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The end of all thingsBallet and its future


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#1 perichoresis

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 09:10 PM

I have at times thought about the eras of history, in which cultures and artistic forms have flourished then declined. For instance Renaissance Italy was a well spring of great artistic achievement, its extraordinary achievements in architecture, sculpture and painting. Out of Europe came the great musical masterworks and more relevantly on this forum, the art which we love...the ballet. To me it seems ,considering the rise and fall of such things mentioned above that leads me to wonder if and when the art of classical dance may fall away. This consideration seems pessimistic but I raise it just as a point of enquiry. In regard to musical compositions I think truly enduring and great compositions ceased around about half. way through the last century.Huge turning points in history ( ie the industrial revolution) wrought vast changes in society, modes of living etc. Now we are in a new equally profound time of change ( that is the era of the electronic and internet technologies)  One thinks of the context in which such an immortal work...Bach's Mass in B minor was created, supremely talented composers, employment by the church, a time where people had time and space to listen, ..and I mean really listen.I hope with all my being that the glorious art of classical dance will go ion and on. One thing I am sure of, people will always dance in one form or another, for movement and time and space are our realities.



#2 Drew

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 09:52 PM

I think you are right that the art of dance has a certain future, but the art of ballet is more fragile. Even if it continues in the coming century, we can be pretty confident that in 100 years it won't look quite like ballet today.  We know this just by looking back at photos of late 19th-century productions even of ballets still danced in something like their original form today, let alone film from the 20's and 30's. And if it were to look much as it looks today, the effect would still likely be very different--like a performance of "period" dances. That doesn't mean exactly that all change is all good: change involves loss as well as gain for sure.



#3 angelica

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 03:08 PM

I'd like to weigh in on the subject of the future of classical ballet. When I was in college (in the 19XX's) there were very few schools of higher education teaching ballet. My school taught modern dance as part of the physical education program, but there was no offering of modern dance classes for full credit, and a complete disregard of ballet as unworthy of college students. My own take on that is that modern dance was acceptable at the college level because of Martha Graham's use of the Greek myths as the basis of many modern ballets, and Greek myths were definitely "worthy." Whereas ballets were based on fairy tales rather than fine literature. Certainly no one in this country was dancing Onegin then. In addition, there was a misinterpretation of Balanchine's exhortation "don't think, dear, just dance." If ballet was considered at all outside of the inner circle, it was considered to be rote learning for which you didn't need much of a brain.

 

All this changed after Nureyev defected in 1962 and suddenly dancers became celebrities. Parents began to encourage their children to study ballet. Fast forward to 2013 and there are a gazillion colleges and universities with ballet departments. Dance Magazine has an annual issue devoted entirely to higher education offerings in dance, of which many, if not most, are ballet. Even Harvard has a ballet company, although it is student-run and not offered for credit (just wait a few years). All this is by way of saying that many more young people are studying ballet and taking it with them when they go off to college and then on into their adult life. In addition, more and more adults are studying ballet, either for the first time, or returning to a childhood pleasure. Several schools in my area have ballet classes for adults which are very well attended.

 

Of course I would like to see the audience for ballet grow. I like ABT's policy of having special pricing for people 30 and under and perhaps other companies have such policies too. I think if the country can get the economy rolling again, more people would be able to afford to attend performances. As for the new technology with which everyone is obsessed, dancers themselves have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, which are carefully followed. What I would really like to see is that ballet be venerated here as it is in Russia. Although I don't see that happening, I do think ballet has at least two legs to stand on for the foreseeable future.



#4 Jayne

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 04:29 PM

I think what angelica describes is the recreational popularization of ballet.  It is rare for a dancer to graduate from a collegiate program and then move into a top 5 American (or European) dance company.  Yes it happens occasionally, but those dancers are unicorns.  99% of ballet dancers go through the professional division / second company / apprenticeship system between the ages of 16-19 and then are offered corps or aspirant contracts.  It may be different for modern / contemporary dance companies.  

 

I do hope that the recreational popularity of ballet will lead to larger audiences, but the jury is still out.  



#5 angelica

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:49 PM

I think what angelica describes is the recreational popularization of ballet.  It is rare for a dancer to graduate from a collegiate program and then move into a top 5 American (or European) dance company.  Yes it happens occasionally, but those dancers are unicorns.  99% of ballet dancers go through the professional division / second company / apprenticeship system between the ages of 16-19 and then are offered corps or aspirant contracts.  It may be different for modern / contemporary dance companies.  

 

I do hope that the recreational popularity of ballet will lead to larger audiences, but the jury is still out.  

 

Yes, what you say about the recreational popularization of ballet is absolutely true, Jayne, but the students of today are the audiences of today and tomorrow. Moreover, colleges and universities with ballet departments bring professional dancers to their campuses for performances. Even Makarova spoke of dancing at Indiana University (okay, one time). When audiences need dancers as much as dancers need audiences, we will have reached an ideal balance. We are still educating the audiences. And we do not yet have the state-aupported academies to train our dancers. It costs a small fortune for a dancer to get proper training--at least as much as an ivy league college education.



#6 Stage Right

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 01:29 PM

 

 

 Even Makarova spoke of dancing at Indiana University (okay, one time). .

 

Angelica, where did you hear Makarova talk about dancing at Indiana University? Because I was in that performance with her, and if she spoke about it somewhere, I'd love to hear it! In fact I just happened to post about it on another thread here recently. It was in the early 1970s, and she and Ivan Nagy were guest artists with the Indiana University student dance company in Giselle (I danced one of Giselle's Friends). I believe that the faculty member who directed that production was Kenneth Melville, formerly Royal Ballet. It was quite an experience!



#7 angelica

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 01:42 PM

 

 

 

 Even Makarova spoke of dancing at Indiana University (okay, one time). .

 

Angelica, where did you hear Makarova talk about dancing at Indiana University? Because I was in that performance with her, and if she spoke about it somewhere, I'd love to hear it! In fact I just happened to post about it on another thread here recently. It was in the early 1970s, and she and Ivan Nagy were guest artists with the Indian University student dance company in Giselle (I danced one of Giselle's Friends). I believe that the faculty member who directed that production was Kenneth Melville, formerly Royal Ballet. It was quite an experience!

 

 

 

Posted Yesterday, 03:45 PM

Stage Right, I'm pretty sure it was on this board and believe it was in one of the interviews on the video that Janneke recently posted in the Dancers thread under Makarova. Thank you Janneke, the dancing was breathtaking! I didn't listen to all the interviews, but I think that in one of them she mentioned performing at IU in 1972. I have copied the video here, but if it doesn't play, then please go back to Janneke's original post.

 

 

The funny thing is that I just missed her. We moved to Bloomington in 1973 and stayed until 1980.
Moderators, I hope it's okay that I copied the video. If not, please delete it and Stage Right can go to the original post.


#8 Helene

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 01:42 PM

It's not surprising that most universities don't have a full ballet curriculum:  if you look at the program biographies of dancers in modern dance companies, they're filled with university graduates and attendees, but very few ballet dancers in companies with full seasons attended university full-time before they became dancers. Part-time perhaps and certainly a course or two at a time -- maybe more during an extended injury period -- through joint programs like PNB's Second Stage program during their dance careers.  Like football players, most dancers are in the corps from for a few years -- in the case of ballet, 18-22; in the case of many professional athletes, right after college --  and many have left the profession or are about to leave by the time their peers have graduated.  Ballet is too competitive in general, particularly for women, to be able to go to school full time and train the number of hours and at the level to be able to have a professional career afterwards unless the school is like Indian and has one of the few university ballet dance programs with the level of training needed. 

 

I think it is short-sighted where ballet isn't offered as technique even when the curriculum is modern, particularly when it's due to polarization.  Just as ballet dancers now must dance current ballet repertory, the technical and physical requirements for most of the modern dance companies I see require the attributes that come from ballet training, even if modern dance accepts a much more diverse range of body types.



#9 angelica

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 01:42 PM

 

 

 

 

 Even Makarova spoke of dancing at Indiana University (okay, one time). .

 

Angelica, where did you hear Makarova talk about dancing at Indiana University? Because I was in that performance with her, and if she spoke about it somewhere, I'd love to hear it! In fact I just happened to post about it on another thread here recently. It was in the early 1970s, and she and Ivan Nagy were guest artists with the Indian University student dance company in Giselle (I danced one of Giselle's Friends). I believe that the faculty member who directed that production was Kenneth Melville, formerly Royal Ballet. It was quite an experience!

 

 

 

Posted Yesterday, 03:45 PM

Stage Right, I'm pretty sure it was on this board and believe it was in one of the interviews on the video that Janneke recently posted in the Dancers thread under Makarova. Thank you Janneke, the dancing was breathtaking! I didn't listen to all the interviews, but I think that in one of them she mentioned performing at IU in 1972. I have copied the video here, but if it doesn't play, then please go back to Janneke's original post.

 

 

 

The funny thing is that I just missed her. We moved to Bloomington in 1973 and stayed until 1980.
Moderators, I hope it's okay that I copied the video. If not, please delete it and Stage Right can go to the original post.

 

 

Okay, there's my answer. You need to go back to the original post.



#10 Stage Right

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 05:37 AM

Thanks so much, Angelica. I will try to find it. (And BTW, excuse my typo, that is Indiana University!).




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