Jump to content


"Ballet is like porn"quoting Tamara Rojo


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#16 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,270 posts

Posted 20 July 2013 - 12:46 PM

Rojo's point was that the lack of female voices does make a difference, hence the need for change.

 

I’m not arguing that point, just her way of making it. A change would make a positive difference, but it wouldn’t be a change away from an abusive norm and a hostile perspective, because those don’t exist in Petipa, Balanchine, Ashton, et. al., so “like in porn” is a bad simile. Welcome idea, terrible way of stating, it in my opinion, and potentially misleading to anyone who doesn’t know ballet.

 
Also, in regard to Bugaku (which is a very atypical example anyhow), I don’t think an explicit work of art deserves likening in any way to a performance staged for the purpose of arousal and without regard for artistic merit. 
 
What I did find intriguing in Rojo's remarks that (quoting the writer, not Rojo directly) 

men often approach dance choreography in a ‘more physical’ way by starting with the steps, rather than women who often begin with the ‘emotional landscape’.

 



#17 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,218 posts

Posted 20 July 2013 - 01:41 PM

As Tamara Rojo said, “You can’t have female choreographers just for the sake of it. Ultimately, it’s not about gender or nationality--it has to be about talent.”

And I sort of agree, sort of. Mostly the very talented rise to the top, but also artists that play the people game well and network, make connections, and market themselves successfully rise to the top. But for a real shift to take place in attitudes and opportunities, it is definitely about the numbers. If ballet culture truly wants more female choreographers - at least as many as there are male choreographers - aspiring female dancers have to be introduced to the art as part of their regimen. Education about, and exposure to, choreography as an art form can make a big difference.

As part of a 'well-rounded' education in the world of ballet, dancers need to be learning about more than ballet dance technique. There are many components to what makes ballet, and there is a history behind, and thus a reason for, things being the way that they are. But it seems the average young dancer knows little about the world they have stepped into. I'm often surprised to learn just how little the dancers understand about the ballets they are performing in, the people who originally created them, and the music they are dancing to.

So here's my trial balloon (and I confess I don't know to what extent this already exists at large ballet schools): my thought would be that as part of the general training process Advanced Level dancers need to take the following (and I'm thinking in this order):

1) If it doesn't already exist, a class in Ballet History and Aesthetics

2) A class discussing Music and Composers associated with dance. What makes for good dance music (in any genre)? This class would be both music history and music appreciation 101 as it relates to dance.

3) A class in the teaching and tutoring of dance technique to lower level students. The dancers learn basic teaching methodology, and are assigned one or more pupils for tutoring/mentoring in, say, specific dance techniques. [The Adv. Level dancers would have to be supervised in their tutoring.]

> There's nothing quite like being forced to convey information and think about why one does things in a particular manner to get the brain looking at everything in new ways, and learning so much more. Teachers often like to say that they learn more from the students than the students learn from them.

> When dancers learn about the art of choreography, they will need to be able to work with others in a respectful, open, orderly and efficient manner. They will need to decide whether they will be collaborating, or dictating to other dancers, how to decide between the two approaches, and how to do that in an effective (not frustrating) way. Therefore they need to know someting about the teaching process.

4) Finally(!), a beginning level class in the fundamentals of choreography and dance composition. [Including selecting music, costumes, props]. I do wonder if this necessarily should be a mixed class (both sexes), or if many girls will learn best in an all-girl class (and perhaps the same for some of the boys).

5) There should be an option to continue on with Choreography Workshops, if the dancer has the interest and aptitude.

And if this all sounds a bit like a college study program, well yeah! Give them college credits for these studies if it involves actual classwork. But I'm thinking these classes would have to begin with lecture, round-table discussion and journaling. Nothing more involved than that. Obviously only the largest ballet schools are likely to get funding for such studies, but it would be a start.



#18 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,134 posts

Posted 20 July 2013 - 02:27 PM

For years now PNB has sponsored a choreographic workshop featuring choreography by dancers.  For the first few years, it was held mid-Spring and company dancers performed.  Recently, it has moved to after the regular season, with dancer/choreographers making work on the Professional Division students.  Working within company-sponsored programs, even if they, like PNB's, mean a single performance and rehearsals scheduled around everything else the company and the PD students are doing, is critical in having the resources to learn the craft, even if the structure favors he choreographer having worked out the movement on him or herself to be prepared to use precious rehearsal time.

 

In one of the Q&A's in the last PNB program, an audience member asked why there weren't more women choreographers -- the three I remember offhand are Stacy Lowenburg, Margaret Mullin, and Chelsea Adomaitis -- and Ezra Thomson, one of the choreographers, said that the rehearsal period for the workshop coincided with heavy rehearsal schedules for the female corps in "Swan Lake" and "Diamonds" among other ballets.  This coming season, it will coincide with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Giselle." The 2011-12 season ended with "Carmina Burana" (which also used the male corps extensively) and "Coppelia."

 

The big ballets are critical to box office, and almost all of them, with the exception of the Tetley "Rite of Spring" that PNB no longer does, are ballerina-heavy, especially the spring/summer ballets.   As long as the workshop is scheduled around graduation weekend, the women will be between a rock and a hard place in terms of participation.



#19 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,218 posts

Posted 20 July 2013 - 02:42 PM

The big ballets are critical to box office, and almost all of them, with the exception of the Tetley "Rite of Spring" that PNB no longer does, are ballerina-heavy, especially the spring/summer ballets.   As long as the workshop is scheduled around graduation weekend, the women will be between a rock and a hard place in terms of participation.

 

That's why I'm thinking the learning and exposure need to come earlier - not just at the professional level. It's almost too late then. Obviously not everyone makes it from Advanced Level to professional - many do not. But some of those students will continue to have an association with the dance world, and I have to think that anything they learn about the larger world of dance/ballet will make them feel a part of something important, and bigger than themselves. It will help to foster a lifelong interest.



#20 Jane Simpson

Jane Simpson

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 939 posts

Posted 21 July 2013 - 09:25 AM

The full text of the original interview with Rojo, by Lindsey Winship for TimeOut, is now available online so Rojo's remarks can be read in their proper context.



#21 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,134 posts

Posted 21 July 2013 - 10:18 AM

If starting from the physical to get to the emotional is her analogy of male dominated presentation, porn fails badly, because it's all about the physical and the visual.  She doesn't say that male choreographers start with the physical and never get beyond it, and she sounds too direct not to say that outright if that's what she meant, but she could mean that at least some male choreographers do.  A more accurate analogy would be to the film industry, but even films with that are mainly physical (including special effects/pyrotechnics physical) and with distinct lack of emotional complexity are mainly a commercial product with a target market of young males.



#22 puppytreats

puppytreats

    Gold Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 751 posts

Posted 21 July 2013 - 11:12 AM

They have different (opposing?) starting points, but do they reach the same point?

Does it matter?



#23 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,068 posts

Posted 21 July 2013 - 12:01 PM

 Rojo is pointing out that most porn is created by men for men, the women who perform function within a male-dominated context, and the end result can reflect that. I don't think she means that the goals or end results are the same.

 

Dance is also about the physical and visual  - Mackrell touched on this in her commentary. Yes, porn is primarily for getting your rocks off and usually only that (although the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school student, Jeppe Hansen, who claims he was forced to quit the school for his work in porn videos, appears in pornography that reportedly has artistic aspirations - not the old sort, where they arbitrarily plugged in quotes from Hamlet to keep the cops at bay, but "serious" ones).

 

Thank you  for that link, Jane. Very helpful.



#24 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,134 posts

Posted 21 July 2013 - 12:40 PM

Rojo is pointing out that most porn is created by men for men to nearly the extent that porn is, the women who perform function within a male-dominated context, and the end result can reflect that. I don't think she means that the goals or end results are the same.
 

I would doubt that most choreography by men is created for men, or far more than half of its audience would be have vanished long ago. I think the analogy to film in general, most of the visual arts -- simply the visual arts if she wanted to stick to the physical and visual -- and theater, most of which are still male-dominated at the institutional level where Rojo spends most of her artistic life, would be more informed historically, but wouldn't generate as much discussion or capture as much attention.

#25 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,218 posts

Posted 23 July 2013 - 01:09 PM

I was reminded of this thread while reading a NY Times article about Woody Allen, his latest film project - with Cate Blanchett, and how Allen writes his female characters:

 

http://www.nytimes.c...characters.html

 

 

“People have criticized me for being narcissistic,” Mr. Allen said one June afternoon, over iced tea at the Bemelmans Bar of the Carlyle Hotel. “People criticized me for being a self-hating Jew, that’s come up. But not being able to create good women was not aimed at me very often.”

Mr. Allen may not wish to recall it, but his movies have also drawn charges of chauvinism and sexism, by detractors who have said they frequently depicted women as neurotics, shrews and prostitutes.


#26 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,068 posts

Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:07 PM

Sure, you can find sexism in the theater - you can find it in many if not most areas of show business, period. Rojo may well have chosen to be provocative, but there's more to her analogy than that.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):