I've been enjoying re-reading this old thread (in conjunction with our current thread on the impact of "small things" in ballet).
This led me to think about the language of fans, which is said to have been a big thing in upper-class social life in the 19th century. Some choreographers have used fans as props. (I'm thinking of Sonnambula.
). On the whole, if I remember correctly, they haven't made much use of them in classical mime.
Here's one version of what you can "mime" with fans. There are many others available online, some of them extraordinarily complicated :
"LANGUAGE OF THE FAN"
With handle to lips: Kiss me
Carrying in the right hand in front of face: Follow me
Carrying in the left hand: Desirous of acquaintance
Placing it on left ear: You have changed
Twirling in left hand: I wish to get rid of you
Drawing across forehead: We are watched
Carrying in right hand: You are too willing
Drawing across cheek: I love you
Drawing through hand: I hate you
Twirling in right hand: I love another
Closing it: I wish to speak to you
Drawing across eyes: I am sorry
Letting it rest on right cheek: Yes
Letting it rest on left cheek: No
Open and shut: You are cruel
Dropping: We are friends
Fanning slowly: I am married
Fanning fast: I am engaged
Open wide: Wait for me
me" is obvious. "We are watched
" is delightfully melodramatic. "Desirous of acquaintance
" and "I hate you
," on the other hand, are too ambiguous (or leading to double ententre).
"We are friends"
might, unfortunately, merely suggest that one is a clutz, while "I am engaged
," might just suggest: "I'm hot and sweaty."
One could draw the lesson from this that mime in ballet is too obscure and that we need to keep it to a minimum. On the other hand, one could go with dirac's
earlier post about the extraordinary power of mime when well performed. Writing about Jean-Louis Barrault in Les Enfants du Paradis
[I]f all mime could be performed at that level of physical eloquence people would be lining up and demanding more, not less.