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Depth and spectacle


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Poll: Depth and spectacle (0 member(s) have cast votes)

Depth and spectacle

  1. A masterpiece that is hard to appreciate (21 votes [84.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 84.00%

  2. An entertaining piece that lacks depth (4 votes [16.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.00%

Vote

#1 BalletNut

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Posted 30 April 2002 - 11:35 PM

So, if you can't tell already, I like to do polls. ;) Of course we'd all like to see a profound work that is also good entertainment, but if you were caught between seeing an esoteric, arcane masterpiece and a wildly engaging piece of fluff, which would it be?

#2 dmdance

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 05:52 AM

Truthfully, I am engaged simply by the effort of trying to breakdown/understand/appreciate the depth. And I am usually bored by the frivolity of a completely shallow work. Unless, of course, I am half asleep. That goes for all forms of artwork.

#3 leibling

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 07:20 AM

I don't know that I have seen a masterpiece that is hard to appreciate, though. This is very subjective- my masterpiece may be someone else's piece of fluff. I guess there are always those works that are "widely regarded " as masterpieces, but for one reason or another, I don't understand them. (Cunningham comes to mind- I have so little experience with his work- I don't know what I am watching, yet what I read tells me of the "greatness" of his work.)

#4 BalletNut

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 03:02 PM

Precisely. However, many times there are pieces that it takes many viewings to fully appreciate, and others that appear to be masterpieces until held up to close inspection. Many people in the big world [as opposed to Ballet Alert] would rather not go to all the trouble of trying to analyze the choreographic merit of the ballet in question. I guess the argument goes, "I thought ballet was supposed to be FUN! Trying to understand the subtleties of Balanchine/Ashton/Tudor/whoever is like reading Nietzsche for entertainment!" :rolleyes: Guess where I stand on this one...

By the way, I find Nietzsche very entertaining. :)

#5 glebb

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 03:29 PM

I love 'Union Jack'. Is it deep or entertaining fluff? Or is it masterpiece fluff?

#6 Paul Parish

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 09:27 PM

I'm with Glebb -- a lot of Ashton is fabulously silly -- Facade, for example; Les Patineurs is a wonderful contrivance.....

Divertissements are crucial to ballet-- you can't "dismiss them, you'r'e throwing the baby out with he bathwater.....

Balanchine said -- and maybe he meant it -- that balllets are novelties; and htey ARE like vanishing acts, or fireworks, they make you wonderfully aware of time passing, passing SO FAST, you couldn't bear it if you actually had to think about it, how fast our moments pass.......
SO hte divertissements have this incrediubly sober lesson in htem, like the bitternes in chocolate, how fast the petals fall from the rose..... but how incredibly beautiful htey are at their moment of prefection.....

the problem with divertissements is that it takes exquisite taste to make a good one......

I'm at the moment extremely keen on Mark Morris's Sandpaper Ballet; I think it's the best divertissement since...... oh god knows what, Stars and Stripes, maybe Union Jack -- I'v never seen Union J.... dang!

Only San Francisco Ballet does it.... but it should be in the reps everywhere....

Paul Taylor is also great at these apparant trifles......

#7 BalletNut

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 10:17 PM

I guess what I meant by "entertaining fluff" was not fun or funny ballets per se, but big elaborate ballets designed specifically to fill theaters and coffers, as opposed to masterpieces that happen to be fun to watch, and there are quite few that are...but I think for anybody to say, "Oh, I only enjoy masterpieces, fluff pieces bore me" is unrealistic. Yes, brussels sprouts can be delicious, if they're done right, but sometimes we'd rather just eat M&Ms or tater tots!:) So it goes with ballet. it is not by any means necessary for a masterpiece to be hard to watch, and many choreographers today think that if their work looks esoteric enough, it'll pass for substantial choreography even if it is a piece of garbage. That isn't what I'm getting at. What I am getting at is the fact that sometimes it is entertaining to be completely absorbed by spectacle--glittering costumes, elaborate sets, showy displays of athleticism--to the point that the choreography takes second fiddle to everything else. I personally am fond of divertissements too, and humor especially, but these are best when they are done within the context of choreographing instead of being juxtaposed on top of it. Thus, I thoroughly enjoy ballets like Gala Performance and Western Symphony because to me they are complete works of art that incorporate humor and spectacle, rather than a spectacle that incorporates ballet.

#8 Nanatchka

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Posted 02 May 2002 - 09:01 AM

Originally posted by leibling
I guess there are always those works that are "widely regarded " as masterpieces, but for one reason or another, I don't understand them. (Cunningham comes to mind- I have so little experience with his work- I don't know what I am watching, yet what I read tells me of the "greatness" of his work.) [/B]


You rang? Just make your mind a screen for the dance, and don't worry about your lack of experience. The work will come to you.

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 02 May 2002 - 03:05 PM

There are so MANY factors at play re: Merce -- one is that he and John Cage were living together and john was a major subversive composer who was also playing for Merce's class, and he could not play the piano ver ywell -- so when the dancer finished the exercise, there was John still playing -- which was embarrassing but John got away with deciding that they should both be playing for the same length of time -- it's like dividing up the refrigerator with a room-mate you can't get along with and saying, ok, do whatever you want to on your side, -----

and they composed pieces using sptopwatches, each sectoin lasting say, 35 seconds -- and ran them at the same time, music and movement designs -- while maybe Robert Rauschenberg was turning the lights on adn off at random, as if everything was something you were seeing from hte subway......

And ONe more very important factor is that lots of htis way ofthinking came from the visual artists' concerns that Merce and John were so tight with and who gave them so much of hteir support -- the first money they ever raised came from a whoe lot of NY School painters donating paintings to be sold to raise money -- and you can get away with ALL SORTS OF THINGS if there's only going to be ONE person who actually buys and views your work, which is the painter's usual way of life -- somebody buys hte poainting and takes it home, and you can be eccentric as hell, make paintings out of broken china cups mixed into oil paint and applied with a shovel to the canvas, if somebody will pay 300, 000 dolars for it........ it's not that Merce is a charlatan, butthat the gamesmanship among his painter friends was VERY different from the kinds ofconcerns most "ordinary" dancers had about getting an audience to appreciate what they were doing...........


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