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VulgarWhat does it mean in a ballet context?


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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:52 PM

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[...]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.

Nanarina...if a Cuban dancer doesn't get the screams and the whistling, he or she would be probably very worried and thinking..."OMG, am I being THAT boring...? :(
No, do whatever you want in a Cuban theater BUT being quite-(unless you are disliking the dancer, and this mantra applies specially for Miss V :unsure: )

... for example in Cuban theatre's[...], where dancers are treated like pop stars...


Well, they ARE our own pop stars, Nanarina!! :lol:

#17 papeetepatrick

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 09:11 PM

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[...]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.

Nanarina...if a Cuban dancer doesn't get the screams and the whistling, he or she would be probably very worried and thinking..."OMG, am I being THAT boring...? :unsure:
No, do whatever you want in a Cuban theater BUT being quite-(unless you are disliking the dancer, and this mantra applies specially for Miss V :lol: )


I agree with Cristian. A lot of ballet is even hokey, like 'Le Corsaire' and 'La Bayadere', that's not Noh Drama or a Palestrina Mass performed at St. John the Divine. And if it's typically Cuban, that means that's what the culture wants it to be. 'Quiet and dignified' is not for everybody, and not for most of us all the time. I want lots of rawness, I don't want only 'refined things'. Frankly, vulgarity is itself not something you can decide on as an inferior thing; sure, you can say so, but anyone can disagree by either saying or just going ahead with some sort of vulgarity. It's according to where you do it, which is to say that vulgarity has to be done with taste just like everything else--or else it becomes tacky (that's different). Some ballets are frankly vulgar, and certainly the horsey music that goes with some of it. People enjoy Minkus, but it's often vulgar. Audience reaction is not vulgar if the culture accepts it. Lots of opera is vulgar, 'Pagliacci' is vulgar but tasty, 'Carmen' is vulgar in some ways but gorgeous, you could easily describe 'Le Corsaire' as vulgar, or even 'Slaughter on 10th Avenue'. These elements of vulgarity are part of what make these works singular, although it's another question whether the more non-vulgar sort of work like 'Parsifal' or Bach's B Minor Mass or 'Chaconne' is therefore necessarily greater. I'm not sure, but probably usually. I'd definitely say 'Chaconne' was greater than 'Slaughter', but I don't know if 'Parsifal' is necessarily greater than 'Carmen', even if it appears in some ways to be, since more 'pristine'.

As for dancers themselves, you could say some have vulgarities sometimes, as with Nureyev perhaps, but I like these. Then you have dancers who never seem vulgar, like Verdy or Fonteyn (except maybe moonlighting a bit in it with Rudi in that film of 'Corsaire', although it's mainly just sort of adorably naughty), and maybe Baryshnikov never seems vulgar. I don't think certain vulgarities make certain of these dancers less great. There's a whole range of things to be expressed. There's a lot of talk of Somova's vulgarity, but I like some of it when it's not totally out of control.

#18 Hans

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 08:07 AM

Is it really a good idea to make a vulgar ballet even more so by giving a trashy performance? It's probably excusable, to an extent, but shouldn't a dancer add to the artistic value of a work by his performance rather than detract from it?

#19 papeetepatrick

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 08:49 AM

Is it really a good idea to make a vulgar ballet even more so by giving a trashy performance? It's probably excusable, to an extent, but shouldn't a dancer add to the artistic value of a work by his performance rather than detract from it?


Running out, but not sure you were responding to me or not, but no, of course not 'trashy'. I meant by 'vulgarity' something else at least some of the time (there is definitely 'bad vulgar', most of 'vulgar' is 'bad', but some is humorous and even arresting), and there's also the not small matter that they are those who will find something vulgar that others do not. What you've brought for me, therefore, is the difficulty that defining terms means (and a dictionary definition won't do in this case, at least not for 'vulgar', it won't be enough), and 'trashy' is definitely more clear-cut in its meaning: Maybe some use of 'trashy' in pop art is appealing to some, but I can't ever see a ballet being done trashily as being anything other than worthless. As for a vulgar ballet, that one would probably need even more fineness of performance, there's enough vulgarity written into it already, god knows. I think the POB Don Quixote tape with Aurelie Dupont is very good in this way, although it may have ended up a bit mechanical-looking as well, not sure. But 'hokey' can sometimes be the same as vulgar, just as 'vulgarisms' are sometimes a matter of local dialect in speech, they can be slang that is 'common', but not lewd or offensive. 'Yeah, right' is pretty vulgar as far as I'm concerned as is 'you gotta do whatcha gotta do', but they're not going to offend the Morals Police.

#20 Philip

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 10:32 AM

IMHO, critiques of "vulgar" I believe -are- personal in taste. Because one person's "vulgar" is another person's "pristine", I would extend this question further. To what end does a dancer display their "rough edges" of their personal life onstage as a performer? Those of us posting on this site who are ex-dancers, staff and or behind-the-scenes stakeholders in ballet know all too well how much an illusion of perfection as little girl's view of her first Nutcracker. How many dancers you know don't glide off stage, pull their bloody feet out of their shoes, pop open a beer and snatch a smoke? There are many. And crudity is also "common" in the off-stage life of many of us. In fact, it virtually comes with the territory. There are relatively few dancers who are as pure in reality as the fantasies and fairy tales they portray on stage.

"Common" could be an interesting term to use for Somova. Obviously, the speaker was referring to an overt display that betrays the intention of the artist to create art versus the intention to "wow" or display ability. Somova's extensions are -not- common in the literal context, but may be "socially common", due to the relatifvely young Somova's seeming desire to show off her unusual rather uncommon talents. Maybe such displays should be left to Cirq du Soliel's contortionists, versus "La Bayadere. So, rhetorically asked, does a dancer's ability or talent often get in the way of their ability to communicate artistry? Does their maturity and age?

I think it true that traditional antagonists like Madge, Coppelius, and Carabos may actually be staged and/or interpreted to be vulgar. Without the vulgarities, the character may not help drive the plot in a specific staging or production. However, there are those stagings and performances that are -not- overtly vulgar of the same roles. For example, The late John Goding's performances (Washington Ballet) of Coppelius lacked the crotchety quality most (including my own) interpretations use to carry off the role. His had almost an undertone of elegance. Instead of a mad curmudgeon quasi-Einsteinian tinkerer, his was more of a studious inventor working out his issues of self-imposed reclusive loneliness with a doll. (ehem...please don't carry this further into most our artistic imaginations than I intended it too, :flowers: .)

So, I think most often, their vulgarities are a choice first of the performer and choreographer/regiseurre/ballet master's staging. Its no news to most of us that use or belief in such determinations as vulgar and "common" are a personal reference to taste and beliefs based upon one's own experiences. Indeed, (as stated) Kevin McKenzie's Rothbart could be viewed as "vulgar", but is he not intended to be so? In this, cannot such a performance of a vulgar character be brilliant? IMHO, Marcelo Gomez' performance is breath-taking, to me, the best part of the production. But, maybe folks prefer the traditional acting dominant version of the antagonist, hmm.

In short, I think vulgar vs. elegant or decent, common versus rare or coarse are adjectives left to those of us with opinions based on experience - (which means just about everyone in a free society, LOL!) For example, I think there is likely a strong contingent who agree that Tom Delay was just as vulgar a politician as his is attempting to be a "dancer". :P For me, I find the competition scene worse than vulgar; I believe it to be corrupt and unethical. But, this is another discussion.

-Philip

#21 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 05:43 PM

How many times have I encountered different versions of how Nureyev was catalogued when he appeared in the West! It is a fact that he made his on/off stage audience think several things about him, and I'm positive that at many points he was probably considered vulgar-(himself, the person, his persona, his characters, his makeup, his way of treating some of his ballerinas, his verbal outbursts, his dancing...and yes, his obvious and very intended marked "curves" exposure onstage-(would have liked to use the appropriate term, but I'm sure this would be considered extremely vulgar here...) but again, and this is my own assessment...he was such an EXCITING dancer to look at that at the end it didn't matter if there were hundreds of other beautifully correct, quiet, classy dancers around who were never able to elicit the emotions that the raw Russian was able to...
Just my two cents here...

#22 Nanarina

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 02:36 PM

:innocent: Back to the subject of Vulgar. Not relating to a said Dancer or their behavyor, but to a ballet production, then I feel Roland Petit's Clavigo would certainly fit into this catergory.
It is extremely explicit, a work one would only possibly see in Paris. All the same taken in the sense of artistry, whether you consider it is appropriate or not, it is certainly a ballet to be appreciated despite it's theme. The music is brilliant, and Petit's use of steps and unique choreography the scenery and costumes, plus of course Nicholas Le Riche, Claire Marie Osta and the other performers
make it well worth watching the DVD if you can forgive the suggestive element.

#23 dirac

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 04:36 PM

:innocent: Back to the subject of Vulgar. Not relating to a said Dancer or their behavyor, but to a ballet production, then I feel Roland Petit's Clavigo would certainly fit into this catergory.
It is extremely explicit, a work one would only possibly see in Paris. All the same taken in the sense of artistry, whether you consider it is appropriate or not, it is certainly a ballet to be appreciated despite it's theme. The music is brilliant, and Petit's use of steps and unique choreography the scenery and costumes, plus of course Nicholas Le Riche, Claire Marie Osta and the other performers
make it well worth watching the DVD if you can forgive the suggestive element.


Thanks, Nanarina. Have others seen the production?

#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 11:01 PM

Is it really a good idea to make a vulgar ballet even more so by giving a trashy performance?

It is a SIN to make an exciting ballet otherwise boring and/or technically bland...(Quijote, for example)

#25 Hans

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 11:17 PM

Well, I don't know if I'd refer to it as a sin. I'd rather see a more subtle Don Q than a vulgar Giselle. However, I will agree that Don Q and other similar ballets are meant to be exciting and fun, and there is no need for performances to be cold and dull--the Mariinsky's Don Q at the Kennedy Center this past season was mostly a complete snooze, and I can't say I want to see it again. I'm not sure what you mean by 'technically bland'--could you explain a bit more?

#26 Mashinka

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 01:23 AM

:innocent: Back to the subject of Vulgar. Not relating to a said Dancer or their behavyor, but to a ballet production, then I feel Roland Petit's Clavigo would certainly fit into this catergory.
It is extremely explicit, a work one would only possibly see in Paris. All the same taken in the sense of artistry, whether you consider it is appropriate or not, it is certainly a ballet to be appreciated despite it's theme. The music is brilliant, and Petit's use of steps and unique choreography the scenery and costumes, plus of course Nicholas Le Riche, Claire Marie Osta and the other performers
make it well worth watching the DVD if you can forgive the suggestive element.


Thanks, Nanarina. Have others seen the production?


I've seen it from the front row at the Opera Garnier and loved every second. I saw Osta and Le Riche, the original cast, and they were superb; in fact I enjoyed the ballet so much I believe I nominated 'the kiss' pas de deux as one of my favourites in a recent thread about favourite pas de deux. It is fairly sexually explicit but not in the sense that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth in the way some of MacMillan's works do.

I seem to remember that Clement Crisp, not especially renowned for his broad-mindedness, adored this ballet and originally gave it an absolute rave review. Personally I don't consider sexual themes in ballet to be implicitly "vulgar" at all; it all depends on the context and the treatment.

#27 papeetepatrick

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 08:11 AM

I seem to remember that Clement Crisp, not especially renowned for his broad-mindedness, adored this ballet and originally gave it an absolute rave review. Personally I don't consider sexual themes in ballet to be implicitly "vulgar" at all; it all depends on the context and the treatment.


Indeed they are not. And there's the Petit 'Carmen', isn't there? There's a film of it with Zizi Jeanmaire and Baryshnikov, is that correct? At one point it's quite explicit, and wow, does it ever work, Baryshnikov is amazing for moment with Zizi on top of him. I liked them both a great deal, she the ever youthful too, and Denys Ganio was not hard on the eyes either. I don't remember if he was being 'vulgar', but I doubt I would have been too obstreperous if he had exuded some slight sense of the racy.

a work one would only possibly see in Paris.


With all due respect, I don't think that has quite applied since the turn of the century--that is the 20th--but even if you just took the 60s as the period to prove it, the idea of Paris as the 'naughty city' has long been outmoded, even if they taught us how to do it. You can see anything in New York, of course, not to mention a number of other cities, and one long has done.

#28 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 09:50 AM

I'm not sure what you mean by 'technically bland'--could you explain a bit more?


An Odile who struggles and finishes her 25/27 fouettes with her working leg at a 30 degrees angle...a Kitri that can't touch her leg with her head during her sissonnes, an Aurora that shakes and keeps falling off center between hands during the Rose Adage, a Giselle that can't raise on full pointe on her supporting leg to finish the last pirouettes at the initiation...etc...

#29 Hans

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 09:59 AM

Well yes, a dancer ought to be able to do the steps required by a role. I don't think I'd like a Kitri who contorts so far that her foot touches her head during a sissonne (I'd rather see a powerful jump) but to each his own. :P

#30 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 10:11 AM

Right...and the failing examples of all of the above are just about everywhere to be seen. The opposite would be the exception nowadays, IMO... :P


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