Dale

Lewis Segal in the LA Times on what's wrong with ballet

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How much more useful this article would be if it came from a metropolitan area that does sustain a major ballet company.

Segal uses "So You Think You Can Dance" as an example. This show has about as much to do with ballet as the New York City subway system. Less, even. Sometimes, you can find a ballet dancer on the NYC subway.

This is a Jeremiah who inveighs against the Higher Power, rather than the audience. We've asked the question before on this board: Why is it that LA cannot keep a ballet company? Is it from a failure of ballet to maintain political correctness? San Francisco, many miles closer to the PC home of UC Berkeley, has done just fine with ballet. Is it because ballet isn't cool, and hip, and current? Segal fulminates against "bait and switch", decrying (however misbegotten) attempts to make ballet classics more "relevant". Or is it the lack of a truly resident ballet-supporting audience? So much of the entertainment industry maintains a house or at least a mailing address there, but don't actually live within a distance that would make a trip to the ballet just a cross-town hop, but a major trek down the Coastal Highway. So what's wrong with LA? Many fine teachers live and work there, but no really major company can call it home! There are equivalencies to the Pasadena Playhouse, where screen actors can do "stage", after a fashion, but no place for gifted civic and regional dancers to step up, should they become company material.

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Thanks, Dale, for finding and posting this. I suspect it will generate some very strong responses.

One of the first things that caught my eye was this:

Yes, Miami City Ballet looked mighty fine in two Music Center programs a month ago. But significantly, the only work created since the dancers' infancy was borrowed from the world of modern dance. In this country, ballet simply will not address the realities of the moment, and its reliance on flatulent nostalgia makes it hard to defend as a living art.
Segal attacks ballet with an extraordianrily wide brush. If we look beyond the surprisingly extreme language, we probably have to accept that doubts about how "relevant" ballet is or ought to be to contemporary life are widely shared and simply will not go away. This has to do with content, aesthetics, and even values -- for instance, the alleged narrowness, triviality, and occasionally racism of the classical repertory. In a sense, the Segal approach reminds me of Edmund Wilson's devastating and influential attack on the Agatha Christie puzzle-type mystery novel: "Who CARES who killed Roger Ackroyd?"

These are not frivolous questions, and I hope we address them here.

As to the other points, a first reading makes me think that similar criticism could be (and has been) made of almost every serious classical art -- even though Segal takes pains to exempt several classical arts (music, theater) from the spear-thrusts he aims at ballet.

How do we respond? How do we defend ballet in a manner that attracts and maybe even persuades the larger public? Or is such a defense even necessary?

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As to the other points, a first reading makes me think that similar criticism could be (and has been) made of almost every serious classical art -- even though Segal takes pains to exempt several classical arts (music, theater) from the spear-thrusts he aims at ballet.
He doesn't mention opera, whose repertoire is more firmly rooted in the 19th and early 20th centuries than ballet, with the exception of Richard Strauss. Who in opera is the 20th or 21st century equivalent of Ashton, Tudor, or Balanchine in terms of consistency and output?

LA supports an opera, directed by Placido Domingo.

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I think these questions keep being asked by those who are expecting ballet to be "popular" in the same way that TV or movies is popular, and that has never been the case, not even in Boom times. Popular art is realistic and relevant to our day to day life. High art is usually not -- and if it does deal with something contemporary, it does so at one remove. That's the point of it. It's not for the casual viewer (neither is opera), but for people who have taken the time to make an investment in its world -- unless, of course, one was lucky enough to grow up in a family or school that introduced you to that world.

I'm very eager for new works, but new BALLET works. Creative classicism is in crisis, and has been for years. The fault is not in the form, but in the artistic direction. Encourage classical choreography, and you'll get it. Critics, too, are unhelpful when there is a new classical work and it's squashed with, "it's not trendy!" "It's just classroom steps!!" (which may be true, but is often not) and only works which "smash the bounds of tired old classical ballet!!!" are greeted with approval.

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If we look beyond the surprisingly extreme language, we probably have to accept that doubts about how "relevant" ballet is or ought to be to contemporary life are widely shared and simply will not go away.

Men and women relating together on stage, often in overt love stories. . . beautiful bodies making beautiful movements to beautiful music . . . to rephrase Balanchine, how much relevance do they want? As Alexandra says, formal beauty can be an acquired taste, and pop culture is easier, but the gold is there if people dig.

I'm more sympathetic to argument that some story ballets present bigoted sterotypes, but if I view those "lustful Muslims" and "murderous Hindus" as just lustful, murderous individuals, they still look relevant.

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I agree with you entirely, Alexandra. As would just about every member of Ballet Talk.

But Segal would certainly respond by denying that ballet is one of the "high arts." In his article, you get the picture of a rather "low" art indeed -- an artifact of 19th century white, imperialist court society, its small repertoire repeated constantly --which both deceives and exploits the dancers (especially the girls and women) who devote their lives to it.

This is a attempted nuclear attack on ballet such as I've never seen in respectable print before. And I will admit to knowing arts-loving people who feel more or less the same, but are too gentle to say so publicly.

Segal's "five things" are as follows:

1) Classical ballet, which isn't even all that old as classical arts go, "ignores the present [and] falsifies the past."

2) Classical ballet is full of "happy slaves, lustful Muslims, murderous Hindus," and often expresses an imperialist and racist point of view which "simply buttresses a sense of white European privilege by dramatizing how colorfully nasty things are elsewhere."

3) Dancers work on an "assembly line, automatic and unyielding." They are treated like children and are disposed of as soon as they get too old, too fat, or just too ... something.

4) With a few exceptions like Bocca, the finest ballet dancers are rather trapped in an unadventurous repertoire and are not encouraged to take creative risks of the sort that serious actors can take as a matter of course.

5) Ballet is often not beautiful, merely pretty -- something which is "relatively easy, a matter of symmetry, smoothness, good taste and a sense of dancing as a form of decoration."

Personally, I find this list appalling and exagerrated to the point of surrealism. And I know that all of us can think of numerous exceptions to everything he says.

But the tiny element of truth in each charge is a wedge that can be used in the future to expand this kind of attack and make it even more widespread. Bookings, donations, funding, etc., may be affected. Some sort of detailed point-by-point rebuttal may be called for.

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As sad as it may seem, I find a lot to agree with in his article. Even as a dancer, I have had the experience of going to the theater to see a ballet performance by a world class company and coming away with the feeling that it was ok- but maybe not as moving or touching as I had expected, and while the production was very pretty, true beauty was lacking. OF course, much of the technique on display that evening was astonishing, but where was the story? I could have been watching an evening of gala pas de deuxs and solos. I can't blame the dancers for this- they were probably doing what they had been told. Further, the artisitc staff had probably also tried their best to achieve what they thought the ballet was supposed to be, drawing on their experience. So who is to blame?

There are still some experts around- those that for some reason or other are able to develop dancers and coach ballets in a manner that makes the art form still feel relevent- at least in the srudio. But the issue of no substantial new classical work is maybe the bigger problem. Where are the works reflecting the issues and culture of today? Could there be a current choreographer who could deal with some of the deep rooted political issues that face us today? A few weeks ago, I went to see a series of plays at a local theater. Every single one of them had either premiered within the last few months, or was premiering that evening. The plays were fresh and relevent to today's world, and while they didn't all suceed, the audience didn't know what to expect next, either. Wouldn't it be wonderful if ballet could be used in such a way, and the dancers encouraged to use their own minds to bring thes works to life?

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If we deny that ballet is "high art" then we can pillory other forms in such a passive-aggressive manner. LA is all about screens, big ones and little ones. The audience there seems to be highly caught up in what the show will look like in a movie or as a TV show. They're video wonks. And as the late Emile Ardolino clearly demonstrated, capturing ballet is a very specialized specialty for film or video, and not to be attempted by the faint of heart, the dim of sight, or the dull of brain. Attempts to make ballet "cinematic" have mostly been deadly. Think a headcam on Erik Bruhn's head during double tours! I'm not going to get into the "high art" argument. Segal and his supporters have to get off of their Hollywood duffs and see more of the world that's right in front of them.

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Mel, I agree with you about Segal and his supporters getting off their duffs and paying attention to what's in front of them. Actually, I see Segal as part of some of the problems he's complaining about. Every time ABT comes to town and does a classic, he goes on and on about how lovely the dancers are and how well trained, and what a beautiful production, blah, blah, blah, and from my point of view, seeing the same show, I cannot always agree (in fact, hardly ever). It seems that the bigger the star dancers, the more he caters to what he apparently thinks they want to hear. On the flip side of that, when Kirov came last year with the Sleeping Beauty, I remember his reviews to be lukewarm and he complained about the length of the ballet, and the version of the ballet, while I felt that this classic was far better than anything ABT has done here (this includes OCPAC) for the past few years. My honest personal feeling is that Segal is buddies with the ADs at some of the American companies that he critiques, while Vaziev was probably too busy doing his job to make nice with the self-important local critic. I refuse to read his reviews anymore, as they seem totally uninformed and trite in content. And they aren't an accurate reflection of the shows that he sees (or sleeps through?) If he's not willing to actually make a constructive critique that a company or a dancer can use to improve their performance, how can things change for the better?

I don't think he knows as much about ballet as he thinks he does.

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I think we're underestimating the problems Lewis Segal faces. He is IMHO a responsible, knowledgeable, fine journalist working for a paper that's on the skids -- as indeed, most newspapers are nowadays. The LA Times is being run from Chicago and the bosses are trying to find ways to increase profit margins, doing that in large part by finding reasons to stop doing the labor-intensive job of reporting the real news and justify the lay-off of squads and squads of their reporters. (The New Yorker reported this months ago.)

Note the clause early in the story in which Segal notes that the media aren't covering ballet. He implies that the reasons why coverage is dying are the fault of ballet-programming/marketing (in which there IS some truth), though the larger real reason is that editors are cutting back space for ALL reporting on the high arts, given the polls that show that the demographics their advertisers want to reach don't know much about the high arts (unlike 25 years ago, when people with lots of money to spend WERE interested in the high arts).

All over the place real dance critics -- are losing their pulpits and their "livings" -- Mindy Aloff is gone from the Nation, Tobi Tobias from her former job, the Village Voice is threatening to cut back almost everyone except those with "tenure," and arts sections are filling with soft features about gambling online, etc., that anyone with a gift for gab could write. This isn't new, it's just accelerating.

Segal can't talk about the cutbacks at the Times which are turning the West coast's greatest paper on the path to becoming a lousy paper like the SF Chronicle -- no editor would let him.

So he has to give himself a plausible reason for writing SOMETHING about ballet just to show the flag -- here's a story about the high arts -- and to get it sexy enough to mollify his editors he makes it look like a story about marketing. He has my sympathy.

edited to add:

I have no "inside" information: as Ia writer myself, I'm aware of these trends, and I'm just registering my speculations knowing hte situation at newspapers in general, and with sadness over hte slide of the great LA Times.

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The Village Voice is threatening to cut back almost everyone except those with "tenure," and arts sections are filling with soft features about gambling online, etc., that anyone with a gift for gab could write. This isn't new, it's just accelerating.

"Tenure" is not respected at the Village Voice, if one is talking about the paper's great writers. Since 2004, Richard Goldstein, James Ridgeway, Sydney Schanberg and Ward Harkavy (although he had less 'tenure') have all been fired, among others. They probably still need Deborah Jowitt, as the dance scene (ballet plus all the rest) still has an audience enough for it to be covered, but they'd fire her if they felt she was useless. The paper is a mere ghost of what it was even 2 years ago, and basically useless except for good listings. The LA Times is probably going the same route, with Jonah Goldberg replacing the veteran Scheer. Sure, Segal is pressured by the current culture just like everyone else, but I don't have any sympathy for it. Maureen Dowd had the guts to write about how Judith Miller was a liability to the Times even before the NYTimes's publisher decided to go ahead and fire her, and that's the kind of thing that deserves respect (in whatever field.)

Segal writes like a trendy, that's an understandable careerist posture but not very admirable. 'Flatulent nostalgia', which he so pompously and conspicuously employs, is particularly low in the hands of this sort of 'adapting creature.'

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But the issue of no substantial new classical work is maybe the bigger problem. Where are the works reflecting the issues and culture of today? Could there be a current choreographer who could deal with some of the deep rooted political issues that face us today?

That's what I'd agree with, and I haven't any reason to think there could be such a choreographer or not. It definitely seems that there couldn't if there isn't. So there's the matter of burden of proof on ballet, so that even sleazy writers can be proved right if they are not proved wrong. The current culture does not seem to me to really require that people 'look at what is in front of them.' You can write all sorts of false things and get paid for it. The choreographer would possibly have to be even greater than the geniuses of the past to make such flatulent critics stand at attention, and we'll know if that miracle happens. As for pointe dancing that deals with 'deep rooted political issues that face us today', I don't think it either can or should. Those issues are better dealt with forms that have no trace of the archaic, and there isn't any way that ballet can be stripped of all those and still be singular. It could, however, possibly be brought up-to-date in the same way that complex music can, but I'm not at all sure that it will be.

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Papeetepatrick, I certainly respect your position. I'm sure you're right about Ms Jowitt. Thank God she's GOT that much clout.

I'd have to say though, with respect, that re Segal v Maureen Dowd you're comparing sling-shots and bazookas: Ms Dowd is a political columnist, not a dance critic, and politics at the moment has the arts in a half-Nelson; furthermore, her willingness to speak her mind colorfully is completely supported by the Times -- it's one of their selling points, indeed, to read her column online you have to pay extra.... SO there's not going to be much editorial pressure on her NOT to do such things, even if they WOULD rather she didn't.

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But in regarding ballets which would take on current issues, I believe that most ballet choreographers have seen the folly of the Soviet era. Has anybody, for example, seen a revival of The Red Poppy recently? How about a complete Laurencia? The Three Fat Men? Is there a need for a ballet entitled Bill and Monica? A dancing Henry Hyde is more than I think my poor soul could take, although "The Bacchanale of the House of Representatives" might be fun. Sort of a "Prince Igor" for our time, led by Chief Warrior Newt Gingrich.

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I think we're underestimating the problems Lewis Segal faces. He is IMHO a responsible, knowledgeable, fine journalist working for a paper that's on the skids -- as indeed, most newspapers are nowadays. The LA Times is being run from Chicago and the bosses are trying to find ways to increase profit margins, doing that in large part by finding reasons to stop doing the labor-intensive job of reporting the real news and justify the lay-off of squads and squads of their reporters. (The New Yorker reported this months ago.)

I have no "inside" information: as Ia writer myself, I'm aware of these trends, and I'm just registering my speculations knowing hte situation at newspapers in general, and with sadness over hte slide of the great LA Times.

Some important information. I knew about the general trends, but not specifically what was happening by now to LA Times. Not at all surprising, and very depressing. Some mergers in the last few months and 'near-misses' of even managing to sell (I believe this was with Conde Nast, but can't find the details at the moment) show what is inexorable in the decline of print journalism. At the time of the 2004 firings at V. Voice, they said they would be 'putting more emphasis on their online edition.' It's unimaginable that this could be reversed, and all journals, including NYTimes, are being gradually completed absorbed by cyberspace. The old hands that refer to the 'Lilliputians'--bloggers, etc.--will only be able to joke about this a little while longer. Much research is even going into making e-books as 'satisfying' as the real thing, which was never mentioned at all, say, in 2002.

It's also true that the old ideals of uncompromised journalism are not possible anymore when you start out, no matter what the character of the journalist, if only because he would be quickly replaced if he didn't satisfy what was wanted.

'politics at the moment has the arts in a half-Nelson'

Agree totally, and find it hard to imagine it could change in a world which is in a state of emergency at all times.

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Mel (and others)--I'd like to know something about the LA Ballet's problems you referred to. I had thought they were a fairly important company and the current website has Colleen Neary as Artistic Director. I never saw them, and was probably only familiar with them from that Pas de Deux video, but from that it looked as though Damien Woetzel had gotten his start with them. Probably others too, although the others on that tape from the LABallet itself were not quite as impressive. Thanks (links about this fine.)

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On the heels of Carlos Acosta offering up his fixes for ballet, LA Times critic Lewis Segal offers his opinion in a column:

http://www.calendarlive.com/stage/cl-ca-pr...-stage-features

What do you think?

During the late summer in the UK there is a period in respect of the media known as ‘the silly season’. It is the time newspapers try to dig deep and come up with very little and ephemerality acquires a supersonic status and I wondered is this how I should view Mr. Segal’s article? I chose not to.

When I started to read Mr. Segal’s article, the ‘f’ word (fractious) came to mind and as I read on, a number of other ‘f’ words came to mind including fallacious, foolish, flawed, fabulist, falsidical, farrago and his imaginary finalistic tolling of a bell for classical ballet. Despite my above fulminatory remarks, I am glad I read it.

Nobody has to witness a performance of ballet or a go to a ‘ball game’ but for those that go regularly it is a personal choice and it is the right of patrons to support what they enjoy or to stay away.

I do not understand what the writer means by stating that ballet is”decaying”. Surely an inferior choice of adjective from a wordsmith unless of course, he is possibly aiming for cheap pot shots at the high art form that ballet is considered to be.

Accuracy might have assisted his premise but to say, “Bad enough that ballet largely ignores the present, but it also falsifies its past. The problematic "Sleeping Beauty" that the Kirov Ballet danced at the Music Center last season credited 19th century master choreographer Marius Petipa, but it dates from 1952.” Wrong, Mr. Segal and on two counts. Firstly the re-creation was based on period archive material and secondly the educated audience (yes there are levels of education need to fully appreciate ballet as there are in baseball to fully appreciate that game) and most critics admired what was a highly successful attempt to re-instate historical accuracy to the production.

Again in farcical mode yes another ‘f’ word Mr. Segal states, “For beginners, the easiest thing to hate about ballet may be the way so many 19th century story ballets depict non-Christian, non-European, nonwhite people. Happy slaves, lustful Muslims, murderous Hindus: They sure don't make 'em like that anymore. But why are we watching this stuff — surely not out of nostalgia for the racism and xenophobia on view? It's not the same thing as viewing a movie from a less enlightened age; it's more like remaking one: enlisting the finest dance stars and stage artists of our time to reanimate a corrupt vision.”

Art of any period is not limited to accurate portrayal of any kind that is not its aim. What takes place in a theatrical setting is not meant to be either to be taken as real or as model of belief as to behaviour. Operas, oratorios, paintings, sculpture. architecture or novels are the creation of artists of lesser or greater degree to represent a view of life not a model for life, but yet, through allegory, symbolism, and illusory methodology as used in ballet can reinforce positive view of human behaviour. A ballet with scenes that appear reprehensible today due to their historic context should not be judged by modern values that decent people hold, nor should they be subjected to the mania of ‘book-burning’ that was carried out by totalitarian states in the last century.

The LA Times correspondent then states, “Classical music still shakes us to the core. Classical theater speaks of the eternal issues that define our lives. “People who go to watch ballet get exactly the same response to productions and performances that he talks about. “But too much antique Western classical dance doesn't even function as metaphor...” If Mr. Segal is unable to see the metaphors in ballet others can including children. The depiction of an allegory or a symbolic expression is a central feature of most ballet stories. If you want to apply political correctitude to the arts in general, I think that many American made films would be doomed to the dustbin.

“It used to be that only slaves and children were known by just their first names, but with slavery long abolished, dancers seem to be the sole adults on the list.” No Mr. Segal, kings and queens throughout history were known by their first name.

“Thinking of dancers as beautiful children might seem harmless enough, but in ballet its part of a system that denies young people any real choices in their lives. It's even worse for the ballet women who starve themselves to match a skeletal ideal and then stop menstruating for the length of their careers. Talk about arrested development.” Really Mr. Segal children that become dancers, singers, actors, athletes, American footballers, baseball players, scientists, etc are all generally encouraged, nurtured and pushed to achieve, by generally very caring parents. Nobody in any dance company would encourage skeletal dancers but instead chooses young people whose physical predisposition is leanness. Darcey Bussell the UK’s most famous dancer is the proud mother of two children.

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As I read through some of these posts I wonder if we are using the term "high art" as something to hide behind, using it as an excuse not to improve ballet. Just because something is high art doesn't mean it can never be improved or there is not a responsibility to make it interesting to an audience. And that includes those of us in the audience who have knowledge when watching it.

I fear if we remain insular in our thinking, are not open to outside criticism and do not have at least a discussion of how this wonderful art form can be advanced, we will have barely any audience left. The reality is, ballet cannot survive without money and that means ticket sales.

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I fear if we remain insular in our thinking, are not open to outside criticism and do not have at least a discussion of how this wonderful art form can be advanced, we will have barely any audience left. The reality is, ballet cannot survive without money and that means ticket sales.

This goes without saying, but it does have to done while keeping ballet a 'high art.' It would be better dead and buried than become a 'lower-middle art', etc.

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I think winky has some points here. I have noticed the general resistance to ballets being relevant as if this necessarily diminishes their artistic value. I don't fully understand this or why classical ballet is not able to accomodate (maybe in the contemporary wing) other and new types of content. Wasn't there a time when the classics we treasure and recreate were more relevant than they appear now? In context they must have seemed more contemporary. Why is it not okay to discover and mount the equivalents of these classics in ways relevant to this century as former ballets were relevant to those centuries? If not, we are condemned to risk forever appearing to be an inaccessible effete pursuit to outsiders, while we preach endlessly and vociferously to the choir...

Doesn't the very unique technique of ballet count in terms of distinctiveness/uniqueness? Must this technique be deployed only in such narrowly circumscribed venues? When displayed alongside the classics, if the new stuff is inferior, can it not eventually evolve into relevant and sophisticated offerings as well???

The politics/pragmatics of high and low culture are the subject of much enlightening discussions by scholars. I'd highly recommend historian Larry Levine's work on this topic for anyone wanting to read further.

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As I read through some of these posts I wonder if we are using the term "high art" as something to hide behind, using it as an excuse not to improve ballet. Just because something is high art doesn't mean it can never be improved or there is not a responsibility to make it interesting to an audience. And that includes those of us in the audience who have knowledge when watching it.

I fear if we remain insular in our thinking, are not open to outside criticism and do not have at least a discussion of how this wonderful art form can be advanced, we will have barely any audience left. The reality is, ballet cannot survive without money and that means ticket sales.

I do not consider anyone is hiding behind the term 'high art' as no one has to. Some contributors, commentators and one dancer for sure, think that there is a problem regarding classical ballet especially in its three or four act story telling form. There is no problem there is only a reality.

The most significant choreographers of the 20th century full length story ballets have all produced flawed works that survive only because there are at times, exceptional performers that make them work. Those ballets of the 19th century that remain at the centre of the core of major company’s repertory, do so because the component parts are in some degree combined in a manner that first established a form and were the work of outstanding creators.

As to the improvement of a high art, I am not sure what is meant by this. For it to happen, it requires a strong story that must work on a number of levels, it needs a choreographer of great skill, dramatic sense and taste combining with a score that works to support and indeed meet fully the expectations of an audience. Story is not enough, choreography is not enough, dancers are not enough and where oh where do we find a suitable score?

If ballets were to follow the distinguished path of devolution to popular taste from opera to operetta and musicals perhaps that is the future. But hang, on despite musicals being popular opera is still alive and well, what is most interesting is that in the latter half of the 20th century opera has looked further and further back for revivals of opera seria that have found favour with audiences. Why has this happened, is it because there are only small audiences for new operas?

Improvement is not required, but highly developed talent is. Where is this to be found? How do we encourage it when experiment is such an expensive process? Many Ballet Alert contributors could undoubtedly work out scheme in which potential talent is developed, but will that end up producing ballets of value and worth? There is much more to the creation of important works of ‘high art’ than bringing people of talent together. It is the right people at the right time, with the right visionary authority to oversee and encourage such an event as a new successful ballet being created.

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"Relevant" is a dodgy word, because it's as res ipsa loquitir as "interesting". If something is relevant to you, then it's relevant. If it's not relevant, then it's not relevant. You can argue from here until doomsday and not change anyone's mind.

That said, if I distrust the concept of relevance, we do need works that are contemporary, in the literal sense of being from our time. Classical art or popular, every generation needs to recognize itself somewhere in the canon of works. It's why the major Forsythe works made such a splash in the 80s. The dancers and the audience recognized the music, the recognized the stance, the placement, the attitude. Every generation needs to translate the Iliad; every generation needs to contribute something to the pot or else the form does indeed become like Latin - only of scholarly interest. I'm not looking for something new, or improved, perhaps because I don't believe that change is by definition improvement. I'm looking for something that defines us and our contribution to an art that was here before we were and will be around after we're gone. Even if it's not necessarily of the same quality as what was before and what might come after, it's still incumbent on us to leave our mark.

As for changing the classics to the times, it happens inevitably as the matrix of culture shifts underneath the ballet. However, I want a restager to act as an advocate for the ballet, not as a cultural commentator. We've had discussions on whether or not to delete blackface from a ballet - I've always come down on the side of doing it; it's an unnecessary stumbling block for an audience. But with all the problems the libretto of Giselle would have in theory today, it needs nothing more to advocate it than for the dancers to fully understand what's happening in the story and commit to it wholly. In a restager's mind, the ballet, not cultural theory, should come first.

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I'm not looking for something new, or improved, perhaps because I don't believe that change is by definition improvement. I'm looking for something that defines us and our contribution to an art that was here before we were and will be around after we're gone.

But there cannot really be defining and contributing only works before or after in an age that can no longer produce new works of towering importance. It is still what liebling said, that there has to be new genius choreography as strong as what came before but thus far it isn't happening. Otherwise, the Relevance Industry would not be so intrusive and could be more fully ignored. And it cannot be just because I and other posters would like it to be, whether from the Martins's mouth or the Segal's mouth. There has to be proof in terms of new choreography masterpieces, exactly as in the other arts. I don't see how there is any alternative. Anyway, Segal is a dimbulb talking about theater; the point would be to talk about what has happened to Broadway, which is a wasteland of commodity production for busloads of tourists; there's barely even a nod or even acknowledgement to serious art anymore.

And what Leonid says about new audiences for opera seria is meaningful, but past works are still not enough. There can't be a period in which there is nothing of genius produced in a major field at least somewhere. There were long periods in England in which there was nothing important musically happening, but then it would recur. But during those dry periods, France, Italy and Germany all continued non-stop development; and that continuity has made them greater musical nations, most likely, although not on an individual level, and there's been lots of great English music in the 20th century anyway.

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