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Why do we need Ballet?


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#1 jdickerson

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:33 PM

I am doing a project for my college English class where I am to research a subject ( I chose ballet), and come up with a rearsch question (Who do we need ballet?) . I am also to do a field experiment on ballet and interview three different subjects persoanlly.Finally, am to gather information from three sources, (book, video,article, journal etc). My question to you is, how would you respond to this question? Also how would YOU go amongst researching this topic, meaning from what perspectives or angles would you look at it?


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#2 Simon G

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:49 PM

We don't need ballet. And that's why it's so vitally important that we have it.

#3 jdickerson

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 01:02 PM

Well do you have a better question that I can pose. I'm looking for a question about ballet that is not tooo borad but yet not too narrow. Also I'm not really sure I understand your statement.

#4 Simon G

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 01:37 PM

j,

Why do we need any form of art? Why not ask the fundamental question of philosophy "why is there something instead of nothing?" and apply that to ballet.

The simple answer is we don't need ballet, what does ballet actually do? But it exists and has done for hundreds of years, so why then does it exist?

The question itself is meaningless because the answer would be meaningless - we don't need it, yet we have it and it exists, evolves and enriches, though were it not to exist would something else enrich equally? If it didn't exist would something else have come into existence to replace it.

Instead of actually asking a question which is so open ended why not ask yourself what you'd like to know about ballet, and take your question for the essay from there?

If all you want to know is "why do we need it?" the answer can only be we don't, the world existed before ballet came into being as a codified art form and were it to be eradicated from the face of the earth tomorrow the world would continue to exist.

Why do we need Picasso, Elliot, Wagner, opera, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Ghandi, Einstein, painting, sculpture, poetry, literature, sheet music, orchestral music, pop music, Jazz, Gaugin, Da Vinci, Martha Graham, Swift, Pepys, etc etc etc ad infinitum

The simple answer to any of those is that we don't, but how much poorer the world would be if we didn't have them.

#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 02:15 PM

Simon, I doubt that you and I disagree on anything basic about what might be up here, but I'd say it another way, because 'yes, we do even NEED ballet', but the 'meaningless question' is asking it about ballet by itself. All the other arts and artists you name would be part of the same question 'why do we need art?' So that 'why do we need ballet?' as a specific question simply can only mean 'is ballet outmoded'? Clearly, we think not here, but 'needing ballet' and 'needing the other arts' can be answered, but fairly simply. Because they would not come into being as 'gratuitous, charming things' which enrich us, I'm sure you don't mean that. But they are all part of social, cultural, ideological, political movements, they do grow out of all of these, not as esthetic baubles, of course, that exist outside of everything else of life. Yes, they can be 'greater than life' in a sense, but they don't exist without life. This was the one thing I do think Adoroo was good at explicaing, viz., the matter of the artist at the service of the Artwork, and both of these entities do come into being because of a need to express something. They aren't merely individual things, flukes.

But, J. Dickerson, just 'Why do we need Ballet?' as a literal question, I do agree with Simon it's meaningless. And his suggestion

Instead of actually asking a question which is so open ended why not ask yourself what you'd like to know about ballet, and take your question for the essay from there?

is, I think, sound. Otherwise, you could do various things like 'What is unique about ballet?' or 'Why has ballet filled a cultural need in the nations where it has become a celebrated art form?' This is hasty and rough, but I agree with Simon that the original question is DOA in that form. But there should be some form of it you can find it you yourself are interested in ballet and learing about it, which you may be if you chose it as a topic. If not, it's probably not the best topic, period, because you might not see the appeal. Some of the articles that Mashinka posted from either the Daily Mail or Standard or Guardian, that one of the punk girl writing up opera, was an example of something pretty worthless, not to mention witless.

#6 Cliff

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 08:41 PM

I am doing a project for my college English class ...... My question to you is, how would you respond to this question? Also how would YOU go amongst researching this topic, meaning from what perspectives or angles would you look at it?


<3, LEGEND



Aren't you supposed to do your own homework?

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 09:09 PM

I am doing a project for my college English class ...... My question to you is, how would you respond to this question? Also how would YOU go amongst researching this topic, meaning from what perspectives or angles would you look at it?


<3, LEGEND



Aren't you supposed to do your own homework?


:wink:

#8 bart

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 03:23 AM

Good luck with your research project, jdickerson. If I may make a suggestion: narrowing your question, or breaking it into a set of smaller questions that are more researchable, may help you in your project. The question itself is simply too big to generate much meaning. It's the kind of thing someone might write an essay about at the end of a very long academic or critical career.

As I'm sure you know, Ballet Talk is only one of numerous sources that would help you to think in more detail about your Big Question, forumulate questions, and develop your own answers. Our Search Engine might be of help in this.

I hope that you'll share your thoughts with us as you go along. :wink:

#9 sunday

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 05:26 AM

One John Adams said once a couple of things that could be related to your question:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.



#10 SanderO

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 05:36 AM

The answer is we need ballet so I can enjoy its beauty of how the human can find aesthetics with in a rigid formal system of rules.

We don't need anything but food, water exercise and health. Everything is needn't because the human spirit likes to create something from his external and internal environment so that his mind and body can find pleasure in it.

#11 jdickerson

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 06:26 AM

Thanks to all for all your helpful comments and suggestions. I believe that I am now on the road to coming to my final conclusion of my research question. papeetepatrick used the question "What is unique about ballet?" I believe that itself is pulling me closer to where i want to be in constructing this question. My instructor mentions not to look at ballet in an historical sense or as an idea, but as a form of art," My caution is that I don't want you to merely write a (historical) report about ballet. That's not the purpose of LE2(Long Eassay 2). You will discuss what is ballet, what's involved in both the creation and the performance, I imagine. But I sense you also want to examine why ballet is significant, why we value it as a cultural art, and why it should continue. Engage with broader issues than just describing the different kinds." As a dancer i want to use this project to gain a better understanding of ballet.

#12 papeetepatrick

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 08:15 AM

Glad we could be of service, jdickerson. And I should add that the archives of BT should make at least part of your research very easy and convenient. They are very rich, these archives, and some of the most knowledgeable on ballet history are leonid, bart, Mel, Alexandra and some others I shouldn't leave out, but you'll find them. 'Discovering the Art' is also useful, just skim through it to find some good discussions. Maybe bart can suggest more specific ones to focus on.

#13 youdancefunny

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 01:02 AM

Unfortunately I don't have the article on hand, but considering the economy (assuming you're American!) there have been a number of articles lately dealing with the importance of the arts as a whole, because of budget cuts for programming and because people are trying to save money. So there are definitely some good resources to make this a very relevant and current topic! (If I find that article, I'll post a link).

What I took from that article though is that we don't need the arts. But they give life purpose, and empower us in a way to distinguish us from animals. Everything else we do can be seen in the animal kingdom...working to survive, a capacity for love, compassion for others and playing. But when animals sing, dance or create an artistic display of some kind, it's to attract a mate for procreation. They can't create art out of passion.

But back to the topic of funding, even with a lack of funding the arts can never be eradicated. There was amazing art being created during the Great Depression, and it might just be that desperation is what fosters the growth of the finest art. This is something Carlos Acosta feels has made him a better dancer than many others because for him, ballet is truly his life, while in a society like America which has many luxuries, art becomes a hobby and artists are regarded as hobbyists. An interesting sub topic might be how money has affected ballet, which is regarded as one of the more opulent and expensive arts and how it could/would continue when there isn't so much money to go around. Or why it should continue as is, when it is indeed so expensive.

#14 PeggyR

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 07:26 AM

But back to the topic of funding, even with a lack of funding the arts can never be eradicated. There was amazing art being created during the Great Depression...

Correct me if I'm wrong about any of this, but at least some of that Depression-era art was created under government sponsorship by way of the 'put people to work' programs.

I don't know if any ballet or other dance was created as a result of these programs during the Depression, but that might be an interesting avenue to explore: governments tend to focus on 'needs' and if scarce funds were allocated for the arts, then somebody must have thought the arts and artists were 'needed' in some sense beyond simply providing the basic necessities of life (e.g., food and shelter) for the general population.

#15 Quiggin

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 11:39 AM

at least some of that Depression-era art was created under government sponsorship by way of the 'put people to work' programs.


And in the US and the former Soviet Union and Cuba, the arts -- most especially ballet -- got a second financial wind as a result of the Cold War.

But they are all part of social, cultural, ideological, political movements, they do grow out of all of these, not as esthetic baubles, of course, that exist outside of everything else of life. Yes, they can be 'greater than life' in a sense, but they don't exist without life.


Patrick, I tried to find a juicy Adorno quote to follow your thought but they're difficult to cite intact, and I can only wade out so far. Doesn't Adorno also say something like art is at war with its own materials, what it comes out of, and this gives it its form -- which makes it a little less cozy of an ideal.


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