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Alexandra

"Born to Be Wild"

71 posts in this topic

I haven't read through all the posts, so if I repeat anything, forgive me!:(

The music for the DANCE IN AMERICA piece is the same Morris uses in V, which his company premiered in Fall 2001. With V he uses the complete Schuman piece, not just the finale.

Mark Morris hostile to ballet? What about DRINK TO ME WITH ONLY THINE EYES? It's lovely and delicately classical. GONG is a more agressive-looking because of the pulsating score and daring (for ABT) duets performed in silence, but uses classical ballet language to the fullest. I started taking Angel Corella seriously as a dancer after seeing him in GONG because Morris didn't make him do tricks.

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Before this gets completetly out of context, no one said that Morris was hostile to ballet.

Justafan said, several threads up:

Yet I don't think the whole Morris thing worked on a number of different levels. Was it just me, or didn't anyone else think the comments from Morris' dance mistress were hostile to ballet? She basically said Morris doesn't like to choreograph ballet because it's basically "tricks" and he's grounded in the music. But these dancers are so superior, he will deign to choregraph on them and create a musical piece! I was really put off by that comment and found myself scratching my head as to why that was included in the program.

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Whether or not Morris is hostile to ballet -- and since chooses to work with ballet companies fairly often, it suggests that he is not -- I raised the hostility issue because I thought the remarks made by his ballet mistress were superfluous and somewhat hostile. My memory could be faulty, but I think she said that Mark generally considers ballet full of "tricks" and he is more grounded in the music. I think she went on to say that these guys were different, so that he wanted to do this piece.

I thought that whole remark was very strange and wondered why the producers felt the need to include it. Since the program was ostensibly aimed at promoting ballet -- or at least these ballet dancers -- why include a remark which to my mind is a groundless criticism: ballet is not as musical as other dance forms and just a bunch of tricks? Just as odd is the fact that it didn't ring true -- Morris often choreographs with ballet companies.

Whether or not his compositions are ballet is a different issue. But I do agree with most of the other posters. He was an odd choice of choreographer for a ballet program and for a program designed to make the whole art form seem "macho."

Although I enjoyed the program overall, I think some parts of the program didn't add up. Maybe they were trying to tell people already interested in modern dance: hey, you should try ballet. But that's a pretty small group of people. If they were really trying to broaden the audience by highlighting well-known choreographers that have broad appeal they would have brought in Susan Stroman or someone like that. And made some parallel comparisons to ballet and Broadway. I'm not saying they should have done that: I think they should have stuck to ballet.

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Paul Taylor lets his work be used by ballet companies all the time and yet is on record as saying that he disliikes ballet. (He's entitled.) Modern dancers often condescend to ballet in their public musings. Basically, the company line is: it's dumb, it's too pretty, it's just steps, it's mindless virtuosity, etc etc etc. But gosh, they can turn, can't they? So let's take that facility and..... I'd note that probably the public dance figure who is the most hostile to ballet at the moment is Mikhail Baryhsnikov, who seems to take every possible opportunity to blast ballet as archaic and boring.

There are some modern dancers, of course, who do love ballet and genuinely appreciate it. And there are ballet people who condescend to modern dance -- anybody can do it, it's clumsy, etc. But there is definitely hostility out there, I agree, and I also agree that it's out of place in a show about ballet. I think when someone makes a remark like that, it indicates that he/she assumes everyone is in agreement on the matter; it's a "truth." And of course, everyone and anyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But if the people putting this program together really believed in BALLET, not cute guys dancing, there would have been a different slant, I think.

There's a school in New Yorik, especially, whose belief system is "Modern dance and Balanchine are good. Everything else is negligible." I know many people like this. And I think this shows in today's media coverage of ballet. What there is of it.

I'm waiting for "Big and Hairy: The Three Tenors Get Down and Dirty."

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Originally posted by Alexandra

But if the people putting this program together really believed in BALLET, not cute guys dancing, there would have been a different slant, I think.

To me this is the core of the matter. I think the people who put together the program were thinking back to the old days when Baryshnikov was a heart-throb (sp?) and wanting to recreate that. But although we heard a lot about Baryshikov's love life, in fact it was his fantastic leaping that got people's attention.

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I suspect the program was more in line with television programs of the past such as Gene Kelly's "Dancing is a Man's Game" and one on Edward Villella called, I think, "Edward Villella: A Man Who Dances" or something like that. They're meant to showcase dance, and secondarily ballet, as something that it's okay for (straight) guys to do. This is well-intentioned, but it's certainly not ideal if you're hoping for a show on ballet dancers that showcases their art, which I think most of us were. It's not an attack on Morris to say that he isn't a choreographer ideally suited to the latter purpose (or the former, as some have pointed out).

(I also wonder if modern dance choreographers work with ballet companies not only for the opportunity to work with dancers with those special skills, but also for access to the larger opera-house audience they might have more difficulty reaching otherwise?)

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Well, this program has finally rolled across the Oregon Trail to be viewed in Portland. I think its so quaint that OPB ships the PBS specials in covered wagons. Its so much more organic and envoirnmentally friendly that those high tech satellite thingies....

I would have to agree with those who found the People magazine treatment a weakness. My pet peeve was the overuse of Le Corsaire clips. My favorites were the competition clips with all their youthful zest. To see the great Alonzo and hear the Cuban audience was another. I found the Morris piece underwhelming, but would agree with Morris Meighbor's thoughts on the matter.

One burning question remains:

Will these guys have to get chest hair implants before they can be Artistic Directors?

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I liked the program in general -- at least the dance footage -- and the Morris piece in particular for a reason that's important to me as an adult ballet student: I got to see how all four dancers, each with their own style, made the same steps their own. Malakhov's petit allegro was very different from Carreno's, from Stiefels, etc. The ability to see four spectacularly gifted dancers doing the same steps at the same time (instead of one night after the other) was really wonderful.

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I am a bit confused. I recognize that this is the first time in a long time that ballet has been put in the limelight like this, a documentary, newspaper and magazine reviews, discussions on the Internet. This is great but I do not see how these four men, collectively, are really so much better than the male dancers who were performing with ABT during the 1980's. There was of course Baryshnikov himself, Anthony Dowell, Johann Renvall, Julio Bocca, Danilo Radojevic, Ricardo Bustamante, Wes Chapman...these are just a few. If we discuss the PR value of this program I can agree upon the basis of these discussions, but to not recognize the accomplishments of the many dancers who paved the way is difficult for me. This is not a first in the history of ABT.

Also Morris did make a remark regarding the fact that these young men are doing steps that did not exist previously to Baryshnikov inventing them. I do not have the direct quote as I have only seen it once, but the inference was there. It is a disappointment that Mr. Morris has not taken an interest to read even a pedagogy book or two on Russian ballet. Some of the books were written before the birth of Baryshnikov and the steps existed then. It is just too misleading. Perhaps Mr. Morris had never seen these steps before but they did indeed exist, some of them for centuries.

It is too bad that the documentary highlighted the Morris piece as it did not do the virtuoso abilities and artistic temperments of these four justice. They are indeed remarkable dancers. We all have our favorites. They tended to look average to me. Sorry!

:eek:

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It's interesting to imagine the effect a p.r. campaign to push these men might have. There is a real parallel here between their packaging and that of the Three Tenors. Yesterday, while driving my favorite young dancer to class, I heard Sound Check on WNYC, which had a program about Jose Carreras. In talking about the Three Tenors, the opera critic (I think it was Fred Plotkin) said the three tenors do not draw people to opera; they only draw people to themselves.

He also complained that they sing too much pop music and don't do it well.

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vrsfanatic, thank you for raising those points -- that there have been find male dancers with ABT before (going back to Erik Bruhn it the 1960s, and with the possible exception of Malakhov, none of the current young men equals that standard, IMO) AND questioning Morris's comment about the steps being new. Good grief!

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Oh Alexandra, how could I forget Eric Bruhn. What a numbskull I am. Thanks for the glorious recollection!:)

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I am addressing this topic because just watched this program today. I agree with most of the comments already posted about it. I have a few comments and questions.

1. Malakov:

I have not yet seen "Le Corsaire." Do all dancer land on a deep plie or is this unusual to Malakov?

My Russian pup has the same nickname (diff. sp.) as Malakov. Extra puppy treats tonight!

2. Carreno:

This was the second interview I have seen with him, and I am so impressed by his dancing, as well as how sweet he is.

3. Stiefel:

Was Gillian Murphy the woman with straight hair on the red carpet with him? If it was her, she looked terrific.

I was very embarassed by the marketing of the four dancers, generally, and Stiefel, in particular. When I saw "Center Stage," I disliked his character, but told myself that the movie was a piece of fiction. Of course, I enjoyed his dancing. However, this program tried to portray him like his movie character. I felt like I was watching the "Simpsons" cartoon episode, in which a producer is casting the "bad, cool boy" character for a four piece boy band. The marketing was heavy handed and insulting. (See below)

4. Corella:

He was on Sesame Street -- that is so much better p.r., and so much more cool. I can't help it - I love Cookie Monster and Oscar.

Corella's dancing is delightful. Just looking at his eyes could evoke tears.

His Russian dance as a child was remarkable.

Is there a left and right handedness in turning? I believe Corella's spins were in a different direction than the other dancers.

5. McKenzie:

I could not understand why his shirt was unbuttoned so far down, but then I read the comments above. The loud music, the title, the harley doo-rag, all left me needing a shower. Is something like that ever effective?

6. Alonso:

The photograph of her, in her youth, was the most beautiful aspect of the program. Her eyes were stunning.

I enjoyed her evident pride in Correno.

7. Morris:

Critics in newspapers always feel the need to comment on MM's lack of beauty as well as his oddness. I was, therefore, surprised to see how nice his eyes were, as well as how down to earth he seemed.

8. D'Amboise:

When I looked at the screen, I saw a prince. When I turned away, I heard the voices of my great uncles and cousins from Brooklyn and the Bronx. Then, Morris remarked that dancers should dance, not speak. Was he really speaking to those of us who were born in the Outer Boroughs, and not his remarkable four dancers? I still cannot shake this accent, so maybe I should have been given dance lessons from my youth...

In sum, I enjoyed the movie, and learned a lot, but not enough. I feel so greedy, but I want more.

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I have yet to see this movie, so will go straight to answering one of your questions:

Is there a left and right handedness in turning? I believe Corella's spins were in a different direction than the other dancers.

Definitely! It's always interesting to discover which dancers turn better to the left.

Your comments are very enjoyable to read, puppytreats! I, too, have a brother and cousins who speak Noo Yawk, my brother 'Lawn Guyland' and my twin male cousins a Queens dialect. I stipulate because, contrary to certain studies which refute the differences, those of us from NYC know a Brooklyn accent is not the same as a Long Island accent, a Bronx accent is different from a Queens, and so on. The differences the ear perceives may be due to ethnic influences as well, of course.

I LOVE hearing Jacques d'Amboise speak! It makes me feel so at home. He was born in Massachusetts but grew up in upper Manhattan - Washington Heights - a tough neighbourhood at the time, where talking tough helped one survive! (Eddie Villella grew up similarly in Bayside, Queens, and his New York accent is a little different, perhaps because of the Italian influence of his parents.)

As for Malakhov's deep plié, I have not seen many other dancers do it like he does. I've seen the video of his Lankendam and find its remarkable pliancy unique. He was 31 years old at the time and I wonder how long he was able to do it (I mean until what age!)

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Ah, yes, Judy Kinberg did produce all those Great Performance and Dance in America shows in the seventies and eighties, but the real genius of how to film dance, Emile Ardolino, is no longer with us, and so, while Judy is no slouch, the great center of the process is gone, from a motion-recording standpoint. Of course, we all know that the actual center of a program about dance is the dance, but that's what Emile recorded, with great accuracy and élan.

YES! YES! YES! Producers pull together a project and push it to completion, but the director actually makes it. I was very sad when Mr. Ardolino passed away.

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I am addressing this topic because just watched this program today. I agree with most of the comments already posted about it. I have a few comments and questions.

. . .

4. Corella:

Is there a left and right handedness in turning? I believe Corella's spins were in a different direction than the other dancers.

. . .

In sum, I enjoyed the movie, and learned a lot, but not enough. I feel so greedy, but I want more.

Angel Corella is right-handed, but turns left. (The rest of us usually turn better on the same side as our stronger hand.)

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Thanks for that bit of info. I didn't know which hand Corella wrote with, so couldn't insert that point of interest! It's what makes the choice of side for turning even more intriguing, that it doesn't (always) have to do with one's handedness!

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Thanks for that bit of info. I didn't know which hand Corella wrote with, so couldn't insert that point of interest! It's what makes the choice of side for turning even more intriguing, that it doesn't (always) have to do with one's handedness!

Is there such a strong general corrolation between turning direction and handedness?

It is true that most people are right-handed and most people are right-turners. But I'm not sure that most left-turners are left-handed.

I know that (like Angel Corella) I'm not :)

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Marga,

Thanks! I don't know how anyone could confuse a LongIsland accent for anything else (I have done my stints in the Bronx, LI, and Queens), but I think the prior two generations, from Da Bronx and Brooklyn, have had the most influence on my speech patterns. Comparing the words, "four" and "water", as spoken by my AZ relatives and me, has always been endlessly amusing.

4mrdncr,

I write with my left hand but cut with my right. I can't wait to find out how I will pirouette (but I am far from that point, still).

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Just a BTW: I'm right-handed and used to turn better on the right, but I remember prepping differently for each when I had to do turns in a specific direction. On the right I was more concerned with technique and placement (a 'left-brain' approach), whereas on the left I used to try NOT to think about the "how" and just kind of instinctively do it (ie. a more 'right-brain approach). I remember being very happy as a young dancer when I could nail doubles on the left without thinking, but never thought my triples were as good as those on the right. BTW: I also had better control on the right, but better balance on the left. (Don't know how normal--or not--any of this is.) These days I'm just happy if I can still 'spot' correctly without resorting to my tri-focal contact lenses.

PS. I don't think Angel was aware of any connection between 'handedness' and turning aptitude when I asked him about it some years ago. He told me he started turning left at a young age, but not that it was necessarily an unconscious choice.

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I've been thinking a great deal about this right-turn, left-turn thing lately, as I try to achieve perfect pirouettes. At the ripe old age of 100 (well, you know), I'll take perfect singles, maybe an occasional double on a good day. I'm right-handed, but I pirouette better en dehors to the left and better en dedans to the right. I do pique turns better to the right. I've been under the impression that that's because my right leg is stronger than my left, and so I can pull up onto it more easily and it holds me more securely. When I see dancers who turn to the left, I've wondered whether that's because their right legs are stronger than their left legs. Any thoughts?

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