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Tom47

Kinetic Impressions:

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There are certain types of art that I think of as being "Kinetic Impressions." This includes ballet. "Kinetic" refers to pretty much any type of motion - that of people, animals, objects, abstract shapes and other images and it could be live motion or motion that is filmed or recorded by another means. To me the term "Impressions" suggests an immediate effect on the senses that is somewhat vague or suggestive and can be subjective in that people viewing the same impression could perceive it differently and feel differently. What I think of as "Kinetic Impressions" is often associated with music and is enhanced if the movement (the kinetic part) is synchronized with the music. Further "Kinetic Impressions" depend more on images to covey emotions than on words or storylines. These are characteristics that I see in ballet.

I think of "Kinetic Impressions" as falling into two groupings. One is what I think of as "Athletic Arts" and the other is not "Athletic Arts." By "Athletic Arts" I mean performances of physical activity in which if there is competition the competitors do not have to be present at the same time and in which the scoring is complex or subjective or both. Some examples of what I mean by "Athletic Arts" are dance, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, acrobatics and figure skating although there are many others. "Athletic Arts" would also include ballet.

Over time I have become increasingly fascinated by Kinetic Impressions and I have "collected" a large number of examples of that form of art. In many cases these different examples of Kinetic Impressions may not seem very much alike, but I do see important similarities connecting them.

I started this topic as a sort of experiment to see how people respond to these ideas.

Tom,

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The kinesthetic response is fundamental to most animals, including humans. Like smell and taste, the neural connections are very direct (we don't "think" about it much as we experience it) -- the experience is extremely powerful, and our responses are almost automatic.

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Tom47, I'd be interested to know what the second grouping (not "Athletic Arts") would consist of. I don't think of ballet as an Athletic Art, except insofar as some dancers are exceptional turners (Corella) or jumpers (Cornejo), but rather an art that uses classical ballet placement and steps to convey something beyond the kinetic action itself. Even Balanchine, referring to his non-story ballets, said something to the effect of (and I paraphrase here) that when you put a woman and a man onstage, already there is a story.

As an aside, I read in last Tuesday's science section of The New York Times that parrots are the only animals that sway in time to music.

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Sandik, you make a good point. Thank you. I feel that with "Kinetic Impressions" I do experience it instead of thinking about it. Your explanation regarding neural connection makes sense to me.

Tom,

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Angelica, I can understand why you don't think of ballet as an "Athletic Art" and I wouldn't be surprised if there are others who feel the way you do. It is like the discussion as to whether Ballet is an Art or a Sport. While there are certainly differences between dance, gymnastics, synchronized swimming, acrobatics and figure skating, I also feel there is a similarity (I think of them all as forms of dance) and to me that similarity is the display of the artist's physical capabilities, so I tried to find a term that would convey that. Perhaps the one I picked is not the best one and I am opened to suggestions. I agree with your description of ballet as ". . . an art that uses classical ballet placement and steps to convey something beyond the kinetic action itself," but feel that the kinetic action is important in a way that is not present in some other forms of art, so I use the term "Athletic" to modify the word "Art."

As to what I mean by "not Athletic Arts" I wasn't sure how much I would get into that because this is a ballet site. Most if not all of what I consider to be in that category are films, although I would not exclude live action. These films would depend more on moving images to covey emotions or feelings than on words or storylines. To start with are abstract films such as "An Optical Poem" (1938) by Oskar Fischinger. However, the films do not have to be abstract. I would include the 1940 Disney animated film "Fantasia." I suspect that there are people who dislike that film for a number of reasons, but it is my favorite film of all time and I see in it a connection to ballet. Also, I would include many films made without spoken dialog (silent movies). I don't see these films as necessarily lacking something, but as an art form in their own right. Some silent films I feel would be better with spoken dialog, but I feel there are many that are improved by not having spoken dialog. Included among these films are the "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919), "The Toll of the Sea" (1922), "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928) and "The Wind" (1928). There is a film called "Nature's Symphony" in which moving scenes of nature are synchronized with classical music. Some other examples may seem strange. I have found youtube time-lapse videos taken from the forward window of a subway train and accompanied by music. Then there are videos using moving colored bars showing the notes of a piece of music. By their nature there are synchronized with the music.

Your information on parrots is interesting. Thank you for your comment.

Tom,

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The connection between Ballet and "Silent Films:"

I have included both Ballet and films without spoken dialog ("silent films") under a general category I call "Kinetic Impressions." Now, there are many differences between those two art forms, for example "silent films" are not dance in that the movements are not synchronized with music. However, I feel there is an important similarity and that is in both ballet and "silent films" words are not very important. In both "silent films" and almost all ballet spoken words are not used, although in "silent films" there usually are intertitles that are the short sections of film in which words are displayed either to show dialog or to explain what is happening. Because of this both art forms make great use of facial and bodily expression to communicate what is happening and what a character is feeling. This also adds an unreal mood to these art forms, but that is one of the things I like about them. In a sense I feel these oftentimes exaggerated expressions allow me to read the minds of the characters in the performance.

Tom,

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I have a copy of The Royal Ballet School's production of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." In this production some human roles are danced - Peter, Grandfather and the Hunters and some animal roles are danced - Bird, Duck, Cat and Wolf. What particularly interests me in regard to the topic of this thread is that there are also non-human and non-animal dance roles - Meadow, Pond, Forest and Wall. This I feel takes the idea of "Kinetic Impressions" in a different direction in regard to the impressions of these elements. The closest I can think of is the Dance of the Snow Flakes and perhaps the Dance of the Flowers both from "The Nutcracker." Can anyone think of other non-human and non-animal roles? Along with human I am including such "human-like" roles such as Fairies, Shades and Sylphides.

Tom,

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Imspear - thank you for the information. I have never heard of that piece before and found a silent video of Anna Pavlova dancing "California Poppy" and one with Amanda McKerrow dancing the same piece, but with music - very nice. In the process of finding these videos I also found one of Amanda McKerrow dancing "Dragonfly."

Tom,

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Humans name things and in the process of being named these things are often categorized. For example certain types of actions are called "dance" and certain types of dance are called "ballet," so one category of actions is those actions that are dance and one subcategory of dance is those dances that are ballet. I feel there is a tendency among many people and I include myself in that, to make categories black and white. That is actions are either 100% dance or 0% dance, meaning not dance at all and dances are either 100% ballet or 0% ballet, meaning not ballet at all.

But that may not be the most accurate way of looking at the world - fuzzy logic, which I call "blended logic" categories things differently. For example there are certain dances that most people would consider to be ballet and there are certain dances that most people would consider not to be ballet. Using blended logic one would look to see if there might be certain dances which, based on their characteristics and to various degrees could be considered to be mostly ballet and other somewhat ballet and others somewhat not ballet and still others mostly not ballet. Further are there some dances that, in this way, might be considered to be half ballet and half not ballet?

An analogy can be found in colors. My computer can show 256 different "hues" of the rainbow. Pure red has a hue value of 0 (zero), while pure green has a hue value of 85 and pure blue has a hue value of 170. Adding pure green to pure red we move toward orange (21) and yellow (42). Then by removing red we will continue on to pure green (85) when red equals zero. Adding pure blue to pure green will eventually bring us to pure blue (170) when green equals zero then adding red we can reach purple (127) and by removing blue we can go back to pure red (0 or 256). This doesn't mean that orange is the same as red, but that orange is a mixture of red and green, it has some elements or characteristics of red and also some elements or characteristics of green.

Now can we use the same process with dance? While there are some dances that could be considered pure ballet and some that could be considered pure not ballet, are there also some dances that have elements or characteristics associated with ballet and at the same time some elements or characteristic associated with not ballet? That is are there dances that are mixtures of ballet and not ballet?

Tom,

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These are questions that have been continually discussed for quite awhile -- currently, the definition of "contemporary" and "contemporary ballet" are being chewed on. The recent conference at NYU, moderated in part by Jennifer Homans, was an attempt to clarify those terms.

But to answer your final question ("That is are there dances that are mixtures of ballet and not ballet?") more directly, yes, there are many works that incorporate elements of classical ballet that are not, essentially, ballets.

I really don't know what your background is, as a member of the audience, or what your current access is to live or recorded dance, but I have a feeling that there might be some gaps in your background. If your computer access alllows you to watch dancing online, look for a few of these works.

Rodeo by Agnes deMille

Dark Elegies by Antony Tudor

Voluntaries by Glen Tetley

Carmina Burana by John Butler

These are all older works, not examples of contemporary crossover dance. And are mostly works that were created on ballet companies, or at least on ballet-trained dancers. And while deMille and Tudor would have identified themselves as ballet choreographers, Tetley and Butler would likely not. All of these combine ballet vocabulary or a ballet aesthetic with elements of folk or modern dance. I think deMille and Tudor would have identified their works as ballets, while Tetley and Butler would have been less insistent.

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Sandi, my background is as a member of the audience and I consider myself to be a generalist, meaning that I have a general knowledge of a number of different fields including ballet, but not necessarily detailed knowledge so I do have gaps in my knowledge of ballet. I consider my postings on these boards to be general in nature and I hope to and have learned from participating in the discussions and those who have replied to my posts have been very helpful. Your statement ". . .yes, there are many works that incorporate elements of classical ballet that are not, essentially, ballets" and your other comments answers my question very well. I do view dance on my computer and I have started to look for the works you listed, although I cannot always find what I would like to find.

Also thank you for the link to the conference. A particularly interest of mine is in ". . . the definition of 'contemporary' and 'contemporary ballet'" in relationship to the type of dance performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I feel that form of dance is somewhat like ballet.

Tom,

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I think we need to be careful when referencing "classical ballet". I think properly, when generally attributing to the art form, most people these days simply say, "ballet". This is because most people do not analyze it enough to cognize the proliferations of sub genre that have risen out of the -classical- tradition.

Classical ballet is a very specific aesthetic...and technque. For example, most people consider Cecchetti to be a a classicist. Indeed, it wasn't until after he left Russia, eventually becoming ballet master of Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, that he began his work on what we now know as "Cecchetti" technique. And heres the kicker, according to what we -truly- conside classical ballet tob, Cechetti's work is really only "demi-classical": only in part actually, "classical".

The maestro introduced his modern ideas for a modern ballet company, and a Europe entering a modern era:

- Flexed feet in battement frappé and petite battement.

- Totally different uses of positions de bras and ports de bras.

- His protègés later began to experiment with neutral and internal rotation as part of the class, many codifying a "sixth position" as feet together neutral rotation.

- Chassé glissé (gliding from fifth position to fourth or second position in plié was a Cecchetti invention, that was impossible to perform on many of the stage floors of that and previous eras.)

All of these ideas flew in the face of what we -still- know as "Classical ballet."

Modernism, Therapeutics (Johanna Kneeland and David Howard), Neo-Classical Ballet (Balanchine) Contemporary Ballet (Forsyth, Kylian, McIntyre and countless others) - all of these either were either reactions against, or evolutionary movements from Balletic Classicism.

There are tons of definitions of classicism. I have mine...and so sorry, it is a bit long winded!

"Classicism is an engaged form and design, that has maintained a mathematically pure structure and/or 'rules of practice' over generations of time, without deterioration of its form, regardless of improvements made to it. The specificities of criteria, structure and rules of practice are aligned with the classical ideals of purity of form, particularly structures of imagined space within and without the body. These structures include, but are not limited to, the golden ratio, the Platonic solids, Newtonian physics and Pythagorean mathematics.

These structures then are combined to support a classical aesthetic of purity and communication, so that abstract and literal information is passed to witnesses, the audience, according to the axioms of traditions of post-helenistic classicism. The resulting classical tradition must be maintained by 1) holding and maintaining the criteria and rule of method, 2) adapting and increasing the form to current eras and 3) promoting its import as a 'pure' and 'balanced' form throughout successive generations, applying the use of lineage of pedagogues, decorum and functional ritual as tools for communal cohesion."

There is, of course, much more to this.

To the original point of your thread begun so many months ago, "kinetic impressions": I think we need to think a little more broadly than the two fold aesthetics or athletics you mention. To identify merely athleticism from aesthetics, and visa versa, I think, misses the point. Kinetics are witnessed by the mover with "intra-haptics", meaning felt-sense or embodied. They "feel" the movement, space, flow in time within themselves. (This is regardless of whether or not they are an athlete or an "artist-aesthetician" ...aka, dancer). Or, they are witnessed by an observer; (You, a balletomane / fan watching Swan Lake, Four Temperaments, or a fancy dance at a Pow-Wow...or a fat guy guzzling his beer watching a football game on tv!)

I think Kinetic impressions are personal. We can express them verbally or in writing. Or, an impression can be expressed through other art forms. As an observer of the art form, unlike dancers or ex-dancer pedagogues (like me), you may have a much more objective view. Conversely, possibly, you may attempt to put yourself in the dancers' place and feel the dance while you watch it. (I don't know what it does for other, but it does work for me!) Either way, maybe it has less to do with the type of movement making the impression, rather with what the observer is witnessing (self, other...or....?) and -then- what impression they are left with.

So glad you posted this to this forum. Good subject!

-Philip

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Also thank you for the link to the conference. A particularly interest of mine is in ". . . the definition of 'contemporary' and 'contemporary ballet'" in relationship to the type of dance performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I feel that form of dance is somewhat like ballet.

I think that part of what you are seeing that you identify as "like ballet" is the training of the dancers rather than the choreography -- at this point in the development of the company, everyone dancing for Ailey is trained at least partially in ballet. Ailey's own work drew extensively on his experiences with Lester Horton, whose technique did include extended shapes that resemble ballet, but the use of the torso in relationship to the legs is very different.

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Philip, I found your comment interesting, but due to my lack of detailed knowledge on the subject I will need to re-read your post a number of times to be able to begin to understand it in regard to ballet. You do bring up a good point in talking about the difference between the sensation of the movement felt by the performer herself and the sensation of the person watching this movement. However, I am not sure what you mean by ". . . misses the point."

Just to be clear "kinetic impressions" is something I made up and spoke about, I think, detail. If a person understands the two words kinetic impressions (without the quotes) to be something other than what I wrote about then that person is referring to something other than "kinetic impressions" (with the quotes). I wrote that "kinetic impressions" are types of art and I do not consider all images or movements to be art so while football certainly is movement I do not consider it to be art and therefore I do not consider it to be a form of "kinetic impressions." Also "kinetic impressions" can include movement that is not human movement for example abstract animation. However, I do consider some "sports" to be "kinetic impressions." These would be what I think of as the "beautiful sports" or "artistic sports" Gymnastics, Synchronized Swimming, Figure Skating, etc. although I prefer to call them "Athletic Arts" emphasizing the term Art. And by the way I am looking forward to viewing some them during the upcoming Olympics.

As is the case with others in this forum you have much more knowledge of ballet than I do. Also thank you for the compliment.

Tom,

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Yes, Sandi it is the case that some of what I see as "like ballet" is a result of the training of the dancers and I have no doubt that there are differences in regard to the torso and the legs. Some of what I see as similarity between the two forms of dance is the intensity and the exaggeration of movement in both that I do not see as much in some other forms of dance.

I was able to find and watch parts of Rodeo, Voluntaries and Carmina Burana. My judgment of what is or what is not ballet is based on my impression and not on objective knowledge of movements. I did consider Rodeo and Carmina Burana to be somewhat of a mixture of ballet and contemporary or some other form of dance, but I felt Voluntaries was pretty much what I feel is ballet. In the past I have seen Balanchine's Western Symphony and based on my memory of it I feel it is somewhere between Rodeo and what I feel is ballet.

Tom,

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Yes, Sandi it is the case that some of what I see as "like ballet" is a result of the training of the dancers and I have no doubt that there are differences in regard to the torso and the legs. Some of what I see as similarity between the two forms of dance is the intensity and the exaggeration of movement in both that I do not see as much in some other forms of dance.

I was able to find and watch parts of Rodeo, Voluntaries and Carmina Burana. My judgment of what is or what is not ballet is based on my impression and not on objective knowledge of movements. I did consider Rodeo and Carmina Burana to be somewhat of a mixture of ballet and contemporary or some other form of dance, but I felt Voluntaries was pretty much what I feel is ballet. In the past I have seen Balanchine's Western Symphony and based on my memory of it I feel it is somewhere between Rodeo and what I feel is ballet.

Tom,

Think about Western Symphony without the costumes and sets, and with a click-track rather than the orchestrations of folk tunes, which is to say, think of Western Symphony by itself. And then do the same with Rodeo.

Square Dance might be a better example. Without the pigtails and bales of hay, it's a neo-classical ballet to baroque music.

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Sandi, I am not sure what you mean. For example I do not know what a "click-track" means. I did view a half minute of "Square Dance," both with the sound on and the sound off and I feel it has more in common with what I see as ballet than Rodeo does, of course that was only 30 seconds so that may have affected my judgment. I found a website from Pacific Northwest Ballet (here https://www.pnb.org/repertorylist/square-dance/) where "Square Dance" is described as combining ". . . classical ballet, 17th century court dance, and American country dancing." On the same website George Balanchine is quoted as saying "Ballet and other forms of dance of course can be traced back to folk dance . . . and it occurred to me that it would be possible to combine these two different types of dance, the folk and the classical, in one work." This indicates to me that this work is a blending of two or more forms of dance. In the little of "Rodeo" that I have seen I feel the steps where the dancers were miming riding on horses to be a mixture of ballet and contemporary dance. It also seems to me, particularly from what you wrote in your post of July 16th, that you think there is blending or overlap between ballet and some other form of dance in the cases of Rodeo, Dark Elegies, Voluntaries and Carmina Burana. Am I understanding you correctly? I very much appreciate you taking the time to reply to me.

Tom,

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Sandi, I am not sure what you mean. For example I do not know what a "click-track" means. I did view a half minute of "Square Dance," both with the sound on and the sound off and I feel it has more in common with what I see as ballet than Rodeo does, of course that was only 30 seconds so that may have affected my judgment. I found a website from Pacific Northwest Ballet (here https://www.pnb.org/repertorylist/square-dance/) where "Square Dance" is described as combining ". . . classical ballet, 17th century court dance, and American country dancing." On the same website George Balanchine is quoted as saying "Ballet and other forms of dance of course can be traced back to folk dance . . . and it occurred to me that it would be possible to combine these two different types of dance, the folk and the classical, in one work." This indicates to me that this work is a blending of two or more forms of dance. In the little of "Rodeo" that I have seen I feel the steps where the dancers were miming riding on horses to be a mixture of ballet and contemporary dance. It also seems to me, particularly from what you wrote in your post of July 16th, that you think there is blending or overlap between ballet and some other form of dance in the cases of Rodeo, Dark Elegies, Voluntaries and Carmina Burana. Am I understanding you correctly? I very much appreciate you taking the time to reply to me.

Tom,

A click track is a pre-recorded or synthesized metronome -- rather like rehearsing with someone snapping their fingers to keep the pulse rather than listening to the score.

Your observation about Square Dance (that it seems more like "ballet" to you) is what I meant -- for all that the work originally had a set made of hay bales, and the dancers wore costumes that resembled square dance skirts, in its structure, it most closely resembles Balanchine's other abstract, neo-classical works. Yes, ballet and square dance are both descended from the social dances of the 16th and 17th century, and there do share some fundamental elements in terms of floor patterns and the use of groups, but the folk elements in Square Dance are mostly decorative. In Rodeo, deMille worked in incorporate the kinetic material as well as the scenic elements. In this, her work resembles Massine's in his use of folk dance materials.

Tudor's Dark Elegies is mostly made of classical ballet steps, but they are shaped to emphasize emotional expression. Tetley's Voluntaries carries emotional resonance, in much the same way. Neither one of them really looks like Square Dance, but they all three come from a similar heritage.

And yet, we refer to all of these works as ballets, in part because their creators said so.

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Sandi I thank you for all of the help you have given me in improving my understanding of ballet.

Tom, :-)

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Just a short note - I've been watching Artistic Gymnastics (Olympics) and I get a similar feeling in watching it as I get in watching dance, this is particularly the case with women's floor exercises and even the balance beam (a women only event).

Tom,

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