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Poor pic of MCB in NY TimesPhotographer's fault? Editor?


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#16 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 12:56 PM

Also looking forward to any further thoughts from Paul, because in the meantime I can only manage something comparatively crude - when I looked at Balanchine's dancers then or when I look at MCB or TSFB today, I saw dancers dancing, but when I look, for example, at NYCB today, I see dancers performing dancing - that presence is so much less or missing, it's remote (when it's not actually corrupt) or screened.

The "amateur" photos of both companies today catch this, maybe not just "by accident", but because it's so prevalent those photographers can't miss. Unless they try, in search of something else.

#17 Quiggin

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 03:14 PM

Degas' takes on dancers were fairly shocking and unattractive in their time - Huysmans characterized some of his ballet drawings as "cruel and subtle," but: "What truth! What life!"

Unfortunately, dance companies are not photographed by photojournalists but instead by company or company-approved photographers, so we never get an outsider's view. It's as if newspapers printed press releases instead of reviews.

Regarding Balanchine, lots of the interesting awkwardnesses in his works seemed to have become ironed out over the years, "not spoken of." The late 1970's video of "Divertimento No 15" is full of odd, angular, Degas-awkward positions that have vanished (I think I'm following Jack Reed on this). Degas was attracted to working class pretentionlessness - and this working class, no-nonsense directness of interpretation - but full of character - that used to figure in Balanchine performances, seems no longer to be there... So maybe the photos are true to life.

#18 Paul Parish

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 08:45 PM

Quiggin, I just got around to looking at hte links you posted - -wonderful photos, they're so telling. of course, you are right about the issue, too.

Jack, I think I prefer the image cropped, though I think the whole thing is a fine record of hte occasion and gives valuable info aboutthe configuration of all the dancers at that moment. The image was not meant to be seen from that angle -- though it is probably the way Balanchine saw it, from his usual place in (though this is taken from stage left, and I THINK he usually stood in the front wing stage right).

WHy do you ask? I think the corps girls look fine -- eager and energized.

I;ve never seen D 15 in those costumes -- SFB dances it in borrowed costumes that look very 50s -- charming, fresh, very construced things with little rosebuds in their embroidery,, that look like they're made of linen, not silk.

#19 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 10:20 PM

Failing completely at seeing the issue with the pic over here, to be honest...Posted Image What's the part needed to be cropped...?

#20 Paul Parish

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 10:43 PM

Frankly, Christian, I don't see much of an issue either. I think hte picture composes better cropped; it's just more interesting in hte version posted here. But the Times version is perhaps a better document.

Re QUiggin and Jack, i think in the absence of major choreographic imagination like Balanchine's, his fascinating dynamics, his power to make something significant take place over time, today's choreographers make dances that showcase dancers' virtuosity --so what we get is one glamour-filled moment after another rather than points in an argument.

SO everytihing is trying now to look more like hte exquisite European contemporary dance, where the dancers are so sexy and hte presence is so bruised and the posing is so studied......

#21 Marga

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 09:18 PM

It's the FOOT - the right foot - on the dancer in the forefront! Were that my daughter (who is a dancer), she would hate the capture. I can't look at it without the same dislike (as a former dancer). This is not a ballet foot, it's an ordinary foot, caught in an awkward millisecond between correct placements.

#22 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 03:23 AM

i can deal with an exquisite pose on someone in a forefront with maybe not so perfect positions in back, but when the main "focus" in the picture is so badly caught in the picture - well i think it was a misstep to think it wouldn't matter or maybe not to ask someone who would know the difference if they didn't.

can you see the poor girl saying wow my picture was in the new york times, but no, i can't show it to you -- Posted Image

#23 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 11:31 AM

AAh...the quest for perfection...
I don't know...for me, this is actually an interesting take. I'm really sick of seeing the same boring shots of arabesques and deep penchees...

#24 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 12:33 PM

But I think that you would be in the minority with that opinion. The photo isn't balletic, even if positions like that occur all the time in a transient way in dancing, they aren't the point of the movement, and they're usually not picked up by the observer's eye. It isn't pleasing, it's awkward. It doesn't shout this is ballet - it shouts I'm about to fall down, or I did the wrong thing, or something else. I just think it's woefully bad and a bad judgment call on the part of whoever does the choosing of the pictures. Poor kid.

#25 Jack Reed

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 02:44 PM

Interesting debate. I've seen books - I think Costas put one together and we discussed it here, but I looked through a copy somewhere and was bored too by page after page of the same pose - aloft, often, in the case of the men - which gave you the idea that ballets - these were by Balanchine, too - are all the same except for the costumes. So I'm with Cristian, and Paul too (if he's still with me).

But I can imagine, or even remember, pictures which might satisfy both our camps, where the pose is about to be - or just was - beautifully achieved, but where there are also clues in the shot which tell of the onward flow of movement, too.

#26 Quiggin

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 03:26 PM

But it's important to remember that this is a newspaper - not a program for a ballet - and the idea is to report a truth, so the guidelines are different.

No one would like it if a review were subject to the same sort of scrutiny and possible retouching - why is photography different? This picture I've posted of Balanchine before is very awkward and breaks lots of rules (even to the vigetting of the frame) but is considered a classic:

http://www.magnumpho...PN=98&CT=Search

& an ungolden Apollo:

http://www.magnumpho...N=835&CT=Search

a poorly composed Nureyev:

http://www.magnumpho...N=960&CT=Search

*

This one also from Magnum has an interesting story with it:

http://www.magnumpho...N=484&CT=Search

#27 aurora

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 03:44 PM

I think there are rules to live photography...well maybe rules isn't quite the word, but guidelines.
The camera shoots fast. You get images, like the one under discussion, where the subject is in motion, moving between positions, and thus what would be fleeting, and seen as a blur of motion up to the finished position, now BECOMES the position. It is not any more true to the event than a "good" photograph. Rather less so. I've seen horrible photographs of performers from what were stunning performances. It is the photographer's job to know what is not a good image (from both the standpoint of photography and the art that he is capturing) and to edit those out.

And I don't think any of the photographs above really are germane to the discussion--they aren't live photographs of dancers dancing. The Mr B one is sort of an action shot, but its staged, its him showing a position beautifully I think anyway.
Nureyev is posing.

#28 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:01 PM

[size=4]But I think that you would be in the minority with that opinion[/size].


...which is always exciting..! ;-)

#29 Quiggin

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:07 PM

aurora

You get images, like the one under discussion, where the subject is in motion, moving between positions, and thus what would be fleeting, and seen as a blur of motion up to the finished position, now BECOMES the position.


This is a good point. But again the medium is journalism and good journalism - maybe this is my bias - come from an off center point to make the subject more interesting. And I guess it could be compared to the off-balances in Balanchine, especially as discussed earlier in Divertimento N. 15 which is full of unlovely but fascinating stuff - the women look like Rodin sculptures being lifted by Giacometti men. Or the way a singer sings off key then slips into key for a nice contrast. I think the slightly awkward atypicalness allows the viewer of the photo to make the correction themselves.

#30 Ray

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 05:44 PM

Some very generous readings here of what I still take to be a poorly chosen pic for the unfortunate dancer's moment in the spotlight. It doesn't help that, in contrast, the women in the background have straight knees and pointed feet.


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