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Alexandra

Is anything vulgar (in dancing) today?

34 posts in this topic

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.)

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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.

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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

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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 ]

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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.

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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!

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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

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

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"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?

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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

--Luka

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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.

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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!

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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. . .

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

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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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Originally posted by Leigh Witchel:

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?.


But then they're not vulgar. They're outrageously adorable smile.gif

Jude, I think different countries have different rules of applause. I've seen small touring companies of Russian dancers who dance to tape where the applause-time is several minutes; embarrassing, if the audience doesn't clap that much.

Applause habits and expectations have always interested me. There's so much conflicting information. One often reads of European companies that they love to come to America because the audiences were so demonstrative -- yet Americans will complain about applause milking (and not just of Russian companies).

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The polka section of Vienna Waltzes.

I think it's even been reviewed as "vulgar"

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Originally posted by Richard Jones:

"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?


Actually, the first time I encountered it in an American company was a performance of the David Blair production of Swan Lake for ABT. Toni Lander absolutely nailed the fouettés, and there was very little the orchestra could do to pick up for Bruce Marks' tours à la seconde until they (the audience) calmed down a little.

[ November 20, 2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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I don't know if this falls under the rubric of vulgarity, but I keep getting grossed out at the absolutely anti-musical cuts that the Boston Ballet has recently been dishing out.

Now, I know the Boston Ballet has had bigger troubles than cuts and I know that if you keep the orchestra exactly one minute overtime, you may need to declare bankruptcy, BUT! there's great music in some ballets and when there is, it's kind of important, right?

Here's how they transgressed. In last season's production of Sleeping Beauty, they started the overture, and right after the opening 8 bars of Carabosse's music... they cut the rest of the overture - no Lilac Fairy music, no dramatic juxtaposition. In this season's Stanton Welch Midsummer Night's Dream, they started the overture, and right after the opening long chords in the winds, guess what? they cut the rest of the overture.

This music is not by Minkus. It is integral to the drama - in the case of the Mendelssohn, it is very grateful to dance - at least for Balanchine it was. To me, doing cuts like this suggests something of a disdain for music.

Is this defensible in anyone's view?

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In response to Alexandra's query about when is it vulgar vs. when is it fun, I'd like to say that IMO it depends on the ballet and what is being done. Balances held for an excessive amount of time so that the music has to stop would be appalling in 'Giselle' but might be fun in the Don Q pdd. (I put up a question in regard to "missing princes" in the Rose Adagio which points to this issue.) In general, I think that if the music has to come to a complete halt - as opposed to a brief pause, then it's pretty vulgar. I certainly think bows in the middle of the 2nd act of Giselle are vulgar, although in the past I have seen Giselles who DID come out for one. Today they seem to run across the stage to acknowledge applause. (Hey, it may even put them on the correct side of the stage for their next entrance!)

Another pet peeve of mine is excessive extensions. Some artists - Guillem, for example - know how to control this. We all know that Sylvie can wrap her legs around her head, but she has demonstrated that she doesn't HAVE to do this all the time. It's great however in something whose whole point is vulgarity - eg. the Grand Pas Classique. rolleyes.gif

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Another things I find vulgar is the current habit of cranking out many more supported pirouettes than can be done easily. It always makes me think of a rusty can opener.

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I thought vulgarity reached new heights (depths) during ABT's City Center season when some nutty balletomane in the audience would repeatedly toss enormous bouquets of roses onstage in the middle of the ballet!

I mean, tossing a bouquet at Juliet Kent as soon as she finished the adagio in the second movement of Symphony in C? Let's stop the ballet dead in its tracks, shall we?

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alexandra

i see what you are saying about the diffrenet etiquettes etc ...some of the hamming was quite funny!

it was this particular instance when it really annoyed me as it felt like the priority of the dancers/company wasmore to milk milk their applause then to really show the pdd in the best way possible!!

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4Ts, I agree. Only Merce Cunningham can cut music like that! (I think even Minkus must be respected. After all, he larded his scores with dozens of repeats just so this wouldn't happen.)

Manhattnik, I'm almost speechless. I've never heard of throwing flowers on stage and I think the ushers should run down the aisle and drag the offenders out of the theater!!! On the other hand, outrageous audience behavior does not occur in a vacuum. (Donning schoolmarm glasses) If a company encourages a circus atmosphere, it can't blame the audience if it behaves as though it's at a circus.

I remember when Bujones was young and in the Great International Star sweepstakes, a small group of fans ran down the aisle at the Kennedy Center at the end of a ballet, YELLING at the top of their lungs stuff like "Go Nando!", waving banners and wearing Nando T-shirts. They only did it once. (And it wasn't the ushers who stopped them.)

As for flower throwers, there was a very nasty, vulgar habit during the Rudi Days when people aimed the bouquets at the dancer's crotch and cheered when they hit bulls-eye.

We could have another interesting discussion about what is it about ballet that invites this? But let's get all the Favorite Vulgarities out in the open first smile.gif

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i don't recall ever hearing carabosse's theme in the sleeping beauty overture, and having seen boston's sleeping beauty a number of times, don't recall any cuts being made in the overture. also took out tapes of a number of other productions to check. in addition, i thought the midsummer night's dream the boston ballet did was that of bruce wells, not stanton welch. whether or not it was rearranged further i don't know as i did not see it this year.

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