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Is anything vulgar (in dancing) today?


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33 replies to this topic

#1 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 November 2001 - 07:15 PM

That caesura at the end of the fouettés has been there for so long, it might as well be notated into the score, it's part of the landscape now. But I agree, coming down center is a bit much! eek.gif

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 20 November 2001 - 10:56 PM

[quote]Originally posted by Richard Jones:
"That caesura at the end of the fouettés has been there for so long, it might as well be notated into the score, it's part of the landscape now."

Perhaps the English are more restrained! I hadn't encountered that effect before seeing the Kirov. Is this caesura generally observed in the USA?


Actually, the first time I encountered it in an American company was a performance of the David Blair production of Swan Lake for ABT. Toni Lander absolutely nailed the fouettés, and there was very little the orchestra could do to pick up for Bruce Marks' tours à la seconde until they (the audience) calmed down a little.

[ November 20, 2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]



#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 November 2001 - 10:02 AM

Such is the nature of leitmotiv. It's even stranger in Madame Butterfly, where Pinkerton's motif is a little of the "Star-Spangled Banner" played somewhere in the harmony.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 17 November 2001 - 11:38 AM

Once upon a time, pirouettes were vulgar. We've had discussions here about holding a balance too long, flicking the wrists at the end of a variation (especially if the feet didn't quite land in position), smiling/grinning in a classical role. A friend of mine heard complaints in London that a dancer in Don Q there ran his fingers through his hair in a mid-performance curtain call; this was thought outrageously vulgar. There are those mid-Act II curtain calls for certain Albrechts, too, where he rouses from his stupor to wanly face the audience and humbly acknowledge their applause.

In some eras, the rules for Vulgarity are quite plain and dancers who transgress them are snubbed, or given bad reviews. In today's anything goes atmosphere. . .well, anything goes.

What do you consider Vulgar in classical dancing? (In answering this question, it must be understood that ALL of us have exquisite taste. We just differ on the details.)

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 20 November 2001 - 12:59 PM

[quote]Originally posted by Leigh Witchel:
I'm going to be a wag here, but does anyone else have moments or dancers in ballet that are so brazen or vulgar that you end up loving them for it?.

But then they're not vulgar. They're outrageously adorable smile.gif

Jude, I think different countries have different rules of applause. I've seen small touring companies of Russian dancers who dance to tape where the applause-time is several minutes; embarrassing, if the audience doesn't clap that much.

Applause habits and expectations have always interested me. There's so much conflicting information. One often reads of European companies that they love to come to America because the audiences were so demonstrative -- yet Americans will complain about applause milking (and not just of Russian companies).

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 12:41 PM

4Ts, I agree. Only Merce Cunningham can cut music like that! (I think even Minkus must be respected. After all, he larded his scores with dozens of repeats just so this wouldn't happen.)

Manhattnik, I'm almost speechless. I've never heard of throwing flowers on stage and I think the ushers should run down the aisle and drag the offenders out of the theater!!! On the other hand, outrageous audience behavior does not occur in a vacuum. (Donning schoolmarm glasses) If a company encourages a circus atmosphere, it can't blame the audience if it behaves as though it's at a circus.

I remember when Bujones was young and in the Great International Star sweepstakes, a small group of fans ran down the aisle at the Kennedy Center at the end of a ballet, YELLING at the top of their lungs stuff like "Go Nando!", waving banners and wearing Nando T-shirts. They only did it once. (And it wasn't the ushers who stopped them.)

As for flower throwers, there was a very nasty, vulgar habit during the Rudi Days when people aimed the bouquets at the dancer's crotch and cheered when they hit bulls-eye.

We could have another interesting discussion about what is it about ballet that invites this? But let's get all the Favorite Vulgarities out in the open first smile.gif

#7 cargill

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Posted 19 November 2001 - 01:43 PM

The first time I encountered curtain calls during a variation was the Russians, after the fouettes in Swan Lake and Don Q; so far it hasn't crept into American performances. Not only is it tacky for the ballerina to stop mid-variation and act like the audience is a cow to be milked dry, it really cuts into the overall excitement of the pas de deux. The man has to start his turns cold, and the audience has no chance to watch the coda build. By the actual end, they really applaud less. But I think it has been bred into them--I remember when Ananiashvilli and Liepa were briefly guesting at NYCB and did one of the flashy pas de deux at an NYCB gala, she stopped the music for applause.
Other than that, wrist flicks, Albrecht rising from his death bed, and Zakarova doing Aurora are my definitions of vulgar.

#8 cargill

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 09:46 AM

Another things I find vulgar is the current habit of cranking out many more supported pirouettes than can be done easily. It always makes me think of a rusty can opener.

#9 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 11:26 AM

I thought vulgarity reached new heights (depths) during ABT's City Center season when some nutty balletomane in the audience would repeatedly toss enormous bouquets of roses onstage in the middle of the ballet!

I mean, tossing a bouquet at Juliet Kent as soon as she finished the adagio in the second movement of Symphony in C? Let's stop the ballet dead in its tracks, shall we?

#10 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 01:06 PM

Alexandra, since this happened on much more than one night (with always an identical-appearing bouquet of roses), I suspect it had to have happened with either the active or passive cooperation of ABT's managment.

#11 Manhattnik

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Posted 21 November 2001 - 01:11 PM

Oh, yeah, speaking of ABT: Tricking up one's choreography where it does not belong!

All those guys in the 3rd Mvt. of Symphony in C tossing in double sautes de basque. The first night, Corella did them (and the ensuing vortex seemed to totally discommode poor Ashley Tuttle), then De Luz had to prove he could do them, and Cornejo, and Steifel, who REALLY should've known better.

Even the women had to get into the act, with spunky Xiomara Reyes tossing in doubles (well 1 1/2s) to "match" De Luz's. I didn't know whether to admire her gumption or deplore her taste. Of course, I often feel that way when looking at ABT in general.

#12 glebb

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Posted 17 November 2001 - 11:59 AM

I prefer that dancers choose or are given steps that are appropriate for the role. I posted in an earlier thread that the fish dives in the Aurora Wedding Pas performed by Nacional Ballet de Cuba were a circus trick and out of place, vulgar.

At the same time, I can forgive anything if the performers are projecting honesty and love for their art. It is a turn off when dancers have an air of being better than everyone else in the theatre.

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 November 2001 - 01:14 AM

I'm going to be a wag here, but does anyone else have moments or dancers in ballet that are so brazen or vulgar that you end up loving them for it?

A certain ballerina at ABT springs immediately to mind. . .

#14 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 17 November 2001 - 03:15 PM

Dancers who ignore the music while doing more pirouettes just because they can. Some of our young whiz bang male dancers today go for it all, no matter what, including whether they are on the music or not. It is all about tricks and not about the ballet, the role, the quality, or the music. Some of them look like they are in a competition instead of a ballet frown.gif

#15 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 19 November 2001 - 03:11 PM

i was told the story by a friend that during the war, she saw a performance of robert helpmann as albrecht, during which, after his second act variation, he collapsed on the floor, then got up, acknowledged the applause, and collapsed again!


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