Lukayev

Peeves

57 posts in this topic

If anything, now that I've asked around for opinions on aesthetic issues.. what are some of your ballet peeves?

For me, it would be something like a grinning-ish smile during a melancholy ballet like La Bayadere or Giselle Act II. Or the exact reverse.. a solemn face during something happy, like Iota and the Fisherman (Russian story ballet - my 'friend' was the soloist, supposedly performing on under the sun surrounded by happy fish, but didn't smile once) or the Clog Dance in La Fille Mal Gardee.

Just recently I was the Stepsister in a Disney-fied version of Cinderella, and not once genuinely happy smile crossed my face once.. I made sure of that with exaggerrated frown lines and hideous makeup. However, my fellow Stepsister was grinning away like Aurora on a wedding day and it just got to me. I must be either 1)Snooty or 2)Overly grumpy. Either way, it annoyed me. :)

So, folks.. what really made you grit your teeth during a performance?

Luka

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1. The *look at me, I'm so pretty, watch me dance* expression I see in so many ballerinas of late.

2. Super-high extensions in tutu ballets.

3. People who applaud the balances in the Rose Adagio.

4. Pairing of dancers with too much difference in height, as in the RB Sleeping Beauty video, where tiny Viviana Durante dances with Zoltan Solymosi who is well over 6 foot!

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Sickle feet, arabesques which are poorly placed and too far side, winged feet, crunched toes, flapping wrists, poor port de bras, sloppy in-between steps, careless partnering, sloppy poses by male dancers when partnering (turned in legs, crushed or sickled feet), supported pirouettes where we see the partners hands creating or continuing the turns, bad spacing, bad timing and lack of synchronized corps work, mannerisms and affectation, and of course LACK OF MUSICALITY!

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1. People who slack off in class and get good parts.

2. People who don't pay attention in rehersals.

3. Favoritism in teachers.

4. Show-offs. :)

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Wrist flickers!!!!!!! (That is, people who end a variation -- any variation -- with a flourish of the wrists. Once used to deflect attention from the fact that the feet were in extreme disharmony with the requirements of the choreography, but recently being used just because they can.

Heather, I think we're after things that bother when you're watching ballet, as a part of the audience, rather than what happens in class. Do you have any pet peeves as an audience member?

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Oh, golly.. I just remembered something from somewhere.. last year, I believe --

1. Anything saying "Stars of.." Ooh, that line just annoys me! If they're so great, why are there so many under the same alias?

2. Female dancers wearing low-cut bodices on the stage so as to give the impression that their boobs are bigger and that ballerinas *can* have cleavage. This happened on a Stars of the Bolshoi tour to Hawaii last year and this one lady in Pas de Quatre had this white bodices that left the audience fearing for her decentness as she performed the allegro Cerrito variation.

3. People who clap after four fouettes, stop, clap for the sixteen, stop, and then don't even clap after the entire thirty-two. This has happened more than once as I listen to videos or attend live performances.

I have more, I just have to grow more irritable (it's hard to when your neighbor's newly acquired dog is being such a cute thing).

Ta!

Luka

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Originally posted by BalletNut:

4. Pairing of dancers with too much difference in height, as in the RB Sleeping Beauty video, where tiny  Viviana Durante dances with Zoltan Solymosi who is well over 6 foot!

That casting was unintentional. Darcey Bussell had been scheduled for that performance but was injured and Viviana took her place.

~Steve

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I do not like it when I see Balanchine style hands looking like eagle claws. Very unattractive, like gripping something in the air.

Diana L.

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-Watching a pas de deux, and HAVING to pay attention to the male dancer ONLY because he looks a LOT better just supporting the female when she is the one who's supposed to benefit from his support (Isn't the male dancer supposed to make the female look better?)

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Scottie, sometimes there is only so much that is humanly possible.......

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my biggest pet peeve would be weak arms, particulary during turns. if i'm seeing a company of a national or international caliber i at least expect to see strong arms.

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When Japanese audiences (and I don't see any happening here, which I'm VERY glad about) start clapping in rhythm to the music from the beginning of a fouette in the coda, esp in Don Q and Le Corsaire. They do this in EVERY major gala performance, which really annoys me.

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One of my biggest peeves is when I hear the dancers pointe shoes clattering and chattering onstage.I have been seeing this in every major company recently.It distracts so much not only from the music but also from the illusion they are supposed to be creating.If you are a wilis or a swan or a sylph you do not make a huge racket the minute you come out onstage.This was something George Balanchine also hated and always made his ballerinas wear soft or already broken in shoes.Mostly the corps de ballet is guilty of this sin but also the soloists and principals,although with them it does not sound as much because it is only one pair of shoes

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1. Sickled feet

2. Plastered grins that make dancers look constipated

3. Exaggerated grand jetés (ie over 180 degrees). It's ballet not gymnastics for goodness sakes we're not trying to win a medal here

4. Dangly feet in fouetté turns (Arrrgh! Makes me want to scream out "Point your feet!"

5. People who take photos during performances.

6. Arena productions. Ostentatious, lacking in atmosphere, expensive, SELL OUT.

to be continued...

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I'm with Lovebird on this one......the sound of pointe shoes "clunking" across the stage!

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I'm both with you and without you on this one. The clatter of pointe shoes across a stage is a bit distracting, yes, but for me, it carries with it the recollection of the old Metropolitan Opera House in NYC, with its near-perfect acoustics. Lousy sight lines and all, I miss the old place!

There was a story that used to be told of the place: Once, in a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor, the sextet had proceeded as advertised, sounding wonderful, and at the grand pause before the final notes, from somewhere out of the chorus was heard, "...and two eggs...."

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I am annoyed by more or less everything that was mentioned here and also by audience who claps when the artists just only ENTER the stage. OK, I agree, from a star of "international" caliber you are expecting a good performance, but still - can't they just wait for the end?

An example of this which really made me cry with anger was on the ABT Dance in America video. Julio Bocca and Alessandra Ferri dancer the Balcony scene pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet and this pdd begins with very silent music when Juliet enters the balcony. And during that silent, lovely, spiritual music the audience dared to clap and they ruined all of the atmosphere the music created. Not only that this happened once, the audience loudly clapped when Romeo entered.

I hate it when this happends. How can you clap to somebody when they have not yet danced one step? Besides it ruines the whole atmosphere. :)

[ 06-03-2001: Message edited by: Nadezhda ]

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Ah, Nadezhda, you are a woman after my own heart. Bad enough they applaud when they haven't done anything yet, but when they DO do something, anything, it's another clapping cue. No one applauds in the middle of an aria when a singer hits a beautiful note; oh, that that sentiment would spill over into ballet. There are plenty of built-in dancing breaks for appreciative applause.

Giannina

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I second all the complaints heard so far and would add two of my own: 1) wearing of personal jewelry on stage (the Russians used to do this all the time. One would notice pendants, crosses, etc. virtually hitting dancers in the face) 2) dancers who do not perform in the spirit of the original choreography or the production and have to show off their super-high extensions all the time (eg. 180 degree arabesques penchees in the grand pdd from Act III of Sleeping Beauty in the reconstructed Maryinsky version causing the longer-style tutus to flop over the dancers' heads).

By the way, Diana L., in reference to your complaint about claw-like hands, I had a friend who joined the NYCB in the 60s. When she first joined she was told to bring a ball to class and to keep it in the free hand while at the barre. After a while she was told to discard the ball but to keep her fingers in the same position. Eventually, she was allowed to be more 'natural', but to maintain the idea that the audience should be able to see all 5 fingers. I guess that this was what Balanchine wanted at the time. It seems to have perpetuated itself. Unfortunately - IMHO!

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Felurus, the Russians still wear personal jewelry on stage. Last time the Kirov was in town, I had never seen so many diamond rings on so many peasants. Plus, long painted finger nails.

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I agree with everyone's pet peeves, but especially Victoria Leigh's remark regarding the lack of musicality in many dancers today. It's mind boggling that a quality so essential to dancing is such a rarity. I find myself having to watch videos of Margot Fonteyn and Natalia Makarova to see dancers who truly have music in their bones. I suppose a feel for music is something that one is born with and can't be taught.

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Lack of attack when it's needed. I don't like mushy dancing. Sloppy work in the arms and especially the torso. I don't like dancers who are tight in the torso and shoulders. Related to lack of musicality (a big problem) is sloppy phrasing. Dancers who don't know how to punctuate a phrase. Dancers who don't hold their beats long enough. Dancers who look like they're counting onstage, not dancing and experiencing the music and/or performing a breathing character. General lack of stage sense and projection. I see many dancers who just look lost onstage. Ballet is a performance, not just an extension of class. A lot of dancers just don't know how to deliver when the time comes.

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Audience members who start to leave before the curtain call is over in order to avoid traffic at the parking garage. THIS ISN'T A MOVIE, PEOPLE!

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Gee.......I'm one of those "people" who sometimes leaves during the curtain call - maybe it's because I don't enjoy spending as much time waiting in the parking garage as I do sitting in the theater watching the performance! :)

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Ooo... I agree ralphsf, I HATE dancers who are tight in the torso! That "I have a poker down my back" kind of dancing aggravates me. Like they are too scared to venture from their centre lest something dreadful happen...

I don't like seeing sagging elbows. At professional level it just Shouldn't Happen... but I see it in pirouettes all the time.

Victoria, the leg too far to the side is also something I don't like. I see it all the time in competitions, and it's alarming to see the same thing happen at a professional level. Especially in a promenade.

[ 06-06-2001: Message edited by: Katharyn ]

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