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Is anything vulgar (in dancing) today?

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#1 Alexandra


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Posted 17 November 2001 - 11:38 AM

Once upon a time, pirouettes were vulgar. We've had discussions here about holding a balance too long, flicking the wrists at the end of a variation (especially if the feet didn't quite land in position), smiling/grinning in a classical role. A friend of mine heard complaints in London that a dancer in Don Q there ran his fingers through his hair in a mid-performance curtain call; this was thought outrageously vulgar. There are those mid-Act II curtain calls for certain Albrechts, too, where he rouses from his stupor to wanly face the audience and humbly acknowledge their applause.

In some eras, the rules for Vulgarity are quite plain and dancers who transgress them are snubbed, or given bad reviews. In today's anything goes atmosphere. . .well, anything goes.

What do you consider Vulgar in classical dancing? (In answering this question, it must be understood that ALL of us have exquisite taste. We just differ on the details.)

#2 glebb


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Posted 17 November 2001 - 11:59 AM

I prefer that dancers choose or are given steps that are appropriate for the role. I posted in an earlier thread that the fish dives in the Aurora Wedding Pas performed by Nacional Ballet de Cuba were a circus trick and out of place, vulgar.

At the same time, I can forgive anything if the performers are projecting honesty and love for their art. It is a turn off when dancers have an air of being better than everyone else in the theatre.

#3 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 17 November 2001 - 03:15 PM

Dancers who ignore the music while doing more pirouettes just because they can. Some of our young whiz bang male dancers today go for it all, no matter what, including whether they are on the music or not. It is all about tricks and not about the ballet, the role, the quality, or the music. Some of them look like they are in a competition instead of a ballet frown.gif

#4 Guest_Auvi_*

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Posted 17 November 2001 - 04:00 PM

I am with Victoria, in that ballet should represent the music and not the other way around. A conductor is not going to follow a thrashing dancer who is dancing as if he/she is before a judge. Ballet is athletic, yes. But, it is also an art form in which a performer is there to present the human body in a frm that is ethereal and ellegant - not just to blow the audience away with technique.

What I consider to be vulgar is when a performer tries to outshine another. Several companies - including the Washington Ballet of the District - combine dancer of different experiences. When the more experienced dancer tries to ham it up ahead of the student or apprentice, it is a real turn-off.

[ November 17, 2001: Message edited by: Auvi ]

#5 Guest_clairez5_*

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Posted 17 November 2001 - 06:19 PM

Along the same line as Auvi, I find it vulgar when a corps member who is able to do more than the others does so with no respect for the overall composition and line. Often, a corps member who lifts her leg higher or holds a balance a split-second longer ends up looking less professional because she is not able to fulfill the essential requirement of a corps- to dance, as the name suggests, as one body. Although every dancer wants to be noticed on stage, this is not the way to do it.

#6 Richard Jones

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Posted 18 November 2001 - 05:50 AM

I'm totally with all who have posted about the need for respect for the music (by choreographers as well) and the overall needs of the performance as a team effort.

Acknowledging stars at the end is one thing, but the Kirov descended to the depths during their Swan Lake in London (ROH, 2000). After Odile's celebrated fouettés the conductor stopped the orchestra and Odile came down to the front of the stage to milk the applause. Since the music is in full flow at that point, the cut was very nasty indeed, and we then had to wind up the orchestra again in order for Siegfried to start his fireworks. Horrible!

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 November 2001 - 07:15 PM

That caesura at the end of the fouettés has been there for so long, it might as well be notated into the score, it's part of the landscape now. But I agree, coming down center is a bit much! eek.gif

#8 liebs


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Posted 18 November 2001 - 11:41 PM

Male dancers who ignore their partners in ppd and appear to care only about their variations are vulgar.

#9 Richard Jones

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Posted 19 November 2001 - 01:46 AM

"That caesura at the end of the fouettés has been there for so long, it might as well be notated into the score, it's part of the landscape now."

Perhaps the English are more restrained! I hadn't encountered that effect before seeing the Kirov. Is this caesura generally observed in the USA?

#10 Lukayev



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Posted 19 November 2001 - 01:55 AM

While I'm a little young to be out and about and voicing my opinion on these sort of matters --

My mother and I were watcing Alessandra Ferri as Giselle (on tape) the other day and we both commented on how very soft her shoes looked. While it does provide a beautiful line for her feet while she's off-pointe, en pointe they look like they're about to send her toppling over her arches onto the floor. I'm sure they're strong enough to hold her, but I'd much rather prefer a little less arching in order to make the ballerina look (and probably feel) that much more stable. During her variation in Act I she didn't look very stable at all during the hops en pointe because she was so over her arches...

Perhaps I'm saying this because my Serenades aren't 3/4ed and beautiful, so therefore I'm being spiteful towards over-pretty feet. tongue.gif


#11 cargill


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Posted 19 November 2001 - 01:43 PM

The first time I encountered curtain calls during a variation was the Russians, after the fouettes in Swan Lake and Don Q; so far it hasn't crept into American performances. Not only is it tacky for the ballerina to stop mid-variation and act like the audience is a cow to be milked dry, it really cuts into the overall excitement of the pas de deux. The man has to start his turns cold, and the audience has no chance to watch the coda build. By the actual end, they really applaud less. But I think it has been bred into them--I remember when Ananiashvilli and Liepa were briefly guesting at NYCB and did one of the flashy pas de deux at an NYCB gala, she stopped the music for applause.
Other than that, wrist flicks, Albrecht rising from his death bed, and Zakarova doing Aurora are my definitions of vulgar.

#12 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 19 November 2001 - 03:11 PM

i was told the story by a friend that during the war, she saw a performance of robert helpmann as albrecht, during which, after his second act variation, he collapsed on the floor, then got up, acknowledged the applause, and collapsed again!

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 November 2001 - 01:14 AM

I'm going to be a wag here, but does anyone else have moments or dancers in ballet that are so brazen or vulgar that you end up loving them for it?

A certain ballerina at ABT springs immediately to mind. . .

#14 Mashinka


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Posted 20 November 2001 - 12:10 PM

Leigh, if its vulgar you like, just wait till you see Anastasia Volochkova, she takes vulgarity to heights you never knew existed !!!!!!!!! eek.gif

#15 jude



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Posted 20 November 2001 - 12:30 PM

i was horrified when i went to see the kirov do swan lake at the ROH this summer that not only didi the music stop so that ulina lopatkina (Sorry not sure of exact name) could come to centre stage to milk the applause but the music stopped for a good few moments until sigfreed galantly flounced to his place and then began his variotion after wich the music once again stopped!
for me half the excitement of the pdd is the way that the music and dancing builds to a climax, i f all of this is constatly being interupted then i feel the whole eefet is ruined.

i certanly feel people should applaud the dancers and of course there are plenty of opportunities for this at the end of the act but it seems a pity to sacrafice the overall effect of the act for needless arrogance!

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