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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%

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#46 BW

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 04:39 AM

I was reading the Quotable Quotes this morning and thought this one quite apropos! I've taken an excerpt from the whole piece which Katharine Kanter so nicely posted.

Atylnai Assylmuratova, interview with M. Haegemann  

...The technique was present alright, but it was never there just for the sake of technique. The accent was first and foremost on emotion. However, now it's all about high legs. I consider that a serious problem. All we seem to think about today is how high the legs can go, but there is hardly any concern anymore about form, plastique, harmony, and about what's coming from inside, about soul....


To read more:
http://www.balletale...15&pagenumber=1

#47 Alexandra

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Posted 12 July 2002 - 11:46 AM

This is more "technque versus art", but that's a close cousin. I was speaking with a friend last night who is an illustrator, and she described her training this way: "I had what is called 'an easy hand' -- but that has nothing to do with art."

I thought it interesting that the art world broke this down so easily. We've had discussions before about a dancer's "facility" (inborn talent), which would be the equivalent of "an easy hand" -- he's a natural jumper, a born turner -- and that doesn't have anything to do with whether the person will develop into an artist or not.

#48 Paul Parish

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Posted 12 July 2002 - 03:54 PM

re the "easy hand," that is indeed a remarkably deft distinction -- though, of course, in sculpture and painting, nowadays there's such CONTEMPT for technique, they have their sculptures made for them at factories and all, and will make paintings out of pigment mixed with broken crockery and larded onto hte canvas, painting s that can't be hung because hte paint will sag and FALL OFF....... with illustrators, it's a lower art, and the respect for craft, inversely, perversely, is higher.... One reason I think that ballet had such a long life in hte 20th century, long after opera stopped happening, was that Balanchine embraced technique as something that the ordinary person will respect -- just the Guinness-book of records rarity of finding anybody who could actually DO htis and make it look idiomatic....... Though of course it wasn't just him, Ashton asked for things that were really VERY hard, and anyone can see it, those intense tilts in the torso while the lower leg is doing double ronde dejambe and hte standing leg is doing (your choice of difficult balancing act)..... and the whole thing had to look idiomatic and poetic.....

#49 Alexandra

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Posted 14 July 2002 - 08:59 AM

Well, ballet has traditionally been a decade or two behind the other art forms as far as trends go. When do you think the "contempt for technique" will filter down to balletland? :)

#50 dirac

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Posted 14 July 2002 - 04:23 PM

The negation of technique sometimes has a positive purpose, in a cleaning-the-Augean-stables sense. In art, it has often been the reaction to art that was "empty" technique -- all about perfection of draughtmanship and looking pretty and nothing else. If I may be allowed to haul rock music in from left field, the punk/garage band movement was in part a reaction against the guitar virtuosi of a previous generation who may have started out as innovators but lapsed into self-indulgence -- endless and aimless jam sessions that went on forever, songs that meandered for ten minutes and counting, etc.



We've seen that kind of thing in modern dance but not in ballet; the technique is so rarefied and demanding (I don't mean to say necessarily superior) that I think it gives the form a sort of inherent conservatism in that respect.

#51 Alexandra

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Posted 14 July 2002 - 04:31 PM

I thihk there have been extreme technique--moderate technique swings in the past. Late 18th century, extreme technique; early Romantic period, (Taglioni, Bournonville) moderate technique. Late 19th century, extreme technique (all those Italians with pointes of steel bounding off marble floors). Early 20th century -- Fokine, especially -- almost anti-technique. Don't get caught turning. And definitely technique subservient to artistic expression.

Ashton, always the middle man, loved virtuosity, but used it like a spice. Balanchine, once accused of being all technique, all the time, seems positively chaste today. Technique subservient to artistic expression in a different way than Fokine, but still primarily interested in artistic expression.

I think much contemporary ballet is exactly analagous to your punk/garage band description, dirac :)

#52 BryMar1995

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Posted 19 July 2002 - 06:59 PM

I think there's plenty of "technique" involved in a Fokine ballet (like Petrouchka, for example). It's just more subtle and less obvious than high legs, big jumps and multiple turns. Virtuoso techinique is only part of the palette a dance artist has to choose from in order to fulfill a role and move an audience.
Rick

#53 Paul Parish

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Posted 20 July 2002 - 08:49 AM

Thare's an art, if not a technique, to moving in concert with other people -- I remember the Oakland Ballet, in Petrouchka, could make you believe that hte crowds were really CROWDS -- they had an animating spirit as a group, and htey'd get swept up in things -- the bear incident sticks in my mind hte best, because ... well, it was really kind of mysterious, but the crowd got INTO the bear, especially the children, and started moving like hte bear, and the children were the last to come out of it -- that had a great deal to do with the conductor's sensitivity to them, he was really directing hte whole scene -- it was Jean-Louis Leroux, who's a marvellous musician, but it's also because the company really trained for musicianship -- a distinct Ballets-Russes musicianship, more in hte body than the feet, derived more from Fokine and Massine than from Balanchine -- i.e., it's based on hte character side, rather than hte classical side, and consequently more involved with weight, momentum, the particular kinds of attack, sweep, swing, movement quality AND POSTURE that go with creating a sense of ethos through national dances -- how do you get people to feel like we're in hungary or Galicia, that sort of thing.... and there's definitely a technique to TIMING the mazurka step right, that brush-through does not happen squarely on the second beat...... the Viennese waltz has a very characteristic delay on the second beat, also, that marks it as definitely Viennese....

Most of the time, people tend to think of these things as style rather than technique -- like the tilt of Fonteyn's torso in the Les Sylphides prelude, as she leans to the side and lifts her hand to her ear -- is that technique or style? If it's NOT there, there's nothing much happening.... but there IS an art to varying your soussus -- and it makes hte "world" come into existence, so it's very important.... maybe this is "coaching" ("head is like scent of violets over left shoulder, dear"), or maybe it's "perfection," but it can and does need to be taught......

#54 piccolo

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 01:11 PM

I am excited by brilliant technique. But I remember personality.

Great art -- in both the fine arts as well as performing arts -- is something you connect with emotionally. Technique can be stimulating but a great personality can reach inside of your core and make you feel deeply.

#55 Dancing Angel

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Posted 07 August 2002 - 06:23 PM

I believe someone can improve their technique. But you can't improve your personality. So I believe personality is more important.

#56 Old Fashioned

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Posted 11 August 2002 - 06:47 PM

"Technical perfection is insufficient. It is an orphan without the true soul of the dancer." -Sylvie Guillem

#57 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 September 2002 - 05:28 AM

I've refrained so far from commenting or voting on this thread until I sorted out what I think!

Now, at least I know what I think - I think that technique is the indispensible item; that it is the means through which the personality of the dancer is conveyed, and neither one is an end in itself, but are both media through which a fully realized performance take place.

The nice part about opinion questions is that your answer is always absolutely correct, because that's what you think. The only way I used to tell my Jr. high Social Studies students that they could get a bad mark on an opinion question was to say nothing at all.;)

#58 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2002 - 11:14 AM

Yes, exactly. You could even argue that a dancer with flawed technique can't really express his personality, lacking the means to do so.


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