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Ballet and the Internet


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#1 Diana L

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 03:31 PM

Seeing as the Internet is relatively young, have you found that you have learned more about ballet and how has it affected you when you go to a performance, or has it?
I have this site as my start up page when I log on to the internet! I've found I make a note to try and watch some of the dancers pointed out on the boards, I go to some performances that I may not have gone to before and overall helped my understanding of ballet.
And the company's websites are informative too.

#2 dirac

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 04:16 PM

It's wonderful the way the Internet has made communication among enthusiasts at some distance from one another faster and easier through boards devoted to dance like this one and others. I've learned a lot just by reading other people's posts.


While I think the benefits of culling information from the Internet outweigh the drawbacks, it's worth noting that the drawbacks exist. When I was in school and had to research something, I headed for the library, and I still do. Nowadays people seem to be going to the Internet. I do this also, but only as a preliminary to library research, not as a substitute for it. There is a wealth of useful stuff on the Net, but it can be hard to separate it from the chaff, especially if you're not already well versed in your subject. If you know what you're looking for and have an idea of what's genuine and what isn't, it's great.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 04:35 PM

Diana, I fell as though we've just been given a bouquet of beautiful roses -- we're someone's Start Page :) A web site can have no greater ambition, so thank you.

I've found the Net invaluable, and I very much wish I'd had access to it when I first became interested in ballet. NO ONE I knew would even go to a performance with me. They'd go to plays and concerts, but not ballet, and I had so many questions. Now, I have lots of friends to talk to about the ballet, but we're all of the same mind, or nearly the same mind -- we're in the same "party," if you will -- that it's been wonderful to read so many different points of view. I think there are a lot of differences among generations -- not in age, but in the time one started seeing ballet. There are things that one assumes, because one has seen them, or lived through a particular era, that someone who started going to the ballet a few years ago wouldn't see the same way at all. So just knowing that there are a lot of people who like, or dislike, X or Y ballet for totally different reasons than I'm used to hearing is very valuable. And fun to read.

I do agree with dirac, though, about the downsides, especially for young people who will think that the Internet is the world. It's dangerous to take what you find at face value (try the medical sites some day), it's difficult, especially for someone younger or new to a field, to distinguish between people who actually know what they're talking about and those who don't. I used to read a tech board when I first got on line -- and I knew absolutely nothing when I first put up the site. There was this guy, Sol, who just wanted to give advice, and probably had the best of intentions, but his advice, according to the site's Gray Beards was lethal. They spent much of their time drying the tears of people who had just tried Sol's New Fix and deleted everything on their hard drive, or installing viruses insteads of virus definitions, etc. I find the internet as research tool disquieting, too. People who died before Netdom are less likely to have as much information as someone who won three gold medals last year, and this will skew perceptions as well. (Although this was a problem when I started teaching 15 years ago. In a dance history class, I had people take a modern dance choreographer as a term paper subject, and people came to me, very angry, because there were no books about someone like Anna Sokolow. The idea of doing newspaper or journal research, or checking books about modern dance in that period for a chapter on Sokolow, didn't occur to them.)

#4 Estelle

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 05:26 PM

I first accessed the Internet at the end of 1994 (Wow! I feel like a veteran when saying that! ;) ). I had started veing interested in dance about two years before, had dug through the local libraries to read anything I could find about dance (unfortunately, that wasn't much), had started buying dance magazines and cutting out ballet reviews in newspapers... But I had nobosy to talk with- I could convince my parents to attend a performance from time to time, but they were not especially interested in dance history, analyzing choreographies, etc.

Discovering the Usenet newsgroup alt.arts.ballet (and, a few years later, this site) was a real blessing- at last there were people sharing the same interests! And also it made me learn so many things about dance outside France (French magazines don't talk very much of what's happening in other countries), and also realize that the visions of dance history depend quite a lot of one's country (for example, Ashton is almost unknown in France).

It also was an opportunity to make new friends, and also meet some of them "in real life". And for example, I don't think I'd ever had thought about going to Edinburgh last summer to see the NYCB if I hadn't heard so much of it thanks to this site...

I agree with what has been written about the drawbacks of the Internet, especially for some students who seem to think it's the magic answer to everything. I really makes me feel upset to hear people call it "the world encyclopedia"- well, what a bizarre encyclopedia! There's a wealth of information
(and the amount of information about dance has increased tremendously in a few years), but it's striking to see that when one is looking for something very precise, very often there is far less that what can be found in the average library. There are zillions of page about some TV shows or videogames, but trying to find information about a lesser known author or musician is another matter...

It reminds me of a recent radio program with Jean-Christophe Averty (a radio and TV producer, who incidentally is the father of the POB premiere danseuse Karin Averty). Every week he does a radio program about some rare recordings of jazz of the 20s-30s, from his own collection. Another journalist of the program innocently asked him if he had searched information on the Internet about some musicians, and he replied something like "well, I know more that what I could find". That might sound pretention at first view, but I think it's very likely to be true: he's been collecting records and interviewing people about it for decades, and that's surely more that what can be found now on web pages...

#5 ~A.C~

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Posted 21 August 2001 - 05:38 PM

I agree heartily, Estelle! The internet has connected many different types of people, and it was only a matter of time before dance fans got a go at it! Throutout my time on the net, I have been able to find ballet companies websites, so I could buy tickets and read reviews that I might not have come accross otherwise. This forum is a blessing! There are people from all over the wonderful world, and have different views, and I have found that everytime I go to the ballet, it's a better experience because I know that I'm not the only one who has been there night after night, analyzing choreophy, comparing productions, and revering at the performances. I want to thak you all for teaching me so much, and giving me such joy when I go to a performance! :)

#6 Drew

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Posted 24 August 2001 - 11:43 PM

I love this site and have learned from it -- facts, information about performances, different perspectives, views on ballet outside the U.S. etc. And I enjoy the net generally -- have even published on academic sites on the net, good ones (at least I hope so), and often use it for alternative sources of political information. I only very rarely use it for serious research, usually seeking bibliography. BUT I do often have internet user's remorse. How much time did I spend...? What did my eye doctor say about remembering to blink my eyes...? As far as ballet is concerned, I used to have no-one with whom to discuss ballet -- now I do (hurrah!) but then every stray thought or instant opinion about a performance will come flying out of my fingers and on to the screen, and I do sometimes think about it a day or two later and say to myself: "I can't believe you wrote that! Aargh!" I may even say that to myself about this entry...

[ 08-25-2001: Message edited by: Drew ]

#7 dirac

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Posted 25 August 2001 - 03:18 AM

Well, sometimes spontaneous reactions are the truest. And there's nothing to prevent you from posting your second thoughts!

It's true that the Internet is great for bibliographies. I once tracked down a bibliography on a certain subject, finding a terrific list of books in a matter of minutes. It would have taken me a lot longer the old fashioned way.

I also understand what Drew means about Internet remorse. It's absolutely amazing the amount of time you can spend surfing, checking e-mail, posting messages, all the time feeling that you are living life at full throttle. Then you look at the clock and realize the better part of the evening is totally shot.

The Internet has also given a new definition to the term "well-informed." It used to be that if you read your paper and watched the evening news, subscribed to a few magazines, you could consider yourself well-informed. If I wanted to read, say, Lewis Segal in the Los Angeles Times, I had to toddle down to the kiosk to buy the paper. (Which I still do, as a firm believer in print.) Now, I have no excuse for not knowing what Clement Crisp thought of the Royal in "Swan Lake." (The poet James Merrill never read newspapers. It's increasingly easy for me to understand where he was coming from.)


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