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A 'lyrical' ballet dancerWhat's it mean?


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#16 Michael

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 07:44 AM

In ballet I use the term as meaning the dancer is emotionally expressive and interpretive instead of being athletic, physically exciting, propulsive or kinetic. (Of course, some dancers can do both). I wouldn't speak of a "big jump" or a series of fouettees as lyrical things for a dancer to do. I'd say, though, that someone who appeared deeply to feel and to respond to music was a lyrical dancer, especially if they made me feel that they were expressing their personal emotions in conjunction with exploring the music.

By analogy, as Webster's puts it in its defintion of "Lyric Poetry": "Having the form and musical quality of a song, and especially the character of a songlike outpouring of the poet's own thoughts and feelings."

To illustrate one more time, I'd say: "At NYCB these days, it's the athletic girls who get ahead and not the lyrical ones."

MP

#17 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 08:11 AM

I'd also say that a really superb -- and musical-- dancer is lyrical where appropriate and technical where appropriate and combines both when appropriate.

I'd second the reference to Kyra Nichols (or is it third by now) and add Judith Fugate to the list. There are many more.... maybe Kshessinska, who we were discussing on another thread (in "Dancers," I believe).

#18 87Sigfried87

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 10:43 AM

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.


Thank You for the research.Maybe I should have used passionate then.Thank You for making this point clear.

#19 carbro

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 11:21 AM

Concerning lyrical dancers, the seamless phrasing is something they can carry even into bravura choreography. While "lyrical" most often brings to mind ballerinas, the most outstanding example I can think of today is a fairly macho guy -- Herman Cornejo. I don't think the dichotomy Lyrical vs. Athletic necessarily holds, but most dancers do tend to fall into one category over the other.

One of the most exciting draws at NYCB today is seeing the incredibly athletic Ashley Bouder hone her lyricism.

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 11:26 AM

Ah, don't be shy about using a word whose usage is still evolving! It's one way that language develops! And every user of the language is entitled to use it in the way he or she sees fit, even if it isn't one's "mother-tongue". You may have found a niche sense for "passional", after all. If, on reflection, "passionate" seems a better usage, so be it, as well! Express! :)

PS. Carbro, excellent example of type, Cornejo! :)

#21 canbelto

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 01:57 PM

I think of a "lyrical" dancer like porn: I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it. The most lyrical dancers I've seen live have been Alina Cojocaru and Alessandra Ferri.

#22 vipa

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Posted 30 September 2007 - 03:01 PM

I think of a "lyrical" dancer like porn: I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it. The most lyrical dancers I've seen live have been Alina Cojocaru and Alessandra Ferri.


I always thought of Mariana Tcherkassy (former ABT principal) as a lyrical dancer.

#23 Old Fashioned

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Posted 01 October 2007 - 06:37 AM

Concerning lyrical dancers, the seamless phrasing is something they can carry even into bravura choreography


I would cite Moira Shearer's dancing in Tales of Hoffman as an example of this.

#24 dirac

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 10:39 AM

Ah, don't be shy about using a word whose usage is still evolving! It's one way that language develops! And every user of the language is entitled to use it in the way he or she sees fit, even if it isn't one's "mother-tongue". You may have found a niche sense for "passional", after all. If, on reflection, "passionate" seems a better usage, so be it, as well! Express!


In a sense all words are evolving all the time, but I would be careful about using some of the less established ones in certain contexts. It may not always be clear to your professor, say, that you are using a word because you are aware of the different forms of usage and have deliberately chosen a particular one or that you simply don't know any better. 'Standard' usages have their good points. :shake:

In ballet I use the term as meaning the dancer is emotionally expressive and interpretive instead of being athletic, physically exciting, propulsive or kinetic. (Of course, some dancers can do both). I wouldn't speak of a "big jump" or a series of fouettees as lyrical things for a dancer to do. I'd say, though, that someone who appeared deeply to feel and to respond to music was a lyrical dancer, especially if they made me feel that they were expressing their personal emotions in conjunction with exploring the music.


Thank you, Michael, that's a very succinct way of putting it.

More comments, please.

#25 bart

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 11:29 AM

I've always felt that "lyrical" is like "musical" in that you sort of know it when you see it. And then you find out that the person sitting next to you disagrees entirely.

I've learned a lot from this thread. Thanks.

#26 4mrdncr

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:22 PM

OK, I'll admit it. I was known as an "adagio" or 'lyrical' dancer in my former life. And the best way I can describe it is FLOW: a continuous phrasing, even in allegro. Like a breath suspended, held, and slowly expelled as the movement continues. And innate use of arms, hands, AND especially epaulement to extend line. Ditto extension that unfolds, opens, and extends the line to infinity. Emotionally? I don't know, but I certainly "felt" the music inside, through me and supporting me. Best analogy: think of a bird in flight: held up by the air, surrounded by the air, using it to move. Mobilis in mobili. That's how I moved--surrounded by the music, through the music, with the music. Or in complete silence, I would use the "filled space" of the silence to do the same. But it was primarily an adagio technique, that had to be adapted (and in many cases truncated) for more athletic, allegro performances.
In short, I could "feel" the music, innately understood phrasing, balance till the cows came home, had decent extension (if not the 180/6 o'clocks they do now), and knew how to use my arms, hands and epaulement. But as someone posted above, most adagio dancers do not become stars, which is why it is so important for dancers to be well-rounded technicians. I had to work on the speed and "attack" of Balanchine, or preciseness of Bournonville battu. No one just does Act2 of Swan Lake, and I never mastered the 32. So the generic comments I got were all about being "the most graceful dancer... purity of line, Romantic style blah blah blah." Les Sylphides ad infinitum on tours.

Apropos the topic if not the immediately above...
Seeing Angel Corella do "Allegro Brillante" in London with Alexandra Ansanelli I was struck by the same thing I noticed after seeing a clip from 7 years ago of his Bronze Idol at the ROH re-opening gala... that an innately lyrical dancer was being forced into a mould. It was NOT a technical issue; EXTERNALLY the ballon, speed, tight precise fifths, tours, extension, elevation, and musicality etc.etc. all normal, all fine. But...I kept thinking INTERNALLY a too graceful softened edge for that very sharp, quick, almost robotic attack of Balanchine, (or a stiff bronze idol). Ansanelli looked like she was thoroughly enjoying herself and her partner, but the difference in technique was evident to me. She was a Balanchine dancer both internally and externally, whereas for Corella it definately was more an external expertise. (I agree about H. Cornejo.)

#27 Mel Johnson

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:59 PM

It may not always be clear to your professor, say, that you are using a word because you are aware of the different forms of usage and have deliberately chosen a particular one or that you simply don't know any better. 'Standard' usages have their good points. :)


Dancerboy's professor is a member of Ballet Talk??? Now, I did not know that! :shake:

#28 dirac

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 02:53 PM

It may not always be clear to your professor, say, that you are using a word because you are aware of the different forms of usage and have deliberately chosen a particular one or that you simply don't know any better. 'Standard' usages have their good points. :)


Dancerboy's professor is a member of Ballet Talk??? Now, I did not know that! :shake:


It was meant as a generic reference only, a 'for instance.' Sorry for any confusion. : :)

#29 Mel Johnson

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 03:57 PM

Of course, you know I'm pulling your leg. :shake: I think Ballet Talk is a good place for students of all ages to try out a language that's new to them, in order to define their knowledge of it. The professor isn't here, and we can discuss usage and vocabulary in a friendly and informal environment, which can only be helpful to the linguist.

#30 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 03:48 AM

OK, I'll admit it. I was known as an "adagio" or 'lyrical' dancer in my former life. And the best way I can describe it is FLOW: a continuous phrasing, even in allegro. Like a breath suspended, held, and slowly expelled as the movement continues. And innate use of arms, hands, AND especially epaulement to extend line. Ditto extension that unfolds, opens, and extends the line to infinity. Emotionally? I don't know, but I certainly "felt" the music inside, through me and supporting me. Best analogy: think of a bird in flight: held up by the air, surrounded by the air, using it to move. Mobilis in mobili. That's how I moved--surrounded by the music, through the music, with the music. Or in complete silence, I would use the "filled space" of the silence to do the same. But it was primarily an adagio technique, that had to be adapted (and in many cases truncated) for more athletic, allegro performances.
In short, I could "feel" the music, innately understood phrasing, balance till the cows came home, had decent extension (if not the 180/6 o'clocks they do now), and knew how to use my arms, hands and epaulement.


Ahhhh, thank you for describing the feeling of "flow" in dance. Never having been a dancer, but admiring and envying both dancers and birds, I truly appreciate the way you have vivified your experience.

In college and for about 15 years following, I sang in small Renaissance choirs, usually a cappella, and often felt something similar. I put myself in a "gear" that connected me visually and spiritually to the conductor, which connected me -- voice, body, breathing -- to the music.


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