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Denmark #1 in happiness survey. . . with a side trip to Bhutan


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#1 dirac

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 02:51 PM

I ask the board's forbearance as this has nothing to do with ballet. Obviously something's right in the state of Denmark.

According to their survey, Denmark's residents are the happiest in the world, thanks to its peaceful atmosphere, democracy and social equality, while Britain was placed 21st in the list.



#2 bart

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 04:42 PM

Interesting results. Peace, democracy and social eqauality seem to be key factors, but we don't know for sure that ballet isn't involved. Could Bournonville possibly have had an influence as well? :)

Ballet powers Britain and France rank lower than I would have thought. Russia is not mentioned despite having both the Maryinsky and the Bolshoi.

The U.S. might have ranked higher if the NYCB toured more widely and if public television would only bring back Dance in America and increase the number of Great Performances.

Canada, which, as the Mail reported yesterday, is trying to woo British workers with fast-track immigration visas and promises of the good life, was placed ninth.

The US came 16th. But although Britain is lower down the scale, we are happier than many of our European neighbours. France came in at 36, Spain, 43, Italy, 45, and Portugal, 46.

Left out of the equation is the possibility that some cultures -- I believe the U.S. and France are two -- actually seem to give positive value to dissatisfaction and bitching, considering them basic human rights. The Declaration of Independence promises the "pursuit" of happiness after all, not its acquisition.

#3 carbro

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 05:42 PM

Here's another possibility. You think it has any validity?

You can approach Denmark's largest city and be greeted by --> this, and as a comparison, -->this can greet your approach to the US's counterpart. Sure, the latter arouses strong emotions, but does it make you smile?

#4 jdribbons

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Posted 01 July 2008 - 07:42 PM

Here's another possibility. You think it has any validity?

You can approach Denmark's largest city and be greeted by --> this, and as a comparison, -->this can greet your approach to the US's counterpart. Sure, the latter arouses strong emotions, but does it make you smile?


YES, both make me smile, but a comparison between the two cities, or countries, is not possible. Two different worlds containing both positive and negative differences.

Copenhagen is a magical place and their ballet is a National Treasure. I believe that Denmark may in fact be the happiest city.

#5 carbro

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 08:23 PM

Meanwhile Singapore, with a very different culture from Denmark but sharing the characteristic of a relatively homogeneous population, also rates high on the happiness meter :) . Singapore has ballet. :D

You have to admire Bhutan. During what could be a difficult transition from monarchy to democracy, it rates its success according to its Gross National Happiness :lol: . Any of our DC-area members planning to come as close as many of us Westerners is likely to at the Smithsonian's annual Folklife Festival, featuring Bhutan this year? I'd love to hear about it. I'm sorely tempted to pop down. If I do, I'll post here. Oh, and googling "Bhutan, ballet" yielded nothing. :dunno:

At risk of veering too far astray, here's a link to PBS' Frontline documentary on Bhutan.

#6 carbro

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 06:05 PM

Pop down I did, and here are some photos as evidence. (Viewing it as a set eliminates most redundancy).

Among features I did not photograph was a dance performance to live music. From the two examples I saw, the dance uses hands in much the way Indian dance forms do. One dance included three women and three men, the women all lined together on one side, the men on the other. They did not interact, and all performed the same movements, if not always at the same time. The four dancers in the second dance wore identical masks and robes. One dancer, because of his size, was clearly a man; the others were ambiguous. As in the other dance, the foot movements were simple, and in this one, humor played a part as the largest dancer ultimately became a sort of King of the Hill.

According to Wikipedia, 75% of the population is Buddhist, and several of the artists/docents noted that culture and religion are inseparable in Bhutan. Most spoke English fluently -- those who did not tended to be older. I asked whether Bhutan had ever been a British colony. No, but when the national education system was adopted in the 1960's, English teachers were recruited from India.

The Bhutan food tent offered a limited menu. My brother-in-law ordered the chicken flavored with lemongrass, I ordered some potato-onion-pepper concoction with cheese (yak cheese?), both came with red rice and we both shared with my sister. We all approved, even though my lunch became a bit too hot for my taste the more I ate.

And the weather cooperated nicely, thank you. The rain stopped before I arrived, and the heat rolled in not long before it was time to head back!

I didn't have time to check out the Texas or NASA exhibitions, although NASA dancers -- that could have been something to see! :P

#7 papeetepatrick

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 06:24 PM

Very nice, carbro. Made me remember the Royal Dance Theater of Bhutan in the late 70s at Carnegie Hall. I had not been able to quite enter into the spirit of it, as I have much Indian dance and also the Dance Theater of Cambodia, which I saw about 1991 at Joyce Theater. I believe the real Bhutan is still supposed to be much as it always has been, and spared some of the strife of recent years that nearby Kashmir has suffered. But the colors of the dance costumes and sets come back from your photos.

#8 carbro

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 06:08 PM

Off-topic from this thread's heading but following a digression, here is some video of Bhutanese dancers, much more impressive than those I saw at the Folklife Festival. The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City is currently celebrating the culture of Bhutan, with free performances in public spaces around town.

Thirteen monks from the monastery fortress of Trongsa in central Bhutan perform the mesmeric ritual demon subjugation dances in public spaces in and around New York City. Free. Do not miss the serene spectacle of these ancient practices. Click here for a full schedule.

The Museum's homepage.

#9 Ostrich

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Posted 19 September 2008 - 08:45 AM

Off-topic from this thread's heading but following a digression, here is some video of Bhutanese dancers, much more impressive than those I saw at the Folklife Festival.


Thanks for the link! I have (to go even more off-topic) been interested in Bhutan and its culture ever since I saw the only two films shot in Bhutan, 'The Cup' and 'Travellers and Magicians'. But they didn't have any dancing in those.


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