Small steps (or other movements) that make a lasting impression
Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:12 PM
What about the little things in ballet? I think I fell in love with ballet when, as a child, I saw Swan Lake from a fairly close up seat. A lady in white, with a smooth white feathered headdress and a crown, was standing on the point of one foot, slowly turning in a circle with the support of a prince. As she glided, the other foot foot, pointed and slightly raised from the floor, fluttered in and out, making me think of a bird hovering at her nest..
I now know this as petit battement sur le cou de pied. It was over almost as soon as I noticed it, but in a real way this small step changed my life. (Or at least the arts-loving part of it.) I still love this detail -- and the music that it is married to -- though I confess I've never found a subsequent performance to be as "good" as that first one, which I saw at age 9 or 10 or so.
Any other "small steps" that have made a lasting mpression on you? Do you still feel the same way?
Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:23 PM
I also love the "bump" of Suzanne Farrell hitting fifth position for a brief second after a swivel turn in the pas de deux from "Apollo," and the rond de jambe to pointe from a kneeling position that the women in Aria II from "Stravinsky Violin Concerto" does towards the end of that pas de deux.
I have spent and will spend more hours and hours watching Thomas Lund in the Bournonville Schools. Pure joy.
Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:41 PM
Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:04 PM
Posted 22 July 2012 - 07:25 PM
Posted 23 July 2012 - 07:16 AM
Possibly that term "big impression" in my sub-title was a mistake. I've edited it to read "lasting impression." Helene's examples fall into this category, definitely. So does polyphonyfan's preference for the understated Bolshoi version of the Arabian Dance.
Yesterday afternoon, at a chamber music program of including some unfamiliar (to me) early 20th century works, I was struck by the way some members of the audience chuckled with appreciation at points when there were subtle, fleeting musical surprises. Many in the audience are regulars at chamber music performances in our area.
I've been wondering whether this pleasure in noticing and savouring small things is universal. Is it something that some have a predisposition for while others don't? Does it require special knowledge of the art form? If there is a disposition, I think I've had it since childhood. I recall noticing things like foot placement and small changes in epaulement long before I knew anything about ballet technique, history or terminology.
Posted 23 July 2012 - 10:42 PM
There are several different versions of "noticing" but they all seem to have something to do with special skills or knowledge. A musician will often recognize skills or deficits in other musicians that the rest of us are deaf to -- they understand what they're hearing in a different way that many others in the audience do. Someone who is the equivalent of "well read" in a particular art form will often see connections between a work being performed and its antecedents, whether they are intentional quotations or inadvertent borrowings. And choreographers who have worked hard to develop their own skills as creators will often appreciate the intricacies of structure in someone else's work, just as a carpenter will notice a particularly artful job done by another woodworker.
Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:38 PM
Posted 25 July 2012 - 12:35 PM
Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:42 AM
The ability to perform stillness is a great skill, and one which can create a powerful effect -- just as silence in the midst of noise. Stage Right, children do notice and think about such things, thank god. I have to confess that, even as an adult, I rarely see Aurora sleeping or Juliet in her false death without wondering what the performers are thinking/feeling and how they are accomplishing the effect. Is it a natural skill, to do this well -- i.e., in a manner that holds the audience's attention? Can the skill be learned?
Complete stillness breaks the man pattern of the piece. It defies our expectations, and so calls attention to itself. The same may be true of the particular bourrees that cubanmiamiboy mentions.. Does anyone see this step without wondering, at least briefly, "How do they do it?" Also, there's a marked disconnect between what the feet are doing (fast, tiny, almost invisible movements) and the placidity (tense and powerful in the case of Myrthe) of the rest of the body.
Posted 26 July 2012 - 02:52 PM
Posted 27 July 2012 - 10:44 AM
Posted 27 July 2012 - 06:39 PM
Posted 27 July 2012 - 07:25 PM
She doesn't move from 8'44" of this video until 4'25" in part 3.
Posted 27 July 2012 - 09:22 PM
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