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About hunterman0953

  • Birthday 08/02/1944

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. I hadn't actually considered contemporary ballet,but I take the point about modern costumes, and will pay more attention to this aspect of costuming, as I have recently made an effort to introduce contemporary ballet into my collection.I'm grateful for the pointer. It is however in classical ballet where the real problems are. It's such a crying shame when a superb performance is marred by the distraction of a skirt which refuses to rise and fall as it should. I've just gone off to compare three of the Giselles I have (RB,POB & La Scala among others) and I just can't get past the annoying behaviour of the Royal Ballet's Act II skirts,much as I love the overall performance.Maybe the fabrics are too lightweight, could that be it? The POB do seem to fare better in the costume department. My wife, who is not a huge fan of ballet, commented on the lovely rise and fall of the skirts in the POB La Dame aux camelias. I thereafter became acutely aware of the special talent which some costumiers have and others definitely not. It took me long enough to get past my objection to skirts of any type, especially for major solos, but I can live with it if they don't unnecessarily interfere with what's going on within them. While I often despair at the lack of anything at all to look as in those tedious mass character dances,it is in the sublime moments of such jewels as Giselle Act II when this aspect of ballet is at its most critical, in my view. I appreciate that it is only my view, but I do think it rather sad that a great performance, especially when preserved on disc, is diminished by less than sublime costuming. I won't veer off into tutus, which can be similarly damaging to a performance (in my view) - maybe others might care to have a go at that?
  2. Was it Nureyev who said something on the lines of 'the fall of a skirt can complete a phrase'? I'm fascinated by the behaviour of costumes in performance. Some seem to behave beautifully, while others draw attention to themselves by just 'doing their own thing', ie not being at all sympathetic to a dancer's movements. It can be quite irritating when this happens, and impossible to ignore at times. Act Two of Giselle seems to be particularly vulnerable to costume failure, in my view anyway. I'd love a stitch by stitch analysis of the world of costuming, but I'll settle for comments which might share my view that costumes are at times appallingly badly behaved, with maybe a little technical insight into how good behaviour is achieved. I've no doubt misquoted Nureyev, but I've seen enough, both good and bad, to validate the essence of what was said.
  3. Golly gosh! I don't know what to say! Thank you so much for that amazingly rapid, and formidably comprehensive reply, Simon G. I know a virtuosic showpiece in classical music when I hear one, but I'm only guessing that this is the balletic equivalent, so to speak. Is it as horrendously difficult to perform as it appears to be, even for a dancer of Aurelie Dupont's stature?
  4. I'm continually drawn to Aurelie Dupont's Aurora's entrance in the POB DVD overall, but particularly as regards her steps on the return trip across the stage R to L. It fascinates me so much, that I'm wondering if some kind soul will take pity on this ballet ignoramus, and 'talk me through' her steps.It's that tricky leg work which propels her across the stage. It seems to me like incredible virtuosity, which gives me major 'goose-bumps' every time I see it. My tired old eyes just can't unpick what's happening, and the eye surgery I'll be having in six hours time will doubtless not help all that much. Is the choreography in this solo a succession of standard movements, or are some of them unique to this production? Yep, that's how little I know about choreography! I don't mind spending money on this passion of mine (ask my wife), so can anybody recommend a book which takes a comprehensive look at choreography?
  5. Thank you vipa for that valuable extension to the topic. I was only thinking this am, as I made my morning coffee, 'Can ballet help to make us better people?' Your observation about the Nazis and Bach is spot on.I believe that in one concentration camp, inmates were made to perform chamber music for the 'staff'. Chilling. I don't know about ballet, but I think ballet has been, in the past, performed somewhat coldly and clinically ( I won't name names, but there's enough, I feel,in my collection to validate the point), but I'll still hold out for my own much played copy of Alina's Giselle, and her Aurora, and other modern dancers and productions, reaching corners of the heart, and importantly the mind, not touched on in past years. That's only my 'training wheels' view,and I'd appreciate somebody putting me right on that.
  6. I regret using the word spirituality in my initial post, and only did so in the context of my former psychologist's Emailing me about her Varanasi 'quest'. In fact, our consulting room relationship had earlier been, on her side, marked by an absence of reference to the arts, even though she knew that to be my area of interest. She was so excellent, and so in earnest about her methodology that I never mentioned to her that the reason I was progressing so well was that I felt so good after talking with her that it enabled me to go home and enjoy anew my beloved, and very therapeutic, music! Had ballet been in my 'toolbox' at the time, I doubt I'd have been in her rooms in the first place! I did one day slip her a copy of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony with comment, but never went further than that. When I get her postal address, I think I'll send her a copy of the La Scala 'Bayadere'- without comment. I have to say that my last eighteen months has likewise been difficult, JMcN,and similarly less so than would have been the case without ballet.
  7. Thank you Bart and Innopac for your thoughtful responses. Dr Karl Paulnack's thoughts are right on the money, aren't they? Real 'I wish I'd said that' words. Lovely. And thank you Bart for your thoughtful summary of what I was clumsily driving at. I had actually forgotten at the time of writing what got a 'bee in my bonnet' in the first place, which was in fact an enthusiastically religious lady who asked me, rather intelligently I thought, what was in my mind when watching ballet. The robustly religious lady's question was a lovely provocation to deep thought. For me, at any rate, there is plenty of mileage in this topic, as there is plenty of mileage in what there is which is yet to enter my own head when I watch ballet. The thoughts that enter the head when confronted by any art form are, I think, always multi-layered, and high-lighting those with the greatest significance, in this case for performers,creators, and audience of ballet alike, can surely only be a good thing. I recently heard a most dismal forecast by an 'expert', about the uncertain future of classical ballet particularly. Very depressing news for a raw beginner like myself, but another excellent provocation to think about what ballet does, and can, mean to us all. A first line of defence to ensure the future of ballet is in my view a healthy airing of its multi-faceted potential in such places as this excellent forum. I really do hope for many further contributions, if only to tell the doomsayers that they are wrong by a country mile.
  8. I have a friend, formerly my psychologist, who Emailed me from Varanasi in India, the message containing veiled references to her 'work in progress' on a mysterious 'something' which she promises to tell me about soon.In what is becoming a frustratingly long interim as I await the 'good news', I've been wondering what I might share with her in terms of 'good news' - my 'something' which just might align with hers in some way. Against this psychologist (a very good one) searching for her 'something' in a great centre of culture and religion is myself, who has never even tried to discover any sort of spirituality beyond that inspired by what I can see with my eyes or reach out and touch with my hand. My friend will no doubt have derived great personal satisfaction and discovery out of Varanasi and later, Nepal,if at a hefty cost. My 70-strong and counting ballet, and ballet related, DVD collection will come in at far less a cost than her trip to the Sub-Continent. And what has been gained from our respective journeys, I wonder? A highly educated, articulate person, well versed in the workings of the mind, seeks 'something' in culturally rich surroundings, and inspiring landscapes, whereas I, in contrast, far less educated and articulate have, from my armchair found solid and tangible things in ballet which I am hazarding a guess will still only ever be on my friend's furthest horizons. I say that as a person disinclined to be overly obsessive about anything, let alone ballet. I do get emotionally swept along by ballet, but my thoughts are sober enough. I do actually think, as in think, that ballet can be a richly 'spiritual' experience, and infinitely more accessible than those alternatives which require a lot of unravelling before anything can happen, along with a good deal of education. I know that my friend doesn't have the Arts in her life to any meaningful degree, but it's my conviction that if she had, then a visit to Varanasi would have been somewhat less significant to her in spiritual terms than what she could have derived from an interest in, and love of, the Arts. It's very difficult to say just what ballet does, and can do for a person,but any fully inclusive appreciation of ballet, covering every aspect of it - history, production, performance,and audience participation etc, indicates to me one very powerful piece of evidence of the potential of human activity, in and of itself, to provide a heightened sense of existence. It's possible to get all this from any of the arts of course, but ballet does it with a swift and concentrated dose of what other areas of the arts do,for me anyway, with a more 'slow-release' effect. I really don't like the word spirituality and try not to invoke it in any discussion whatsoever, but in this instance it probably can't be avoided. So as I limber up to receive word from my friend on her progress, I thought that others on this forum might care to share their own views on ballet and 'spirituality', especially with regard to their personal searches and journeys. Is ballet just a very sophisticated entertainment (a view I fear my friend will offer), or does it indeed inhabit the higher realms of 'spirituality', whatever that means? I have never been to Varanasi or Nepal, but if my friend can convince me that they have more to offer than ballet, then I shall be quickly off to buy a big backpack. This long-winded and very opinionated post is not only a result of the above friend's activities - I am routinely challenged about the societal status, merits, and overall worth of ballet, so please forgive me for letting off a bit of steam here. I look forward to contributions which might better express what I am only trying to say in a very clumsy fashion. I think it is a very important aspect of ballet which needs to be understood and appreciated more by those who are relentlessly dismissive about the status of ballet, and its future in society,all too often by people who should know better. The appreciation of art isn't idle worship, but the recognition and celebration of what we are capable of aspiring to, and achieving at the highest level.I don't want my friend to not go to Varanasi or Nepal, but I do want more of an alliance, a coalition of interests - that is surely a reasonable expectation. Ballet can,can it not, be a powerful partner in the search for a better world? Ballet, in my view, says much the same as the cave paintings of Altamira and Lascaux - 'this is me, this is us, this is what we can do'. Children especially need such affirmations of what we human beings are and what we can do,and I believe ballet is a great educator in that regard.Let them go to Varanasi, but not before they've had a taste of ballet, and all the arts.Let them go with ballet in their backpacks. Life is never so clear as when we can see as much of it as possible. As I said, I've yet to find out precisely what my friend has been up to in Varanasi and Nepal or what she has discovered,but I reckon even my incoherent ramblings point, however clumsily, to 'something' equally effective. Well, the last eighteen months of ballet seem to have opened a few doors I didn't even know were there to be opened. Has anybody else new to ballet discovered new dimensions to this wonderful art form beyond the ravishing splendour and beauty of it all?
  9. Four hours ago, I came home with a copy of 'Essential Ballet', being the Kirov at Covent Garden/ Red Square. In the latter, Alexander Sotnikov has his back to the action! I haven't watched beyond the first excerpt, and decided to make a post now because even if I persisted with the whole thing, I probably still wouldn't be able to offer a personal comment on the success or otherwise of the performances. I am naturally keen to have others, infinitely more informed, share their views on this. Mr Sotnikov can be seen taking the odd look behind - to see if the dancers were still there? I had previously decided against asking if the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra had ever/could ever play for ballet. It seemed like a daft question, but I'm not so sure about that now.
  10. Thanks Alexandra.It's a good start, and I hope to learn more.I did post a hasty, rather emotional response, but on considered reflection, I think, given my very tenuous grasp of the subject, I'd be wiser to stand aside and just let the ball roll.
  11. Thanks to Ballet Talk, my appreciation of ballet has gone up by orders of magnitude. I only wish my confidence in making posts would similarly improve. With all that erudition around the place,I can't help but feel a right chump asking rather silly questions. Having said that, I'll still put my next pension cheque on the validity of asking about the relationship between dancers and the conductor and his orchestra on a given night. I always marvel at the final flick of a finger to coincide with the last beat of a career-defining piece of performance. Even in recorded performances that I've watched a zillion times, I still sense a tension that I feel must exist on stage. Can anyone tell me what goes on before, and during, a performance that minimises risk in the co-ordination between dancers and music? I am serious about this, but how does anyone on the boards know that the conductor hasn't succumbed to the effects of good Western Australian wine during the interval, let's say, and won't produce precisely what they have been led to expect in rehearsal? Is it a white-knuckle ride for dancers during every performance? Even given great professionalism, and all the desire in the world to get things right on the night, is there not a perpetual tension out there on the boards, or is it that the tension actually works in favour of getting it all right? I suppose I've maybe got the example of Aleksandr Sotnikov and the Shinsei Nihon/21st Century orchestras in mind. I won't go OT and wax ecstatic about some of those performances, but it seems to me quite remarkable that they were so good in those particular circumstances. To which party do I take my hat off? (The orchestras did seem a tad rough round the edges at times.) Maybe someone will disabuse me of the admiration I have for what I reckon was one hell of an achievement by all concerned, and the ability of Mr Sotnikov to direct the orchestras so brilliantly in particular. The sheer professionalism in ballet is, for me, one it's attractions, but there must be times when there are unavoidably adverse, and unexpected, elements which can jeopardise dancer/conductor/orchestra co-ordination in a performance. How on earth did sublime perfection, as I believe there was in at least parts of the the Perm Ballet et al Japanese tours, happen,or am I wildly wrong about what I see as a certain inherent precariousness in those particular performances? Can anyone give me a dancer's-eye view of how it all works? In fact, a variety of perspectives would be terrific. Should I be out of order with this post or any part thereof, can I be forgiven if I say that Ballet Talk and it's members have been key factors in raising my love of the art form to what is now an abiding passion, with many moments of profoundly spiritual experience?
  12. I'm a bit slow off the mark with this, but I must make a comment on the West Australian Ballet's magnificent performance on May 11. I'm new to ballet, but in my great enthusiasm for Don Quixote, I have collected five full DVD versions, with three substantial excerpts to boot. I went along to watch the WAB with trepidation, and even as I sat there waiting for them to begin, I had Nina Ananiashvili and the Perm Ballet firmly fixed in my mind's eye, albeit with no malicious intent. From the very start, Nina et al were most satisfyingly replaced by the WAB's wonderful set, and thereafter by almost every aspect of the production and performance. I didn't sit back to enjoy what followed, but went forward, craning my neck, and cursing myself for not booking a seat in the stalls. I'm not able to comment on technicalities, but I can confidently comment on the overall feel of what I saw, and the effect it had on me. The performance was magnificent and memorable. Perth might be the world's most isolated city, but on May 11, the WAB made me, and no doubt many others present who know a good DQ when they see one, all feel much closer to the world's great cultural centres. Bravo, WAB!
  13. My contribution probably doesn't belong in a discussion about the use of the eyes artistically in performance, but I just wondered why Svetlana Zakharova looks directly to camera in 'The Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky'. I dare say it's of little consequence with regard to the artistic merits of her performance, but I just wondered why she, or any other dancer, would do that.
  14. Thank you Bart for those valuable insights. It's exactly the sort of stuff I need. The other day, I had my four year old granddaughter on my lap watching all of the RB 'Still Life at the Penguin Cafe'. I didn't dare say a word, and honestly, I could have wept when I saw the determined attentiveness in her expression. The look of indignation on her face when I paused it to go to the bathroom was priceless. Why did I pause it? - good question. Although I felt that the leap into classical ballet might be a tad risky, I gave her Lyudmila Semenyaka's Don Quixote fouettes from 'Bolshoi in the Park'. It didn't go down quite so well, but I kept stumm, and she next wanted to go to my digital piano to mime her way over the demo recording of a Chopin Waltz, which I know she loves. It's always a good idea to keep a box of Kleenex tissues on hand for such occasions. I think you're so right about going down the 'classical culture is good for you' route. Was it Hermann Goering who said "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning"? No, I treat my little granddaughters like I'm handling fine Dresden porcelain. Drop it and it's gone for ever. I grabbed a copy of the 'Tales of Beatrix Potter' the other day, and I thought about having Olivia and six year old Charlotte watch that together. What do you think? I seriously hope that I'm not giving the impression that I'm anywhere near in full command of what I'm doing, and don't need further advice. Far from it. Anecdotal evidence of similar experiences from other members will be all grist for the mill, and anything, anything at all that might be considered useful will be gratefully received. On the radar of this particular learning curve, my progress hardly rates a tiny blip. Oh, and I'm going to dust off my old car boot sale acquired vinyl copy of 'Onegin',which I have never listened to, and see how I get on with it. Probably not as well as those children at Covent Garden! Gosh, I wish I'd been there.
  15. Thank you for your encouraging and informative reply Mel Johnson. Much appreciated. I have been doing a lot of thinking about what you and the others have said. It's the first time since I started thinking in earnest about arts education that I have been in any way challenged to actually do something about the present unsatisfactory situation. My first reaction was, to be honest, sheer panic, and it will take a few days for that to settle down. However, I have been giving myself 'Henry V before Agincourt' style talks all day, and it is having some effect! Before getting involved, I could really do with a bit of buttressing to get my morale up, and I'm pinning my hopes on receiving as much advice as I can get through this forum. For one thing, I'm extremely daunted by the prospect of dealing with something I'm not 'the full bottle' on. I know that can't be remedied overnight, but my passion for ballet has been ramped up by orders of magnitude since joining BT, and with that has come a much better understanding of it. Of most use to me at the moment will be seeing my topic throbbing with lively input from others, like your good self, equally concerned about getting ballet out to where it is needed most. I'm off to my little den now to fire up my copy of the POB La Dame aux camelias, and hoping for the day when the local bikie chapter will be swooning over their own copy of it!
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