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Quotable Quotes


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 26 June 2002 - 05:57 PM

Katharine Kanter emailed me two quotes today that deal with issues we frequently discussed, and I thought having a "sticky" thread of quotable quotes -- quotes we might often use in discussions, that we could have all in one place, so we could say "see the Bessy quote on injuries on the Quotes thread" might come in handy.

I hope Katharine will post hers. Here's one of mine to start off wiith:

Ballet is only good when it is great.--Arlene Croce

#2 katharine kanter

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Posted 27 June 2002 - 12:53 AM

Rudolf Nureyev, Interview in the Paris daily, Libération, January 6th 1989, with Michel Cressole

"I would like one out of the five years at the Opera School to be devoted to Bournonville. His long sentences, his complex, unusual steps, must be entirely familiar to those who would become a choreographer."

Original text: "Je voudrais aussi qu'une année sur cinq à l'Ecole soit consacrée à Bournonville. Ses longues phrases, ses pas compliqués, inhabituels, doivent être connus en totalité pour être chorégraphe".

#3 katharine kanter

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Posted 27 June 2002 - 12:56 AM

"There is a danger in shifting from one style to another. The body is subjected to contrary positions, antagonistic effort. Far more accidents occur now, than ever before. Dislocated shoulder, a heretofore unknown injury, is now commonplace. Why ? Because of those off-centre movements, one's partner yanks out an arm as far as it can go: there's nothing to prevent the thing from popping out ! Professors are now required to know something of anatomy, well and good. But such knowledge would come in useful for choreographers too. It is not enough to have ideas, one must know how to apply them. The human body is not a machine, that one bolts on, or off, at will. In the USA, things have become dramatic: a career lasts ten years, after which, the dancer is a wreck (cassé). He's tossed out, and someone else is hired. In a few short years, at NYCB, everyone had changed. I enquired anxiously: "But what about Mr. X ? Miss Y ?" and I was told, "he tore this, or that, three times, she's had a knee, or a hip, or a back operation…" Let me shout it out: Stop ! Save the dancers !

Claude Bessy, interview in L'Express, a weekly newsmagazine (Paris), May 9th 1986

#4 Estelle

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Posted 27 June 2002 - 09:50 AM

Katharine, do you know the context of the Nureyev quote? The POB school danced "Conservatoire" in 1980 and 1988 (Oh, I wish I could have seen Bart and Fallou in it) but I really don't know if they have much exposure to Bournonville... and the POB itself hasn't danced any since the mid-1980s, I think (Nureyev himself probably was more interested in staging his own ballets ;) )

#5 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 08:56 AM

my favorite, by agnes demille:

"Toe dancing is a dandy attention-getter, second only to screaming."

#6 Farrell Fan

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 10:12 AM

Another from Arlene Croce:

"But for her meeting with Balanchine, might she [Suzanne Farrell] not have been another Isadora?"

#7 Farrell Fan

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 01:35 PM

"Ballet is important and significant--yes. But first of all, it is a pleasure." -- Balanchine

#8 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:05 AM

AA - "when you work with a teacher who has been around for 30 or 40 years, he or she will tell you immediately what has been lost and why".

MH For example what has been lost?

AA "When you watch a video tape of dancers of the old generations, for instance Galina Ulanova, Marina Semyonova, or a bit later Natalia Dudinskaya, you can see a certain coordination of body and arms, a musicality - you might call it ‘singing with the body’ - and above all an emotional depth to the dancing which no longer seem to exist today. 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. That’s something we lost."

#9 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:10 AM

"There follows Preljocaj's view of Le Sacre du printemps. Preljocaj battles with Stravinsky like a man fighting an avalanche: the encounter can be said to be either ludicrous or insolent. It is certainly unwise. Modern dress of the most dismal kind, and an action that is no more than a protracted striptease in which six couples are involved. The women start the piece by removing their knickers, and we guess all too easily what portends. Bras, bare chests, simulated copulation - foreplay as tedium - and finally one hapless woman finds herself naked, flailing about on a grassy dell and behaving with those bad social and sexual manners which are the lingua franca of such stagings in Europe. The piece is foolish, lumpily done by cast and choreographer, and is about as erotic (voyeurs please note) as blotting-paper. It is the least convincing realisation of Rite that I have ever seen. The score is given a glossy performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra which accords ill with the rough-hewn frolics on stage. The programme notes are specially crafted for Pseuds' Corner."

Clement Crisp in the Financial Times, 2002

#10 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:19 AM

From the New York Magazine, August 6th 2001

"I wouldn't call Guillem a ballerina myself, though she is undeniably a star and a phenomenon. She's fascinating to look at, with her lithe, long-limbed body, her uncanny ear-scraping extension, and her truly exquisite feet -- extravagantly arched and feral in their articulation. Onstage she has the kind of charisma that draws every eye to her. But she's not expressive or poetic; her sleek cool forbids that. She doesn't have the power of imaginative suggestion that arouses the viewer's own fantasy. And her movement lacks rhythmic and textural interest; her dancing has that remote, uninflected quality typical of postmodern culture.

"I believe, too, that her ballet technique is circumscribed by her rigorous childhood training as a gymnast. (As a pre-adolescent, she was short-listed for the French Olympic team.) That extension, of which so much is made it can be called her trademark, is certainly anti-classical, and her turnout, basic to the body's posture in classical dancing, often seems to give way to the parallel stance of the athlete (…)

#11 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:23 AM

Susie Crow is a former dancer, now a teacher in London, and one of the curators of the MacMillan celebrations. I cannot remember where I originally saw this piece.

"I would like to pick up on the point about the development of technique, dancers today commonly being able to do things that were rare feats of exceptional virtuosity years ago. I think this cuts both ways.

"Technique moves on and changes, but just as some things get better other things get lost. I am sure we have all seen performances by dancers which do not reach the technical as well as interpretative standards set by the originators of a particular role. As an example, I had to look at video of the same ballet in performances from the 60s, 70s and 90s. Technically the earliest performance was the finest in terms of precision, speed, ballon, agility and use of the torso.

"Ballet technique seems currently to be pursuing a particular line of athletic development which has a lot to do with certain types of body shape and line and extreme flexibility. This may be progress in one way but perhaps is retrograde in others. There are other types of dancer attribute arguably more important to the survival of the art form which are in danger of being overlooked if selection procedures continue to head down this narrow route.

#12 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:27 AM

Josephine Jewkes, formerly principal dancer with ENB.


"More generally, we dancers believe that the trend nowadays is for a more aggressive style of movement (taken to the limits by Forsythe in ballet and DV8, Jeremy James and Per Jonsson to name but three in the contemporary world), but the human body meanwhile has not greatly changed; simply that those with less extreme facility are being challenged further by the examples of a few with acrobatic flexibility which was previously labelled 'unclassical'. This is now becoming the norm. (This is known as 'progress'.)"

#13 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:30 AM

William Forsythe, to the Telegraph (London), a couple of years ago.

Telegraph:

Forsythe says one major inheritance from Balanchine is his use of the ballet position known as epaulement, which involves complex counter rotations of the body, including the shoulders, hips, hands, feet, head.

As he says, "the mechanics of epaulement are what gives ballet its inner transitions. It's essential to a lot of my thinking." He takes this position one step further by what he calls disfocus. The dancers don't gaze out, but "stare up, roll their eyes back." Like a hypnotist might suggest, he asks them to "put your eyes in the back of your head." Their movement becomes "very water-like, shaky, unusual and serpentine". He warns: "Don't try this with too much furniture about."

#14 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:47 AM

Antony Noa is an American professor.

"Turn-out: Verb or Noun ?"


"Students, dancers and teachers often speak of a dancer being ‘turned-out’ as if the position was static (or otherwise refer to it as a noun). (...) I consider turn-out to be more of a verb, by that I mean an action as opposed to a static position.

(...) "This view places emphasis on the active engagement of the muscles to achieve leg rotation rather than on the actual degree of rotation achieved.

"I have known dancers who have extraordinary turn-out but cannot execute turns or jumps with the same level of extraordinariness. (...) It could be that since they have great turn-out they do not feel the need to be engaging the muscles needed to turn out the leg. When a dancer is not constantly turning out the legs, they lose the tensile strength needed to control the hip area, and thereby lose mastery of the upper torso where all movement control resides."

#15 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 July 2002 - 01:52 AM

THE ARTS: A cloud over Dance Umbrella BALLET LONDON: Financial Times; Oct 5, 2001By CLEMENT CRISP

Ohad Naharin's Sabotage Baby.

'(...) The cast wears dun-coloured outfits that hang depressingly to the ground - the dancers look like the Sodom and Gomorrah League of Health and Beauty, and behave in suitable fashion. Angst is their favoured sport, together with writhing and despairing journeys across the Barbican stage. Seek not for reason, or even imaginative felicity. This is a piece that has been produced in glum association with Nederlands Dans Theatre and has all the trademarks of gloom and introspection, while sense flew out of the window long ago. The choreography - such a big word for such a tiny effect - is predictably anxious and unrewarding.

As the evening wears suicidally on, four figures on stilts, sporting teeny feathered knapsacks and expressions of direst menace, totter above the common herd (and few herds have looked more common than these straining performers). I hoped they might have come from some pest-control agency. A closing sequence offers the uninviting spectacle of the cast's buttocks, generously displayed. Strictly for fans of cellulitis. "


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