Sarah Kaufman's article on the International Ballet Festival
Posted 02 February 2003 - 10:05 AM
Read the quotes about the internationalization of the repertory in the middle and see what you think.
Posted 03 February 2003 - 09:56 AM
I was amused by McKenzie's "we're not eclectic -- we're all-encompassing." But that begs the question of whether "all-encompassing" is a Good Thing. I just don't see that a ballet company has any business doing Martha Graham.
Kaiser says, "National style has become more of a romantic notion than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Ballet has become more athletic. The idea of the blushing British ballerina doesn't really exist anymore." I applaud Kaiser for what he's accomplishing in Washington, but this seems just a tad condescending to me ("romantic notion," "blushing British ballerina").
Posted 03 February 2003 - 03:01 PM
But I don't see enough of ABT to have an educated opinion on this. I hope those who do will jump in on this.
Posted 03 February 2003 - 03:04 PM
Posted 04 February 2003 - 03:24 AM
Also, it appears to my eyes that most of these dancers can do ten pirouttes in a perfect position and finish beautifully. Both quantity and quality. Same for Sylvie and her extensions - it does not bother me, but then I look for what whe is saying versus going orgasmic over how high her leg is. Unfortunately many in the audience gasp at the circus......
Unfortunately too, acting seems to be a lost art. I do not think the quantity is to blame, but is the result of a culture of television/movies (special effects), video games (immediate explosions) and winning is everything.
But I agree with you that I would much rather see a clean, well acted/danced, personal performance over a bland, numerically exponential one. And I leave the theater usually without much enjoyment or as an AD used to say - BORING -
Posted 04 February 2003 - 08:23 AM
I think there have been times when there are brakes on the dancers' push for quantity, though, and at least four of the great choreographers -- Bournonville, Ashton, Tudor and Balanchine -- harnessed technique in the service of artistry, using bravura rarely and never for its own sake. That's what I mean about the quantity/quality debate. (Bournonville would make the women sew a thread between their legs to their skirts to prevent the leg from going too high; that's one way to do it.)
I take your point that there can be quality with the quantity, but even ten perfectly done pirouettes can do harm in the wrong ballet, I think. I was struck by that in McKenzie's "Swan Lake." Siegfried never stays still for a minute -- he's a little gnat, bouncing and bounding about. He could have Attention Deficit Disorder, a disease for which ballet's princes are not known. So when poor Odette comes on to do her 19th century steps with their 19th century purity, the balance of the ballet is upset. She cannot be the ballerina.
I also think that directors can be quite different than they were as dancers; I don't think dancer behavior is always predictive of how one will be as a director, although it can be.
Posted 04 February 2003 - 11:38 AM
You are correct in that there is a time and place for it and it is up to the AD or choreographer to enforce that discipline. I remember doing pas de deux with every lift one handed and as many turns as would fit, only to be reprimanded for my lack of taste - "this is not a circus" - I did it on my own and was not coached in that direction, although my partner was somewhat a co-conspirator.
Bournonville always seemed to me the perfect balance of clean, exciting technique and artistry/acting.
Posted 05 February 2003 - 07:43 AM
I can be had for cheap thrills -- for a time -- but it worries me that the next generation audience doesn't know these are cheap thrills. There's a parallel here to today's Kisselgoff review of the latest Graham company performance where technique -- the essential Graham was blurred or deliberately distorted. Quite fascinating.
Posted 05 February 2003 - 08:00 AM
Posted 05 February 2003 - 09:03 AM
So I stand by my point. I want to know what McKenzie says to all this. And I want him questioned by someone serious like you or Sarah who will know when/if he's weasel around. Her problem isn't McKenzie playing elusive, it's The Post -- and other major dailies that seem to view criticism as a brief "they danced pretty" summary -- making it difficult to get space for ideas about art as well as personality. You and Sarah are able to wedge their brains open more often these days. Keep on the pressure. Audiences deserve these strong-minded stories.
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