Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Matthew Bourne"not a ballet choreographer"


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 784 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 12:51 PM

In the Links on Wednesday, July 23 Dirac wrote: "I note, while we’re on the subject, that in future reviews and articles on Bourne and this production will only be linked to in this space if there is significant relevance to ballet. Bourne is not a ballet choreographer even if the popular press does not understand this."

To show my ignorance I am wondering why Bourne is not considered a "ballet choreographer". This is not about whether you like his work or not . What are the criteria needed to define someone as a "ballet choreographer"?

#2 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 01:51 PM

No, it has nothing to do with whether his work is "good" or "bad" or someone likes or dislikes him, but because he's a modern dance choreographer. That's his language. Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham and Mark Morris are also modern dance choreographers. Very good ones, too :P

The quickest answer is that a ballet choreographer is someone who has been trained as a classical dancer and composes dances using the vocabulary of the danse d'ecole.

#3 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 03:25 PM

And another genre Bourne works in is cabaret dance. Nothing wrong there, either. Roland Petit produced many fine cabaret works, but his primary vocabulary was classical ballet or its natural extensions.

#4 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,455 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 06:20 PM

Yes, if you're wondering why kicklines show up in Petit ballets at oddly inappropriate moments, that's why. :P

My comment in the Links may seem a little high handed. I'll allow I was feeling a wee bit testy. I guess that ' most daring ballet choreographer' line was the last straw. I can't tell you, innopac, how many articles and reviews of Bourne I come across that describe him as a ballet choreographer when he isn't one for the reasons Alexandra provided. Just because the name is "Swan Lake" or "Nutcracker" doesn't make the work ballet. I didn't intend it as a knock, although I admit I'm not an admirer. I follow the same policy with regard to Mark Morris and Twyla Tharp, two choreographers with ballet credentials that Bourne doesn't have. But they are still modern dance choreographers, and usually described as such. Morris just did a widely reviewed "Romeo and Juliet" to the Prokofiev score - but it's for his own troupe and it's not ballet.

However, if any modern dance choreographer gives an interview where he's making general remarks about ballet or his work for one of those classical companies, I certainly post those.

#5 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,266 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 09:01 PM

Oh, i just love the simple title of this thread. "M.B, not a Ballet Choreographer"
And then...the mentioning of Tharp...aah, the simple pleasure of analogies... :P

#6 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 784 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 11:28 PM

The quickest answer is that a ballet choreographer is someone who has been trained as a classical dancer and composes dances using the vocabulary of the danse d'ecole.


In 50 Contemporary Choreographers: A Reference Guide the authors write about The Highland Fling, Bourne's take on La Sylphide: "Once again the dance vocabulary is a combination of different styles, although ballet is the predominant one." (page 35) And they also refer to parody. I haven't seen this work but I wondered if any ballet choreographers have parodied ballet or if only modern dance choreographers like Jiri Kylian and Bourne have done that.

#7 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 25 July 2008 - 12:54 AM

Ballet choreographers have been doing parodies of ballet for a very long time. Cf. "Gala Performance" for one example. Eugene Loring used to class certain of his works "fusion" and not actual ballet. Even Bournonville took on ballet conventions mixed with other forms as parody. "War Dance of the Red Indians" from Far from Denmark, anyone?

#8 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 25 July 2008 - 04:06 AM

Ballet choreographers have been doing parodies of ballet for a very long time. Cf. "Gala Performance" for one example. Eugene Loring used to class certain of his works "fusion" and not actual ballet. Even Bournonville took on ballet conventions mixed with other forms as parody. "War Dance of the Red Indians" from Far from Denmark, anyone?


Now now. That's not a parody. That's character dance. (And what we have now isn't necessarily what Bournonville did. From photos, it's changed a lot over the years.)

I'd second everything dirac wrote above. It's also the raison d'etre of this board to discuss classical ballet (see our Mission Statement) which is why dirac gets to be "high-handed." Writers -- and choreographers -- throw the term "ballet" around as though it's a synonym for "dance." My (least) favorite is: "My work is firmly grounded in the classical tradition!" when it consists of hopping, running, wiggling, and one arabesque.

#9 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 03:10 AM

Character dance is a really mixed bag, and can have more than one or two subtexts under the primary material of the choreography. When it's not presenting an idealized national dance, character often is used to produce parody or satire. One of the things that I've always had a feeling was going on in the national dances in Far from Denmark is "Look at these silly people at a party trying to be nationalities they're not." It's as much a commentary on the whole idea of theater as anything else. To go back even farther in Danish repertoire, Galeotti's The Whims of Cupid and the Ballet Master provides politically-incorrect vaudeville stock characters to humorous effect.

#10 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 10:50 AM

This is way OT on Bourne, so apologies, but neither Galeotti's nor Bournonville's dances are parodies (in Whims or FFD). Yes, they're observations of "other cultures," but they're not parodies of them. Yes, character dancing can be used for parody to brilliant effect, but not here.

#11 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 12:10 PM

We obviously have vastly differing definitions of parody, but I will agree that Bourne is a modern dance choreographer, and that a significant part of his output is the parody of classical ballet.

#12 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 01:35 PM

For a great parody of ballet from a ballet choreographer, look at the "Mistake Waltz" from Jerome Robbins' The Concert. It's like "Airplane"; the same jokes you know are coming a mile off - and you laugh every time. For dancers, the "There but for the grace of God. . ." aspect of the mistakes within the choreography is quite potent.

#13 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 02:15 PM

There is also topical satire, as in Ashton's entree "Noche Espagnole" in "Façade" which has not survived because the object of its humor, a "shameless" solo by Anton Dolin to Ravel's "Bolero", has not survived.

#14 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 06:09 PM

Robbins also parodizes ballet in The Four Seasons, with each season poking gentle fun at the conventions of various ballet genres.

#15 Hans

Hans

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,104 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 08:05 PM

I don't suppose the leotard ballet was among the genres parodied. :wink:


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):