bring us to a place of dreams right here on earth!
Posted 10 July 2006 - 06:29 AM
First, the potential split and/or relationship between technique and artistry. This has training and performance implications--both intriguing.
Second, the implications of distinctive styles or techniques (there is a thread somewhere discussing the difference between a style and a technique, but I can't find it again) and how this might characterize ballet here in the US and abroad.
I am learning a lot and enjoying others thoughts and expertise. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 06:54 AM
I'd love to hear what our ballet teachers think of your quite UN-"naive concept."
Posted 10 July 2006 - 08:59 AM
Years of very hard work and repetition, on the part of both the teacher and the dancer.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 11:16 AM
He can, and often does, spin out eight or nine revolutions to the left, so why, for example, is he the only one in Dolin's Variations for Four not going to the right -- even if only three rotations are called for? Most of us favor one side or another to some extent, but when a dancer at this level is unable (or thinks he's unable) to adapt a relatively simple step (given his proven abilities), how can it be technique? Or maybe the fault is with the balletmasters for failing to insist on keeping the stage picture harmonious.
This is one aspect of Angel's dancing that irks me no end. It isn't often an issue -- I don't mind when unison with other dancers isn't involved or choreographic flow isn't thrown askew -- but when it pops up, it drives me absolutely bonkers.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 03:38 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 06:19 PM
Andre, having taken tons of Figure Skating lessons I know that most figure skaters spin to the 'Left' (Counter-Clockwise). My instructor, a former high level Soviet pairs skater, always asks me, when I mention ballet, why dancers spin to the right (Clock-Wise). To the Left (Counter-Clockwise) seems more logical to me, (since most individuals are right-handed) following the rotation you would be creating by throwing a ball side-arm for instance.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 06:31 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 07:24 PM
This may be getting too much into technique, but in dance, the plie and legs create the torque for turning. The arms can help, but dancers can turn well without using their arms, so they're not strictly necessary. I've noticed too that ice skaters don't spot their turns, whereas it's essential for a dance turn. Perhaps all of this accounts for the difference in directions? BTW, have you ever noticed too that the vast majority of assisted turns also only go in one direction?
Posted 10 July 2006 - 07:26 PM
That's interesting, Hans. I'll check out right hand/left hand bias at the rink, when I get a chance. Thanks.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 07:28 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 07:45 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 08:51 PM
What confuses me, though, is that left turners in figure skating lead with their left side. In ballet, the standing leg for left turners is the right leg, but the left shoulder leads the turns.
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