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Mime -- love it or heave it?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 07:32 PM

So, do you like the beautiful, old-fashioned mime speeches that clearly explain the plot and are aesthetically pleasing in and of themselves? Or do you go for the more modern way of cutting out the mime, leaving us with absolutely no idea what's going on, and having Odette flap her "wings" a lot in its place?

#2 leibling

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 07:47 PM

I would like my Swan Lake with mime, please. It is beautiful, when well done, and I think it is part of the tradition. Mime reminds me of princes and princesses, fairy tales, and maybe gentler eras in our own history.

#3 doug

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 08:55 PM

I love mime. Of course, Tchaikovsky composed music specifically for the mimed conversations in Swan Lake. It's beautiful and descriptive and the melodies pass between instruments like people talking back and forth.

I think constant dance in full-length ballets waters down the set dance pieces. It's like taking the recitative out of MARRIAGE OF FIGARO or any other opera in which recitative is integral to the work.

I would like to think the era during which mime was replaced with "expressive dance" was nearly past. I think the public is ready for mime again. And ballet composers could finally quit rolling in their graves. :)

#4 cargill

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 08:35 AM

As I have said many times, I adore the mime, and having seen productions both with and without, I think the mime adds so much. Odette has so much more character and individuality, she has to convince an audience she is enchanted, she has to really use her eyes, and not just flap around. It is so much more moving with the mime. And the queen should have enough time for her say, too, and Siegfried should get a chance to react as a person, not just rush off and do some droopy solo.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 11:21 AM

I could never love Makarova's "Swan Lake" because she dropped most of the mime, but not all of it. She seemed to like doing "shoot swans no" and so did it a lot. It was the only mime left. "Shoot swans no." "Swans I shoot not." "Shoot swans no." "I swear, me and my guys will never hurt a feather on their little heads." "Shoot swans no." "All right already. I got it. Stop flapping..."

#6 felursus

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 12:53 PM

Alexandra, I know EXACTLY what you mean: I used to want to go out and shoot the whole lot of them, tie down their arms - all trussed and ready for the oven! :)

#7 Jane Simpson

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 04:00 PM

Apart from anything else, I'd always insist on the mime on the grounds that Siegfried Must Be Told - he has to know the terms of the deal.

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 05:29 PM

After all, he hasn't seen Swan Lake umpteen hundred times, the way we have! ;)

#9 Juliet

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 06:15 PM

"So, do you like the beautiful, old-fashioned mime speeches that clearly explain the plot and are aesthetically pleasing in and of themselves?''

Yep. No negotiation.
I don't care about tricks (12 pirouettes, 37 fouettees, ...) I care about mime.

Mime and acting are part of ballet characterization and serving a larger goal--the other is just self-aggrandisement.

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 08:31 PM

Originally posted by Mel Johnson:
After all, he hasn't seen Swan Lake umpteen hundred times, the way we have!   ;)



I think the great Siegfrieds were great because they made you think it was the first time they did the ballet.

#11 Skittl1321

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 04:21 PM

I'm not sure how qualified I am to answer this because my only experience with mime is from a performance of "Cinderella" (where it wasn't necessary, since I knew the story) and PBS's ABT's Swan Lake (where it was extremely necessary.)

In swan lake, I think the mime is extremely important. I did not know the story of Swan Lake at all (yes, poor research before watching, my fault) and the mime is what helped me follow the story. Even still there were things I missed. Interpretive dance would not have helped. Flapping would not have helped. The mime was beautiful, and in my living room I was enjoying saying what I thought they were talking about. It made the story concrete.

So, the mime is necessary if the story is not know. But even when the story is known, it is beautiful and it makes you believe that the characters don't know what might happen next. To me it makes it more real.

#12 bart

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 04:48 PM

Skittl1321, it's great to hear that mime reallly does fulfill its function of explaining and advancing the story.

I also thought the mime in the tv Swan Lake was well chosen and executed, though I'm no mime connoiseur. When Odette explains to Siegfried what happened to her and how she got in her fix, it was simple, direct, and clear. Better than a caption.

I was intrigued by your point that the mime, in a certain way, made it "more real" for you. I wonder how others, more familiar with the history of mime and the way its practiced in various European traditions, felt about it????

#13 Paul Parish

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 05:40 PM

Your honor, counsel is leading the witness......though i do totally agree with you all.

In particular, he pas d'actions and variations lose their expressive power if they're not understood to be the equivalents of arias and quartets and NOT like rezitativ...

The Kirov's 30-year-old Sleeping Beauty has TOO MUCH BOURREEING AROUND -- it takes the wonder away from the fairies's variations if everybody's on pointe all the time... and the court doesn't fall asleep in an interesting way....

Remy Charlip used to sing the following, to the tune of Odette's mime scene:
"i'm the swan queen,
please don't kill me,
or the wicked witch will get you, dearie.'

Pretty funny when he did it, but then he's a great ham....

#14 dirac

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 05:49 PM

Remy Charlip used to sing the following, to the tune of Odette's mime scene:
"i'm the swan queen,
please don't kill me,
or the wicked witch will get you, dearie.'


I always liked Streisand in Funny Girl, confronting Siegfried with "Whaddya gonna do, shoot the svans? Dese lovelies? My svansgirls?"

I sometimes think that people who say "I don't like mime" have maybe been exposed to bad or amateurish mime that doesn't explain anything. I was watching Jean-Louis Barrault in "Les Enfants du Paradis" the other night and reflected that if all mime could be performed at that level of physical eloquence people would be lining up and demanding more, not less.

Paul's comparison to operatic recitative is to the point. You need the contrast -- otherwise it's like listening to those versions of Carmen where all the dialogue is cut or set to music.

#15 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 06:50 PM

Paul,

For me it was Arthur Leeth - of Boston Ballet, who looked for all the world like Mr. Clean, singing

"I'm a Swan Queen
You're a fairy
Run away from me
You're big and hairy
RUN AWAY!!!!!"

(But yours makes more sense. . . )


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