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Abstract balletsbeyond Balanchine


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#1 Swanilda8

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 06:49 AM

I'm working on a project comparing abstract ballet of the mid 20th century to narrative ballet.  I have lots and lots of examples of narrative ballet, but I'm having trouble coming up with more abstract ballets, other than the dozens by Balanchine.  I can think of a few Robbins ballets, two Ashtons that I know of (Symphonic Variations and Scenes de ballet), and the Lopukhov Dance Symphony. But that's it.  I feel more than a little ashamed of myself.

 

Help me, Ballet Alert!  What choreographers and ballets am I missing?



#2 Helene

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:04 AM

What years do you use to define mid-century?

#3 California

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:04 AM

I'm working on a project comparing abstract ballet of the mid 20th century to narrative ballet.  I have lots and lots of examples of narrative ballet, but I'm having trouble coming up with more abstract ballets, other than the dozens by Balanchine.  I can think of a few Robbins ballets, two Ashtons that I know of (Symphonic Variations and Scenes de ballet), and the Lopukhov Dance Symphony. But that's it.  I feel more than a little ashamed of myself.

 

Help me, Ballet Alert!  What choreographers and ballets am I missing?

You might want to give some thought to what you understand as "narrative ballet." Must it have a clear plot, characters, etc.? Must it literally "tell a story"? Many ballets convey emotion, interaction, the human condition, etc. without really having a plot. If you are defining "narrative ballet" narrowly to require a plot and dramatic characters, then start with Fokine's Les Sylphides and move forward through the century.

 

EDIT: I missed the "mid-20th century" requirement. Well, take a look at Tharp,  Feld, Ratmansky, etc., etc.  If it's performed by a classical ballet company, is that enough? If so, then look at Paul Taylor's pieces that ballet companies have performed.



#4 Swanilda8

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:12 AM

By mid-century I mean anything between 1920 and 1970.  

 

Part of my project is actually to talk about the very large grey area between 'pure' abstract and 'pure' narrative ballets.  I'm looking for any ballets in which there is no plot or narrative arc and in which the dancers are not playing identifiable characters.  I think you could make an argument either way for Les Sylphides, but for the purposes of this question I would count it as abstract.



#5 California

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:20 AM

By mid-century I mean anything between 1920 and 1970.  

 

Part of my project is actually to talk about the very large grey area between 'pure' abstract and 'pure' narrative ballets.  I'm looking for any ballets in which there is no plot or narrative arc and in which the dancers are not playing identifiable characters.  I think you could make an argument either way for Les Sylphides, but for the purposes of this question I would count it as abstract.

This is still a difficult line to draw. In "Push Comes to Shove," e.g., the dancers are character "types" yet not named characters. As soon as you have an expression of emotion or meaning or human interaction, you are not purely "abstract" in the sense in which you seem to be using it. Perhaps Merce Cunningham comes closest to pure abstraction in your sense, but did he do anything we'd call ballet?



#6 kfw

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 09:03 AM

 

If it's performed by a classical ballet company, is that enough? If so, then look at Paul Taylor's pieces that ballet companies have performed.

 

And then also Cunningham's Summerspace.



#7 Jane Simpson

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 09:28 AM

A few more:

 

Lifar: Suite en Blanc

Lander: Etudes

Ashton: Birthday Offering, Monotones

MacMillan: Symphony, Concerto, Danses Concertantes

Massine's symphonic ballets

 

etc



#8 BalletPerfection1

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 11:39 AM

Hans van Manen made a lot of ballets. Exemples are Frank Bridge variations, Sarcasmen Solo and Trois Gnossienes. You can all find them on Youtube;)

His ballets, IMO, belong to " grey area". There is never a story but there is always a interaction and/or tension

#9 Helene

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 12:08 PM

Roland Petit, Robert Joffrey,  and Glenn Tetley made both types of ballets.

 

I think there's a substantial difference between ballet companies performing modern and contemporary dance works that were created for different types of movement and vocabulary than ballet and the works that modern and contemporary choreographers create for ballet companies.

 

Edited to Add:  And Eliot Feld.



#10 kfw

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 03:17 PM

What about the things Mark Morris has done for San Francisco Ballet? I've only seen Sandpiper Ballet, but if it had a narrative, I don't remember it.



#11 Swanilda8

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 06:24 AM

Thanks so much for the suggestions!  This is very helpful.



#12 bart

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 11:21 AM

Anthony Tudor?  There might be good material in looking at the spectrum between clearly narrative ballets like Pillar of Fire and Romeo and Juliet -- ballets that create and develop complicated emotional situations in real-life settings, but which are more suggestive than outright narrative, like Dim Lustre  and Jardin aux Lilas-- and an abstract work like Leaves are Fading, which suggests relationships in an abstract setting without telling us a story about them.



#13 perichoresis

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 09:19 PM

Also ":Airs"  Paul Taylor




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