Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About keguri

  • Rank
  • Birthday 03/13/1972

Registration Profile Information

  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    adult ballet student, avid balletgoer
  • City**
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
  1. It was rush hour on a Friday, and raining heavily. The taxi ride took forever. When I arrived at the ticket booth with only half an hour to spare, the lady behind the counter insisted that I give her the reservation number. Since I had bought the tickets nearly two months ago, this number was buried beneath hundreds of other text messages on my cell phone. I gave her my name, my telephone number, my date of birth, even my resident ID number. To no avail. Apparently "foreigners" need to have the reservation number. When I finally found the reservation number and received the tickets, there was no time left even to grab a sandwich at the cafe. Still, terpsichore seemed to be smiling on me this evening. The tickets were front and center, five rows back from the stage, and the seat in front of me remained empty for all three acts. The performance consisted of three works by Roland Petit: "L'arlesienne," "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort," "Carmen." The casting was as follows: L'Arlesienne Vivette: Kim Li-Hoe (Grand Soloist) Frederi: Jung Young-Jae (Grand Solois) Le Jeune Homme et la Mort Le jeune homme: Lee Dong-Hoon (Principal) La Mort: Jang Woo-Jung (Soloist) Carmen Carmen: Kim Ji-Young (Principal) Don Jose: Kim Hyung-Woong (Principal) Les Chefs des brigands: Jung Hae-Ran (Soloist), Hong Woo-Yeon (Soloist), Lum Sung-Chul (Coryphee) Escamillo: Lee Soo-Hee (Soloist) The dancers of the KRB are, in general, very strong, if not stunningly virtuosic. They are also ingratiating, with strong charisma and personality. And the company itself seems to be interested in taking risks by presenting the work of contemporary European choreographers together with more traditional repertoire. Besides “Raymonda,” “Cinderella,” a double bill of “Swan Lake” and “the Nutcracker,” and a charming production of “Coppelia” for children, this year’s season also includes a ballet by Boris Eifmam. Kim Li-Hoe gave a captivating performance in L’Arlessiene. Her Vivette exuded a sweet, naïve, lively and playful innocence. Sometimes, though, this seemed more plastic than real, lacking that very depth of superficiality that, paradoxical as it might sound, characterizes some of the greatest dancers in roles such as this. Her innocence did not seem like a thin veil concealing the suffering life. It was just innocence. Perhaps for this reason, I also did not find her transition to the more tragic aspects of the role entirely compelling. Jung Young-Jae, who danced Frederi, was technically strong, but he seemed slightly overwhelmed by considerable theatrical demands of the character. His facial expression and gestures conveyed consternation rather than an infinite yearning. The performance of Le Jeune Homme et la Mort was quite memorable. Lee Dong-Hoon gave a technically powerful and commanding performance as the “Young Man,” and Jang Woo-Jung was a compelling “Death,” with sharp, angular movements and striking lines. Her characterization was stronger than that of Lee Dong-Hoon, who often seemed more afraid of death than truly anguished and haunted by his beloved. Kim Ji-Young’s Carmen was the strongest performance of the evening. Kim Hyung-Woong did a wonderful job capturing the aggressive, obnoxious bravado of Don Jose, and Lee Soo-Hee stood out as Escamillo. The Chefs des Brigands, and the corps were very good, and Jung Hae-Ran, with her wild hair and wonderfully vulgar aspect, was also very memorable. The production values were very high throughout, with beautiful, edgy costumes and stage design. In the final scene of “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort” the walls of the young man’s studio flew up to reveal a stunning, three-dimensional cityscape, complete with a miniature Eifel Towel with a flashing advertisement for Citroen. My main objection to the performance was not with the dancing, but with the choreography itself. These are the only works of Roland Petit that I have ever seen, so I am probably not in a position to judge. But it seemed to me that there is something rather heavy-handed and excessively dramatic about these works --- as if he was not so much communicating in the medium of dance, as using the dance as a means of theatrical expression. His choreography switches back and forth from a classical to a modern idiom, but both appear, in turn, either predictable, or strange and arbitrary. I never felt the kind of shudder that pulses through me when I witness a movement or gesture that is charged with a meaning defying comprehension. He also does not seem especially musical in his choreographic sensibility. The music in the first two pieces was bombastic and overwrought, and the dancing seemed to respond expressively to the emotion of the music rather than engaging with it in a more contrapunctal dialogue. Since I am not familiar with his other dances, it is hard for me to tell whether this is typical of his choreography as a whole, or whether the ballet company chose pieces with music that they thought might be more accessible to the audience. In the lobby, there was a booth set up to promote the opening of a flagship store for Repetto in Seoul. This did not strike me as so strange until I realized that Repetto was founded by Roland Petit’s mother. While I am glad to see that Korean dancers will have convenient access to high quality French pointe shoes, it nevertheless seems slightly crass to use a serious artistic performance to promote a commercial venture!
  2. I'm just wondering if anyway has found confirmation of this story in other, more recognized news sources (i.e. outside of the blog-o-sphere.) Nothing came up when I searched the news on Google. Or is there a way to confirm the existence of the application. I don't want to get my blood pressure up if this isn't true --- but if it is, how terrible...
  3. Well, you are correct in that many people enjoy simpler interests and pleasures, but one has to be inclined to say it depends on the milieu you inhabit whether it is in the UK or Europe. I find the nouveau riche snobisme of the French unpalatable and the German and Austrian snobistisch unbearable in their appreciation of their own arts and would be loathed for the UK to adopt their cultural attitudes. People from almost every walk of life in the UK today attend arts events in greater numbers than at any other period of the past. It is too easy to generalise about the cultural activities of any country. For those who know, the USA has for more than a hundred years welcomed great artists and produced a good number as well. Its academic activities in respect of the arts are expansive. You have great orchestras, a number of good opera houses, significant museums and art galleries which are renowned. Academic study of the arts in America is so rich it’s impossible to keep up with every dissertation and publication. These are things for America to be proud of. If however you approach the problem of funding for arts education and events, the problem lies with American history which to my English mind, seems to feel that although central government and state funding for the arts exist, is not deemed a necessity and for some American politicians it still smacks of socialism and effetism. In England state funding for the arts began with the founding in 1940 Committee for Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) set up by Royal Charter and one the most important events for the arts in Great Britain was the appointment of John Maynard Keynes as it chairman in 1941 who established funding for 46 arts organisation by the end of the 2nd World War. Its successor The Arts Council of England (There are Scottish. Welsh and Northern Ireland Arts Councils) now regularly supports some 880 arts organisations. Our major arts organisations are all supported by government funding. As to Europe, if you want to discover the German Arts Funding Model might like to read: http://www.osborne-conant.org/funding_model.htm France has a Ministry of Culture and the modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959. Wikipedia gives a very good background to the concept of the, "right to culture." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_of_Culture_(France) Interestingly, the so called real upper class are no longer to be seen at the opera and ballet in London. I wonder if they have become dumbed down? This last post makes some very good points. Perhaps it is wrong to think of it as a question of culture being dumbed down. I would agree that different cultural products possess different degrees of "intelligence," that producers vary greatly in the intelligence (emotional, acoustic, visual, choreographic ---not just logical) that they can inscribe into a work, and that consumers of culture also vary in their ability to "read" this "intelligence." But the relation between the intelligence of the object and the intelligence of the consumer is subtle. It would be wrong, I think, to suppose ( and this supposition is sometimes made by defenders of "high art") that "intelligent" culture exists only where these three moments coincide. It is possible for an extremely "challenging" work to speak to us in a visceral, immediate way. And a seemingly simple, naive work can become illuminated through a subtle reading, revealing unexpected depth and sophistication.Just as popular forms of entertainment, without always originating in a single mind of penetrating originality, genius, discipline, and training, nevertheless can offer amazing insight into the complexities of the world that produced it. Works that have been granted the imprimitur of a cultural elite can appear hollow and soulless, while seemingly ephemeral pieces, embraced by the masses, often have their own perfection and power. For me it is thus a question not so much of the intelligence-level of culture as whole, but rather of what one might call "artistic ecology." Different kinds of artwork thrive in different economic and social conditions. In America, now more than ever, mass consumer culture thrives, and has become, in a certain way, very intelligent, and certainly very powerful. There are many TV shows out there that are extraordinarily sophisticated and brilliant, and even pop music has something to it. (I confess --- I'm at once repulsed and intrigued by Lady Gaga. She combined utter vulgarity with such sensitive eyes and an intriguing almost rococo aesthetics.) The novel seems very strong, and I'm sure that there is still good small-scale theater coming out in major cities. But the problem is with arts like ballet, opera, and classical music, that are at once "institution-intensive" and largely dependent on live performances for revenue. These, it seems, are imperiled, for the simple reason that the minimum production costs (esp. including training) are very high, and the potential revenue relatively low. Nor is it possible for them to find broad exposure outside of belittling citations in popular videos and advertisements. The American university system, with its vast resources, somewhat makes up for this, as does parents' willingness to invest huge amounts in cultivating their children's talents. And of course private philanthropy plays a huge role. But this is not enough, and especially in the case of the "Academization" of the arts, the effects can be very pernicious, since it removes artists, at the most vital stage of their training, from the need to find a voice that communicates to anyone beyond their professors and their peers. The question I would ask is: how can we create a thriving "artistic ecology": an artistic ecosystem in which a great possible diversity of different art-forms (where this difference is understand in terms not of the message, but the structural conditions of its production) can co-exist and thrive, gaining from their reciprocal interactions? Neither the Continental European nor the American model seems to achieve this, but perhaps they could compliment each other. I've felt for a long time that dance could play a very large role in this ecology: not as a "total work of art," in the sense of Wagner, but a "pluralistic work of art," which brings other forms of art together in provocative constellations, yet without seeking to dominate these through a single unifying aesthetic ideal.
  4. ...if not public health... Sadly, it is all too clear where and when the government will spend money: wars to fight regimes we once supported, prisons for those who we have failed to educate, bailouts to save industries from their malfeasance --- not to mention all the industry subsidies and pork. I guess when a country has lost a deeper sense of some kind of universal will, it can only find the political will to back "emergency actions." Everything else is done by political extortion. What we need is a positive, rather than reactive and negative, sense of the public good. But this is more difficult, since it means coming to a general consensus about what we as humans (or as Americans) should be and become, rather than merely what is necessary to survive as we are. European countries like France and Germany seem to have a strong sense of culture as a part of their national identity, not least of all because, especially for Germany after the second world war, this was one of the few ways they could continue to assert national identity without renewing militarism and imperialist ambitions. I also wonder if things are not worse now than before: during the cold war, Americans saw themselves in competition with a real communism that had to be taken seriously as a military, cultural, athletic, even economic power. So we needed to do well at those things where the communists did well. The Russians, of course, did well at ballet. But now the communism American politicians and ideologues fight against is truly, again, a specter, and so resistance to communism has taken the form of resistance to all forms of government support for any common good beyond the barest conditions of economic activity and personal liberty --- without realizing that most "socialist" policies instituted in Western Europe and America were done to avoid the sorts of economic, social, political crises that were thought to lead inevitably to communism (or fascist) revolution. But this is ballet talk, not political rant, so back to the point: I feel that if institution-intensive arts like ballet or opera or classical music are to survive in America, arts organization need a powerful, multi-pronged approach for integrating them better into American life. I don't think there can be a simple political consensus in support of arts that demand so much of their audience. But it might be possible, through a number of convergent strategies, to achieve a flourishing cultural life.
  5. Having lived in both Europe (in Freiburg, Germany for 1.5 years, as also Vienna) and America, and also Asia I feel that there is some truth to this. When I was in Germany as a student I had many friends that had an active and seemingly profound love for Classical music and opera. They would participate in informal choir groups, play music together, and even organize small gatherings where they would listen to demanding operas (Tristan and Isolde, Moses and Aaron), in their entirely. I felt that their love for culture was sincere and not pretentious, and many of them came from rather modest backgrounds. In the Unites States, in contrast, it was very rare, even at an "elite" University, to find students my age who loved classical music without having aspirations of a career in the field. It was much more common, indeed, to find extraordinarily gifted classical musicians who would never actually listen to classical music on their free time. This widely-diffused love for culture was reflected in the sorts of cultural offerings available in a relatively small provincial city like Freiburg: there was a small but good opera, and a Tanztheater, both of which seemed to have a fairly regular schedule of performances. But of course, this also has to do with the very different way that the arts are funded in Europe.
  6. Thank you for these great references. I found a preview of Chappell's book on Google books, and it looks very interesting.
  7. Thank you for this wonderful and moving description of Kitten and Lopez's farewell. For me, Calvin Kitten and Fritz are inseparable, and it is sad to think that he is retiring, since he was such a striking presence in the performances of the Joffrey that I saw. When I was in Chicago, I saw the Joffrey's Nutcracker many times, and was never bored. It is really one of the best out there, I think. The NYCB left me sort of disappointed, not because of the quality of the dancing, but because it seemed a bit like the ballet version of the gigantic rigid stuffed animals at the flagship FAO Schwarz Store on 5th avenue --- toys that seemed to satisfy an adult's fantasy about childhood, rather than the real dreams of children. And I think it is a mistake to cast children as Fritz and Clara. The Joffrey Version really caught the true magic of the Nutcracker, which has little to do with that sort of magic that Hollywood is in the business of peddling : its ecstatic, mystical quality. I hope they can still pull this off without Kitten. He will be sorely missed!
  8. I think I should be able to find a copy of this: I tried the two largest university libraries in Seoul, but then I remembered that the women's university near where I live has a strong dance program --- and indeed they have it. I think I might have read David Michael Levin's essay on Balanchine in What is Dance?. (I also met him a few times when I was studying at Northwestern) But I haven't heard of Beiswanger or Hoffman. Thank you for the suggestions!
  9. Thank you. I saw a description of it on the internet. Sounds great!
  10. I was wondering if anyone knew of obscure aesthetic/philosophical treatises on the ballet. I am most interested in works written between the early nineteenth and the mid twentieth century, and which take an unusual aesthetic/philosophical approach. I've looked through the collection "What is Dance?," and there are many interesting essays in it. And I also know of a number of works on dance by post-war French philosophers. But I'm interested above all by writings by somewhat less famous authors that have fallen through the cracks. Examples of what I am looking include the writings by André Levinson, Adrian Stokes, or Cyril Beaumont. I'm not so interested in works of a more purely technical nature, unless these also contain more general aesthetic considerations. This is for a possible future research project of mine. Thank you!
  11. I agree completely. I was somewhat misled by the question. "Disaster" and "institutional confinement" seem to be fundamentally opposed concepts, since institutions are often created in order to contain a perceived disaster or threat (drugs, epidemic diseases, crime, "wrong" political beliefs, sexual deviance, racial contamination, mental illness...) by isolating it from the general population. Disasters, in this sense, exist when there is not yet an institution to manage them, or where the existing institutions have failed. There certainly are examples of large-scale musical compositions created in Nazi concentration camps, most notably Theresienstadt. Perhaps the best example is Der Kaiser von Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann. Hans Krása composed the children's opera Brundibár before his internment, but it was first performed in a reconstructed version at Theresienstadt. I've never heard of ballets, though, created in concentration camps. Another very famous example of art created in institutions are the theatrical performances, staged by inmates, at Charenton Asylum in France in the early nineteenth century. (This is treated in Peter Weiss's play Marat/Sade) This might be a place to look...
  12. I see your point, but the difference does not seem so clear cut. Certainly there is a difference between a work of art created in a institution (hospital, prison, etc) , and one created about an institution, but this is because institutions, almost by definition, depend for their operation on drawing distinctions between those who have been institutionalized, those who work for the institution, and those on the outside. But in the case of a world war, or the threat of nuclear annihilation, how can one differentiate between those who are "within the event" and those "outside it"? Especially given that now, in this age of media saturation, we are constantly witnessing disasters that happen far away and do not affect us directly.
  13. A very interesting question! Offhand, I thought of "The Clowns" by Arpino of the Joffrey Ballet, which, first performed in 1968, deals with nuclear war. I also remember reading about a short and somber dance by Nijinsky to protest the first world war.
  • Create New...