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Britney the Ballet


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#16 FauxPas

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 07:42 AM

Well, it will be interesting to read people's reactions. Anyone planning to see it?


No, but I hope it comes to ABT.


Any casting suggestions for ABT? I am thinking that Diana Vishneva (in a long blonde wig) has the edgy desperation for the part and the dramatic range. How about Marcelo Gomes as her paparazzo boyfriend? Angel or Ethan Stiefel as K-Fed? Ethan could do the slacker/stoner thing very well. The mind boggles... Perhaps Kevin McKenzie could come back to the stage in the mime role of Dr. Phil?

#17 papeetepatrick

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:46 AM

Well, it will be interesting to read people's reactions. Anyone planning to see it?


No, but I hope it comes to ABT.


Any casting suggestions for ABT? I am thinking that Diana Vishneva (in a long blonde wig) has the edgy desperation for the part and the dramatic range. How about Marcelo Gomes as her paparazzo boyfriend? Angel or Ethan Stiefel as K-Fed? Ethan could do the slacker/stoner thing very well. The mind boggles... Perhaps Kevin McKenzie could come back to the stage in the mime role of Dr. Phil?


I don't care who does it. All they need is the sets for the current production of 'Sleeping Beauty', tart them up a little more, maybe have some guesting from NYCB, Ashley Bouder for the Paris Hilton drunk-party-period. I only said the original flip remark because of various forms of ABT publicity. The twain therefore will therefore soon meet, since these things do happen. Each TV persona must have his/her own ballet, including Connie Chung, who won't be content with a mere 'Maury'. Yeah, I know, who's connie chung by now? The Boston Globe referred to her as 'The China Woman from Television', and I agree that in this discussion such a title is the first really fine idea I've yet heard (use the same 'Sleeping Beauty' Valentine's Candy Box sets for that too).

A seriously interesting something or other really could be made called 'Celeb DUI' because it now is so epidemic that little choreography is needed and celebs themselves could play themselves inside Car Cutouts (every time Britney does a new stint in something or other, she is immediately seen driving all over L.A., fresh from rehab or whatever and with or without a license). This can include then, Tom Sizemore, Paris, Britney, Paris's brother (maybe the parents will have been caught by then, too), Tom Sizemore, Amy Winehouse, Ben Affleck, Gary Collins, Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Fleiss, who always needs the publicity. Could be done on the cheap.

#18 bart

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 08:57 AM

Using subject matter based on the life of a living celebrity who has courted and profited from close exposure of his or her personal life does not ipso facto seem to be a reprehensible thing. It depends on how it's done.

Does anyone here know for sure that this work will be "mocking" -- or that the level exploitation will go beyond your everyday norms in the pop field?

#19 papeetepatrick

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 09:24 AM

Using subject matter based on the life of a living celebrity who has courted and profited from close exposure of his or her personal life does not ipso facto seem to be a reprehensible thing. It depends on how it's done.

Does anyone here know for sure that this work will be "mocking" -- or that the level exploitation will go beyond your everyday norms in the pop field?


I suppose not, I'm probably only 99.99% sure. It becomes then difficult to explain why it's obvious that using a celeb's own tactics to get attention would be inappropriate to ballet, especially the totally lame remarks by the makers that Cristian quoted. Even if a 'homage to Britney' was possible, that's a total contradiction in terms for ballet dancers to do it. No such homage exists except in the imaginations of the bubble-headed fans and the TMZ.com junkies, so it's clear at least to me that Rambert was only doing exploitation PLUS. Of course, they could pretend to be sincere (and have done), so it's according to whether you believe anything they say. Even if it's not 'mocking', to be more specific, it's exploitative on some level, and IMO that's hard to get around, at least some form of obvious exploitation. It's difficult to see a 'ballet homage to Britney' growing up as some organic thrusting force. Their attempt at 'sincerity' seems even dumber than just using it like Britney herself does (but with considerably less innocence, as they're not being committed to hospitals and then allowed to drive, etc.)

#20 MJ

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 09:45 AM

LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!!!!


SHE'S A HUMAN!!!!


:helpsmilie:

[Channeling Chris Crocker]

#21 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 09:50 AM

:helpsmilie: :rofl: :rofl:

#22 dirac

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 10:41 AM

Using subject matter based on the life of a living celebrity who has courted and profited from close exposure of his or her personal life
does not ipso facto seem to be a reprehensible thing. It depends on how it's done.

Does anyone here know for sure that this work will be "mocking" -- or that the level of exploitation will go beyond your everyday norms in the pop field?


I have not been following this story closely, but my understanding is that Spears is mentally ill. Even if she weren't I still wouldn't say that it's open season on her. Be that as it may, the main issue here is whether , it's appropriate for a dance company with any claims to seriousness to be doing such a piece at this time and in these circumstances, and I think it's pretty clear that it's not.

Even if it's not 'mocking', to be more specific, it's exploitative on some level, and IMO that's hard to get around, at least some form of obvious exploitation. It's difficult to see a 'ballet homage to Britney' growing up as some organic thrusting force.


Exactly. It's just a really tacky thing to do.

#23 Andrew73

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 11:22 AM

It depends on how it's done.


It's called Meltdown. That's probably a clue.

Think about it; it has to either mock her, or glorify her recent behaviour. Anything in between would be simply boring.

Neither choice is attractive. And 'everyday norms' is not a term I understand in the context of exploitation. "Two wrongs", as they say, "Never made a right".

I hold no brief for Spears, and I fully understand comics and the gutter press using her mental health problems for profit. That's what they do. I just feel it's a little sad that a once reputable dance company chooses that particular shortcut to a fast buck.

But that's my last word ... I don't want to see a Rambert "special" based on my rants! :helpsmilie:

#24 bart

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 01:47 PM

Like dirac, I don't know much about the Spears story.

I also don't know what actually happened on stage.

A quick Google search of "britney" and "rambert" turns up a great deal of publicity, and reactions to the publicity, about a performance that was to have taken place last Friday. But I find no reviews -- or of any cancellation. Is this possible, or am I missing something?

#25 Jane Simpson

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 02:08 PM

A quick Google search of "britney" and "rambert" turns up a great deal of publicity, and reactions to the publicity, about a performance that was to have taken place last Friday. But I find no reviews -- or of any cancellation. Is this possible, or am I missing something?


Bart, the Britney Spears piece had one performance last week as part of Rambert's annual showcase of choreography by company dancers. Ten pieces were shown over two evenings. Shows like this don't usually get many reviews, but there was one in the Telegraph, and you can also see some audience reaction on the Rambert site. I didn't see the programme myself so can't comment on the piece.

#26 bart

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 03:02 PM

Many thanks, Jane, for that clarification and for the Links.

The relevant comment about the piece, from Mark Monahan's Telegraph review is here, in its entirety:

The QEH [Queen Elizabeth Hall] flop was Hubert Essakow's modern cautionary tale-cum-fable, Meltdown. Its knowing vulgarity would have been fine, had the movement quality been up to scratch. But the lack of any surprising choreography only highlighted the hideousness of Richard Thomas's score, a car-crash of disco and Jerry Springer: The Opera.



#27 Haglund's

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Posted 14 February 2008 - 04:45 PM

Britney is a fair topic for any outrageous, less than tasteful stage production. Anything other than that would make her look like something she's not. If Mark Morris choreographed his homage to Britney, we would say "Naughty naughty Mark", laugh, and go buy a ticket. So what's so different about Rambert beating him to the punch?
.
Britney evolving from an out-of-control, spoiled juvenile with no boundaries to an out-of-control, spoiled adult with no boundaries surprises few. But the mental illness thing is suspect and seems a last ditch effort by parents to finally do some parenting. And of course, the media is great for creating outrageous, less than accurate pictures and copy for its tabloids.

Recall the much publicized Schaufuss ballet about Princess Diana that villified Camilla, the Queen, and others in caricature. Not in great taste, either. This and the Britney ballet exemplify how our generation is fond of dumbing down art. Every creative act is not art, but chances are a lot of people will buy tickets to see it.

#28 bart

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:29 AM

This story really does raise important issues -- ethical, esthetic, etc. -- and thanks to all who have touched on them.

Recall the much publicized Schaufuss ballet about Princess Diana that villified Camilla, the Queen, and others in caricature. Not in great taste, either. This and the Britney ballet exemplify how our generation is fond of dumbing down art. Every creative act is not art, but chances are a lot of people will buy tickets to see it.

Why does Mayerling come to mind? :angel_not: It's soap opera for the literate classes -- those that have heard of the Habsburgs, at least. Come to think of it, so is Manon. So are so many other ballets.

People seem to perceive a couple of differences between these older works, which are taken seriously and are generally not condemned for content, and pieces like those involving Britney or Diana:
1) Rudolph, Manon, etc., are long dead and therefore will not be hurt by the exploitation of the seamier side of their lives.
2) They were produced by serious artists who hae shown themselves capable of working brilliantly with more substantial subject matter.

My own feeling is that the quality of the work matters a great deal -- and even excuses a great deal. The Telegraph reviewer obviously feels that the quality is not there and that this condemns the work sufficiently.

I also feel that contemporary public figures whose careers have been deeply involved in the control and exploitation of their own public images -- and Diana was right up there with any pop music star -- have fewer privacy rights than the rest of us. Those who live by the press release may occasional have to die by the press release. It's sad, but it's the rules of the very risky game they themselves have chosen to play.

I am ambivalent about the issues involved with allegations of "mental illness" -- something that has been alleged both in the Diana and Britney Spears cases. It's a fuzzy area full of constantly changing definitions, many of which are tossed around in the press by people with no direct professional knowledge of the celebrity involved. One could argue that the depiction of certain symptoms -- done with thought and care -- could actually increase public awareness of mental illness and sympathy for those who suffer from it (or on its edges).

#29 papeetepatrick

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 10:21 AM

This story really does raise important issues -- ethical, esthetic, etc. -- and thanks to all who have touched on them.

Recall the much publicized Schaufuss ballet about Princess Diana that villified Camilla, the Queen, and others in caricature. Not in great taste, either. This and the Britney ballet exemplify how our generation is fond of dumbing down art. Every creative act is not art, but chances are a lot of people will buy tickets to see it.

Why does Mayerling come to mind? :angel_not: It's soap opera for the literate classes -- those that have heard of the Habsburgs, at least. Come to think of it, so is Manon. So are so many other ballets.

People seem to perceive a couple of differences between these older works, which are taken seriously and are generally not condemned for content, and pieces like those involving Britney or Diana:
1) Rudolph, Manon, etc., are long dead and therefore will not be hurt by the exploitation of the seamier side of their lives.
2) They were produced by serious artists who hae shown themselves capable of working brilliantly with more substantial subject matter.

My own feeling is that the quality of the work matters a great deal -- and even excuses a great deal. The Telegraph reviewer obviously feels that the quality is not there and that this condemns the work sufficiently.

I also feel that contemporary public figures whose careers have been deeply involved in the control and exploitation of their own public images -- and Diana was right up there with any pop music star -- have fewer privacy rights than the rest of us. Those who live by the press release may occasional have to die by the press release. It's sad, but it's the rules of the very risky game they themselves have chosen to play.

I am ambivalent about the issues involved with allegations of "mental illness" -- something that has been alleged both in the Diana and Britney Spears cases. It's a fuzzy area full of constantly changing definitions, many of which are tossed around in the press by people with no direct professional knowledge of the celebrity involved. One could argue that the depiction of certain symptoms -- done with thought and care -- could actually increase public awareness of mental illness and sympathy for those who suffer from it (or on its edges).



The mental illness is not an invention of the gutter press, you need no more than the daily to weekly headlines from the Associated Press to know that they didn't make up how she did a hit-and-run a few months ago, married some childhood sweetheart a few years ago for the thrill of it, has been in and out of rehab, shaved her head, etc. The press cultivates it and does contribute to the developments, but she could have easily moved out of town if she was not ill, and possibly afraid to be away from situations, children are involved and the rest. Court decisions about visitation rights for Britney Spears are not earth-shaking news, but neither are they fabricated. I never read anything about her off my Verizon Home Page which has Associated Press breaking news items. That's the only reason I know about any of the Party Girls of Hollywood.

The better comparison would be a ballet about Paris Hilton. This is not a 'troubled girl', but rather spoiled, silly, funny and condescending, even hateful. She's not an addict, even if she has one too many, so the public hates her more than Britney Spears. Americans in particular have sympathy for someone who is obviously sick instead of flaunting their 'fabulousness', as Hilton does. It was so incredibly important to the public that Hilton serve her time for a minor (comparatively) violation that they were screaming all over the place, and Al Sharpton made yet another absurd Photo Op for himself by alleging 'race favoritism' when Hilton was released early, even though by the time for his Shining Moment, she'd already been put back in. The other starlets would spend 82 and 84 minutes in jail, and there was no outcry when they were released. This is because if you are not crippled, and are merely 'sinning', then you 'deserve' the full force of the proletarian rage. A ballet about Hilton would be silly, insubstantial, but it could be amusing. She's got a sense of humour herself, and seemed to enjoy getting the Harvard Lampoon's Woman of the Year Award last week. She is more like Mavis Weld in Chandler's 'The Little Sister', whom he described as a 'loose Hollywood babe without much morals', but it had been the very righteous 'little half-sister' who'd done the ice-pick work.

Margaret Cho already did some performance-art after Spears's failed MTV Awards appearance, it was discussed on all blogs frivolous and serious, and people 'feel sorry for her'. I can see how various forms of work about 'mental illness symptoms' might lead to greater public awareness, but not an obviously exploitative ballet work about a tabloid queen, because that's what the theme is--tabloid queen with problems and let's enjoy this crap; it is not about raising consciousness--or a serious work without a Famous Name to go with it could have done quite as well, and a lot better. 'Bad parenting', I would also note, does not preclude 'mental illness' even straight up, as it were, and is well-known to be the cause of a lot of it. Also, 'Mayerling' and the other dead-people soap operas are indeed different: even if Spears is only interested in drumming up endless publicity until she finds herself as famous as Marilyn Monroe after death, doing a ballet while the tension is only getting worse is only using the most vulgar and very same tactics as she is (and the children part would not be publicity-seeking, but rather real desperation); they want to cash in on it, and pretend at the same time they are 'being sensitive' with this homage. It is like a ballet form of Reality TV and it's repulsive. I don't see any grey areas in this myself.

#30 dirac

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 10:37 AM

What Andrew73 said.


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