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VulgarWhat does it mean in a ballet context?


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#1 innopac

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 02:00 PM

This is probably a silly question but I am puzzled by the use of the word vulgar when describing dancers. What is meant by it? For example Raissa Struchkova and Timofeyeva have been described as vulgar ballerinas which puzzles me. Is this only a matter of taste?

Disagreements over a number of these dancers on this thread suggests just how personal and subjective our evaluation of dancers and their artistry can be. One person's "cold" or ""dull" is another person's "dazzling" or "thrilling." It's the same with "passionate" and "vulgar" and their synonyms.



#2 dirac

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 03:13 PM

It's not a silly question at all, innopac, and indeed the question arises regularly on BT, in this old thread for instance, and if you type 'vulgar' into the search engine quite a few others will pop up.

The word tends to attach itself to dancers with a tendency to flamboyance or extremes (even Farrell used to get called vulgar in her youth) and whether it's an accurate description will depend very much on individual taste, as bart's quote suggests.

#3 Hans

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 03:29 PM

It is quite interesting to read the older thread on this topic and see what was thought vulgar at the time--primarily excessive pirouettes, balances, applause-milking and indecorous behaviour. I'd imagine that now, extremely high extensions would be first on the list.

#4 dirac

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 03:35 PM

I think high extensions weren't too popular on BT back then, either, Hans. :smilie_mondieu: Any other updates for 'vulgar,' or elaborations on old complaints?

#5 Hans

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 04:07 PM

I agree, but I was surprised to find that they were only mentioned once or twice on the earlier thread.

#6 dirac

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 05:26 PM

True. But then I wouldn't be surprised if something like "High Extensions - Grrrr!' wasn't a stand-alone topic at one point or another.

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 09:15 PM

I don't usually find myself calling a ballerina "vulgar" that often...(well, maybe in some mediocre modern choreographies that involve a fairly ammount of lifttings of skirtless dancers with open wide crotch exposure and no visible aesthetic value). Still, the vulgarity term here would be applied to the work, and not necessarily to the dancer being required to do the steps. Other than that I DO often find myself thinking that so and so are...well..boring. In my own scale, that's a major offense.

#8 leonid17

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 05:37 AM

This is probably a silly question but I am puzzled by the use of the word vulgar when describing dancers. What is meant by it? For example Raissa Struchkova and Timofeyeva have been described as vulgar ballerinas which puzzles me. Is this only a matter of taste?

Disagreements over a number of these dancers on this thread suggests just how personal and subjective our evaluation of dancers and their artistry can be. One person's "cold" or ""dull" is another person's "dazzling" or "thrilling." It's the same with "passionate" and "vulgar" and their synonyms.



I have seen a sublime Juliet by Raissa Struchkova and extraordinary performances by Nina Timofeyeva.

The demands of Russian audiences for full bloodied, passionate, even flashy, temperamental, fun performances that excite, sometimes seem extraordinary bad taste to other countries audiences.

When you have seen these two great ballet dancers at their very Western best, you can put their other performances in perspective.

A divertissement ballet programme historically by its nature is meant to border on entertainment. The great artists in such programmes can go beyond the choreographic context of a full length ballet and perform for instance, the last act Don Quixote pas de deux in an entertaining manner which might just be deemed vulgar in its original context. In the hands of lesser artists, the same degree of exhibited technical ability would for me be classed as simply vulgar.

How to evaluate vulgarity is not so difficult if we are all using shared aesthetic values. But if that was the case in general, some dancers would posibly not have the opportunity to develop artistry.

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 11:39 PM

We live in a populist era, and since the word vulgar means 'opf the people," it's unfashionable, borderline dangerous to call anyone vulgar. And it's almost unheard of for anyone to actually exhibit genteel behavior.

But those are the basic differences -- noble is on another plane altogether.

Most of what people object to in Alina Somova is what my mother would have called "common' -- indeed, she thought Ginger Rogers was .common." Lopopatkina's extensions are JUST as high as SOmova's but the intentins evident in the way she moves make it clear she's working from a very deep place, and even those who'd protest against her extensions would not want to call her vulgar.

Somova parades her ambitions, like Mae West. She wants you to like her and will bowl you over to get your attention. She thrusts her pubic bone forward, hurls herself into her fouettes, and generally behaves way too much like Lydia Bennett (the forward younger sister in Pride and Prejudice). But audiences love her, and I confess, i like her despite my better judgment -- though she's way wrong for almost every roile and makes SO little effort to get into character, she's always just being herself.

One of the interesting things about the way Makarova danced Swan Lake was that she made Odile vulgar -- it distracted people from the wrong-headedness of her Odette, who's way too seductive , by making her Odile kinda shockingly brazen... though by today's standards, with Swamp Thing at ABT, Makarova's pelvic bumps look restrained...

ABT's Rothbart and Odile are definitely vulgar....

Jeremy Collins was a vulgar dancer, IMHO, so is Tom Delay (though he IS entertaining).

#10 macnellie

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 04:12 AM

Dear Paul,

Who/What is "Swamp Thing"?
Thank you!

Judith

#11 Nanarina

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 04:50 AM

:P I was brought up to recognise that being "vulgar" was not acceptable, it was rude and lacking taste. In the general sense it meant not swearing speaking out of turn or acting in a non appropriate way. Such as in a sexual way or behaving provocatively. This can also as already mentioned be considered "Common". The opposite would be that someone was refined, polite, well mannered and showed respect for others.
Therefore would not behave in a vulgar way. Dont show your underwear, ladies should sit with their legs closed, not wear very revealing tops and clothes. Men should be respectful not tell dirty jokes, swear when ladies are present. All these suggestions maybe seem very dated & old fashioned in this day and age.

But putting the term into the Ballet perspective, is somewhat different. or is it? For a Dancer who is
a great artist.with a remarkable technique, and whose performance's thrill the audience, with breath taking virtuosity, surely cannot be considered vulgar. Even if they are seen to be flirtatous and encouraging the audience to applaud thus taking risks to do so and show off their technique. But still I suppose in the Dance World as in life in general you can get people who appear to be vulgar in their dress and behavyor. Both off stage and on.


I cannot help thinking sometimes the way an audience responds to a performance is over the top, and it would really annoy me to be sat within them. I think it is correct to applaud and call bravo, but screaming and the kind of carry on I have noticed for example in Cuban theatre's and maybe in Japan, where dancers are treated like pop stars seems is out of place. You can show your appreciation in a quieter more dignified manner, and the performers still realise you have enjoyed their performances. You can send flowers and if you are very keen and wish to, then you can meet the Dancers at the stage door and express your thanks. As long as you do not delay them too much so they can get home.

#12 Hans

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:51 AM

Macnellie, 'Swamp Thing' is how a lot of people refer to the lakeside incarnation of Rothbart in Kevin McKenzie's production of 'Swan Lake' for ABT.

#13 Mashinka

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 08:16 AM

it is correct to applaud and call bravo, but screaming and the kind of carry on I have noticed for example in Cuban theatre's and maybe in Japan, where dancers are treated like pop stars seems is out of place. You can show your appreciation in a quieter more dignified manner


Not sure about that, in general the more fuss and noise you make the better the dancers like it. :lol:

#14 macnellie

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 08:41 AM

Macnellie, 'Swamp Thing' is how a lot of people refer to the lakeside incarnation of Rothbart in Kevin McKenzie's production of 'Swan Lake' for ABT.



Of course! Thank you.

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:34 PM

Macnellie, 'Swamp Thing' is how a lot of people refer to the lakeside incarnation of Rothbart in Kevin McKenzie's production of 'Swan Lake' for ABT.

yeah...that ABOMINATION...[size=3]BAD, BAD,VULGAR[/size],[size=4]VUUUUUULGAR!!! [/size] :lol: (yes, I'm screaming...)


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