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"Ballet" as it's used in general parlance


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 03:58 PM

I came across this while purusing the American press this week:

In a piece about Cabaret by Andrew Patner for the Chicago Sun-Times --
[url=http://www.suntimes.com/output/show/wkp-news-cabaret15.html]Songs in the night[url] -- began:

quote:


Aficionados call it "the fragile art," for cabaret is harder to perform and preserve than even classical ballet or the high-wire act.

I've often heard sportscasters -- football, tennis -- say that an athlete was a "Nureyev" or a "Baryshnikov." Often a running back who deftly avoids tacklers and weaves his way to the end zone -- showing not only speed, but tremendous grace, not to mention an incredible balance -- is sometimes called as "that was ballet."

This year, a U.S. General said that his troops performed its maneuvers like (better? I forget) "than the New York Ballet".

A review I read of "Gosford Park" a few weeks ago called it "a ballet" and mentioned the ensemble acting and complicated script.

I draw from these examples that the connotation of "ballet" to those who may have never seen it is:

It is fragile, it is graceful, it is complicated, it is precise, it involves a lot of people working together smoothly.

Of course, there are dozens of "dance" metaphors: I'll dance around that question, he performed a tap dance on the witness stand, etc. But that's another question smile.gif

Any other examples you can think of? Or how is "ballet" used in everyday, or not so everyday, writing or speech?

#2 Ari

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 09:42 PM

I've often noticed how the verb "to choreograph" is used in non-dance settings. I've seen it used to indicate that what is being talked about is upscale or "classy," or is highly calculated/artificial. Examples: a New York furniture store (that sold, I'm sorry to say, excruciatingly vulgar furniture) used to advertise that its ensembles were "expertly choreographed." From the context of their ads, I deduced that by that they meant to indicate that their merchandise was elegant, exquisite, and artistic. And I've seen "choreograph" used to describe the way diplomacy and other carefully planned, highly delicate undertakings are handled. I've also seen such operations described as a ballet.

#3 Paul Parish

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Posted 18 March 2002 - 12:42 AM

I've heard "ballet" used this way mostly about basketball, especially to describe Michael Jordan.... there's nobody who followed the game at all who wasn't impressed by Jordan's sovereignty, his elevation and grace...

Steve YOung, the former quarterback of the 49ers, who's smart, charming, and very articulate, uses the word Choreography with no irony at all in talking about running different plays....

oh and by the way, Charlie Moulton choreographed a huge crowd sequence (for 1000 dancers) that may make it into the sequel to the Matrix....

[ March 18, 2002, 12:47 AM: Message edited by: Paul Parish ]

#4 Calliope

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Posted 18 March 2002 - 06:09 AM

Pas de deux comes up a lot in everything from describing murder investigations and just last night in a book, having nothing to do with ballet.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 02:12 PM

Now here's an interesting definition:

quote:


Social topics with which priests would one day have to deal were never discussed. Professors assiduously sought to avoid even the mention of sexuality, sensuality, racism and alcoholism. One professor defined ballet for seminarians as "adultery in motion."

Interested in what else seminiarians are/were taught to think? Read The sacred and inane at St. Patrick's Seminary

#6 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 02:28 PM

Alexandra,

Some Catholic seminaries were better than that. Here's a fifteen month old story from the National Catholic Reporter about the Jesuit priest Robert VerEecke.

"In 1971 A dance teacher on the Santa Clara faculty, Diana Welch, offered a ballet class for attending Jesuits. “There were probably 12 to 15 of us,” said VerEecke, “all sizes, shapes and backgrounds. For me it was an epiphany. It was just like, ‘How is it I am 22 years old and I have finally found myself?’ I never knew anything could be this beautiful.”

Welch was essentially choreographing dance, religious in nature, using works such as Stravinsky’s Symphony of the Psalms. “Not only was it my first exposure,” said VerEecke, “it tapped into the religious formation I was going through.”

VerEecke was hooked. Back in New York, he started a theater program, but he really wanted to dance. On a lark, he ascended to the provincial’s study and asked for permission to study dance at Santa Clara for a semester.

“I just assumed he’d say no,” commented VerEecke. “It was not the ordinary thing to do.” But the provincial said yes. Maybe boys didn’t dance, but Jesuits could".

There's more on this link.

#7 Manhattnik

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 02:41 PM

One professor defined ballet for seminarians as "adultery in motion."

But what about unmarried dancers? Shouldn't this be "adultery and/or fornication in motion?"

And what if you have a married couple performing together, like the Dvorovenkos or the Lacarras?

Obviously this guy isn't a Jesuit.

I'm reminded of a story I heard recently about a Russian former ballerina staging the Diana and Acteon pas de deux on a couple of talented students, and succinctly explaining that that particular dance is "about sex."

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 20 March 2002 - 03:03 PM

Hmm. I wonder what Vaganova would say about that, Manhattnik smile.gif

I thought the same thing about "adultery" -- the noive! How could he assume that?

And I'm waiting to see how long before some enterprising young newnow choreographer describes his next boundarypushing work as "My newest work, "Cloudless Nuances" is adultery in motion....."

Brendan, thank you very much for that story -- it's good to know there are some more openminded clergy smile.gif One of the first dance historians was a Jesuit -- Father Menestrier. I think his book, detailing 450 ballets, came out in around 1469. (I also think it was one of the books the RAD tossed out -- er, put up for adoption -- last year, but that's another story.) He loved ballet, was particularly fond of horse ballets, and actually staged some ballets himself. Tradition smile.gif

#9 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 03:52 AM

Not 'general parlance' exactly, but last night I came across this quote from the Irish author Eric Cross. "Ballet is the champagne of the arts. It is the gayest, most light-hearted and exhilarating of all products of the theatre" (letter to the Cork Examiner 27th May 1951)

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 08:20 AM

I like that one, Brendan. He must have been from the Lopokova generation smile.gif


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