hunterman0953

Are there different 'styles' of ballet dancing?

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:off topic: Memory is such a problem these days, but I'm sure I heard Irek Mukhamedov speaking, in the Nineties, about having to adapt to an English style of dancing, yet the research I have done (admittedly little) tells me that there is only one 'style' of ballet dancing. Are there, or have there been in the past, noticeably differing styles of ballet dancing? If there are, or have been, what am I to look out for that might demonstrate such differences? Again, I'm relying on a shaky memory, but I seem to remember Irek speaking of a somewhat lighter style in English dancing.Was he, I wonder, referring only to his own style, which he felt might be lighter, the better to fit in with the English way of dancing?

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Yes, there are several styles. It's a very large topic; I'd suggest doing a search on the site and elsewhere on the Internet. You'll find references to the Russian school (search for Vaganova), Danish (Search for Bournonville), French, English and Italian, as well as a style particular the George Balanchine's ballets.

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Mmmm.. I should have used my own initiative on this one. Sorry about that. I'm afraid the old battery gets a bit flat these days, and I often need a push-start. Thanks for the push. I should be OK now. :off topic:

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Thank you so much Carbro, for giving us a starting point.

I was glad that hunterman asked this question because just today I was wondering what this statement from BalletBag's article on Petipa meant.... in practical terms that a non-dancer (myself) would understand:

His [Petipa's] dances combine the technical purity of the French school with the virtuosity of the Italian school.

And hunterman, i have seen the documentary on Mukhamedov that I think you are referring to. I would imagine that Mukhamedov had to cope with adjusting to many differences: size of the stage, perhaps the angle of the raking of the stage?, the kind of choreography dominant in the company, perhaps type of expression including more mime? as well as the different technical basis that I think you are referring to. It would be interesting to know more about the kinds of adjustments dancers from Russia had to make when they came to the West.

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Innopac, re: Petipa, the Cliff's Notes version is that the French style at the time was very graceful and delicate, with all effort hidden, whereas the Italian style was much more brilliant, with a heavier emphasis on multiple turns and in particular a strong pointe technique.

I can think of several stylistic differences Mukhamedov might have had to contend with, such as a different way of using the foot during battement tendu and related movements, a heavier emphasis on quick footwork, differences in the use of the arms and upper body, and probably many others of which I'm not aware.

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Hans, how does the use of the foot differ in the battement tendu? I'm guessing metatarsal use??

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Yes, in Russian training the foot is used more the way it would be during a jump when performing battement tendu, whereas the English would probably use more articulation. There may also be differences in the quality of the movement.

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And remember, these schools/styles/methods never stayed the same way for very long. - Perhaps a run of only one or two generations of dancers, and dancer generations can run as briefly as five years.

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And remember, these schools/styles/methods never stayed the same way for very long. - Perhaps a run of only one or two generations of dancers, and dancer generations can run as briefly as five years.

And (and...and...and...) we can't underestimate the effect of the fall of the Wall on ballet style and technique worldwide. The Russians came and, in many cases, they conquered; at the same time, Russian repertoires were enriched by the influx of formerly forbidden choreography--and no doubt that had an effect on Russian "style."

(My esteemed BT-ers, has anyone written an article or book about this topic yet?)

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I've been reading with great interest the contributions and exchanges generated by my poor little question- and I mean poor. I actually had interests beyond the mere fact of there being styles of dancing. What made me bring it up was a fascination with how ballet has evolved over the generations, with regard to how different schools may have contributed to what we have today.

My personal inclinations have always led me to the view that a school of anything in the arts must ,if its cultural provenance is sound, be a good thing. I rejoice in cultural identity, and quite frankly fear globalisation. It's an ugly word, well befitting an ugly concept. I'm very keen on the arts in general reflecting the cultures in which they function.

Having said the latter, I'm also keen on cultural exchange, not so much in a political sense, but in a very real artistic sense. This must surely also be a good thing. I seem to be split down the middle on this, and would appreciate some insights to give me a clearer view. This evening I watched Zakharova in Swan Lake at La Scala and wondered how much of an influence she might ultimately be on the Italian way, even as a guest star. Are individual companies nowadays actively looking to enrich their own approach to dancing by the introduction of potentially influential dancers from elsewhere? Are we already in a more universal approach to dancing?

For what it's worth, I watched the ABT Swan Lake a few nights ago, and couldn't suppress the thought that it was very 'American', and not, I hasten to add, in a disparaging sense. It had all the flair and panache I associate with that great nation. Is it in fact a product of a distinctly American 'school'? I do hope so.

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