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Do you like mime in ballet?


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Poll: Do you like mime in ballet? (0 member(s) have cast votes)

Do you like mime in ballet?

  1. Yes! (8 votes [30.77%])

    Percentage of vote: 30.77%

  2. Yes, if it's done well. (14 votes [53.85%])

    Percentage of vote: 53.85%

  3. It depends. (4 votes [15.38%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.38%

  4. No! (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

Vote

#1 Alexandra

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 11:40 AM

This is a companion to Nadezhda's question about mime posted earlier today.

The question is "Do you like mime in ballet?"

If your answer is "It depends" PLEASE tell us what it depends on :)

#2 Doris R

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 04:31 PM

Absolutely, YES, I do. It helps explain the situation and the emotions the dancers' characters are portraying. And if its done well, it can be so beautiful. Of course it can't just be the hands, it has to be accompanied with the right facial expressions and head inclination. To me it adds to the magic.

#3 BW

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 06:04 PM

I have to say "Amen!" to Doris's remarks. Just came off a great season with ABT at the Met in NYC!:)

As a matter of fact, this is something I often miss in NYCB's performances - and wonder if the "neoclassical" just doesn't go in for it? Don't know if that's even the correct word to use...but I do, sometimes, feel that many of the ballets I see at the NY State Theater are missing the human emotion..although, I am sure, many would say that their dancing is the expression.

#4 dancermom2

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 06:43 PM

Ah and to a NYCB goer the miming seems like a space filler when they should be dancing! But, after going to see ABT this past week I have to say when it is done well it can be beautiful to see. I still felt at moments "where is the dancing????" what is all this miming? But when it furthers the story and you see the emotions it can help build to a crescendo that we saw in Giselle that was awe inspiring...even for someone who has seen a million NYCB performances and only 2 ABT performances.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 06:45 PM

If they do it right, the mime IS dancing!

#6 Helena

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 01:15 AM

I agree absolutely with Mel Johnson - mime IS dancing, and it is certainly ballet!

#7 cargill

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 08:26 AM

AS one whose all time favorite piece of ballet is the mime in Swan Lake, I of course voted for as much mime as can be put in! I do think it helps the dancers develop a character and a stage presence to think aobut how to hold an audience's attention. The Swan Lakes I have seen without the mime seem much less moving and poignant--the mime forces Odette to use her eyes and to express something, whereas when a few extra steps are substituted, there is much less to express.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 08:30 AM

Mary, your mention of Swan Lake reminded me of one of my least favorite mime choppings. There are dancers who keep little bits of the mime and throw out everything else, which, to me, makes everything make even less sense. Makarova always did the "Shoot, no." She'd take a lovely arabesque, looking like a bow, and do the "no" gesture. So that act would go something like this. "Shoot me not." "I shoot you not."

"Shoot me not." "I shoot you not."

"Shoot my swans not." "I'd never think of shooting your swans." [thought very hard by the Prince]

"Have I mentioned that I'd prefer if you didn't shoot?"

and on and on and on and on until, sometimes, one wished the Prince to raise his bow.....and mime, "Enough already."

#9 Jane Simpson

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 08:42 AM

Interestingly, I don't think this question would even occur to people like me (and probably Helena) brought up on the RB repertoire. It's a bit like asking 'do you like pas de deux in ballet?' or something!

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 09:07 AM

That's a good point, Jane. It's an Issue here, and I can't tell you how many people I know who loathe mime. (I'm surprised at the poll so far. If you hate it, don't be afraid to say so!!!)

Having gone to performances at the Kennedy Center for so many years, I think I have a sense of the audience in DC, too. It's never particularly liked "La Sylphide" (except once when the RDB did it in '92 and it was so good they forgot it was mime). Folk Tale didn't go down well here in '92. I sensed that the audience was sulky at the recent production of the Bolshoi's Bayadere, until the Shades scene.

We're not used to mime. It's also often scorned in advance pieces -- even in some of a company's own material. "Despite its rich mime passages..." "The story is told without resorting to old-fashioned mime!!!" that kind of thing. So much seems to telegraph that mime is dumb.

#11 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 10:49 AM

I think it's not simply that people think that mime isn't dance, I think stagers are afraid some of the extended traditional mime will confuse the audience rather than enlighten them. Not all mime is intuitive; it requires an extra layer of knowledge from the audience. It's easy enough to mime "Don't shoot them!" or "I love you" but even the mime for "beauty" (circle the face with your fingers held together, then kiss your fingers) could leave some people in the audience lost. There's enough suspicion of ballet in America as being "elitist" that the thought of placing that extra "secret code" of the Delsarte derived mime into productions probably spooked some stagers.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 11:08 AM

I think you're right that some stagers think the mime is confusing -- why they don't think that ballets that need 17 pages of program notes to explain what is not going on stage, but was told very well in the novel is beyond me. But I do think there's a general dislike of mime. Once a presenter asked me how much dancing was in a particular ballet -- a ballet "rich in mime," as they say. I hedged. "Well, it depends on what you mean by dancing." "I mean jumping up and down," he said. (Of course, I agree that good mime, well-set and clearly performed mime, IS dancing, as several have noted. Bournonville, about 60 years before Fokine's Petrouchka, wrote "pantomime is the dance of the turned in feet.")

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 11:16 AM

Alas, this goes back to my pet theory of American culture. We're spooked by anything that requires interpretation. Jumps and turns are jumps and turns. There's no way to get it wrong, you can even count them. You might misread the mime. Sadly, I think a great deal of the audience looks at any sort of ballet, abstract or narrative, as a pop quiz. We want Swan Lake, because we've heard the name before and we know there are Swans, and we know there's a Lake, but we just want the dancing bits, please, because the other part is confusing (but that's too embarrasing, so we're going to tell you it's boring instead.)

Sigh.

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 11:21 AM

I agree with that. There's also the very human reaction that if we're told we won't understand something, or that mime is boring, we'll expect that. (I remember being a bit embarrassed by liking "King's Volunteers on Amager" so much after I read the stuff in the program book about how "despite its being rich in mine" and reviews that "although the first act -- nearly an hour! -- is completely pantomime..." I was so uninformed, I didn't know.

I was also sitting in the third row, where I could practically hear the dancers breathe. I think the comments several people have made about mime and gesture not carrying well in big houses is a good one, too. Tudor at the Mercury and Tudor at the Met must be very different experiences! And the Bolshoi MUST do big gestures, as well as big jumps, because they have such a big stage. The dancers can't all huddle in the middle and exchange glances.

#15 BW

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Posted 01 July 2002 - 12:11 PM

About the mime not "carrying well" on a bigger stage - it comes in quite handy, to bring along a pair of extra wide field of view binoculars!:( Interestingly enough, one of the reviews in today's NYT stated that Ms. Ananiashvili and Mr. Correno didn't have much of a rapport - through my trusty binoculars they certainly did! ;)

I will say that over acting in mime is terrible - and sometimes the more "humorous" roles can be tricky to carry off well...perhaps that's the mime that people love to hate?


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