miliosr

1978 . . . and Today

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Regardless of the limitations, I'm glad we have video of some Tetley and Tudor, especially the Tudor with Sallie Wilson, because the alternative is relying entirely on memory, where the works weren't notated.  And enough works have been lost that way.

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I don't want to decry video -- I've got a lot, and love it all.  But I want even more -- I want some kind of accurate record of a dance, so that when someone in the future wants to know who this Tudor guy was and why we should care, there will be something substantive there to work with.

 

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That would be great.  But video is better than having nothing to work with.

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A video often shows only a single perspective, though a few camera positions would obviously be possible (and I think necessary to show all the nuances of a performance). But I suppose the only thing that would be truly 'accurate' would be to use 3D motion sensors to capture a dancer's movements in toto - that might be helpful to store the information for future reference. So far, there isn't a way to do that during a public performance without ruining the appearance of the dancers.

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Posted (edited)

I always find that video – and film but differently – leaves out the poetry of the performance and adds another poetry, one of interesting but distracting visual artifacts.

 

The choice of a slightly telephoto or slightly wide lens (like that of an iPhone or, more extemely, that of Google Street View) gives the dancer a smaller or larger amount of space to move through. If the camera is on a crane, the point of view shifts quickly from that of an audience member in the balcony to that which someone in the orchestra would see. The video editor's cuts break the natural "breathing" and concentration of a dancer's phrasing. 

 

Looking at all the previous recorded versions, at best you end up with a kind of synthetic "best available practices" version, a ballet without an inner voice – and one with all the accumulated errors. Better perhaps to learn the choreography blindly from someone who has danced it well before.

 

(I remember Kyra Nichols here in San Francisco talking about how she had to "strip away" all the accumulated details and ornamentation from the roles she inherited from Suzanne Farrell and start over again. Videos compound that problem of getting down to the purity of the role.)

Edited by Quiggin

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The Dance Film Association has grappled with these issues for many years, in their workshops and sometimes in print as well -- there are all kinds of changes that we experience when we watch something on a screen that was originally made for a stage.  If I remember correctly, there was some excellent writing about the Dance in America series (and especially the work done in Nashville by editor Girish Bhargava) in Ballet Review that outlines these distinctions.

 

Fundamentally, there's a big difference between a fixed camera documentation of a work, and a multi-camera, edited version of a work.  And they are both different than the work itself.  

 

I like your comment about "best available practices" -- this applies not only to the dancing, but to the film/video as well, which makes the search for the work itself even more fraught!

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Quiggin said:

(I remember Kyra Nichols here in San Francisco talking about how she had to "strip away" all the accumulated details and ornamentation from the roles she inherited from Suzanne Farrell and start over again. Videos compound that problem of getting down to the purity of the role.)

 

For archival purposes, a 'pure' performance sounds like a good idea, but it's hard to think how these performances could be arrived at since every dancer tends to interpret the movements a little differently. At best, we get a pretty good record of a particular dancer's performance.

These days, professional dancers are using video fairly constantly to help them remember new choreography, and analyze what was working, or not - so I suppose video taken at the time of ballet creation is about as 'pure' as we are likely to see. But video of later revival rehearsals would carry with them all the "accumulated detail and ornamentation" you mention.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWi1x-cHDjg/?taken-by=lapetitefrench_

 

2 hours ago, sandik said:

Fundamentally, there's a big difference between a fixed camera documentation of a work, and a multi-camera, edited version of a work.  And they are both different than the work itself.  

 

 

Maddening, and fascinating, both together.  ;)

Fixed cameras (aimed towards the front of the stage) don't give a good sense of the overall geometry of a piece - I realized that when for the first time I saw the overhead shots used in the infamous German TV films of NYCB. Being able to watch, say, Concerto Barocco from an overhead position was eye-opening for me. But to have that footage entwined with other camera angles was mostly disorienting, and infuriating.

Edited by pherank

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19 minutes ago, pherank said:

 

Maddening, and fascinating, both together.  ;)

Fixed cameras (aimed towards the front of the stage) don't give a good sense of the overall geometry of a piece - I realized that when for the first time I saw the overhead shots used in the infamous German TV films of NYCB. Being able to watch, say, Concerto Barocco from an overhead position was eye-opening for me. But to have that footage entwined with other camera angles was mostly disorienting, and infuriating.

 

And for me, it made it into an altogether different ballet.

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Back to Massine for a minute: The Rome Opera Ballet will be performing revivals of Massine's Parade and Pulcinella Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Pompeii. So, at least someone is remembering Parade on its 100th anniversary.

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