"Born to Be Wild"
Posted 05 February 2003 - 08:44 PM
First of all, there is no evidence that he is hostile to classical ballet. He has, in fact, been commissioned to do works for several ballet companies, including ABT and NYCB. While he joked on film about reading the score, it's worth noting that he can read music while Peter Martins can't, tying Morris more closely to the Balanchine heritage than NYCB's present director. (Unlike Mr. B, however, Morris does not write his own piano reductions of a score for rehearsals. The parallel is far from perfect.) Having seen many of his works, I can assure you that Mortris blends classical and modern techniques (dancers do appear en pointe), creates with a wonderful musicality, and hires, almost exclusively, dancers with classical training.
Second, he was asked to create a 7-minute piece d'occasion, not the new Sleeping Beauty. Rehearsal time was limited, performance conditions (from the filmmakers point of view) far from ideal. So Morris made a noble effort. I doubt that he or anyone involved in the program mourns the fact that Non Troppo is unlikely to get a second performance.
In addition, I would like to echo the many tributes to the background sections of the mini-bios. The astonishing Alonso, for example, is worth a whole evening of PBS programming, and the way she created world-class dancers in the less-than-promising atmosphere of Castor's Cuba is worth longer study.
Similarly, Malakhov's tale reminded me of Alexendra Danilova's memoir of her life before and after the Russian Revolution -- going from the pampered darlings of the Tsar to gifted kids struggling to find food, while rehearsing in unheated studios.
An opportunity missed, alas, but like everyone else, I'm delighted that something about dance reached a national audience.
Finally, I am distressed to learn that tolerance is viewed exclusively as a concern of "coasters." I had hoped that Matthew Shepherd did not die in vain.
Posted 05 February 2003 - 10:01 PM
I'm sure Mark Morris isn't hostile to classical ballet. But he's not furthering the tradition either, and that's what people here are hoping for and talking about when they voice reservations. Morris can read music, certainly, but Martins knows the vocabulary of ballet, and though Morris knows choreography (and yes his dancers take a ballet class which he teaches, blah blah blah) he doesn't know ballet. I've seen his choreography for ballet companies - though I have not seen this documentary. He's not in the tradition; it isn't his base idiom. He doesn't intimately know how pointe shoes work (I'm glad this wasn't about ABT's women.) or what classical port de bras are. He's not a ballet choreographer. It doesn't make him a bad choreographer, and being a ballet choreographer doesn't make Martins either better or worse. It just makes him a ballet choreographer. But if you were hoping for the next great Yiddish writer to come along and someone said that the only Yiddish publishing house in town would be doing yet another great English novel translated into Yiddish, you'd feel cheated. Sure, it's a great novel. It's even in Yiddish. But if you try and tell me it's a Yiddish novel, I'm going to tell you every single time that it ain't.
Posted 05 February 2003 - 10:12 PM
I do wish we could get away from thinking that "he's not a ballet choreographer" means "he is not a good choreographer." Apples and melons.
Morris Neighbor, I think there are quite a few modern dance choreographers who hire dancers with classical training because, as Tharp once said, "I want the best technique I can get." And they use that technique, but in a different way than a ballet choreographer would use it. The concern isn't with stylistic niceties, linking steps. I don't think Morris would claim that he's from the Balanchine heritage, though.
Posted 06 February 2003 - 12:56 AM
Posted 06 February 2003 - 06:01 AM
Posted 06 February 2003 - 06:49 AM
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.
Posted 06 February 2003 - 07:19 AM
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.
Posted 06 February 2003 - 07:36 AM
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.
Posted 06 February 2003 - 07:44 AM
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."
Posted 06 February 2003 - 08:49 AM
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.
Posted 07 February 2003 - 02:06 PM
(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?)
Posted 11 February 2003 - 08:22 AM
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?
Posted 11 February 2003 - 09:31 PM
Posted 12 February 2003 - 03:37 AM
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!
Posted 12 February 2003 - 05:36 AM
He also complained that they sing too much pop music and don't do it well.
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