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In search of the next Balanchine


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Poll: The next Balanchine (31 member(s) have cast votes)

Are you waiting for the next Balanchine to come along?

  1. With bated breath (2 votes [6.45%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.45%

  2. No - today's ballet scene has a lot to offer (4 votes [12.90%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.90%

  3. We were lucky to get one in the last century, don't ask for the moon (10 votes [32.26%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.26%

  4. We've already got one, it's __________ (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. It would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath (15 votes [48.39%])

    Percentage of vote: 48.39%

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#46 kfw

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 06:17 PM

Our societies today appear to militate against waiting to recognise superior talent and the obsession is rather more inclined to the new than with the great.

I don't know, Leonid, it seems to me that the media is ever on the lookout for new stars to promote. Whether or not it would trust the public to take to ballet dancers for any other reason than athletic prowess is another question.

#47 dirac

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 06:44 PM

But I also assume that critical favorites have by and large educated, which is to say moneyed, fans, that can afford to follow their curiousity to the ballet.


Education and money don’t always go together, alas. Would that they did. :wink:

My thought was that Costello’s aging fan base, which probably has accumulated a decent nest egg by now, might already be expected to have been exposed to ballet at one point or another, and so featuring his music would probably be something of a wash in terms of attracting audiences unless he’s enjoying some sort of vogue with the kiddies that I don’t know about, which could well be true. Last time I checked in with him he was telling Joni Mitchell in Vanity Fair how much he liked Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, laudable opinions to be sure but not exactly in tune with the youthful zeitgeist. I also seem to recall a collaboration with Burt Bacharach.

To come back to the next Balanchine, I think to you could swap Balanchine in the title for Ashton, Nijnska, Tudor - what you're asking is will there ever be another period in history where a talent for choreography of that level be nurtured, given room to grow, be of importance to society, have a place in society? I don't know, I don't think so.


I think we got a bit spoiled, Simon G. There was so much genius and extremely high second rank talent in those days that perhaps we forgot that such an explosion of talent happens rarely, if at all.

#48 leonid17

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 01:40 AM

Our societies today appear to militate against waiting to recognise superior talent and the obsession is rather more inclined to the new than with the great.

I don't know, Leonid, it seems to me that the media is ever on the lookout for new stars to promote. Whether or not it would trust the public to take to ballet dancers for any other reason than athletic prowess is another question.



“Whether or not it would trust the public to take to ballet dancers for any other reason than athletic prowess is another question.” Pretty sad if this is the case in which if we have to embrace the exhibition of “athletic prowess” instead of art. It seems the demarcation line that separates art from entertainment is in decline. I see a difference in the artistic expression of physical gifts in Vasilev’s performance as Spartacus, compared to the over physical elaboration of variations in a Petipa ballet. When the latter takes place the art of ballet begins to lose meaning.
Ballet can be entertaining in its various levels of expression but we should still be able to see that it is not merely entertainment; it is or traditionally was, on a different level.
When the lines between a serious artist and an entertainer get blurred everyone is a loser,
but this is what the popular media wants us to embrace.
Regarding the public, who are ballets public? I have seen the Royal Opera House promote and gain publicity for a new work on the basis that it employed music from a rock band and on the first night fans of the music came in some numbers. They did not come again so I do not consider them part of the real ballet public that support ballet companies through thick and thin.
The media is much more engaged in the commercial manipulation of minor talents than in the past and in some aspects is merely an opportunity to raise the profile of its contributing writers or presenters. In this process we see performers raised to the heights of stardom when once they would have had difficulty in being a supporting act. In England is there is a creeping disease of “I helped…………to become a star” or, “I helped the choreographer………..to be come a success”, among dance journalists?
In the past with or without media support dancers achieved stardom by dint of effort and real talent and the media was then, serious independent dance writers recognising the possibility of stardom and without the naked ambition to become a ‘celebrity’ journalist’.
It seems I have been guilty of going off topic (In search of the next Balanchine) apologies.

#49 Philip

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:11 PM

There was, count 'em, one Balanchine, just as there was one Nouvere, St. Leon, Bournonville, deBlasis, Perrot, Coralli, Cecchetti, (...oops there were two Petipa-like father like son), Massine, Fokine, Ashton, McMillan, Cranko (The British should feel blessed to have such equally brilliant choreographers alive and producing around the same era), Robbins...and now McIntyre, Wheeldon, and Alonzo King etc, etc., etc. Ya know, the 21st century world is too small for one great choreographer.

To make a comparison take classical music performance, it used to be in the old "Columbia Artists' Tours" that the few great virtuosi of piano, violin, cello etc. could tour and make a very upper class living. Now, only a few performers can do this; they are great, but just as phenomenal are 1/3 of the Julliard grads. As a result, a payer with the ability a, musicality and technique of a Jasha Heifetz, has trouble getting a symphony job as back row, 2nd violin, much less a chaired position; there are just too many out there like them.

Why? Several reasons: 1) We live in a global culture and great teachers and instruction exists outside of Europe and the Americas. Now all 7 continents are providing more beyond high level talent. Look at Gustavo Dudamel who came out of an impoverished family in the middle o' nowhere South America, where some bright minds put together a training program for poor young children...and they crank out the talent like it was a factory!! 2) the worlds population has grown so the odds of great talent is as great as not so great talent. 3) We can communicate in real time for little money, and can travel just about as easily.

The same has happened in ballet: the larger the population the higher the likelihood of talent. The more retired professionals who are trained to teach open schools, the more they will produce great talent. The more ballet can be seen and accessed easily and inexpensively, (the internet plus just about any number of devices) the more talent will arise. Its a matter of mathematics. Now, principle dancers are hired to be corps members of ABT...and it shows...corps should look cohesive, not like a group of soloists, which upon occasion, has marred some of ABT's productions.

No longer will we see isolated cases of talent like Balanchine, Ashton and others. We'll have mavericks like Trey McIntyre who has so expanded the idea of "what is ballet" that I do not think we can say, "well, ballet is such and such". It's now ballet-as-foundation, but (thanks and bows to all the modern dance pioneers up to this day), ballet is hip-hop, jazz, tap, release technique, horton, graham, character dance, gesture, acting, musicianship , athleticism, and "whateverthechoreograperimagines" etc. etc. So, much so that, if a dancer traines in 2 or 3 dance types with one main technique as his/her forte', then, the sky is the limit to what they can (a) learn (b) perform. Its not about the rather false idea of "triple threat", its about being flexible and pliable to what one can do for a choreographer and audience.

Therefore, no more Balanchine's, please. Let's have more established choreographers who become known and whose work will last beyond their days. Thank you Mr. B., I loved dancing your work. And, thanks again for opening up our view to how much further the bounds of both classical and contemporary ballet can be expanded beyond even you.

-Philip

#50 Simon G

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 04:58 AM

McIntyre, Wheeldon, and Alonzo King etc, etc., etc. Ya know, the 21st century world is too small for one great choreographer.



In those three Philip, it doesn't even have one.

#51 bart

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:29 AM

Ballet can be entertaining in its various levels of expression but we should still be able to see that it is not merely entertainment; it is or traditionally was, on a different level.

When the lines between a serious artist and an entertainer get blurred everyone is a loser,
but this is what the popular media wants us to embrace.

These are important and connected points, which have to be considered when we talk about trying to keep "ballet" alive, not only as a conserver of early classics, but as the source of new creation.

I have a quibble. The line between "serious artist" and "entertainer" have always been blurred, it seems to me. They have also shifted over time, as have definitions of what is "classical," what is "beautiful," etc. Since the 1960s, arts criticism has come to be dominated by commentators who tend reject the distinction between the serious and the popular. They have won the semantic debate, partly by suggesting that those who disagree with them are being unnecessarily elitist or conservative.

So, how should ballet lovers respond? One thing that is NOT helpful, I think, is to draw lines in the sand as a kind of challenge to those who "don't like ballet." We need ways to draw them IN.

I've long been fascinated by the ways in which average, non-arty people respond when exposed to ballet in a non-threatening manner. A number of times, I've shown acquaintances segments of Balanchine -- usually from the two Choreography by Balanchine dvds. The responses have been interesting. No matter what their prior knowledge of ballet, or their liking of it, they intuitively KNOW that they are watching something out of the ordinary. The see it as omething difficult to do and to understand, but fascinating, important, worthwhile. If they ask questions, they seem genuinely intrigued by the responses.

Have any gone on to join the regular ballet audience? Only one couple, to my knowledge. But it's astonishing how they ask me about how "Miami" is doing in New York City or about the "Ballet Florida story" when we meet. They are aware and respectful, which is a big improvement over "oblivious" or (worse) "hostile."

[ ...] ballet is hip-hop, jazz, tap, release technique, horton, graham, character dance, gesture, acting, musicianship , athleticism, and "whateverthechoreograperimagines" etc. etc. [ ... ] its about being flexible and pliable to what one can do for a choreographer and audience.

While the first quotation expressed a tendency to build walls isolating "ballet" and "serious art" from the rest of dance, this second approach goes to the other extreme. It expands the meaning of "ballet" so far into other areas of dance that it becomes hard to see any distinctions at all. Ballet dancers can do everything. So, choreographers, let's break out of the ballet box. Use our dancers as you will.

How different from the experience of Jerome Robbins, returning to the ballet studio after years of triumph on Broadway. He recognized immediately, intuitively, that "I like watching ballet. I like watching ballet dancers working." He took superb ballet dancers like Villella, McBride and others -- AND the technique they worked in best -- and created Dances at a Gathering.

We protect "ballet" best by supporting the schools, companies, dancers that focus on ballet -- not exclusively, which is impossible nowadays, but still putting ballet at the top of the pyramid. We also need to choreographers who value ballet and are willing to learn from and work in, the ballet idiom.

So, what do we do to encourage new choreographers to create new ballet? One thing NOT to do is say, in effect: "Do with us as you will. Whatever you want. You produce it; we'll call it 'ballet'." Much better to invite the choreographer in and tell him or her: "Look at what our dancers can do. Look at what our way of dancing can express. Does it give you any ideas? Can you work WITH us? Can you make a real ballet?"

#52 Philip

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 08:29 AM

"One" what? Balanchine? Obviously they're not a "Balanchine". It sounds as if, you're looking for some ideal "Balanchine"...as you're part of the idealized Michael Jackson hysteria...(although I find no talent in this example). Are you looking for a choreographer-god-king? If you are, sorry bub; ain't gonna happen. The days of a few ballet stars are over. The days of a few dominant choreographers are over.

If not, I do think that all three: McIntyre, King (and though I'm not a fan of his work), Wheeldon, are often brilliant choreographers. I think the question is, do we need another Balanchine? My personal opinion is a patent "no"; we've outgrown the requisite for such idols. Even though the masses are addicted to them on a low level (EI: "So you think you can Dunce" "American Idoltry"); there is little need for such a heirarchy in a global community of artists and an educated public. Further, consensus over "who is good and who is bad" among these, is always wrong: consensus is the poorest arbiter of truth.

A few will rise - maybe to the level of a Balanchine, but I doubt such a talent will be recognized as such. There are far too many "good" choreographers to be touted (and I agree that there are many bad ones as well), for a global population to require such a person.

The days of craftsmen-monarchs is dying. I say, nail the coffin tight and bury it low. We'll honor them as part of the history that has brought us here. But, no need to repeat patterns of the past that do not serve the present. The present is that greatness is recognized by request through networks. Marketing though networks eventually weens out mediocrity. The present requires many great craftsmen, regardless of whether they are recognized as such. If they aren't great craftsmen, they'll not get work. If they are, the networks will request them, not the masses or critics. Welcome to the 21st century.

Philip.

#53 Simon G

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 09:13 AM

Philip,

I don't quite get your point and I don't feel you actually know what you're talking about either. On the one hand you're calling for an end to heroes and sacred monsters and advocating a demcratisation of the arts through cross pollinisation and then on the other hand you contradict your quasi-Marxist, egalitatrian manifesto by calling fans of popular culture through American Idol, So you Think You can Dance etc "dunces". An end to perceived snobbism from a snob? Since you want to see ballet expand to a mass media market how do you expect the "dunces" to value it anyway? You're aguments are on so many levels a peculiar brand of inverse-inverse-snobbism.

Your points aren't provocative precisely because they're so confused, generic and I'm sad to say more than just a little bit banal.

The fact is classical ballet is classical ballet, it's a language a lexicon and it's not "cool"; but by not being "cool" I neither mean it's outdated or worthless. Rather it is what it is, timeless, beautiful and eternally valid and pertinent and relevant.

I'll tell you what makes me gag, is when ballet tries to be "cool" to be anything other than what it is; work like Glen Tetley's where dancers bend their backs and think they're contracting a la Martha Graham, works set to pop and rock music which are effectively MTV videos on stage, works where the choreogapher tries to make ballet anything other than what it is - ballet; as if they're embarrassed to be seen associating with something so outdated and ancient. In which case don't choreograph ballet.

You want to "nail the coffin shut" why exactly? I think that's what irks me about your posts, these aren't inflammatory statements, they're juvenile ones and you don't back it up with anything like a reasoned or thoughtful argument. Simply saying they're dead and they're time is over isn't an argument it's a statement of fact backed up with bias and is effectively worthless.

But if you do really do, want to nail the coffin shut, fine, just don't watch ballet. Because without Balanchine, et al and by et al I mean real choreographers of worth and genius of ballet - there is no ballet, no past, no heritage, no point and no future.

#54 Mashinka

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 09:20 AM

I barely understood a word of Philip's last post, could someone please explain what 'Marketing through networks' means.

#55 Simon G

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 09:29 AM

This is what reading too much Ayn Rand does for one.

#56 bart

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 10:08 AM

The days of craftsmen-monarchs is dying. I say, nail the coffin tight and bury it low. We'll honor them as part of the history that has brought us here. But, no need to repeat patterns of the past that do not serve the present. The present is that greatness is recognized by request through networks. Marketing though networks eventually weens out mediocrity. The present requires many great craftsmen, regardless of whether they are recognized as such. If they aren't great craftsmen, they'll not get work. If they are, the networks will request them, not the masses or critics. Welcome to the 21st century.



Focusing on this paragraph clarifies Philip's point for me. The assumption is that there are vast cultural and societal changes underway and that these changes impact on creativity in a way that makes the image of the Genius following his own inspirations a thing of the past. I'm not qualified to talk about these mega-issues -- nor am I familiar with the works of Ayn Rand, if that is their source -- so I'll stick to a few small points.

!) First of all: the term "Balanchine" as used in this thread. I have been reading it as a metaphor for creativity -- a specific kind of creativity. Balanchine, working within the art form of classical ballet, managed to extend this in new and completely unexpected directions. As a result, a large body of works were created and new audiences were attracted. Balanchine's experimentalism was based on a love ballet, specirically. The confidence here was that ballet could do more (and different) than it had been asked to do while always remaining connected to its classical roots..

2) I like that phrase "craftsman monarch". (Even better than "choreographer-god-king.") The former is precisely what Balanchine aspired to be ... and became, once he had his own company. It's quite possible that there will be a collective surge of of creativity in the dance world -- that success or failure will be determined by market forces -- and that individuals will be subsumed by networks. But I suspect that individual genius will still have a big role to play. We must wait and see.

3) As to "weening out the mediocrities": It seems to me that the interplay of dancers, audiences, and critics has filled this function quite well, in the long run at least. Mediocrity does tend to disappear ... eventually. Creating works of genius is more difficult. It takes encouragement, financing, and commitment to your art (in this case "ballet") to get it done.

#57 SandyMcKean

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 11:12 AM

This is what reading too much Ayn Rand does for one.

She's always scared the ba-jesus out of me (BTW, I did read Atlas).

#58 papeetepatrick

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 11:26 AM

This is what reading too much Ayn Rand does for one.


No, it's good to read too much Ayn Rand, you just should read a lot of other things as well, but generally, I've in agreement with you.

But FORGET about saying ballet is 'not cool', I just won't have it, SimonG! :o Ballet is the coolest of the cool, if you want to argue that what someone meant by 'uncool' (insofar as it was wrongly deployed), then you are right, of course, but I won't have one of my favourite complimentary terms--one which bridges the gaps between all generations interestingly enough. Ballet is so COOL, I proved it to someone and am awaiting his slightly delayed response (just kidding, couldn't resist that little dig to one of our most generous patrons here) :D

I do confess I rather enjoy 'marketing through networks', though. It seems quite inaccurate and substantial at the same time. I mean, you've got to do 'marketing' and 'networks' do abound, but still, we need a little more talk of just 'free markets' and how they decide these things, in which case we find that is not so much Marxist as capitalist, and this is not always anti-mediocrity at all, although not always effective capitalistic societies still always have the best arts cultures, which Marxist always is. Marxism won't tolerate anything too 'uppity'. The only reason the Soviets used it was a cynical one: It helped their regime despite being diamtrically oppoed to everything they claimed they stood for. And since it was a venerable tradition, they had a much harder time making it shoddy, unlike architecture, which have always done a magnificent job, so much so that even Brezhnev complained about it.

And who cares about 'snobbism' anyway. It's everywhere, in the best and the worst, which doesn't mean I think we shouldn't disagree with the forms of it we find most distasteful. Recently, I expressed my own disdain for 'Charlie's Angels', I guess that's a form of snobbism, and I'm not the least bit concerned if anybody thinks so. But COOL, simonG! Please, you-ah huh-ting me, as the actresses used to say in the 40s (stanwyck, etc.) :P Ballet is so cool it is amazing! I am very much a classically trained person myself, and do not think that 'classical lexicons' render artworks 'uncool'. I know all about why ballet is cool, and a number of the reasons why.

Now, as for things becoming obsolete, one can consult Adorno, but even his disdain for the 'light popular cinema' has not proved a worthy prophecy. It is HE himself who is obsolete! Just perfectly dreadful, and believe me, I know my 'Negative Dialectics'. He also trashed jazz in a quite sledgehammer way. Who needs it?

#59 Philip

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 12:16 PM

"Ballet can be entertaining in its various levels of expression but we should still be able to see that it is not merely entertainment; it is or traditionally was, on a different level.

When the lines between a serious artist and an entertainer get blurred everyone is a loser,
but this is what the popular media wants us to embrace."
These are important and connected points, which have to be considered when we talk about trying to keep "ballet" alive, not only as a conserver of early classics, but as the source of new creation."

I have a quibble. The line between "serious artist" and "entertainer" have always been blurred, it seems to me. They have also shifted over time, as have definitions of what is "classical," what is "beautiful," etc. Since the 1960s, arts criticism has come to be dominated by commentators who tend reject the distinction between the serious and the popular. They have won the semantic debate, partly by suggesting that those who disagree with them are being unnecessarily elitist or conservative.


I tend to think that ballet should be entertaining. The problem is, so are spectacles like organized sports and Michal Jackson concerts (May he RIP, and may we be thankful we don't have to be put through that again!)


So, how should ballet lovers respond? One thing that is NOT helpful, I think, is to draw lines in the sand as a kind of challenge to those who "don't like ballet." We need ways to draw them IN.


I concur. I live on a farm in the country. I drive our John Deer tractor to the station to get diesel when our farm tank isn't filled (expensive!) and the good-ole boys hangin' out on the benches in front of the store always give me funny looks. I heard one say "Cain't fig'r 'im out. Huee tueech's ballet tah li'l gurlz at naught, an' hueez out der Boosh Hoggin' dah field n' rollin' hay, durin' dah day?!?!?....an' hueez married! ....tuh a woman! Cain ya bulueeeve it?!?!"

Well, I gotta laugh, and there is no reason why they should understand. its not in their realm of experience. Dancers are actually no more of a sterotype as the good ole boys hangin' out on the bench. However, they love to come see their daughters dance at the little recital my school does for kids 9 and under...you know the drill: little pink tutus waving "hi" to mom and dad?

But, we know this isn't what ballet is all about. It really isn't about Nutcracker either. But, the reality is, without Nutz, most companies would fail - it happened last year to a few when ticket sales were down. In fact, Nutz opens the eyes of so many who would otherwise, never see a ballet. I can't count how many folks respond to learning that I'm an ex-professional dancer, who say..."I saw the Nutcracker once". We have to tip our hat to them. The kid who sat next to them in that Nutz performance may have been jazzed enough to begin studying ballet and gone on to make a name as a choreographer or director!

However, yeah, we need to move beyond Nutz as a method of audience generation and development. But, I don't think showing Balanchine's "4 Ts" to Bubba on the bench at the gas station is going to help! So, selectivity can help (in both urban and rural settings, LOL!) Arts education? Obviously. But, opening it up to other audiences "special populations", definitely. That's how Jacques d'Ambois remade his name and was rewarded with tributes repeatedly, as a result.

[ ...] "ballet is hip-hop, jazz, tap, release technique, Horton, Graham, character dance, gesture, acting, musicianship , athleticism, and "whateverthechoreograperimagines" etc. etc. [ ... ] its about being flexible and pliable to what one can do for a choreographer and audience."

While the first quotation expressed a tendency to build walls isolating "ballet" and "serious art" from the rest of dance, this second approach goes to the other extreme. It expands the meaning of "ballet" so far into other areas of dance that it becomes hard to see any distinctions at all. Ballet dancers can do everything. So, choreographers, let's break out of the ballet box. Use our dancers as you will.


Actually, my point was about incorporation into ballet, not isolation from others. But, you may be correct, in this case, I was not necessarily referring to collaboration directly with other forms. Though, such collaborations are possible, its a truism that genres such as Hip Hop and ballet belong to two distinct performance cultures and financial supports. Ergo, hypothetically, I think such a synthesis should be carefully produced so that it does not fall into the pit of contrivance.

We protect "ballet" best by supporting the schools, companies, dancers that focus on ballet -- not exclusively, which is impossible nowadays, but still putting ballet at the top of the pyramid. We also need choreographers who value ballet and are willing to learn from and work in, the ballet idiom.


I agree. Encouraging specialization is key in this western free environment, where so many options are available to children to study. Let it also be said that not every child will be mentally or physically ideal for ballet. If not, encouragement needs to be focused fpr the student to specialize in other forms. Choreographers can arise out of these other forms, when the once-a-ballet-student emerges with the suitable knowledge of ballet to choreograph within it, and may create new possibilities within the balletic genre...

So, what do we do to encourage new choreographers to create new ballet? One thing NOT to do is say, in effect: "Do with us as you will. Whatever you want. You produce it; we'll call it 'ballet'." Much better to invite the choreographer in and tell him or her: "Look at what our dancers can do. Look at what our way of dancing can express. Does it give you any ideas? Can you work WITH us? Can you make a real ballet?"[/b]


Well, this depends upon the organization within the choreographer is creating. If the choreographer is lucky enough to have her/his own company, s/he is almost required to un-restrict the flow of creative ideas so that their "voice" can be heard in their purest form, untainted by the infrastructures and missions of outside organizations to which they could be contracted.

Much better to first see Balanchine danced by NYCB and Balanchine satellite companies versus first seeing Balanchine danced by a Cecchetti or Vaganova trained company; you simply can't "hear the master's voice" unless you have the artists trained to sing his particular song. It goes without saying, it is financially impossible for choreographers to each have their own company. But the Catch 22 is that unless they are trusted enough by producers, directors, funders and financiers, choreographers won't be able to stage their work anyway: their ideas can only be available by liver performance, or recordings of live or studio performances. Very frustrating is the performing arts: it costs so much to be presented that there is little doubt that many "Balanchines" have not had and will never have exposure and we'll have missed something and not know that it passed us by. Fortunate the visionaries who have been able to break through the iron-procienial curtain.

Intersting conversation.

Philip.

#60 Philip

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 01:17 PM

Philip,

I don't quite get your point and I don't feel you actually know what you're talking about either. On the one hand you're calling for an end to heroes and sacred monsters and advocating a democratization of the arts through cross pollination and then on the other hand you contradict your quasi-Marxist, egalitatrian manifesto by calling fans of popular culture through American Idol, So you Think You can Dance etc "dunces". An end to perceived snobbism from a snob? Since you want to see ballet expand to a mass media market how do you expect the "dunces" to value it anyway? You're aguments are on so many levels a peculiar brand of inverse-inverse-snobbism.

Your points aren't provocative precisely because they're so confused, generic and I'm sad to say more than just a little bit banal.

The fact is classical ballet is classical ballet, it's a language a lexicon and it's not "cool"; but by not being "cool" I neither mean it's outdated or worthless. Rather it is what it is, timeless, beautiful and eternally valid and pertinent and relevant.

I'll tell you what makes me gag, is when ballet tries to be "cool" to be anything other than what it is; work like Glen Tetley's where dancers bend their backs and think they're contracting a la Martha Graham, works set to pop and rock music which are effectively MTV videos on stage, works where the choreogapher tries to make ballet anything other than what it is - ballet; as if they're embarrassed to be seen associating with something so outdated and ancient. In which case don't choreograph ballet.

You want to "nail the coffin shut" why exactly? I think that's what irks me about your posts, these aren't inflammatory statements, they're juvenile ones and you don't back it up with anything like a reasoned or thoughtful argument. Simply saying they're dead and they're time is over isn't an argument it's a statement of fact backed up with bias and is effectively worthless.

But if you do really do, want to nail the coffin shut, fine, just don't watch ballet. Because without Balanchine, et al and by et al I mean real choreographers of worth and genius of ballet - there is no ballet, no past, no heritage, no point and no future.



Well, Simon, I'm sorry you find my post at once "juvenile" and "elitist". I'm not sure I would agree...I might agree if you said "opinionated".

First off, You need to reread my statement. I'm not nailing the coffin on the afformentioned great choreographers. I'm nailing the coffin on the possibility that a few great choreographers will take their place. I danced most of those guys works myself at one time, and so will and should many dancers in the future. Period. Clarification over. If you disagree with this, wonderful. Maybe you'll be right.

Second. I'm not interested in "cool". At once you say you dislike "cool" referrencing Glen Tetley (who was a Graham trained dancer), but then decrying MTV. And yet you are upset with my cynicism towards the a reality dance competition TV show?! Hmm. (fyi: "Dunce" referred to the show and hysteria thereof, not the necessarily individuals involved.)

I'm not going to nail the coffin shut on choreographer gods. It will happen by itself because all cultures grow change and mutate - especially in the arts. I love Balanchine. I will continue to love Balanchine. May his ballets be danced for eons to come....I briefly danced for Balanchine's company when he was alive. But, sorry friend, Mr. B. is gone and times change for other people doing newer work. So will the way artists work.

All three of the 21st century choreographers I mentioned are "process" oriented choreographers. I personally am interested in this. Like the progressions from lets say, Ballet d'Action, early Classicism, Romantic ballet, Classical ballet, into the variety of movements of 20th Century ballet and modernism, ballet will again, change. Personally I don't think we will arrive at one genre. I think this idea of "process orientation" is unique, and a lot of choreographers in ballet and modernism are adapting it. (Process orientation, similar to collaboration, has to do with the interaction between dancers and choreographer as the process by which the a work is created). But I think this idea is one of many which will change not only how we dance ballet, but how we look at and think about it as well. It is important to note that it was Balanchine who was the first to use basic process orientations with his dancers. (There are many stories about this told by his dancers.)

If NYCB had miraculously been transported back in time, and "Jewels" had presented to Marie Camargo and her audience, the dancers, Balanchine and anyone involved with the production would either been laughed offstage or have been arrested and possibly executed for showing it. It likely would be to them as if looking at lunatics exposing themselves to cacophonous music. ... Indeed, this almost happened to Camargo herself when she was the first woman to raise the hem of the skirt above the ankles (gasp!) Times change and so does our view of our world as it did for her. Pioneers usually go criticised until recognized as having depth. This was true for Mr. B as well.

But, you refer to classical ballet. Yes. I agree that classical ballet will always be classical ballet...but hasn't that too changed? Its changed so much in the last 80 years that one almost doesn't realize its the same ballet. The choreography has changed ever so gradually, as the the technical levels of dancers have grown and as the world as a whole has changed. Since perestroika, even the Royal Ballet has adapted methods from Vaganova. Balanchine Technique ™ has effected other technical and stylistic modalities. Some ballet masters incorporate methods from modern dance, Pilates and yoga right n the ballet class (as a ballet, modern and yoga instructor, I'm skeptical that this is actually a wise move).

One of these changes is the "star system". For dancers, this system died out in the 70s and 80s. Now, only a few companies either allow their dancers to dance with other professional companies and only a few companies hire such stars - and only when they don't have their own dancers to fill the roles. There are some great dancers out there. But, the 21st century equivalents of Fonteyn and Nureyev will mostly dance at home. (I don't include off-season freelancing in this - all dancers of a professional level have to do this to some degree, in order to make a living.)

I believe that there will always be new good choreographers. (and many lousy ones, but more grist for the mill, LOL!) I don't believe we'll have another Balanchine as a shining star. I do believe there will be equally talented choreographers, breaking bounds the way Mr. B did, but on much smaller scales. Again, the world has gotten too populated in too small a globe with too many good creative people out there for the mathematics to allow for only a few great choreographers. IMHO, The way we view the world simply has forced this to be true.

A ballet heritage must refer to the whole heritage: form medieval peasant and court dances, through professionalism, all the way to the present. And I mean the present, because it is in the present in which we "present" ours (and the past's ) work. Whether purists like it or not, last year, Trey McIntyre set a wild modernist "dance on the furniture" ballet in a motel room in Boise Idaho, and then flimed it. Then he showed the ballet on a loop to very small audiences in that same hotel room's television set! Again, whether you or I like it or not, welcome to the 21st century! Is he a Balanchine? No; he's a choreographer and that's what connects the two.

Lastly, as far as your assertion of Marxism goes I can only respond "WHAaa....????" I should write a ballet manifesto like Chairman Mao - here's the first slogan: "Political power is won at the point of a foot!!!" (No? Oh, well, I'll keep working on it, LOL!) As far as egalitarianism contradicted by snobbism goes...guilty as charged: I promise to continue to be so in the future! :wink:

Philip.


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