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Memorializing 9-11?


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#1 rtnty

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 09:23 PM

I'm curious as to whether, or to what extent, the process of memorializing the events of Sept 11--through the production of NEW ballets, not "memorial performances" of OLD works--has begun?? (I mean this particularly in the sense of publicly staged, advertised productions; I'm sure that many, if not all, artists have been privately memorializing or expressing their emotions for weeks now!) If so, is there any general trend among the works (i.e., are they largely geared toward beatific healing or toward venting of rage)? Anyone care to describe a production they've seen or been a part of? What has the audience/community response been like? Are we as a public ready for the process of memorialization to begin? Are we as artists ready to commence that process? Have we distanced ourselves from "it" enough? Or should memorialization come from a position of immediacy rather than one of reflection? If we create while the wound is raw, do we gain power at the expense of perspective or objectivity? Can we ever GET "perspective" or "objectivity"? If we wait to create, though, we gain some distance but lose the perhaps more telling immediate reactions.

How do we start to document the pain? We must...yet dare we try?...yet we must...

Your thoughts on any of the above!

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 10:01 PM

I haven't heard of any new ballets that are September 11th related -- which doesn't mean there aren't any. My guess is that ballet will react to this at a much slower pace than modern dance, and is more likely to memorialize the events with gala programs, such as NYCB did at its opener.

In modern dance, Mark Morris did a new piece called "V" which he previewed in San Francisco shortly before taking it to London. Rita Felciano wrote about it for DanceView, and said that the general perception had been that it was September 11th related, and that was why, in fact, Morris said he wanted to do the piece in America first. Friends in London who saw it, however, did not get that impression at all.

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 November 2001 - 11:17 PM

I think that American choreographers both in ballet and modern dance will still need some time to assimilate the material that the September 11 attack presents them. There's still an aspect of "shell-shock" (PTSS) associated with the event, and artists no less than anyone else are still sorting things out. There may be energy in immediate responses to tragedy, but at the same time, there is the danger of a loss of coherence, of plummeting into rages or depressions, that could hamper an artist in expressing well what is felt and thought.

#4 Calliope

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 09:56 AM

I don't know how you would do that or if you would want to.
Aside from a general Americana theme.
Does anyone know anything that was specifically done as a result of a single event (Pearl Harbor, the assasinations in the 60's)?
I think the arts have to be very "careful" right now. There's an obvious struggle with funds going on right now that is more drastic than usual as a result of Sept. 11th.
There was a bit of backlash recently in NY regarding the updating of Lincoln Center. Less a month after the terrorist attacks, the committee was asking for over 200 million dollars. Granted, it was promised by Mayor Guiliani, but it just seemed the timing of it was off.
That was a bit of a tangent, sorry!

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 11:48 AM

Without researching it, I don't remember reading/hearing about any balletic response to Pearl Harbor or the assassinations and other upheaval of the 1960s. Our World War II ballet was "Fancy Free." (Interesting, on CNN the other night a commentator said that the Hollywood response in the first six months after Pearl Harbor was lots of comedies.)

The 1940s was an Americana period, but that may have been coincidental, since it was the formative period of ballet, and formative periods nearly always use local color, history, etc, to forge a national identity.

#6 Calliope

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 02:41 PM

In reading one of the links today, an article quoted Bill T. Jones' comments from a New York Times article. The following passage struck me:

And yet Jones conflates AIDS and terror as great misfortunes that can rescue us from the "aloof gestures of modernism" by inspiring a more expressive art in the "service of social change." At the end of his article, his voice rings out in a typical postmodern crescendo: "few other mediums besides dance will offer us such raw, non-commercial opportunity to witness live bodies negotiate the tyranny of the present and its minefield of unforeseen events."

I found his comments a bit "strong". The non-commercial opportunity, is that possible, hasn't dance "gone commercial" the past decade?

#7 Drew

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 12:53 PM

I thought Balanchine did stage a special tribute of some kind after the assassination of Martin Luther King. (Of course, shortly after that, Arthur Mitchell founded the Dance Theater of Harlem, but that's not exactly what rtnty was asking...)I don't have my copy of _Repertory in Review_, but perhaps someone else remembers the Balanchine/King event...

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 01:04 PM

Dale, I think you're right -- there were tributes, but not new work specifically reflecting the King assassination, or Pearl Harbor, et al.

I think part of the reason for this is that ballet isn't the natural medium for political expression -- at its best, it's abstract, or with hidden meanings. I wasn't watching dance in the 1960s and early '70s, so I don't know how many modern dancers worked Vietnam protests, et al., into their dances, but I think the reaction was more anti-everything, including political awareness.

#9 Manhattnik

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 02:24 PM

Actually, there was indeed a one-time-only ballet in memory of King: Balanchine's Requiem Canticles.

#10 rg

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 03:38 PM

indeed, 'requiem canticles' was done by balanchine in the wake of king's death. it was led by arthur mitchell, and had one official performance, tho' for invited guests only. there is mention of the work in recent volume of e.gorey interviews -- 'ascending peculiarity' -- where e.g. mentions attending the rehearsals as well as the single showing, he brings it up to the interviewer to illustrate that he didn't hang around the new york state theater at rehearsals and such, except in this case, since he knew he'd have no further opportunities to see what balanchine had wrought. i rem. pictures, probably from nancy reynold's 'repertory in review,' of the cast in pointed-sleeve gowns, prob. of white gauze, holding candleabra.

#11 atm711

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Posted 30 November 2001 - 09:51 AM

On C-Span this morning I heard the NYTimes writer who has been putting together the short biographies of the victims of the WTC that have been printed in the newspaper on a daily basis state that she knew of a modern dance work that focuses on the many portraits of the victims that have been displayed on store fronts. I'd like to know more about it.


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