Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Alexandra

Ballet companies and modern/contemporary dance

38 posts in this topic

We all pray for new works.  But "new" and "good" aren't synonyms.

Indeed, a work that's withstood the test of time is more likely to be good than is a work that has not yet been examined at length.

Share this post


Link to post

Sometimes I think "Oh, yay, three modern dance choreographers are making ballets for company X. Yay, they're actually going to get paid to make a work." Then I think, "Why aren't they using a ballet chorographer?"

Share this post


Link to post

We have in the past discussed the whole "truth in advertising" thing, as in if you are a ballet company you should do ballet, not modern. In that vein, what do yu think of Alonzo King's Lines Contempoary Ballet. Is that finallly truth in advertising, or not?

Share this post


Link to post

LMC - Comes a point when we'll discuss definitions until the cows come home and 90% of the audience calls all dance "ballet".

I think contemporary ballet is as close a term to what King does as any other. It isn't classical, but it's based on ballet technique.

And I've thought the same thing when I see announcements for new repertory.

Share this post


Link to post

I haven't seen enough to say. From the few pieces I've seen, I'd agree with Leigh. The "contemporary" saves it. I've read interviews where King says how much he admires Balanchine, and to me, it seems as though he's one of those choreographers whose interest in ballet goes back as far as "Agon." Which is a ballet (and a contemporary classical one) but not considering the other aspects of ballet -- the aesthetic -- makes it need the qualifier.

Share this post


Link to post

I find it interesting that most of these contemporary ballet companies don't seem to ever revisit their work. Every program is filled with brand new ballets every year. While I admire the prolificness of a choreographer, I start feeling like we've seen this before so why didn't you just do the older piece? I think this is a major problem. The dancers never really get to explore the role and the audience doesn't get to contemplate it again. I love seeing works, especially neo-classical ones, again and again. I've Agon ten times, but I see something new every time.

Share this post


Link to post

I can answer this one as someone who runs a choreographer-driven company. I remember Paul Taylor's consternation when he got an NEA grant for preservation of his old work, not creation of new works. He basically said he was totally uninterested in his old dances. Now, Taylor is given to saying things that are provocative, but the point here is that a choreographer wants to choreograph and money is painfully limited. In my experience, revivals of a work not in active repertory (where it needs to be re-taught) cost exactly as much as a new work, when intuition tells you that might save money in rehearsal time. Nope, it takes me the same amount of time to re-set a work as to make a new one.

I know from my standpoint I'd like to revive works but not at the expense of getting to make new work. I'd need more performance opportunities, more dancers so I could cast a revival correctly, and more money. If you'd like to see it from a day-to-day perspective, read about the rehearsals of the revival of Horizon in A Choreographer's Diary on the main part of this site.

Share this post


Link to post

I understand completely what you say about cost and choreographic motives. It just seems that adding an old work here or there that happens to be better than more recent works could improve ticket sales and challenge the dancers in a totally different way. Just a thought. I'm in no way advocating this to all companies everywhere.

Share this post


Link to post

My prediction for the Next New Thing is for the Blenders to take some of their old work, set it to new music, put it in different colored unitards, maybe add a funny hat or two -- new! new! -- and retitle it. I'll bet you few would notice.

Only slightly more seriously, there is a huge amount of stageable repertory that's slipping away -- Fokine, Massine, Nijinska (she didn't just do two ballets), not to mention Tudor, Robbins and Ashton. I doubt a serious theater company would do ONLY Shakespeare and New Last Tuesday.

Share this post


Link to post

But Alexandra, you've just described (sans funny hats) a Cunningham event! Of course, the recombination in that case is the very point.

Share this post


Link to post

Not quite a Cunningham Event, as he -- I hate to say "strung together -- excerpts from past dances (and, as you pointed out, the recombination was the very point) and, as far as I know, kept the same costumes. And not for any lack of creativity, of course.

Share this post


Link to post

Costumes and scenery were also shuffled; everything was meant to be seen in a new context. But as we're both implying, there's no attempt to sell old wares as new; it was a way of reviewing and reevaluating repertory.

Share this post


Link to post

Alexandra, I don't think this is the next new thing I think this IS the new thing. I wear every piece I've seen lately I've seen before.

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0