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Technique or Personality?


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Poll: Technique or Personality? (1 member(s) have cast votes)

Technique or Personality?

  1. technique (30 votes [31.91%])

    Percentage of vote: 31.91%

  2. personality (64 votes [68.09%])

    Percentage of vote: 68.09%

Vote

#16 vrsfanatic

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 07:01 PM

Indeed, interesting results in this poll. For me, one must have technique even to be able to watch the personality. I have seen too many bad dancers with no technique and only personality. Yes, of course, also lots of technique and no personality also is a bore, but at least I can go off into a world of being mystified by the work ethic! There can always be hope with someone who has technique, but without that ...oh my goodness ballet is another thing!:rolleyes:

#17 Paul Parish

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Posted 27 March 2002 - 09:57 PM

First of all, Ballet Nut, you have made my day....

That reminds me of the Lithuanian joke," A chicken is not a bird, and Poland is not a foreign country."

Ah yes, we need more wit onstage..... I've seen dancers at City Ballet for example who were so dull it was unbelievable -- soloists like the dreary Theresa R -- in Diamonds -- who couldn't do tombe pas de bourree pas de chat interestingly -- Diamonds has got a LOT of potentially deadly passages...

Think on the other hand of Stephanie Saland, who did not have a reliable cabriole (see the Bournonville Divertissements), and they had to drench the stage in Coca Cola, I'm told, to make it sticky enough for her to be presentable in the tours de fini without falling out of them at hte end of Western Symphony, but WHAT A WONDERFUL DANCER she was, in fact, she was a principal dancer, at New York City Ballet, no less, where technique is supposed to be all in all...... She had such feeling, and such style, and such line and musicality.... What a creature she was.... I didn't see her live much, but I'll never forget her at the end of Serenade, being borne offstage like she was entering into Paradise...

#18 BW

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 05:07 AM

Hey, Balletnut, the old Saturday Night Live was anintellectual and meaningful pursuit! However, it was your line about brilliancy that got me:

The ones that, after watching them, leave you breathless and tingly, and make you glad to be alive.  


That's what I go to the ballet for.:)

#19 Allegrovitch

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 09:14 AM

There have been times when attending a performance in which all the dancers were at a very high level technically, yet still left one asking, "Is that all there is?"

After a dancer reaches a certain high level of proficiency, one looks for more than simply technique. Otherwise, they may as well be gymnast or athletes, not artists.

Obviously, having technique or personality to the exclusion of the other is not desirable. The brilliant dancer Erik Bruhn wrote a wonderful article, "Beyond Technique" (anyone know where to find it now?) that best describes the next level a dancer like himself would want to pursue for optimum artistic growth.

#20 dirac

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 03:12 PM

Maybe in another era where abstract ballet was not so dominant, we might have seen the reverse of the results we have here; people might have been begging for more technicians and fewer actors in tights. I can't choose, really, but I'll plump for technique, because if someone doesn't have it I'm not going to be wildly interested in his personality.


Emily Litella was also hard of hearing. I recall in particular her performance of "I Will Follow Him," which she rendered as "I love him/I love him/I love him/And where he goes I'll swallow, I'll swallow, I'll swallow/I will swallow him...." at which point she was corrected by a grim Jane Curtin.

#21 Paul Parish

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 03:48 PM

"and where he goes I'll swallow,
I'll swallow, I'll swallow.."

Emily Litella, Emily Litella,
you SLAY me, you SLAY me, you SLAY me...............

#22 Alexandra

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 03:52 PM

Something bhough said above rang a bell with me:

It seems as if much of this mystical "personality" comes from within the artist themselves, however, and it is a shame that they aren't hiring personality with the potential to improve technique (and I am speaking in terms of a high level of technique).


A teacher at a comparatively small company without a large talent pool on which to draw told me once: "We take people and make them dancers. Other companies take dancers and try to make them people."

--------------

I can't believe I've gone along these many years without ever hearing about Emily Litella!

#23 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 04:13 PM

What's all this fuss I hear about conserving our natural racehorses???

An Emily Litella Fairy is suddenly coalescing in my mind - the one who rushes into the Prologue of Sleeping Beauty to do, full out and with conviction, Moyna or Zulma's part from Giselle or Gamzatti's variation. Until someone (The Jane Curtin Fairy?) tugs the hem of her tutu and says. "This is Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty. Not Giselle."

"Oh! Never mind. . ."

#24 BalletNut

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 04:32 PM

:) :D :P :D :P :D :P :D :P :D !!!!!

#25 Alexandra

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Posted 28 March 2002 - 04:36 PM

Leigh's example would seem to be one of personality overriding a strong technique.

#26 Cabriole

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Posted 29 March 2002 - 02:52 PM

Ah, but isn't the purpose of technique to support the personality? Personality with a minimal technique means usually means a minimal range of expression. I will tease my students with: "Which would you prefer, the box of 8 crayons or the box with 64? Even if you never use, or rarely some of the colors, you want them should you need them." As with any artist, a dancer wants the largest 'palette' to choose from. The more supportive one's technique, the clearer the possibilities for articulate expression.

#27 Alexandra

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Posted 29 March 2002 - 04:02 PM

Originally posted by Cabriole
Ah, but isn't the purpose of technique to support the personality?


Beautifully put, Cabriole. I'd say yes, and I'd vote for that one :)

#28 casloan

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Posted 30 March 2002 - 07:06 AM

Truly incredible technique can be breathtaking. But technique at such an exalted level is rare.

For me, technique that is at a somewhat lower level, that is "merely" excellent, is not enough. Too many dancers today seem soul-less to me
(although that may in part be due to their having to dance the dreck that often passes for choreography lately).

What is also essential to my appreciation of a dancer is his or her recognition that there is an audience out there. It seems to me that acknowledging and seeking to engage the audience have become increasingly rare.

#29 BW

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Posted 31 March 2002 - 05:48 AM

As Casloan wrote:

What is also essential to my appreciation of a dancer is his or her recognition that there is an audience out there. It seems to me that acknowledging and seeking to engage the audience have become increasingly rare.


I'm not certain that I can say it's rare, although after last night maybe I can! However, I can say that it certainly makes a big difference! That connection is part of what a performance is all about...to me, anyway.

Last night we attended The Grigorovich Ballet's version of Swan Lake - it was convienent... Well, it was not very good. From my ballet dancing daughter's point of view, the technique was sorely lacking - the men didn't point their toes, the very young woman that played Odette/Odile was not well turned out - apparently only one side was somewhat...etc. From my point of view, which is more of a gut level response type, it just was missing "something"....Odette just didn't have the pathos needed for her role...she was better as Odile.... Only about one of the princesses showed that she was trying to attract the Prince! Without going any farther, my point is that I think that I am "spoiled" having seen NYCB and ABT's versions and this was just plain boring.:) Afraid to say that this production lost on both counts!

#30 Paul Parish

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Posted 31 March 2002 - 09:45 AM

Thanks for posting this..

Please go on ,and say some more -- what did you think they were trying to do?

I haven't seen his company since it was the Bolshoi, back before the Fall of the Iron Curtain, when the Soviets poured all their resources into it.....

But even then, the Bolshoi was a turned-in company -- they never have turned out very much, and it was a shock to me to see the ballerina, Bessmertnova -- who was married to Grigorovich -- just barely turned out, doing all sort of things "Wrong," and yet just one of he most glorious, heartreaking, tragically beautiful things I'd ever seen........

THeir way of dancing was so heroic, their way of connecting with us was not to"acknowledge' us, that would be too much like a merely social gesture -- as if Artur Rubenstein had treated us as if we'd come over to borrow the lawnmower-- but like we were going to church, and this was going to be something where we left our personalities behind and paid attention to WHAT's REALLY GOING ON....... It meant there was a LOT of stylizing of hte ballets -- like in Romeo and Juliet, even hte DUke when he saw all the dead bodies in the marketplace did en dedans pirouettes (or something) to express his wrath.....

But in the course of a whole evening, it all added up to something.....

I don't know what kind of resources Grigorovich has got now -- he's been out of office at hte Bloshoi for quite a while -- financial, or even more important in terms of what artists are wanting to dance with... but I'll always think of him as a major talent


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