What is an "adult quality" in ballet?another provocative thought from Macaulay
Posted 16 February 2010 - 06:15 PM
Posted 17 February 2010 - 04:19 AM
Posted 17 February 2010 - 06:16 AM
The idea of "mature" artistry seems to apply, for example, to what papeetepatrick finds in the chronolgically quite young Sarah Mearns. It also seems to relate to liebs's point (citing Michael Popkin): "not just dancing [a] part well but taking responsibility for the whole performance and lifting it to a higher level."
atm711, can you give a specific example or two of the maturity -- or lack of it -- that you are thinking of?
Posted 17 February 2010 - 11:11 AM
I have very often wondered what today's ballet-goers would have thought of seeing Danilova, Markova or Dolin perform near the end of their careers. I had some inkling when reading some caustic comments about Darci Kistler on Ballettalk. I haven't seen her perform live in a few years so perhaps her technique is far from what it once was---but didn't anyone see anything else? A maturity, perhaps? And this 'maturity' is not a question of age---Nora Kaye had it in her 20's. I also see this quality today in Michelle Wiles and I don't only look upon her as a whiz-bang technician, which she surely is.
Posted 18 February 2010 - 04:27 AM
I mean no disrespect, but maybe young dancers growing up in prosperous societies -- in which studios, scholarship possibilities, and so many kinds of physical and mental support are such that earlier dancers could not even have dreamed of them -- lack strong incentives to grow up inside.
Which raises the question of temperament. I don't mean just HAVING temperament and being able to DISPLAY it, but knowing how to control and use it. I keep thinking of mature people as those who possess ALL the classical temperaments -- sanguinic, melancholic, choleric, and even phlegmatic, though an excess of that might be a disadvantage to a ballet dancer. They can access each -- or re-balance them, within limits -- as the performance requires. As Suzanne Farrell one said in an interview, the dancer is a "servant of the choreographer and the composer, but I am also me."
In that interview, Farrell also said: "I'm a a big card player, you know. And whatever the hand I'm dealt, I play for blood." This was well into her career. But I suspect that the feeling was already there very early on.
Wanting to be the star is common among the young nowadays. Knowing all the things you have to do in order to BECOME a star is less so.
A final thought (with apologies for rambling) -- Earlier in this thead, papeetepatrick praised the maturity NYCB dancer Sara Mearns. In today's NY Times, Alistair Macaulay, who hates and apparently avoids Peter Martins' production of Swan Lake as much as possible, writes that
Posted 18 February 2010 - 09:05 AM
But delighted to find Macaulay giving praise in the form of 'the finest in 20 years': this is wonderful to see, and Ms. Mearns is rapidly becoming a truly great artist (which always means 'maturity', 'adult' in some aspect of the definition, and 'serious', which she was even as the light Dewdrop when I saw it back in 2006. Just by way of comment on the 'mannered' part of the range, Farrell was also always thought to be serious and a dancer of great integrity, but could be very mannered when the part called for it, as in 'La Vales' (I believe reading in Arlene Croce that she also had sometimes been a bit mannered in the big-star years pre-Bejart, but I only saw her once then, and knew nothing at all then.) This is never the foundation of the 'seriousness' and 'integrity', but can be part of it, especially with a dancer who is given everything as Farrell was. Martins in 'Far from Denmark' wrote that Balanchine 'pampered her, gave her what she needed'. Since Farrell was totally focussed on her work, this made her able to be extravagant without being 'spoiled'; she made a lot go a long way. Mearns may do the same, although she doesn't have a Balanchine to make masterpieces for her. But someone may come along, and she has already proven to be able to shine brilliantly in the Remains of Petipa. I like it that Macaulay would go that far--as I'm sure there have been many brilliant Swan Lakes in the last 20 years.
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