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story ballets vs plotless ballets


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#31 BW

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Posted 16 August 2003 - 05:36 AM

Just thought I'd bump this thread back up to the top for a bit of air - and for the benefit of those who have never seen it. :)

#32 Mark D

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Posted 17 August 2003 - 01:46 PM

I wonder whether there is not another dichotomy than the story vs. the non-story ballet. There was a time for me (back in the 70s) when ballet began and ended with Swan Lake (and La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty). But let's face it some of the plots in classical ballets are pretty basic. I suspect most can be summarized in 25 words or less. I realize it was not only the story and the spectacle that attracted me but what I felt was the beautiful music. Music, for whatever reason, I could relate to emotionally. I think Balanchine understood this. He made Stars and Stripes and Union Jack knowing they were crowd pleasures. No real story there. I suspect that most people enjoy something like the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux because of the exciting dancing and the accessible music. At the other end of an admittedly rather simple continuum is something like Agon with its serial and atonal music. I think many people find both the music and the dancing difficult to access. Now that I know intellectually what Stravinsky and Balanchine were doing I enjoy that ballet much more now and understand the creative genius in it. However, I had to do a lot of reading and take a few courses to get to this point.

My wife and I have a season subscription to New York City Ballet so that is where our committment is. I think it is the variety and the number of different ballets that attract us. However, on a selective basis we make forays over the ABT and have enjoyed it immensely. One of the most execiting evenings of dancing I have ever seen was provided by the Kirov's La Bayadere last summer.

#33 perky

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Posted 18 August 2003 - 05:16 AM

I love both story ballets and plotless ballets but I look for and enjoy them in different ways. In a story ballet I need to really believe in the characters and thier motivations. Even if the plot is really goofy [which alot of story ballets are] ,if it is danced with conviction, taste and energy then I can believe and be moved by it.
Good plotless ballets offer me a chance to visually "hear the music" if that makes sense. I'm thinking of almost all of Mr. Balanchines plotless ballets. For example, in Agon. If I could "see" sound or music than watching Agon lets me see Stravinsky's music in a literal way, the dancing reflects the music like a mirror. Of course not all choreographers were or are as gifted with an ear for music like Mr. B but you get the idea. Mr. B also said that when you have a man and a woman on stage together, how much more story do you want?


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