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And they all look just the same......

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Is it just my eyes, or are more and more ballets being darkly lit?

At City Ballet the new ballet, "Lifecasting," seen soon after "After the Rain" pas de deux" had a very similar over-all look. Thinking back, I felt the same way about several of Wheeldon's ballets seen at City Center ("Fool's Paradise") this past autumn. There's a warmish golden glow to them, but they are dark.

Many of these same ballets seem to have dancers wearing flesh-colored costumes. It's true that I haven't seen that many new ballets recently, but thinking back a while, that is a very strong impression.

The two that I have seen by Bigonzetti are darkly lit, but the costumes are more like costumes than like no costumes. Am I wrong, or have I not seen enough new work? (Nothing we can do about that right now!)

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Is it just my eyes, or are more and more ballets being darkly lit?

A company often has a 'house' lighting designer, so that the lights for a mixed bill program can reflect a singular aesthetic, despite the variety of choreographers. Several years ago, a local presenter (not the ballet company) had a house designer who put much more emphasis on side light. The outline of the performer was very crisp, but their faces were often in shadow. It took me some time to realize that the 'coolness' I thought I saw in the performers was as much a function of their visibility as their intention.

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Is it just my eyes, or are more and more ballets being darkly lit?

A company often has a 'house' lighting designer, so that the lights for a mixed bill program can reflect a singular aesthetic, despite the variety of choreographers. Several years ago, a local presenter (not the ballet company) had a house designer who put much more emphasis on side light. The outline of the performer was very crisp, but their faces were often in shadow. It took me some time to realize that the 'coolness' I thought I saw in the performers was as much a function of their visibility as their intention.

It's as true with Morphoses as it is with NYCB.... I wonder about other Companies.

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Lighting: I don't know. I have a ballet to Pablo Naruda poems (music by Lieberson) which is very darkly lit. Does it "look" like other ballets. Well, the lighting is similar to a ballet like "Dark Elegies", but is it the same? Heck no. Lighting is part of an overall effect. We deal with day and night, weather and all affects upon lighting in our everyday lives. Most have very similar levels and effects. I think designers reflact this onstage as well.

Wheeldon: I haven't seen these particular Wheeldon Ballets. I will say I find his work to be similar to each other. Some choreographers switch hit is styles and feel so much so that you can barely sense the difference between them...the risk is that the choreographer doesn't have a foundation -a signature- where you can say, now that's a fill-in-the-blank ballet. Others navigate easily between genre and personal style. Juri Kylian, Dennis Nahat and Jerry Robbins come to mind. Others, like Wheeldon, explore the boundaries of their own styles. They risk repetitiveness. I like Wheeldon's work, but I'm not delighted by it for this reason.

As far as more and more ballets having the same general look recalls a joke about the very conservative Royal Ballet's inability to take risks: Q: "how are we going to produce the look of the ballet?" A: "Hmmm? Beige. I think we'll costume and decorate it in Beige. When in doubt, always beige!"

Philip.

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