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)

Noble? Classique? Which roles are which?


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#16 ORZAK

ORZAK

    Member

  • New Member
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts

Posted 16 March 2001 - 08:39 PM

In my opinion Gelsey Kirkland was a true lyrical ballerina - a very rare creature. Basheva

#17 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 16 March 2001 - 09:46 PM

Yes, but that doesn't take the breadth of her repertory into account at all. Balanchine made the revival of Theme & Variations on her in 1970, and saw her as an allegro technician, I think not the least because of her size. And she was a Kitri as well as a Giselle. As Alexandra said, I get the feeling that Kirkland redefined herself over and over.

Moving off that topic, I think Giselle itself may be one of the hardest roles to characterize and cast. It's for an adagio dancer with a lofty jump. Is that just the Giselle of the late 20th century?

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#18 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 16 March 2001 - 10:02 PM

Also, terms like "lyrical," and "romantic" and "dramatic" are not the same thing as employ.

Leigh, I can only imagine that Giselle has changed so much over the past 160 years that Grisi wouldn't recognize it. I'd never thought of it as an adagio role, but I can see your point. In America, the role became so identified with Makarova (the s-l-o-w ballerina) that it might be hard to see beyond that; she's certainly implanted in my mind. I would imagine, though, that Alonso was quite allegro.

For what it's worth, this is what Bournonville wrote of Grisi: "Carlotta Grisi was, as regards refinement of performance, the most perfect female dancer I have ever seen: with a little less distinctiveness and ideality than Taglioni and Elssler, she possessed to an equal extent the lightness, the verve and the qualities of schooling of her celebrated predecessors, and as for musical precision--if I am allowed to use this metaphor--she seemed to be riding a keyboard. Every note a step. Her expression was one of unreserved joy; she looked as if she were dancing just for her own pleasure." (This doesn't mention employ either; Bournonville was writing for a lay audience. But I thought it interesting.)

Ballet Nut, your comment on Gala Performance being a parody of employ rather than style is interesting; could you elaborate?

leibling, I'm glad you're finding this interesting Posted Image Please check your email.

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited March 16, 2001).]

#19 ORZAK

ORZAK

    Member

  • New Member
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 12:28 PM

In my opinin - being a lyrical ballerina would not obviate the assets necessary to Theme and Variations - but enhance it. The adage section is not brought to fruition by a technician.

Every great dancer passes through phases of re-creation. Again, in my opinion.

#20 BalletNut

BalletNut

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 573 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 02:00 PM

Originally posted by alexandra:
.

Ballet Nut, your comment on Gala Performance being a parody of employ rather than style is interesting; could you elaborate?  




Well, I'll try! It won't be easy, given my lack of technical expertise. But here goes:
The Russian ballerina seems to represent what Alexandra called "the black line," judging by how domineering her stage presence is. The Italian ballerina looks like a parody of "icy-classical," [Alexandra again] the way she moves so slowly, with such premeditated perfection, usually at the expense of warmth or musicality. The French ballerina is most likely a soubrette.

I hope that all made sense.

[This message has been edited by BalletNut (edited March 17, 2001).]

#21 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 02:57 PM

It does make sense, and of course, in any "national style" there would be different types of ballerinas. (I should note, if anyone is keep track of these things, that "icy classical" and "black line" are totally unofficial terms made up by me to try to group roles that seemed similar to me under one term. "Soubrette" is a generally recognized term.)

#22 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,287 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 06:20 PM

Nowadays, too, a different formula for thinking about dance "classifications" inflects a lot of writing/discussion -- one that emphasizes the choreographer. Critics and observers talk about "Balanchine ballerinas" or "Tudor" specialists, "Bournonville" or "Macmillan" dancers. While everyone knows that a Balanchine ballerina includes a Kent as well as a Farrell etc. the phrase does still conjure up certain, sometimes quite specific ideas. I think the shift or difference between talking about a "classique" and talking about a Petipa ballerina is interesting because it's not just a different way to define dancers but reflects a different way of thinking about ballet/choreography. It puts the expression of singular artistic vision at the center of the process, rather than what one might call genre or generic considerations. And it describes the dancer as a vehicle of that vision. (Loosely speaking, it's a more "modern" attitude -- and, of course, "modern" dance far more than ballet has organized itself around a series of singular artistic visions...)

#23 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 07:15 PM

I think that's a good observation, but oddly enough, I think considering someone a "Balanchine" or "Petipa" ballerina is limmiting in a way that saying "demi-caractere" isn't.

Orzak's comment brings up another complication. As far as I'm concerned, Theme and Variations is a direct descendant stylistically of The Sleeping Beauty and the leads in neither ballets are "lyrical" at all to me. Arlene Croce nailed Theme for me when she said it was created for Alicia Alonso, an allegro dancer who could fake an adagio very well.

But roles change, especially if someone breaks the mold. Marie-Jeanne was an allegro spitfire, she originated Concerto Barocco. Farrell took over the role in the 60's, and it became legato (with Balanchine's assistance and approval). Somehow when looking at dancer types and roles, one has to account for slow change over decades and dancer generations.

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#24 ORZAK

ORZAK

    Member

  • New Member
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 08:22 PM

Who am I to argue with the one and only Croce? And yet I will....

Having been in class with Alicia Alonso, having watched her take a private class given by her daugher Laura, and having watched her rehearse and then perform Giselle twice at very close range, there is nothing NOTHING faked about anything that prima ballerina does, in adagio, allegro or anywhere else for that matter. In my opinion. Basheva

#25 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 09:02 PM

I understand your desire to defend Alonso from what looks to you like an assault on her abilities as a ballerina, but I think you've missed the point of this conversation. We're not talking about whether Alonso was a prima ballerina, nor whether Kirkland was lyrical. We're trying to look at genres of dancers as they evolved from the 18th century down. What Croce said makes Alonso no less a ballerina, it just makes her a certain sort. But again, I think talking about Alonso's brilliance as a dancer is not the topic of this thread.

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#26 Michael

Michael

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 777 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 10:09 PM

But adagio and allegro (as classifications of dancers) are one step removed from Danseur Noble and Classique/Demicharacter, aren't they, with the latter classification system being based upon physical proportions such as hight and line? So aren't we really using a different system of classifiction when we discuss dancers as allegro dancers or adagio dancers?

And Alexandra, do I really understand you that there are no female danseurs nobles, no danseuses nobles? So isn't allegro vs. adagio ballerina in fact a good way to class female dancers?

#27 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 11:07 PM

Lilac Fairy and Hilda (in Bournonville's Folk Tale) are two danseuses nobles roles. There may well be more. I didn't say there weren't any. I said I haven't come close to decoding female employee yet.

Adagio and allegro are certainly related, to noble/demicaractere, but I don't think they're exactly parallel. There is certainly more to the textbook classifications than speed.

I think the other words -- lyrical, romantic, adagio, allegro, dramatic, etc. etc. -- are simply descriptive words that we use to try to talk about dancers and classify them. (Interesting that we seem to be determined to classify them Posted Image )

#28 BalletNut

BalletNut

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 573 posts

Posted 18 March 2001 - 02:45 AM

Originally posted by alexandra:
It does make sense, and of course, in any "national style" there would be different types of ballerinas.  (I should note, if anyone is keep track of these things, that "icy classical" and "black line" are totally unofficial terms made up by me to try to group roles that seemed similar to me under one term.  "Soubrette" is a generally recognized term.)


I apologize for any confusion, I just couldn't think of a more "conventional" way to describe them without picking on specific dancers. Posted Image




[This message has been edited by BalletNut (edited March 18, 2001).]

#29 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 18 March 2001 - 06:47 AM

No need to apologize, Ballet Nut! I've learned to try to clarify things as we go along, because too often people read only one post, and not those that have gone before. (As we've seen, best not to pick on specific dancers Posted Image )

#30 ORZAK

ORZAK

    Member

  • New Member
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts

Posted 18 March 2001 - 06:59 PM

I believe I do understand what the conversation is about, Leigh - I just happen to have another view. Basheva


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):