When comparisons work
Posted 08 June 2001 - 10:40 AM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 12:23 PM
I thought I'd give the comparisons issue one more whack. I think probably most people when they're watching a ballet focus primarily on the dancers. And there will almost invariably be someone who appeals to you and someone who doesn't. Anyone who's seen a ballet has an opinion, and anyone who's seen two ballets has a comparative opinion: I liked her, I didn't like her. This is usually express as "She was great, she was terrible." And so when you read in the newspaper the next day that "Ms. Great" didn't match BallerinaX, who was, of course, definitive in the role, it's like a dash of cold water (or, if you're sensible, you just ignore it ) I agree with Samba that that's to be avoided -- except remember in writing for a newspaper where words are at such a premium, critics develop shorthand phrases, such as "definitive in a role" to get across several sentences they don't have room for.
For me, the point of comparing in this fasion isn't to trash dancers, but to try to see the ballet more clearly. If the point of a ballet was for the dancers to be subtle and smooth, danced with a creamy legato and a musicality that listens the melody of the music and it's danced jerkily square on the beat, if a solo is done on a very tall person and it's danced by someone six inches shorter so the geometry is off, then if one has seen the original intent, or the dancer(s) who made the ballet look like itself, I think that's when a comparison is proper -- in criticism. Of course, here any comparison is "proper"
Most of what I learned about watching ballet was from listening to people say, "Yes, but you didn't see Verdy in that role," and trying to figure out what they meant
Posted 09 June 2001 - 10:35 AM
Posted 12 June 2001 - 12:44 PM
It's probably not helpful to say "Yoshida's dancing wasn't as big as Ann Jenner's or Laura Connor's or Leslie Collier's" -- because "big" can mean so many different things. I liked Yoshida's neatness, but my memory saw more space between the legs when executing the steps by the ballerinas I saw in the 1970s and '80s. (I never saw Nerina and I'm not offering the subsequent generation as "definitive," just as people who danced the role in a particular way that made sense to me.)
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