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Definition of BalletHow does Ballet differ from other dance?


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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:10 PM

There is so much fusion nowadays, it makes citing differences even harder.


Which is where the clear pointe distinction takes place. There's no way to go over that.

#17 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:45 PM

Toe tapping? That Cirque de Solei act with pointe on lightbulbs? (will now see if can find it on youtube still).? That Chinese acrobatic Swan Lake? Pointe in sneakers? Georgian folk dance pointe in boots?


Is this ballet?


Or this?


Or this?


Admittedly they all think they are quoting "ballet".

#18 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:53 PM

Toe tapping? That Cirque de Solei act with pointe on lightbulbs? (will now see if can find it on youtube still).? That Chinese acrobatic Swan Lake? Pointe in sneakers? Georgian folk dance pointe in boots?


Is this ballet?
http://m.youtube.com...h?v=VP_hXNQiACQ


No toe tapping...no sneakers nor boots. Pointe shoes that is. The chinese act is certainly detrimental to the artform, and it mixes it with acrobatics, but then Somova does it too, so...

When someone with no previous experience asks me that very question-(and many do,when one talks a lot about it)-that's my main answer so they can forget everything that has to do with all the soleils, dirty barefoot acts, rolling on floors contemporary companies and so on and so forth. When people are given a straight answer like that, and they start visualizing ballet=pointe shoes, it is easier for them to get the whole idea. Then, and only then, and after many pointes, one can tell about Sheherezade...

Edited to add: A ballerina can do both barefoot and toe dancing. A female dancer trained sans toe technique can't tell the same story, and still she doesn't cease to be a dancer. This is based on a story I heard many years ago in which Pavlova told Duncan "I can do what you do but you can't do what I do". True or not, that opened my eyes to a broad-(if incomplete, I admit it)- definition of "ballet" long time ago.

#19 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:06 PM

It is an easy distinction and no professional calibre female ballet dancer is without pointe skills.

But when one looks at a lot of the new work presented at ballet companies, is it just modern choreography with pointe shoes added on or is there something now called contemporary ballet that is distinct in other ways from contemporary modern? It is a very tricky question.

#20 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:09 PM

It is an easy distinction and no professional calibre female ballet dancer is without pointe skills.

But when one looks at a lot of the new work presented at ballet companies, is it just modern choreography with pointe shoes added on or is there something now called contemporary ballet that is distinct in other ways from contemporary modern? It is a very tricky question.


Well, in tht aspect I agree with you. I can't bear to call "ballet" to many stuff I've seen produced lately, in which the dancers are on their toes. Then I wouldn't call it, but the programme does so...

#21 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:13 PM

Is Matts Ek ballet and Pina Bausch modern dance?

Matts Ek sample


Pina Bausch sample


MacGegor? Nacho Duato? Jiri Kylian? It has become very foggy out there... Which is which...

#22 angelica

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:52 PM

[size=5]Angelica, I would also like to hear a definition of "line" although I may not know it even when I see it.[/size]

[size=5]Tom,[/size]

I will look at the other discussion board, but I raise the matter of "line" because I think it is the "line" that distinguishes ballet from every other form of dance. I don't think it's a question of pointe shoes, but rather, whether or not the dancers create the ballet "line" with their bodies. It goes back to what is called "placement," another word that could use a good definition. Maybe that's on the other board as well. One interesting thing about ballet training is that the training sculpts the body and develops the muscles in such a way that a ballet "line" is created (in those who have the physical capability, e.g., the potential for turnout). People trained in any other form of dance cannot create with their bodies a ballet "line."

#23 Amy Reusch

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:06 PM

No, but they often create as much line.... Not all, but some seem very line conscious.

#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:11 PM

Give me all the line you want, but if the woman can't stand on her toes, no ballet is gonna be done.

Also, I think there's a distinction in between performers and the art form itself. If the question would had been "what are the distinctive signs in a ballet dancer", then the answers would be different, because we would be talking about its carriers, which can have many trainings and can intertwine them-(although again, toe dancing would be the # 1 thing to look at, and I think that would be the # 1 question for an employer who wants to hire a female ballet performer, way before getting into the whole line thing). A ballet dancer does have distinctive lines, definitely...but one has to have a very experienced eye to see it. Now, the art form itself equals toe dancing, and Miss Taglioni sealed the deal all the way to Miss Osipova. MCB does pieces by M. Morris, and I don't think they are ballet pieces. Mark Morris company titles itself as "MM Dance group". Then, if what you want is trying to differenciate a "ballet dancer" woman from a mere "dancer" based just in lines, without knowing if she knows how to dance on her toes, there're chances that you can be fooled-(I would, certainly...).

I suspect I tend to focus more in the motion, the movement, the ballet foot and its distinctive shoe and the marvels that it does, which the rest of the other dancers from different dance categories can't , instead of the placement and lines. (But again...my first ballerinas were women with very different body types and physiques that those favored by the majority, so I don't care too much for the Skoriks of the world. Give me 32 clean fouettes and we're in business)

#25 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:19 AM

[font=Times New Roman][size=3]Hi, I’m new here, I have a strong interest in ballet, but I do not dance and I am not sure of all the technical aspects of ballet. What I would like people to explain are the technical differences between ballet and other forms of dance. That is, what are the characteristics of ballet that could distinguish it from other forms of dance? I understand that different varieties of dance most likely blend into one another and that not all ballet would have all of the same characteristics, but I would appreciate some ideas as to how one might distinguish ballet from other types of dance. [/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3]Tom,[/size][/font]


Welcome, Tom. Interesting thread! I'd like to respond to your post as a serious lover of ballet - please note that I am not a dancer. Ballet is distinguished from other forms of dance by its specific classical vocabulary, turnout of the feet and hips and the five basic positions which form the foundation and basis of the steps, and its strict training syllabus, which takes years. While people who study non-ballet styles (modern, jazz, etc.) are dancers, one cannot be a ballet dancer without the rigorous formal training and practice (along with the requisite artistic talent, I might add) it demands. I think of ballet as the use of the human body as a classical musical instrument and, just as a concert pianist or violinist must practice daily to remain proficient to be able to play complex music, so a professional ballet dancer must train daily, in addition to rehearsing, performing and learning new works. Ballet is also, as pointed out by many here, distinguished by the wearing of pointe shores and dancing en pointe, in most cases only the female ballet dancer but occasionally a male dancer when required to dance en pointe in a travesti or comic role. You may know of the all-male ballet company devoted to lovingly sending up the most cherished ballets who dance en pointe, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and they are a formidable group of ballet dancers, indeed! For me, one of the very beautiful aspects of ballet is that it developed from Italian Renaissance dance forms and was formally codified by the French in the 17th century - the steps danced today date from that time. How cool is that!

Some people have called ballet a sport because of its extreme athleticism and use of acrobatics, but it is not a sport, it's an art.

There are many good books on the history, development and the art of ballet and some of my favorites are:
  • Robert Greskovic's Ballet 101
  • Jack Anderson's Ballet and Modern Dance
  • Jennifer Homans' Apollo's Angels
  • Franklin Stevens' Dance As Life and many others.
I also refer to Gail Grant's Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet with the DVD Video Dictionary of Classical Ballet, which demonstrates the steps. This is a way for me as a non-dancer to learn the more technical aspects of the art of ballet.

So, you mentioned you might be attending a ballet - what company? What ballet companies do you enjoy? I love ballet to distraction, but my very favorite company is New York City Ballet which I've had the privilege of seeing for many years at Saratoga Performing Arts in the summer (in NYC, too,!).

I look forward to reading your posts. ~ Karen

#26 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:23 AM

Give me all the line you want, but if the woman can't stand on her toes, no ballet is gonna be done.

I suspect I tend to focus more in the motion, the movement, the ballet foot and its distinctive shoe and the marvels that it does, which the rest of the other dancers from different dance categories can't , instead of the placement and lines. (But again...my first ballerinas were women with very different body types and physiques that those favored by the majority, so I don't care too much for the Skoriks of the world. Give me 32 clean fouettes and we're in business)


Me, too, Cristian - while I can discern a splendid performance, it is the whole artistic experience that often captivates and enthralls me, regardless that a dancer may not be technically perfect. ~ Karen

#27 Tom47

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:43 AM

[size=4][font=comic sans ms,cursive]Thank all of you for your responses, this is more than I had hoped for and I am happy for that. However, it is taking me some time to process it all, so if I don’t reply to your comment excuse me.

To those who have spoken about “line.” Ascballerina, I read some from the link you posted. I have never danced, but when I was young I modeled for art classes. Sometimes I did very quick “action poses” where the students basically just drew action lines. One of the characteristics of these action lines is how they curved and how the curves changed and converged. I think that maybe this is somewhat similar to line in dance. Also, I have always felt that railroad tracks have great “lines” in how they gently curve and converge at switches.

Tom,[/font][/size]

#28 Tom47

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:57 AM

[font=comic sans ms,cursive][size=4]Karen, I believe that when I wrote that I was planning to watch a DVD I have of the American Ballet Theatre doing “La Corsaire,” but instead I watched some parts of “Swan Lake.” I don’t know what company preformed that. I live near Rochester, NY and recently I saw the Rochester Ballet perform to recently composed music describing New York City. Both the dancers and the orchestra were on the stage with the dancers in front of the orchestra.[/size][/font]

[font=comic sans ms,cursive][size=4]Tom,[/size][/font]

#29 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 08:27 AM

A couple of embellishments to my two posts: to the one in response to Tom about pointe shoes, let's not forget the OTHER distinctive symbol of ballet - the glorious Tutu!! Also, regarding my statement "s[font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=4]ome people have called ballet a sport because of its extreme athleticism and use of acrobatics, but it is not a sport, it's an art.", I'm not sure if acrobatics is a sport, either, unless one counts gymnastics, but I think my point is clear, anyway. To Cristian, I mean a splendid individual performance.[/size][/font]

[font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=4]To Tom, in response to your most recent post, if you don't know and perhaps you do, YouTube is indispensable for seeing lots of different ballets - many are complete and not just clips and in HD, which is just incredible. I learned so much about different ballet companies and historical performances from YouTube. Not as good as viewing a DVD, but I have a large monitor and the experience is pretty good, overall. Better than nothing! You'll find from the threads good opinions about particular DVD performances, too. [/size][/font]

#30 angelica

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:01 AM

With all due respect to those who are describing line in drawing, painting, and even other forms of dance, there is something unique to what is known as a "ballet line," and I believe it is that particular form of line that distinguishes ballet from other forms of dance. One can dance modern dance or even jazz in pointe shoes but it would not be ballet. The ballet line is composed of proportions and geometry, and a particularly elegant carriage of the upper body. It is about triangles created in various poses--check out those triangles--as well as the maintenance of turnout and pointed feet (yes, sometimes the choreographer can make alterations but these do not carry throughout an entire ballet). If you watch the videos of the Vaganova Academy students, for example, you can see even in the barre exercises where the dancers are not on pointe, the particular line that distinguishes ballet. In order to truly appreciate ballet, you need to "get" the line. I had a friend who had a flair for the draping of fabric in fashion (she was visually attuned), and when we attended her first ballet performance, after I'd explained what ballet line was about, she immediately exclaimed with great excitement, "Yes, I see it, I see what you mean." I had a male ballet teacher some time ago who only had to stand in fifth position (no pointe shoes) and you felt you were at the ballet, so perfect were the proportions, the turnout, the upper body carriage, the shape created by the muscles of the thighs and calves. I may admire the line to the horizon of a set of railroad tracks, but that is different from a ballet line.


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