Use of the eyes
Posted 23 January 2010 - 01:35 PM
Could someone elaborate? I am not quite sure what he wanted the dancers to do. How would you teach someone this?
Posted 23 January 2010 - 03:09 PM
Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:24 PM
Posted 23 January 2010 - 09:54 PM
Posted 23 January 2010 - 10:23 PM
Posted 23 January 2010 - 11:13 PM
That's a rather simplistic example, but it leaps to mind readily and is easy to describe. Little details like that were so important to her, and they really made the ballet come alive. I also remember that we worked on the party scene quite a bit; in fact it felt as if we rehearsed that more than anything else! Even though it involves no technical dancing, all those little interactions between people are what create the atmosphere of the ballet and set the rest of the events in motion, and I still consider her staging of that scene to be the best. It was so lively and warm--like a real Christmas party.
Posted 24 January 2010 - 12:05 AM
And in Giselle, of course, the mad scene is where a dancer who uses the eyes stands out. I'll never forget seeing a picture of Ulanova, I'm sure you all know it, where she's crouching fairly near the front of the sateg, busy plucking the imaginary flower. Her hair isn't disarranged, her body isn't spastic and wild, but I knew, from seeing the lost, bewildered eyes that the girl had lost it. Later, when I saw her in Giselle on film for the first time, my impression from the photo was confirmed.
Posted 24 January 2010 - 12:10 AM
I recently heard that a contemporary dance teacher was telling his students not to freeze their gaze -- perhaps the focus of the eyes helps generate energy.
And after writing the above I found this on your blog!
"The energy in the spine and focus of the eyes keeps the dancer "alive" even when not visibly in motion."
Posted 24 January 2010 - 12:10 AM
Posted 24 January 2010 - 03:53 PM
A fairly obviouse place where use of the eyes becomes important is when Siegfried runs after the swans, following their flight with his hand and eyes. Some dancers are content to let the hand do the work, but others really see the swans, so much that you want to glance behind you to see them yourself!
Anthony Dowell made this moment one of the highlights of his Siegfried -- precisely through the wonder and longing in his gaze as he looked across the sky. One totally 'felt' he was seeing--and fully experiencing the sight of--the swans.
In a review of Dowell in Sleeping Beauty, Arlene Croce wrote something to the effect that in the Vision scene he was one of the few dancers who created the illusion that he really was having a vision of Aurora appearing and disappearing rather than just playing hide and seek with the corps de ballet. I imagine his eyes must have been fully integrated into his gestures there as well.
Posted 25 January 2010 - 08:10 PM
Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:33 PM
In the little Youtube clip of him teaching (with Antoinette Sibley) the mime scene from Sean Lake, Act 2, he explicitly instructs the new Siegfried to "think" -- she's just told you, this whole lake is ... her mother's TEARS(?)" you approach it, then look back at her...And you really believe in him - -this is a stretch, even for a character in a fairy tale.... and somehow (at least for me) that sealed it, he had my faith, I believed in him, as he believed in her.....
Posted 26 January 2010 - 09:59 AM
Posted 26 January 2010 - 05:01 PM
He instructed Dowell to turn upstage and look up towards a tree (not literally there of course in the studio!)--he then asked Dowell what kind of tree it was. Dowell, understandably, had no idea and was evidently waiting for Tudor to tell him. But Tudor stopped the rehearsal because, as he remarked, if Dowell didn't know what kind of tree it was, there was no point in continuing ... The next day on the way into the studio Tudor saw a gorgeous mango in a market and bought it. When the same moment in rehearsal came and he told Dowell to turn around and look up at the tree, then had Dowell put his hands behind his back and handed him the mango. Dowell then looked at the fruit quite amazed and delighted and asked Tudor what it was--Tudor told him (a mango) and then when they did the 'tree' moment and Tudor asked him about the tree, Dowell volunteered "it's a mango tree"-- Tudor felt that in this way, at last the tree was "real" to Dowell...
Tudor's process seems a pretty elaborate way (method-like) way of getting Dowell to really "live" that moment authentically; but I infer he wanted Dowell's imaginative investment in the gesture of looking at a tree and felt that if he simply told him "you are looking up at a beautiful mango tree: the fruits are luscious and glowing" he would just have gotten a generic ballet-look-of-wonder moment. I can't testify if all this was really necessary; I can say I loved Dowell in Shadowplay. (I have often wished ABT would revive the ballet for Stiefel -- and they certainly have plenty of other fine men to alternate in the lead role. Hallberg might also do it now.)
Anyway, the story certainly confirms Nanarina's point about the use of the eyes being something that also comes "from within."
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