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A 'lyrical' ballet dancerWhat's it mean?


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#1 artist

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 11:29 AM

Many times one hears of a classical dancer that 'shows great lyricism'. I always think of fluidity, movement, expression; dancing that's not stiff. Maybe something more than technical - ability to connect with the audience, etc.
But what about lyrical dance. That's not exactly ballet. Maybe it's referring to musical quality. What does a 'lyrical' ballet dancer entail?

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 11:47 AM

Artist, your first instinct is correct. "Lyrical" is a genre of dance (from a critic's point of view, anyway) that's not taken very seriously in concert dance. Lyrical qualities: musical (your eye and your ear are not in conflict watching them), fluid (the movements are connected), usually light (Arnold Schwarznegger may have many fine qualities, but lyricism is not one of them).

#3 Legwarmer

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:02 AM

So it has nothing to do with a dancer's expressions?

One can be a lyrical dancer, but boring to watch?

#4 printscess

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:15 AM

I call it musicality. That is when the music and the steps flow from the dancer's body and there is no separation between the two. When you see a dancer and all you see are the steps, IMO you are watching a boring dancer. There are many principals and even stars of ballet, who do not have musicality and all you see are the steps.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:16 AM

Not facial expressions, no, but that is part of the lyricism of the total body. A dancer may project lyricism that almost leaps out of the auditorium, but the facial expression is practically gone for the audience in the Peanut Gallery (family circle - closer to God, but pretty hot nevertheless). I can recall a soloist in "Les Sylphides" who was exceedingly lyrical, but her facial expression said "severely stoned". Some people can carry the "soulful ballerina" look off, and others get this "Oy, such a GAS I got!" look to them.

And yes, a dancer can be lyrical and fail to connect. One can also be a bravura dancer and fail as well.

#6 87Sigfried87

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 11:23 AM

So it has nothing to do with a dancer's expressions?

One can be a lyrical dancer, but boring to watch?


Lyrical usually means in ballet "passional",so if a dancer is very lyrical means he is very expressive.
From the dictonary:
"Lyrical=something that stimulates feelings.expressing strong personal feelings and thoughts".
Also in jazz dance there is a style which is called "lyrical" that is made with very moving musics and is actually very passionate.

#7 papeetepatrick

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 12:50 PM

Lyrical usually means in ballet "passional",so if a dancer is very lyrical means he is very expressive.
From the dictonary:
"Lyrical=something that stimulates feelings.expressing strong personal feelings and thoughts".
Also in jazz dance there is a style which is called "lyrical" that is made with very moving musics and is actually very passionate.


Dancerboy--do you mean 'passional' as 'passionate'? Surely these are part of it, but I usually think lyrical--which, unlike 'variation', is the same in music, dance or poetry--means to most of us 'poetic, musical' after all it comes from the lyre. Not that lyrical can't also mean passionate, but I hadn't thought most of us thought of it as nearly always emphasizing that--surely it does not. 'Lyrical' could as easily be a matter of something very Apollonian, with such qualities as lucidity or clarity being more the character than the more fiery and fleshly matters we usually associate with 'passionate'.

I didn't know about 'lyrical jazz dance', that may be fairly new as terminology if it's very specific and not just descriptive sometimes.

Edited to add: Here are several definitions from an online dictionary that may help:
lyr·ic (lrk)
adj.
1.
a. Of or relating to a category of poetry that expresses subjective thoughts and feelings, often in a songlike style or form.
b. Relating to or constituting a poem in this category, such as a sonnet or an ode.
c. Of or relating to a writer of poems in this category.
2. Lyrical.
3. Music
a. Having a singing voice of light volume and modest range.
b. Of, relating to, or being musical drama, especially opera: the lyric stage.
c. Having a pleasing succession of sounds; melodious.
d. Of or relating to the lyre or harp.
e. Appropriate for accompaniment by the lyre.
n.
1. A lyric poem.
2. Music The words of a song. Often used in the plural.

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#8 87Sigfried87

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 01:54 PM

Dancerboy--do you mean 'passional' as 'passionate'?


Well no.Passionate gives me the impression that he has a great passion,but for himself,inside.Passional makes me think of someone who shows pathos when he's on stage and clearly makes it feel to the public.So the second meaning,atually.
I don't remember in paintings what is the exact meaning of the word "Lyrism"....I remember the painting of an Italian author,Beato Angelico,to whom everybody refers as full of lyrism.Maybe it's the apollonian meaning you quoted.Nice and graceful forms....Don't know:-)

#9 papeetepatrick

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 02:59 PM

pas·sion·al (psh-nl)
adj.
Of, relating to, or filled with passion.
n.
A book of the sufferings of saints and martyrs.

pas·sion·ate (psh-nt)
adj.
1. Capable of, having, or dominated by powerful emotions: a family of passionate personalities.
2. Wrathful by temperament; choleric.
3. Marked by strong sexual desire; amorous or lustful.
4. Showing or expressing strong emotion; ardent: a passionate speech against injustice.
5. Arising from or marked by passion: a teacher who is passionate about her subject.

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These are definitions from the same online dictionary. I asked because I have never even heard the word 'passional', and wondered if it is a term whose meaning (and particular word) is more used in Italian.

Passion directed toward oneself or without, as your 'pathos when he is onstage and... to the public' is nevertheless in the same family. What I was getting at probably most primarily is that 'lyrical' can certainly include gentle emotions of whatever kind--and these are not necessarily imbued with any kind of passion in the most literal sense, unless all sincere emotion or strong emotion is passion. In a sense you can say that it is, but this would mean that many distinctions between clarity/lucidity and passion are not very important. I think that in all the classical arts they are--whether one is talking about the difference between classicism and romanticism, or in such religious senses as can be found in the Bhagavad-Gita, in which there is 1) the man of dark inertia, 2) the man of passion, 3) the man of lucidity.

#10 Hans

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 03:21 PM

I thought a lyrical dancer was what some might call an "adagio" dancer--someone with long, beautiful lines (Odette, for example), as opposed to an "allegro" dancer (Kitri).

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 04:14 PM

To tell you the truth, I did not know of the existence of the word "passional" in the English language, but now I have to look for it, and see how it is used, so that I might have yet another word for a niche of meaning not otherwise covered by my present vocabulary. Thank you for bringing the word forward. It is certainly a good deed toward language. :)

#12 Paul Parish

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Posted 29 September 2007 - 09:40 PM

I think of Kyra Nichols, recently retired but still famous, as a lyrical dancer -- it's in the phrasing, and rather, as if the whole body were singing. A "dramatic" dancer often cuts the phrases into emphatic jagged fragments -- which the music may allow, or even demand. A lyrical dancer's phrasing will usually be more rounded than that. Actually, nichols also had dramatic powers -- she was very funny as Titania in the pas de deux with the donkey, in A Midsummer Night's Dream -- but that is a role with a lot of lyricism to it, to make the fairy qualities comethrough.

#13 87Sigfried87

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 01:45 AM

pas·sion·al (psh-nl)
adj.
Of, relating to, or filled with passion.
n.
A book of the sufferings of saints and martyrs.

pas·sion·ate (psh-nt)
adj.
1. Capable of, having, or dominated by powerful emotions: a family of passionate personalities.
2. Wrathful by temperament; choleric.
3. Marked by strong sexual desire; amorous or lustful.
4. Showing or expressing strong emotion; ardent: a passionate speech against injustice.
5. Arising from or marked by passion: a teacher who is passionate about her subject.


Here it refers to passional as coming from the word "passion" meaning the passion of Christ.But it's strange because both terms come from the same word.And should have just a slight difference of meaning.Maybe passional is used only with the pure original sense of pathos as sufference and passionate about other feelings but it's a linguistic problem i can't solve.Maybe you know better then me how to use them.On my italian-english dictonary if I look for the equivalent of the italian word"passionale" they say both passional and passionate.I'm not english mothertongue so maybe it's just a mistake.:-)

#14 SanderO

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 05:57 AM

Are dancers lyrical or are dances lyrical? Or do lyrical dancers dance lyrical dances?

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 06:21 AM

SanderO, there are lyrical dancers and lyrical dances. Most dancers can develop a lyrical side, but it's easier when lyrical dancers are matched to lyrical dances. That's what emploi is all about.

And dancerboy87, I did a little bit of research and find that the word "passional" is developing in English. It seems to be used for clinical purposes in describing mental health symptoms or personality analyses. However, it is starting to have a connotation in everyday speech as a description for intensity, especially along erotic lines, especially in design. It's a connotative thing, "female parent" doesn't bring an emotional response in the same way "mother" does.

And the word passional for a book has been there ever since the Medieval period, where nobles and royalty could commission their own personal passionals for use on saints' days. In modern English, the most widespread passional is Butler's Lives of the Saints.


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