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How far can a choreographer go in expressing ideas?


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#91 kfw

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 05:42 PM

I think there are instances of such protests that were, shall we say, ill advised and did not show the protesters in the best possible light. Acceptance can be characterized as passivity, or as an acknowledgment that it’s a big world with a lot of different views out there. On the subject of thoughtful engagement I'm sure we can all agree. :)

Darn, I can't find a thing to disagree with there. :)

#92 Nanarina

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 03:00 PM

I was recently given a free copy of The Times Newspaper, and came accross the following review by their Critic Debre Craine.
DANCE
In the Spirit of Diaghilev - Sadlers Wells - Three Homages and a Blasphemy
Four World Premiers on a single night. No one could accuse Alistair Spalding the boss at Sadlers Wells of thinking small. But then neither did Sergei Diaghilev whose legenday Ballet Russes (1909 -29) is being celebrated in it's centenary year. Spalding though isn't interested in re-visiting the past, rather he has invited a quartet of choreographers to make something new in the spirit of the great Russian innovator(I have omitted the reviews for the other choreographers )

As is his wont, Javier De Frutos set out to shock and offend with his Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez a ludicrous piece of violent tosh.A resoundingly
vulgar cartoon satire of the Pope and all he represents. It's a homage to Jeran Cocteau (who wrote scenarios for Diaghilev)it is set to Ravel (another Ballet Russes composer) and embraces Balanchine's Apollo. The graphic duets are lurid and sexually abusive, and some may draw the line at seeing a pregnant woman
punched in the stomach and garrotted with a rosary. It's not often you hear boos
at the Wells, but these were well deserved.

#93 Simon G

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 04:38 PM

And I found this in The Guardian by their dance critic, Judith Mackrell:

In Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez, Javier de Frutos pays tribute to Cocteau, channelling the artist's camp, extravagant aesthetic and his ambivalent Catholic faith. The work imagines a religious cult that's part Rome, part Marquis de Sade. Cast with a hunchbacked Pope, pregnant nuns and horny priests, it is set in a crypt decorated with frescoes of priapic men. Its rituals climax in some of the most graphic scenes of sex and violence seen on the dance stage.

If the work is deliberately offensive, it is also funny and tight. The choreography is sharply structured and wittily referential. The image of the Pope being electrocuted on his throne is pure Francis Bacon. And De Frutos's interpretation of his music, Ravel's La Valse, has all the savagery the composer intended.



#94 Simon G

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 05:36 PM

Though I have to say that this piece by Mark Monahan, dance critic of The Telegraph, is far closer to how I felt about the piece:

And it comes as little surprise that, in the manner of Diaghilev's famous dictum to collaborator Jean Cocteau, "Etonne-moi!", it's the troupe's shock-factor that naughty-boy De Frutos has opted to emulate.
satirical tale of a libidinous pontiff and his pregnant mistress is ridiculous, repellent and at times hilarious, and it caused a handful of walkouts. Heavens! But set it next to the Ballets Russes' famous Rite of Spring premiere in 1913 le tout Paris metamorphosed into baying monsters by a work that changed dance and music for ever and it suddenly seems a little desperate.



#95 Nanarina

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 06:08 AM

Interesting reading.

#96 innopac

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 12:00 PM

"BBC abandons ballet with deformed rapist Pope" Link

The BBC has abandoned plans to screen a ballet featuring a deformed Pope who rapes nuns which it had announced as one of the highlights of its Christmas schedule.



#97 Mashinka

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 03:02 AM

I found this report deeply disturbing, although I agree that this piece shouldn't be shown before the 'watershed' (pre 9pm when children could be watching), I feel angry that the BBC has chosen not to show the work at a late hour on the grounds of 'blasphemy'. That the ballet fits the literal definition of blasphemy I won't deny, but to use that as an excuse to actually ban it from TV screens on that basis is an outrage. This is nothing but blatant censorship, and a disgraceful move by the BBC.

I am under the impression that blasphemy still stands as a criminal offence on the UK statute book, but it absolutely should not as it is an archaic term harking back to the inquisition and is totally at odds with modern day principals of free speech. Although I hated Eternal Damnation to Sancho & Sanchez and hoped it would be quietly dropped, I am going to paraphrase old Voltaire in this instance: I disagree with the ballet you created but would defend to the death the right for it to be shown on British TV.

#98 Nanarina

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 03:41 AM

:angry2: Thank goodness for the foresight of the BBC, what must be realeased is a lot of people are not so protetive of their rights. And are happy for cencwership/guidance in this type of situation. Why should we have to be faced with something which is obviously obscene. The BBC are usually very open minded in what they will broadcast, snd have the knowledge and wisdom of their responsibility to their viewing public. Why should a minor section of the public dictate to the majority. If to meet the demands of their right of freedom to watch and experience a free choice, it should be done by watching a DVD(if available) in the privacy of their own homes, or in live performance not on a TV broadcast around the time of a special holiday. Obviously this is my view
and I speak for myself only.

#99 papeetepatrick

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 08:56 AM

I found this report deeply disturbing, although I agree that this piece shouldn't be shown before the 'watershed' (pre 9pm when children could be watching), I feel angry that the BBC has chosen not to show the work at a late hour on the grounds of 'blasphemy'. That the ballet fits the literal definition of blasphemy I won't deny, but to use that as an excuse to actually ban it from TV screens on that basis is an outrage. This is nothing but blatant censorship, and a disgraceful move by the BBC.

I am under the impression that blasphemy still stands as a criminal offence on the UK statute book, but it absolutely should not as it is an archaic term harking back to the inquisition and is totally at odds with modern day principals of free speech. Although I hated Eternal Damnation to Sancho & Sanchez and hoped it would be quietly dropped, I am going to paraphrase old Voltaire in this instance: I disagree with the ballet you created but would defend to the death the right for it to be shown on British TV.


Agree with everything you say, Mashinka, but I have to say it's somewhat comical that they ever put this piece on a Christmas program. Why not just go ahead and perform it at St. Peters? Then we could debate on whether previous popes would be more tolerant of 'artistic merit' (or the lack of) than this pope, etc., I don't know what they had planned to contrast it with, maybe 'Away in a Manger'.

#100 kfw

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 09:17 AM

The BBC has abandoned plans to screen a ballet featuring a deformed Pope who rapes nuns that it had announced as one of the highlights of its Christmas schedule.

Is this from the Onion (an American satirical magazine) or the Times online?

An individual's freedom of speech doesn't obligate anyone else to provide a platform for them to shout from. de frutos is free to make the work and persuade whoever he can to show it. But it doesn't give him the right to have it shown wherever he wants. And many kids stay up past 9.

#101 Simon G

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 11:22 AM

:angry2: Thank goodness for the foresight of the BBC, what must be realeased is a lot of people are not so protetive of their rights. And are happy for cencwership/guidance in this type of situation.


What rights might they be? The right to make informed decisions, to turn off and on a television set and the right to make one's own mind up about what constitutes content, obscenity. This is the same BBC which produces dramas such as The Men's Room, Tinsel Town, The Line of Beauty, Care etc dramas which graphically depict sex acts heterosexual, homosexual, paedophilia. The same UK non cable television channels which also produces Queer As Folk, No Child of Mine, Apparitions, This Life, Skins, Shameless where every single gamut of foul language, sexual behaviour, scatalogical portrayl is also fair game for the viewing public.

Come on, this is just a facile argument that people need policing - and the De Frutos piece was going to be shown on BBC4 which is cable and after 9pm. Nanarina, I have an inkling that you don't even know what the dramas I mentioned are or even about or that they were all broadcast on BBC1, BBC2, ITV or Channel 4. That's not an attack, but just goes to show that if something is going to offend you, be of no interest to you then it's highly likely you'll either avoid it altogether or not even know that it's going on or being broadcast.



Why should we have to be faced with something which is obviously obscene.


Obviously obscene? How do you know, you never saw the piece, and obscenity is as individual as the individual watching it, I didn't think it was obscene, I thought it silly and that's why censorship of this form is so banal, it's one person's morals speaking for millions. But you wouldn't be faced with it, obscene or not, all you have to do is switch off, or not even tune in.

Why should a minor section of the public dictate to the majority.


In much the same way that you're assuming the position of the moral majority and dictating what the minority and by that I take it a depraved minority should or shouldn't see?

If to meet the demands of their right of freedom to watch and experience a free choice, it should be done by watching a DVD(if available) in the privacy of their own homes, or in live performance not on a TV broadcast around the time of a special holiday.


Free choice also dictates that everything should be free and accessible in the public domain, that no content as long as it's not illegal should be taboo or not readily available, that people should have the ability and right to police themselves, to decide for themselves what art they should be allowed to see and their reactions to it.

Obviously this is my view
and I speak for myself only.


Is it? If it's only you then it's a minority and the majority shouldn't be influenced by what you think. Though of course, you claim membership of the majority.

KFW, yes, loads of kids stay up late, so perhaps then we should have mandatory bedtime of 8pm for all children under the age of 16 so that there's no danger of them being exposed to anything which might corrupt the moral fibre of the UK, USA etc Though of course those children will be comfy, middle class with parents who enforce strict moral guidelines. And of course children in the developed world, children not crippled by poverty, indifferent parents, children suffering abuse sexual or physical, children who work in sweat shops, children who go out and have sex, take drugs, get drunk, get pregnant, the list is endless.

What makes the BBC volte face so moronic is the misguided notion that Pandora's Box was never opened and that the content of the De Frutos work will corrupt our precious Utopia.

Mashinka is absolutely right and has pretty much said it bang on. And what does continue to irritate me is that people haven't seen the piece it's really not that bad, it's a trifle banal, it's certainly ridiculous, but if it is shown after 9pm nothing is going to happen. If anything it's giving it far more weight and power than it actually deserves by banning it from public viewing.

#102 kfw

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 06:53 PM

Free choice also dictates that everything should be free and accessible in the public domain, that no content as long as it's not illegal should be taboo or not readily available, that people should have the ability and right to police themselves, to decide for themselves what art they should be allowed to see and their reactions to it.

Simon, I'd be interested in your response to what I wrote above, that the BBC isn't banning anything from public viewing, it's just deciding not to abet that viewing. The principle of free choice in this case allows de frutos to produce, Sadler Wells to present, and individuals to choose to attend. It doesn't mandate the BBC to be a presenter, or the tax-paying public to assent to pay for its presentation. I think it's informed, principled protest of the sort that got this pulled, and not a morally laissez-faire, anything-goes spirit, that is indicative of a functioning democracy, and a society where ideas are free to circulate, and thus open to thoughtful engagement, with the possibility of criticism. In any case, in these days of political correctness, there are many things that would draw loud protest from the Left were they scheduled to be shown on publicly financed television.

KFW, yes, loads of kids stay up late, so perhaps then we should have mandatory bedtime of 8pm for all children under the age of 16 so that there's no danger of them being exposed to anything which might corrupt the moral fibre of the UK, USA etc

I guess what you mean me to agree to is that because that's not practical or desirable, parents shouldn't object to this program being shown. That's the we-can't-guarantee-success, so-we-shouldn't-even-try argument. To your facetious "perhaps" I would suggest instead that if someone wants to show work intended to mock a representative of the Christian church (rather than educate about the papacy, which I would defend) they shouldn't choose Christmastime to air it. :angry2: That's strikes me as both smart strategy, and respectful, or at least less disrespectful, to boot. And I think the interests of civility should factor into the BBC's programming decisions.

Though of course those children will be comfy, middle class with parents who enforce strict moral guidelines. And of course children in the developed world, children not crippled by poverty, indifferent parents, children suffering abuse sexual or physical, children who work in sweat shops, children who go out and have sex, take drugs, get drunk, get pregnant, the list is endless.

I'm sorry, but if you're making an argument there and not just putting down middle class parents for enforcing strict moral guidelines, I assume it's the argument identified above.

#103 papeetepatrick

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 07:10 PM

To your facetious "perhaps" I would suggest instead that if someone wants to show work intended to mock a representative of the Christian church (rather than educate about the papacy, which I would defend) they shouldn't choose Christmastime to air it. :dunno: That's strikes me as both smart strategy, and respectful, or at least less disrespectful, to boot. And I think the interests of civility should factor into the BBC's programming decisions.


Thanks for echoing my point about this, kfw. While I agree with Simon and Mashinka about the rest of it (literally all of it), I think it was perfectly ridiculous to choose Christmastime to air it, and I actually thought innopac was joking at first. Christmas is still a religious holiday to many people, and I think airing this at Christmas, even though I'm not religious myself, was an idiotic and even loathsomely uncouth idea. Note that this is coming from someone who wouldn't be the least bothered by any of it himself. As I originally wrote, I wouldn't mind seeing it either, although I don't think it sounds worth the money. If one wants to do a 'subversive anti-papacy show at Christmas to really *mike a stite-ment* :angry2: ', it's not the BBC that's the right venue, it's at an alternative space in live performance, or on special exotic cable channels.

#104 Simon G

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 04:37 AM

kfw,

The sticking point for me and which continues to irritate is that apart from Mashinka and myself no one here has actually seen the piece, yet are quite happy to condemn it, its intentions and profess moral outrage.

Also, the piece wasn't intended for broadcast on the main BBC channels, but on BBC4 which is a pay per view cable channel of specialist arts programming, deemed marginal interest and intended for specific audiences.

I don't question the BBC's right to choose what they show and when, however the sticking point does seem that they decided to show the whole Spirit of Diaghilev programme under the mistaken belief it was ballet in a pre watershed slot and didn't realise a) the programme was contemporary dance; b) it wasn't ballet despite the Diaghilev portmanteau, or perhaps because of & c) the content of the De Frutos piece meant a pre watershed viewing wasn't appropriate.

I have no problem with the BBC deciding that the De Frutos had to be taken from an early evening showing. What i do have a problem with is the umbrage taken about morals, censorship, guarding the nation's children and also the Christmas angle. De Frutos was a man brought up in deep Catholic faith, his work is a reaction to this and views which could be classed as counter propaganda are equally as valid despite the time of year, perhaps more so. Look to the current shenanigans in Ireland and the State and Church apologies to the victims of Priest sexual abuse - abuse which for years was covered up and denied by the Vatican. It's specious to suggest that at Christmas such horror should be forgotten or brushed aside - De Frutos' nightmare vision of the evil man perpetuates under the name of God & Church is perhaps more poignant and relevant now at Christmas than at any other time.

The concept of protecting children from what they view is of course a valid one: which is why I do agree with a post watershed viewing, but the piece is theatre and abstract not obscene nor graphic and as I've said a child can log on and view a world of depravity on the internet, do you truly think they'd sit through 45 minutes of dance/theatre to get to the few moments where acts are depicted in a theatrical/stylised manner? When all's said and done the De Frutos was actually quite boring.

#105 Simon G

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 04:43 AM

If one wants to do a 'subversive anti-papacy show at Christmas to really *mike a stite-ment* :) ', it's not the BBC that's the right venue, it's at an alternative space in live performance, or on special exotic cable channels.




Hi Patrick,

One thing I really want people to understand is that the piece was intended for BBC4. BBC4 is not a mainstream BBC channel - it's a specialist pay to view/cable channel that specifically shows high art and niche arts subjects.

It is an alternative space for broadcast performance. It's the equivalent of an art gallery, niche arts performance space, the content shown is more specialised than other cable channels such as the Performance Channel.

There was never any intention of showing the De Frutos sandwiched between Blue Peter and Eastenders and never any real potential for a five year old to switch on the television and be confronted with images of a Pope punching a pregnant nun. To get BBC4 you actually have to have the cable technology and actively want to scroll through the menu to find it and select it.

BBC4 is as off-the-beaten-track, non mass audience, niche market as it's possible to get.


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