Does it bother you when dancers fall?
Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:40 AM
Is this a generally shared perception, or did I just hit the wrong half of the hall?
Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:58 AM
Of course slips, falls, and other unplanned stage occurrences are part of live performance. I wonder rather darkly if audiences aren't less and less accustomed to live performances, particularly younger audiences, and more inclined to expect perfection - the perfection they get from television and film.
Posted 08 June 2001 - 10:00 AM
To answer the question of whether or not it bothers me when dancers fall in performance? It bothers me only from the point-of-view of concern. I am worried that they may have hurt themselves, if it looks like a hard fall.
[I missed the MCB season, as I was out of town...so can't comment on the specific incident that you cite.]
[ 06-08-2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]
Posted 08 June 2001 - 10:15 AM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 10:27 AM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 11:35 AM
It is the same when a singer in an opera cracks on a note--not just sings flat, but either completely misses it or makes a really odd and unpleasant (and painful sounding) noise. As part of a three hour performance of hundreds of steps or measures of music it doesn't mean much.
I wonder what dancers on the board feel, when instead of "bourree, bourree, jete" the steps become "bourree, bourree, splat".
Is it the same attitude as a professional athlete--you have to forget about the errors right away because dwelling on them will just distract you from the rest of the perfomance?
Posted 08 June 2001 - 12:30 PM
Kirkland always fell. You wanted her to do it and get it over with. But I heard a story once that makes me feel many people do think of a fall as a "mistake" -- as Jeannie pointed out, losing two-tenths of a point. Kirkland was going to appear as a guest with one of our best regional ballet companies. The board, or at least some board members, wanted a Big Name guest star (this is one of the things that makes a company "regional" ) She came, she fell. The company's ballerina, dancing the same role the next night, never slipped once. This, I was told, "proved" to the board that the company had outgrown the need for guest artists, because they were better.
Posted 08 June 2001 - 01:16 PM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 01:16 PM
Luckily, I've never seen anyone get hurt.
Posted 08 June 2001 - 01:33 PM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 07:02 PM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 07:05 PM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:13 PM
Overall, I more or less have the "Balanchine" attitude. With certain dancers in particular, one can see them "going for it" and it's so thrilling that one supports and applauds them even if they fall. (Certainly, other than concern for injuries, I do not, in those cases, react negatively.)
The first time I saw Elizabeth Platel, I had never heard of her, and was just delighted as she danced the Queen of the Wilis with real daring -- big expressive jumps -- but did in the end take a pretty bad fall. As I remember, the Kirov's Chestyakova fell or slipped at the company's Kennedy Center appearances quite frequently; she was usually cast in some top soloist variation and she always was doing, seemingly, the most difficult imaginable version, e.g. triple piroettes where others settled for two, extra beats during a jump etc. However, the Kirov (at that time) had such a surface quality of classical precision that I sometimes found myself wishing she would just do the simpler thing and do it smoothly and accurately. But I still admired her guts.
On the other hand -- and concern for injuries aside...if I see a lackluster or problematic performance in which, for example, a dancer is quite sloppy in all of his/her landings and the whole thing culminates with a slip or a fall, I'm more inclined to view it critically. I'll think "x" wasn't in control of the movements and the slip just confirms the larger problem. I think I've even written things to this effect at ballet alert -- 'so and so having an off night and slipped out of her turns' etc.
I do very much agree with what has been said above about general audiences. I think, for many of them, a fall does mean that obviously, the dancer has screwed up and that's just bad. I've noticed, too, that when I go to the ballet with someone who really knows NOTHING about dance, there is a certain insecurity factor; when they see a fall they feel at least that they know what they saw and that they know what it means -- a mistake. Although, at the risk of contradicting myself, I do think that in an inchoate way even a less educated ballet audience can occasionally tell the difference between an exciting dancer who takes a spill and a dancer who just isn't dancing well. Don't know about the Miami ballet incident -- and of course with a corps dancer one may not be noticing that dancer in particular until the fall. Occasionally, too, one gets a sympathy response -- you can hear it in the applause when the dancer who stumbled takes a bow.
I am interested in Sonora's comment about the audiences lack of experience with live performance -- I bet that IS an aspect of the problem. Everybody is used to the often inhuman and usually manufactured polish of film and video...so they really don't know how to 'see' a fall EXCEPT as a blot.
Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:41 PM
A lighter side of falls, from Ivor Guest (from memory, so I hope I'm not combining two different dancers into one story), there was a young coryphee who fell during a solo and did not get up. Her fellow dancers were terrified and thought she had suffered an injury bad enough to render her unconscious. They "formed a pretty little grouping" and carried her off. Offstage, she revived instantly, dusted herself off and thanked them. They expressed their displeasure, but she replied that her lover was in the audience and she had no intention of making a fool of herself in front of him. I believe this is the same girl -- but it may have been a different one -- whom the ladies of the Opera in the 1850s dubbed "La Niagra" (because of her falls).
Posted 09 June 2001 - 07:14 PM
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