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Alexandra

Changing Tastes

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People are bursting with good ideas tonight. This is another spin-off post, from a comment Juliet made on the Dance forum (Leigh's thread about when to cut one's losses and stop seeing a choreographer one doesn't like). She wrote, on the idea of keeping an open mind: "What you understand and respond to when you are 20 is not what you understand when you are 60."

While you don't have to be 60 to answer this question, I'd be interested in knowing what you once saw and hated (or loved) in youth, and you had a different understanding of and response to a few years later. If you give at least one ballet, you may also add a book or a film or piece of music smile.gif

My breakthrough into middle-age came at 35, when I reread "Wuthering Heights" and realized that I no longer found Heathcliff a compelling, attractive Romantic figure. I wanted Cathy to marry Linton, who was stable, with superior china and crystal. It was a real shock. I've never quite had so similar a shock in ballet, as it by-passed my adolescence and I don't have a pure basis for comparison, but I do that I'd liked Glen Tetley's "Voluntaries" the first time I saw it (my first season of ballet) and thought it awful the second time, 15 years later. I don't think the performance had deteriorated; I think my sense of structure and musicality had changed.

Anyone else want to walk this plank, as samba wrote elsewhere? biggrin.gif

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Ok, not quite dance related, but I used to hate Sondheim. And one day, I listened to a Mandy Patinkin CD that included a lot of it and discovered that I liked it. The same has happened with Stravinsky. I hated the Stravinsky piece in the original Fantasia. But now I really enjoy him. Even the really weird stuff.

Miss

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can we count food you hated as a kid? You know Three Bean salad, sauerkraut, and liver. OK, I admit, I have never been able to enjoy liver, but I love the other two!

Miss

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Stravinsky. He was harsh and not what I thought was "classical" and along with that Agon. It took me years to "get it".

Books. It was more poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, I had memorized her poems in high school, but had no idea what she was talking about.

Shakespeare. The dreaded reading it out loud in class made no sense to me, to see how it still upholds is to me brilliant.

And just to make everyone cringe. Madonna. I never realized that from the get go, she produced and until recently, had no idea what that meant.

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When I was younger, I didn't like story ballets --it was sort of Balanchine or Bust. If my parents brought me to ABT or I watched a story ballet on TV, I couldn't wait for all the crowd and village dances to be over so the "real" dancing would start. Mime bored me. Story ballets told mostly by pure dance still interested me, such as La Sonnambula or Prodigal Son, but I did not really appreciate Giselle until I was older. I gained an interest by reading about the ballets and older performances.

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When I first started going to the ballet, I thought that Ted Kivitt was the greatest male dancer in the world and wondered why he didn't get more attention. It took me a couple of years to learn what a premier danseur was supposed to be, and to realize that Ted, as good a technician and as appealing a performer as he was, did not fill the bill.

I also hated Violette Verdy when I first saw her. I don't remember exactly why, but I think it was the fact that her style was so different from all the other dancers in the City Ballet that put me off. After seeing her more often, I came to appreciate and later to love her.

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The first few times I saw Balanchine's "Episodes" (I never saw the Graham part), I couldn't wait for Webern's fragmentary noises to be over and the more ear-friendly Ricercata to begin. It meant that no more ballerinas would be upturned into antlers, and the dancing would proceed with dignity toward a satisfying conclusion. In later years I grew extremely fond of the entire work. I just wish the Paul Taylor variation would be restored one more time.

I was too young to appreciate Jane Austen's

"Pride and Prejudice" in school, and had no idea

the novel was supposed to be funny. It took a while, but eventually I realized that Austen's works were not genteel Regency romances, but wicked satires.

No apology is necessary, IMO, for liking Ted Kivett. He and Eleanor D'Antuono were among the glories of ABT in the 60s and 70s.

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I now just loathe Romeo and Juliet. I think the monk/priest and nurse/nanny are deplorable busybodies.How dare they encourage those children to sneak around like that? In a climate where kids are out swordfighting and fraternizing with hookers , it would behoove the clergy and the household staff to be more responsible. It those kids would just have listened to their parents....

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When I was much young I HATED story ballets. Now I have mellowed and only dislike them. wink.gif

I disliked highly emotional story type modern dance (i.e. Graham). Still don't.

I also disliked operatic voices. Now I tolerate them, but only if I like the ballet. I still don't get opera. Stupid stories, poorly acted by lots of fat people. eek.gif

[ March 04, 2002, 04:27 AM: Message edited by: hal ]

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When I first saw The 4 Temperaments, it gave me a headache; now it's one of my favorites. Conversely, I really liked Tomasson's ballet Silver Ladders on its premiere; a year later, I left the theatre with a headache! smile.gif Ditto El Grito [Lila York], The Tuning Game, and most of the world premieres at SFB. Dancers? The first time I saw Lucia Lacarra [in a little fluff piece by Tomasson], I actually liked her. Hard to believe, isn't it? biggrin.gif [read my other posts for my current opinion of her...good riddance!] The opposite is true of Julie Diana: I found her to be overly cute and precious at first; now I think she's a very rounded dancer. Not sure if she's changed or if it's me, though.

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I'm amazed to find that my taste has hardly changed at all over the 50 or so years I've been going to ballet. I liked Petipa and Ashton best when I was young, and I still do, though I find my appreciation of Ashton has deepened quite a lot. I've added a few - Bournonville, which I didn't see until I was in my 20s, and selected MacMillan. I didn't like Balanchine much when I was 12, and I still don't - though admittedly I have not been to unnecessary performances thinking I "ought" to like him.

I have racked my brains trying to think of examples where my taste has changed, and can only think of ballets like Coppelia, which I loved at 10, thought myself far too sophisticated for at 20, but now have come to appreciate for reasons other than the fact that it is funny and has dolls in it. I also remember enjoying a performance of Petit's Carmen when I was about 25 - Erik Bruhn was Don Jose, and he was very convincing and powerful. I knew perfectly well, even then, that I really thought it was a shallow and vulgar ballet, but Bruhn swayed me - now, I don't think even he could make me enjoy it! I suspect also that something like MacMillan's The Invitation, which seemed very exciting and daring in 1960-whenever-it-was, would now seem merely earnest.

My tastes have changed much more in music and literature, both of which I've been more professionally involved with than I have with ballet. (My ballet "career" ended at fifteen, since I was too tall and didn't have much talent!) This makes me wonder if knowing something from the inside, rather than just being an observer, has a profound effect. In both music and poetry my taste has moved away from lush romanticism towards something "cleaner" and sparer. I now prefer Bach and Britten to the nineteenth century (except, of course, for Tchaikovsky, who is deep in my soul). I like Housman better than Keats or Shelley.

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My ballet attendance history had a 15 year gap during which time I fought to convince my husband that going to a ballet performance was not a death sentence. Upon my return I loved every single thing I could see. As for changing tastes I am now in the process of learning to appreciate Ashton and I'm having a wonderful time.

Giannina

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"Concerto Barocco" and "The Four Temperaments"---it took Balanchine a long time to educate me (I did not have to wait until I was 60, it came a little sooner). Now, they are two of my absolute favorites.

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I was also very slow to appreciate Balanchine. I had come to ballet via the old Royal Ballet, and just didn't get it. Related to Leigh's other question as to how much time to give a choreographer, I did give him time--mainly because I moved to New York and it was pretty much the only game in town! Also I knew so many people whose judgement I trusted (or rather, I knew them through their writing) thought he was it. I remember being in agony in Emeralds, but now I think it is one of the most wonderful things in the world. I also didn't really think much of Prodigal Son when I first saw it, but find it quite powerful now. As for things I liked but can't stand now, I did enjoy Onegin all those years ago, but find it hard going now, all that padding and posturing. The same with Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet. I remember thinking at first that there were some dull spots, but now I can hardly sit through it.

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Story ballets used to bore me to tears when I was very young. Not enough dancing, too much "silent movie" stuff. (Now I would make the opposite complaint.)

When I was in high school I thought Henry Miller was a great writer.

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I thought of Balanchine ballets as "modern" dance when I was little- all of those leotards and tights- no tutus!! I only wanted to dance "classical" ballets- and I loved all of the story ballets. Now- I still love the story ballets, but I've grown up into a Balanchine dancer- or at least a dancer in a Balanchine company. Ironic, isn't it?

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One good reason to give a living choreographer time is so that he/she might give you better ballets with age/wisdom/experience. I see even Peter Martins is getting better reviews, in general, these days. (Perhaps hundreds of early Balanchine ballets are dead for good reason, too.) And sometimes it's not the cheorgrapher's flaw but the companies you've seen. Watching the corps in the Royal Ballet with their marvelous precision and their dramatic contribution to the work made clear to me why I have come to hate the happy-villagers-mill-around mess that I've seen way too often with ABT.

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