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Kathleen O'Connell

Are there ballets that should no longer be staged?

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I don't think it's condescending to see that Bugaku was meant to be seen through the eyes of an American, almost exclusively white, audience, which brings its own sets of baggage, including pervasive stereotypes of Asian female submissiveness.  Balanchine was hardly above creating work for "tired businessman," as he put it.  I've seen it at least a dozen times, and I don't see many ways in which it furthers understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese women. 

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Come on people, Balanchine wasn't the only choreographer to create a Japanese ballet, Ashton, MacMillan and Ratmansky all had a go.  The culture fascinates, does Madam Butterfly offend too?

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15 minutes ago, Helene said:

I don't think it's condescending to see that Bugaku was meant to be seen through the eyes of an American, almost exclusively white, audience, which brings its own sets of baggage, including pervasive stereotypes of Asian female submissiveness.  Balanchine was hardly above creating work for "tired businessman," as he put it.  I've seen it at least a dozen times, and I don't see many ways in which it furthers understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese women. 

I'm with you there. Karinska's costuming aside, I think Bugaku is almost entirely a movement study, and, as you say, was never intended to further "understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese women". That might be its failing, but then again, why should a ballet have to go there? Le Corsaire doesn't give me much insight into the culture of pirates, harems or anything else. But there are many people who are entertained by that ballet (just not me).

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32 minutes ago, Helene said:

don't think it's condescending to see that Bugaku was meant to be seen through the eyes of an American, almost exclusively white, audience, which brings its own sets of baggage, including pervasive stereotypes of Asian female submissiveness.

I think you may have misread me. I said it was condescending to say that Asian cultures are less powerful than western culture and need protecting.  Are you saying that the white audience that would go to see Bugaku doesn't have the ability to identify, analyze and reject racial stereotypes on its own because it has sexist and/or racist attitudes?  Who are these people?  The white dance audience I know of, upon seeing yellow masks and exaggerated female submissiveness, would have some serious conversations with their friends, with their kids listening, about how wrong it is. At least I'm pretty sure they would. I hope.

To this topic more generally, I'm disturbed at the notion that audiences should be protected from images that certain people (including me in some cases) don't approve of.  This seems to me exactly the opposite of the position we should take towards art, and is in fact a sort of censorship.  (Full disclosure: I oppose censorship except where expression creates a clear and present danger. Psychic pain is not enough.)  In my view, putting controversial material before the audience is essential to generate discussion and ultlimately help people develop judgments of their own about art they see.  The real risk is that If we expunge objectionable symbols from our art, people will forget and not recognize them, to their peril, when those symbols reappear, as I'm afraid they always do.  

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1 hour ago, Quinten said:

I said it was condescending to say that Asian cultures are less powerful than western culture and need protecting.  Are you saying that the white audience that would go to see Bugaku doesn't have the ability to identify, analyze and reject racial stereotypes on its own because it has sexist and/or racist attitudes?  Who are these people?  The white dance audience I know of, upon seeing yellow masks and exaggerated female submissiveness, would have some serious conversations with their friends, with their kids listening, about how wrong it is. At least I'm pretty sure they would. I hope.

You are far more optimistic than I, since they squeal with delight at variations on a theme of Tea in the Nutcracker.

Bugaku premiered in 1963.  The first Chinese immigrant to be allowed US citizenship was in 1944; Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which changed the quota system and emphasized re-uniting families, was still a few years off.  Chinese women in the US were described by legislators as prostitutes as a reason for excluding immigration from Asia, along with the Chinese not being Christian.  Japanese-Americans and Japanese residents were sent to concentration/internment camps only 21 years before.  US TV was filled with WW II shows.  

Do I think American audiences were any more enlightened in general than the Russian aristocracy when seeing themselves in a positive mirror when watching Sleeping Beauty?  No, I don't: I think the rampant stereotypes of the passive Asian woman were reflected in the pas de deux, where the woman is manipulated like a sex toy, and it washed over.  Was this an extension of the Agon pas de deux movement-wise?  Perhaps, but Agon did not have the trappings of another culture.

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1 hour ago, Quinten said:

I think you may have misread me. I said it was condescending to say that Asian cultures are less powerful than western culture and need protecting.  Are you saying that the white audience that would go to see Bugaku doesn't have the ability to identify, analyze and reject racial stereotypes on its own because it has sexist and/or racist attitudes?  Who are these people?  The white dance audience I know of, upon seeing yellow masks and exaggerated female submissiveness, would have some serious conversations with their friends, with their kids listening, about how wrong it is. At least I'm pretty sure they would. I hope.

To this topic more generally, I'm disturbed at the notion that audiences should be protected from images that certain people (including me in some cases) don't approve of.  This seems to me exactly the opposite of the position we should take towards art, and is in fact a sort of censorship.  (Full disclosure: I oppose censorship except where expression creates a clear and present danger. Psychic pain is not enough.)  In my view, putting controversial material before the audience is essential to generate discussion and ultlimately help people develop judgments of their own about art they see.  The real risk is that If we expunge objectionable symbols from our art, people will forget and not recognize them, to their peril, when those symbols reappear, as I'm afraid they always do.  

I can't speak for Helene, but I thought she was referring to Balanchine's possible motivations for creating a ballet like Bugaku. Plainly, some (most? half?) of the New York audience are intelligent enough to decide for themselves about what is working or not working in a ballet. And have an opinion about racial and cultural stereotypes in the stage arts. But, and this is a big but, we live in a world in which many people want to perpetuate existing stereotypes and create still more. I'm afraid there are plenty of places in this world (including the country I live in) where many people are not the least bit interested in having "serious conversations" about sexism, racial stereotypes, imperialism/colonialism, etc. They want only to relive some 'golden age' of the past that never really existed.

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Quinten, if you haven't already read these…the Nureyev ballet threads deal with many of these same issues. It was a big deal that the ballet even saw the light of day in Russia.

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/43220-bolshois-controversial-nureyev-ballet-opens-–-to-ovations-and-bans/
http:// http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/42756-nureyev-premier-postponed-to-20182019/

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24 minutes ago, pherank said:

Plainly, some (most? half?) of the New York audience are intelligent enough to decide for themselves about what is working or not working in a ballet. And have an opinion about racial and cultural stereotypes in the stage arts. But, and this is a big but, we live in a world in which many people want to perpetuate existing stereotypes and create still more. I'm afraid there are plenty of places in this world (including the country I live in) where many people are not the least bit interested in having "serious conversations" about sexism, racial stereotypes, imperialism/colonialism, etc. They want only to relive some 'golden age' of the past that never really existed.

Does one rarely seen ballet really perpetuate any kind of stereotype? To whom? Who in 2018 is really so unintelligent as to think less of Asian women having seen Bugaku? Unfortunately sometimes it's precisely the insistence, well-intentioned as it is, on having serious conversations monologues in which one opinion alone is considered respectable and others are labeled shameful that makes the people most in need of education turn away. Some are racist; few are stupid. 

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I love this discussion of Bugaku. I've only seen the ballet once and wasn't crazy about it. However, I didn't look at it as an attempt at portraying reality at all. Perhaps that shows how naive I can be. To me it was like a fantasy novel that uses elements of the real world. I never associated the ballet with Asian culture or any real world culture.

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Whereas The Cage is my favorite Robbins ballet, although I don't really love Robbins' choreography, and I was surprised to find it on the "toss" list.  I always thought it was about the animal world, nominally, but mostly a depiction of the world if there were no conscience and forgiveness.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, vipa said:

I love this discussion of Bugaku. I've only seen the ballet once and wasn't crazy about it. However, I didn't look at it as an attempt at portraying reality at all. Perhaps that shows how naive I can be. To me it was like a fantasy novel that uses elements of the real world. I never associated the ballet with Asian culture or any real world culture.

I don't think Balanchine was ever interested in portraying reality.  ;)
Realities of the mind, yes, but those vary from individual to individual, and an artist can only hope that the audience will be delighted by something they are experiencing in the artwork. But oftentimes, not.

7 minutes ago, Helene said:

Whereas The Cage is my favorite Robbins ballet, although I don't really love Robbins' choreography, and I was surprised to find it on the "toss" list.  I always thought it was about the animal world, nominally, but mostly a depiction of the world if there were no conscience and forgiveness.

Animal or insect worlds, but certainly there is a commentary on humans in there. SFB is going to be performing The Cage in their upcoming Robbins tribute (Tomasson having been 'discovered' by Robbins). I hope they don't shy away from describing the ballet as controversial but worth discussing with other balletgoers.

Edited by pherank

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Posted (edited)

San Francisco Ballet recently used fairly extreme "yellowface" makeup for a character played by Carlos Quenedit in "RaKu," and no one seemed to be offended. What happens in the Opera House sometimes seems to be decades off from what happens right across the street in City Hall and in the Board of Supervisors chambers. So I don't know if "The Cage" will be considered controversial.

As I've posted before, "The Cage" seems to me very much a part of the atmosphere of the 1950's when male novelists and playwrights felt a threat from women stifling their creativity. It was part of the general social anxiety as men were returning from the military and taking back the jobs that had been filled by women (my aunt included). "The Cage" seems to act out and exploit this fear. As do Wilhelm deKooning's paintings of Marilyn Monroe-like images of shark-toothed women. Tennesse Williams plays, on the other, hand seemed to be about those marginalized by this process, free spirits trying to escape.

 

Edited by Quiggin

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2 hours ago, pherank said:

But, and this is a big but, we live in a world in which many people want to perpetuate existing stereotypes and create still more. I'm afraid there are plenty of places in this world (including the country I live in) where many people are not the least bit interested in having "serious conversations" about sexism, racial stereotypes, imperialism/colonialism, etc. They want only to relive some 'golden age' of the past that never really existed.

Unfortunately, restricting freedom of artistic expression is unlikely as a practical matter to keep people from creating or perpetuating stereotypes.  I understand the concern that the arts may confer respectability on stereotypes or give stereotypes greater reach, but as far as I know there has been no proof that arts free of stereotypes would decrease the use of stereotypes in society.  The Soviet experiment pretty much proved that art designed to promote good human behavior is generally unsuccessful both as art and as propaganda. It would be a shame to restrict artistic freedom and find there is no resulting improvement  in cultural attitudes about race, gender etc.

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6 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

San Francisco Ballet recently used "yellowface" makeup for a character played by Carlos Quenedit, and one other character, in "RaKu" and no one seemed to be offended. What happens in the Opera House sometimes seems to be decades off from what happens right across the street in City Hall and the Board of Supervisors chambers. So I don't know if "The Cage" will be considered controversial.

As I've posted before, "The Cage" seems to me very much a part of the atmosphere of the 1950's when male novelists and playwrights felt a threat from women stifling their creativity. It was part of the general social anxiety as men were returning from the military and taking back the jobs that had been filled by women (my aunt included). "The Cage" seems to act out and exploit this fear. As do Wilhelm deKooning's paintings of Marilyn Monroe-like images of shark-toothed women. Tennesse Williams plays, on the other, hand seemed to be about those marginalized by this process, free spirits trying to escape.

 

It could be the makeup issue pales in comparison to the implied assault/rape depiction, and betrayal by a trusted pillar of society, yada yada. Or maybe it's just that in SF nothing is too surprising. It's worth mentioning that there are a good many Asian-American members of the SFB audience. I get the feeling that something, anything, that refers to the world of their ancestors or relatives is actually appreciated. The Asian-American audience for classical music in SF is surprisingly(?) big as well (though I suppose it depends upon the composer).

Re: The Cage - I find trying to understand the psychological motivations of one Jerome Robbins a very difficult task. He was just full of surprises, and many not pleasant. Somehow the idea that women were stifling creativity doesn't quite fit for me - with Robbins that is. And that was the time when he still had his great muse about, Tanny Le Clercq. I would have loved to see her interpretation.

d7f11245fa73bdd3e1fb646c2404351a--city-b

 

Hey everybody, get your Cage pendant necklace!

http://www.nycballetshop.com/cage-pendant-necklace.html

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

You are far more optimistic than I, since they squeal with delight at variations on a theme of Tea in the Nutcracker.

Bugaku premiered in 1963.  The first Chinese immigrant to be allowed US citizenship was in 1944; Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which changed the quota system and emphasized re-uniting families, was still a few years off.  Chinese women in the US were described by legislators as prostitutes as a reason for excluding immigration from Asia, along with the Chinese not being Christian.  Japanese-Americans and Japanese residents were sent to concentration/internment camps only 21 years before.  US TV was filled with WW II shows.  

Do I think American audiences were any more enlightened in general than the Russian aristocracy when seeing themselves in a positive mirror when watching Sleeping Beauty?  No, I don't: I think the rampant stereotypes of the passive Asian woman were reflected in the pas de deux, where the woman is manipulated like a sex toy, and it washed over.  Was this an extension of the Agon pas de deux movement-wise?  Perhaps, but Agon did not have the trappings of another culture.

I was in the Bay Area a while ago and visited the immigration station on Angel Island with the Asian family i married into.  It was quite moving.  People of all kinds and nationalities were there viewing the barracks, learning the story of the early 20th c. Chinese immigration and reading the poems written on the walls by the hopeful and homesick immigrants.  This monument was developed over a period of 30 years or so by Californians who felt it would be an effective way of combating stereotypes and promoting understanding of the Asian immigrant perspective.  From the reactions of the visitors, I would say they were successful.  Yes, have to admit I am optimistic that people can learn from the mistakes of the past to become better people.

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Posted (edited)
On 1/2/2018 at 7:58 PM, kfw said:

Does one rarely seen ballet really perpetuate any kind of stereotype? To whom? Who in 2018 is really so unintelligent as to think less of Asian women having seen Bugaku? Unfortunately sometimes it's precisely the insistence, well-intentioned as it is, on having serious conversations monologues in which one opinion alone is considered respectable and others are labeled shameful that makes the people most in need of education turn away. Some are racist; few are stupid. 

Well, yes. When it's part of an entire cultural construction that presents the Orient in a certain way, it does - it's part of it, part of the post-war history of it. It's not just Bugaku; it's not just the ridiculous Chinese dance in the Nutcracker (as someone who literally makes my living studying Chinese performance art, I still have no idea where the "index finger in the air = Chinese!" thing comes from, and it seems that's finally going by the wayside - good!), it's not just blackface or ridiculous Orientalist plots strung together so we can see some beautiful ballerinas doing their thing (as in a great many ballets of late 19th c. origin). It's all of it, and the long history of it, and there is a l-o-n-g history of it. 

The idea that all East Asian countries "borrow" from each other in the same way that, say, Europe has "borrowed" anything from "the Orient" or created Le Corsaire or Madame Butterfly is rather absurd - this is not how cultural flow has functioned in East Asia. There was borrowing yes, but with an entirely different inflection when we're talking "Japan taking on the Chinese poet Li Bai" versus "Raymonda" (or Bugaku). 

It truly isn't a matter of someone watching the ballet and going "Oh, wow, now I see, Japanese women are subservient sex toys!" - it's the matter of something perpetuating things that *already alive and well in the dominant culture.* Again, do I think that was Balanchine's intent? NO! But he wasn't immune to imperial Russian or US culture. How could he be? I would love to see Bugaku as a leotard ballet, truly, versus how it exists now, which is basically a leotard ballet trussed up in bizarre clothing (horse hair wigs and cocktail umbrellas and flowered bikinis - Seriously? I say that as someone who finds the tutus from the 1st part quite beautiful, and yes, resembling a lotus, despite the hair and makeup. But I think I'd find Kent & Villella - or contemporary artists - just as moving in practice clothes as weird wigs and half-dressed, truly). 

And, bluntly, my experience as a professor (of East Asian history - I'm not just yammering on here with no basis in my own professional experience) has been that many are racist, and many are ignorant - not stupid - but it means that it is not a given that the sorts of cultural signals some people read as obvious ("Oh hey this is pretty racist!") read as such. 

I don't think Asian cultures "need protecting." I just think they have the right not to presented in often profoundly absurd, sexist, orientalist ways. I teach students semester after semester the AMAZING cultural - social - political achievements that have happened in East Asia over the centuries. Were this not a ballet board, I could go on at length. 

Edited by l'histoire

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Also please forgive me, there were a lot of interesting posts I wanted to quote specifically but I've been having trouble with the board software on my laptop.

I've been reading Ballet Alert for many years, and have always appreciated the thoughtfulness and intelligence of contributors (still do, obviously), and am a little embarrassed that my first foray into what is apparently a somewhat hot topic has led to me being unable to respond in the way I'd like to. 

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No worries, l'histoire, and may I say I'm delighted that you delurked. I have enjoyed reading your posts here.

Quote

It truly isn't a matter of someone watching the ballet and going "Oh, wow, now I see, Japanese women are subservient sex toys!" - it's the matter of something perpetuating things that *already alive and well in the dominant culture.* Again, do I think that was Balanchine's intent? NO! But he wasn't immune to imperial Russian or US culture. How could he be? I would love to see Bugaku as a leotard ballet, truly, versus how it exists now, which is basically a leotard ballet trussed up in bizarre clothing (horse hair wigs and cocktail umbrellas and flowered bikinis - Seriously? I say that as someone who finds the tutus from the 1st part quite beautiful, and yes, resembling a lotus, despite the hair and makeup. But I think I'd find Kent & Villella - or contemporary artists - just as moving in practice clothes as weird wigs and half-dressed, truly). 

Leotards are an interesting idea for Bugaku and certainly worth a try. I think that the costumes could be reimagined as well.

Casting may also make a difference here. Kent has some valuable observations to make about the ballet, and how she felt and looked dancing in it, in her book. As she noted, the "court" aspect is important and is something that would need to be preserved in any practice clothes staging  - this very private act is taking place almost in public, with all the courtiers knowing what is happening and going to happen.

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Robbins maintained the court aspect in Goldberg Variations when the two dancers in leotard cut through the two lines of dancers in period-like attire.

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, l'histoire said:

I don't think Asian cultures "need protecting." I just think they have the right not to presented in often profoundly absurd, sexist, orientalist ways. I teach students semester after semester the AMAZING cultural - social - political achievements that have happened in East Asia over the centuries. Were this not a ballet board, I could go on at length. 

Amen to that. Your posts are interesting, and welcome, l'histoire. And I mostly agree with your comments. ;)  The term "borrow" (which I myself have used for lack of a better one) is a loaded one, and probably carries too many of the wrong connotations. It certainly doesn't explain to someone what it is like to compose a poem, devise and paint an abstract composition, design one-of-a-kind pottery pieces, whatever.

I personally don't like to see any human's work reduced to an 'expression of his/her culture'. We are not carried by culture, we carry culture within us. It is simply a generalized, abstract term for social behavior and values that are very difficult to pin down precisely because individual humans do not share "attitudes, values, goals, and practices" in any sort of robotic, mechanized fashion. That does, however, imply that we individuals should be demonstrating more responsibility for our choices than we often do, imo. Was Balanchine ultimately responsible for his artistic choices? Yes. And I'm sure he wouldn't have had it any other way.

I think it's fair to discuss the Bugaku ballet's relationship to Japanese Bugaku dance and Shunga erotic art. How does it compare? Does it fit into these genres in any way, or is it simply too 'alien', or too cartoonish (without the laughs)? This is one of many ballets that Balanchine didn't revisit and revise. We're left only with his first take on the subject.
 

Quote

The idea that all East Asian countries "borrow" from each other in the same way that, say, Europe has "borrowed" anything from "the Orient" or created Le Corsaire or Madame Butterfly is rather absurd - this is not how cultural flow has functioned in East Asia. There was borrowing yes, but with an entirely different inflection when we're talking "Japan taking on the Chinese poet Li Bai" versus "Raymonda" (or Bugaku)


Do you mean to say that the motivations of individual artists in (any) Asian culture are somehow different from the motivations of artists in St. Petersburg, Russia? Scranton, Pennsylvania?  Paris? What is the nature of this "inflection" that you mention? Naturally a ballet project such as Bugaku differs in many, many ways from a certain Japanese poet getting drunk on wine and taking yet another stab at his own 'version' of a favorite Li Bai poem - that could called be an "apples to oranges" comparison, though.

Re: Bugaku without the original costumes -
One of those things that Balanchine himself seem to figure out, is that if the choreography was strong enough, and truly central to the ballet, (yes, there are ballet's that don't seem to feature enough actual dancing), then costumes were essentially unnecessary, and even likely to be a distraction. But of course, since ballet costumes are designed normally by someone other than the choreographer, according to a different impulse. The best costume designs make an additional commentary on the music and choreography and characters (if they exist). But they can easily distract the mind in unintended ways. And to make things even more confusing, even the black and white practice clothes favored by the NYCB for Balanchine's "black and white" ballets carry with them certain associations - there is no truly generic clothing in this world (sorry GAP!). What to do?

Edited by pherank

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Thanks for the interesting reply, l'histoire. Making Bugaku another leotard ballet – not that I don’t love a lot of those – would obviously take away a lot of its atmosphere. It would take away the context, making it less of a story. If I read you correctly, you think the ballet presents “the Orient” in a ridiculous fashion. I’m open to persuasion, but how do you think it does that? Are you saying that it perpetuates an already existing stereotype of Japanese women as subservient sex toys? (I just watched it again and I’m not even sure I see the subservience). In that case, where else do we see that stereotype? Or are you saying it’s just one more negative depiction? That it’s an unrealistic depiction of a court wedding and consummation? Isn't subservience itself true to history in the East as in the West? Or where in the ballet is the suggestion that the work is supposed to be a contemporary depiction of male-female relationships?

 The Balanchine Trust writes that “The red, green, and white of the setting, the balanced dances to the left and the right, the stylized movement, the ritualistic mood, the respect shown for the dance, and the supreme courtesy of the dancers to each other are faithful to Gagaku traditions.” Do you disagree? (And shouldn’t they have said “bugaku,” “gagaku” being the musical accompaniment?)

As has been observed here, the ballet was born out of Kirstein’s appreciation for Gagaku, and it has a score by a Japanese composer. Have you seen any Japanese objections to it? Granted, it’s probably very little known in Japan. Even if it’s a Westerner’s relatively ignorant fantasy of Japanese culture, which I can understand might irritate knowledgeable observers, it’s still meant as a tribute, not as a belittlement.

I appreciate that as a professional in Asian studies this is all of concern to you, but I think that by-and-large the ballet audience is pretty educated, not to mention well-traveled, and judging from BA it’s pretty progressive too. I’m not so worried about it uncritically absorbing negative attitudes. From what I can tell, the prevailing stereotype about Japanese and other Asian people nowadays is that they’re smart and very hard-working.

I see that pherank has written since I saw your post, and has asked interesting questions as well.

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1 minute ago, kfw said:

The Balanchine Trust writes that “The red, green, and white of the setting, the balanced dances to the left and the right, the stylized movement, the ritualistic mood, the respect shown for the dance, and the supreme courtesy of the dancers to each other are faithful to Gagaku traditions.” Do you disagree? (And shouldn’t they have said “bugaku,” “gagaku” being the musical accompaniment?)

Which could be just as easily be accomplished in leotards.

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Just now, Helene said:

Which could be just as easily be accomplished in leotards.

I think the costumes contribute to some of those things, but in any case I'm asking why it should not be done as is.

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On 1/2/2018 at 7:03 PM, Mashinka said:

Come on people, Balanchine wasn't the only choreographer to create a Japanese ballet, Ashton, MacMillan and Ratmansky all had a go.  The culture fascinates, does Madam Butterfly offend too?

I do love the music of Madama Butterfly, especially the love duet, but I have always thought if I were a composer I would compose "Madama Butterfly:  The True Story" and show my Japanese mother being proposed to by a navy guy who told her he would come back for her. She was like, "Sure! Heard that one before!" and he realized too and decided to re-enlist to stay near her because the naval chaplain kept losing the paperwork for their marriage in a vain attempt to not let it go through. As much as I like the opera and do not at all believe it should be shelved, I do think it is a very stereotypical view of Asian women as these masochistic sweet things (although there are signs she is sadistic to those she doesn't care for but it is subtle). My friends growing up always thought my mother was the sweetest mother in the entire world. They didn't see her behind closed doors. My mother had a very separate face that she showed to the outside world compared to the inside world. I love her dearly but my view of Japanese women is not at all a wilting flower. They will get their way come hell or high water if it has to be a roundabout way. If you upset my mother you pay dearly (my sister got caught skipping school and smoking pot in high school and my mother did not speak to her for a month because it was public shame. In contrast, she found a pot plant my sister was growing in her bedroom and put it on the kitchen table because it was beautiful and she knew what it was.....but it was private and that was okay). So, there is an element of Madama Butterfly that I find obnoxious but the beauty of  the work overcomes that for me. Still it will never be in my Top 10 operas. I think we can have issues with a work and still like them and not want them deleted. You probably agree.....it doesn't have to be an all or nothing approach. Things don't have to be changed in the work to make me like it better. But I think it is normal to discuss what we like or don't like in a work and have a critical eye at times about how it doesn't speak for our personal experience of life.

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