Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by jonellew

  1. Fascinating query, especially from your point of view as a visual artist. In my experience with dancer-friends and as a dancer, I can say that dancers have a great consciousness of their physicality in everyday life, and that they are especially perceptive of the physicality of others. I remember reading a quote from some dancer who compared his/her body to a racehorse, and I remember understanding that feeling, in a good way. There is just a heightened awareness of what each muscle is doing, all the time. I also remember, as I stopped dancing, that the change in muscle awareness really felt like atrophy. In my head, even today, having not taking a class in three years and not having performed in who knows how many, emotions are connected with dance movements. I have little flashes of releve and saut de chat. And the muscle memory is so strong that I can do them, on a whim, in my living room or whatever. I hope no one's looking in the window, though! There is also a quote from one of the dancers in Etoiles, the documentary about Paris Opera Ballet dancers: the dancer says that when she was little, she wanted to be a nun, but she was too physical, so she ended up in ballet. So it's the same kind of total offering-up, only it's the body, not just the soul. I hope others can fill in all the gaps I've left and offer more.
  2. Thanks for your reply, Leigh. Yes, it's crazy to think that the ballet was once half of a Graham–Balanchine "collaboration"! This is especially interesting as Farrell has said that this ballet could never be confused with Agon (in the context of trying to un-lump the leotard ballets). But historically, in a larger context, I suppose maybe Episodes is Agon Jr. . . . ? At the Ballet Austin/Farrell Ballet performance, I was wishing for more rawness, of course layered on top of technical assurance.
  3. I haven't posted in quite a while, but I have been lurking again as of late and so impressed by the discussion and knowledge on this board. I'm seemingly settled in Austin now (I was living in Boston when I joined Ballet Talk), and I'm thankful for all the careful descriptions of New York and other performances! Anyhoo, I was wondering if anyone else here saw Ballet Austin's season opener last weekend. I did and, although I was thankful to see Episodes for the first time after having read so much and researched it, I found myself wishing much of the time that I was seeing City Ballet do it. I didn't see much of the intense response to the music that is said to be so important to the ballet (albeit I was in the balcony; maybe the orchestra folk saw it). My favorite dancer in the piece was Indre Vengris Rockefeller in the Ricercata—she seemed freer and more musically responsive than the others, although I suppose the music of that section is easier than that of the others. As for the other two ballets on the program: Stephen Mills presented a new work, Liminal Glam, to Philip Glass's Concertp Fantasy for Two Tympanists. First of all, there was no live orchestra for this piece, which was a major bummer. I'm not sure if it was a budget thing or if perhaps it's difficult to find two tympanists to play this piece. Anyone? As for the dance, I found it pretty much a lot of Forsythe-inspired fluff. The costumes were nice, like Forsythe tutus but in pastels shorter, with spirals going up the bodices; the guys wore pants with the same spirals and pastels, which nicely hid any unsavory leg lines. There was a lot of big rond de jambe, and frankly, I've already forgotten much of the choreography. The lighting was also pastel—the whole thing ranged from powder pink to powder blue, in various shades—and I didn't see the "glam" in it. I guess I got the "liminal" part, as the atmosphere was of something in between, maybe up in the clouds . . . ? If anyone else saw this ballet, I'd love to hear another impression. Last on the program was Tharp's Nine Sinatra Songs, which, to be honest, I had relegated in my mind to a boring crowd-pleaser and wasn't looking forward to. Actually, I liked it much better than I did several years ago (maybe I was too young to appreciate the nuances of love that are depicted), and I felt the dancers did some of their best work in this piece. And of course it's always lovely to see beautiful dresses by de la Renta. OK, that's my report. I hope there'll be some fellow dance-crazy Austinites to chat with here.
  4. Hello, I'm looking for a video of all or part of any performance of Balanchine's Episodes (1959). Any info appreciated. Thanks! Jonelle
  5. I think that "singing with the body" has perhaps been interpreted several ways already in this discussion, but I'd like to add that what struck me about the footage in the film was the dancers' musicality and a fluidity of movement. With this film, I began to appreciate elements of the dancers' technique that do not come across in still photographs (especially because standards of line and physique were different than they are today).
  6. I have not yet had the opportunity to become familiar with van Manen's work, but I am aware of the degree of his influence on Kylian. The conversation with your friend sounds like an interesting one, and I will remember your comments when I do get to see some van Manen. I recently saw the Boston Ballet do Sarabande and Falling Angels, both of which were extremely well done, in my opinion, and true to the NDT performances of those ballets I've seen on DVD. Several years ago in Colorado I saw the National Ballet of Canada do Soldiers' Mass, which, as I remember, was moving (and I never use that word) even though the dancers were less than what I expected technically. The rest of what I've seen has been on video and DVD, and since our conversation, I'm looking through it all again.
  7. I haven't read the whole review, but I agree with you that Eifman and Forsythe are certainly not rowing partners. I think the disctinction is right there in that sentence: Eifman is interested in emotional extremes (though he definitely pushes physicality to attain them), while Forsythe is interested in physical extremes. I haven't seen a lot of Forsythe, but I wouldn't categorize anything I have seen as emotionally extreme.
  8. Well, I certainly agree with you that Kylian's ballets are dark. I haven't seen his entire body of work, but I suppose the innocence I'm thinking of is most apparent in his humorous pieces-- Symphony in D, for example, and Six Dances. But a sort of innocence (I will think of a better word eventually) seems to me to also pervade the darker works, like Sarabande and Sweet Dreams (or, arguably, the darker sections of all of his works), which may also contain humor (Sarabande definitely does). Even in the serious moments in his ballets, I never feel as if catastrophe or even tragedy could happen. It's as if the people in his ballets have a god who they know will take care of them. You were right to question my statement about form. I did not mean to talk about choreographic form; I should have written that the form of the body has a certain preciosity in Kylian's work. In most of his ballets, dancers are costumed minimally and delicately in ways that emphasize proportionality. Often, costumes (and I'm not sure who designs them-- does Kylian work with the same designer all the time?) look like undergarments, and so what you have onstage is people who are either freed from or stripped of their constraining clothes. I think this also contributes to my feeling that they seem innocent, or pure-- (they are like little children running around who don't care whether or not they are clothed). BUT-- even when Kylian's people are undressed, they are not really animalistic or earthy. (Even in Road to the Stamping Ground I find a sort of "cleanness," but this can be easily argued against). I think this sort of denial of animalism is also what makes me agree with Sayers' "Christian" statement in that there is the idea that humanity is created in the form of the divine, rather than evolved from the animals. Perhaps poorly put, but I hope I'm explaining myself a little. Thanks for making me think!
  9. I won't go into the definition of Kylian's work, but I found it interesting that Lesley-Anne Sayers wrote that his work "presents us with a potent dialogue between classical (and perhaps also Christian) ideals and the contorted angularity of modernism" (in 50 Contemporary Choreographers, p. 137). The more I though about it, the more I began to see and appreciate the Christian sensibility in his work (I'm not talking about liturgical dance or anything religious other than the sensibility that is perhaps a result of a Christian society). Of course, Kylian has ballets that are based on spiritual music, but I see the Christian sensibility as a pristineness of form and proportion, and as an innocence. Perhaps what I'm really thinking of is a European sensibility--? Also, I have, sadly, only seen NDT on video, but that Boston performance Balletaime spoke of was quite good (surprised as I was) and true to NDT's performances of those ballets on DVD. There is a review of it in the May Dance Europe. The provincial audience, however, did not do so well-- I heard of several who left the performance after Sarabande (missing the last ballet, Forsythe's In the Middle). I guess this Puritan town just couldn't take a bunch of guys screaming with their pants around their ankles. Oh, but it was good.
  10. In her "30 Years Later" afterward (actually, I think it's "afterword") to the "Against Interpretation" collection, Susan Sontag wrote that American society in the twentieth century was lacking seriousness in its approach to art. Though I'm not sure if I've wrapped my head around all of what this means, I do believe she was right. There is a division between "art" and "entertainment" in contemporary American society (and its journalism) that allows, and encourages, a lot of "non-serious" stuff to get a lot of attention (and a lot of money). The line of division is, I think, up for debate and absolutely not static, but I do believe it is unpleasant that people may say "I don't want to think. I want to be entertained." Why is entertainment perceived as something passive? I suppose I can think of a lot of reasons . . . . It certainly cannot be good for people's intellectual and emotional well-being to withstand investment in the arts they witness, nor can it help the development of the arts/entertainments to create them knowing that no one is supposed to think about them. I do also agree with many of your points, Alexandra and kfw. As far as what gets covered in the media, I agree that it is absolutely about what editors think people want to see but also about who has the resources for advertising and PR. With most newspaper dance reviewers doing at least double duty (most also write music or theatre reviews), events are prioritized and coverage is dependent on what the critic has time to see. (Unlike in the old days, as Alexandra said, when people would go see "as much as was humanly possible.") The double duty problem also is a factor in the quality issue in which kfw was interested. I also agree with the idea that nothing amazing is happening in dance right now (I was beginning to think I was just jaded, so thanks for stating this!), but I think that an ideal recovery would mean a creation that able to bridge the gap between the popular culture and fine art. I'm not saying art should "dumb down"; rather, we need something so important/serious/amazing that it will call the "entertainment" crowd out of their passive hibernation. But this, my friends, is idealism . . . .
  11. The headline for the NYT's obit for her was just lovely: "Ballerina Who Lept into Husband's Arms." For those who are interested in how she passed on her artistry to future generations, there is a 1980s documentary on the Bolshoi that contains some footage of her coaching the young Nina Ananiashvili in Don Quixote. If I'm not mistaken, both Struckkova and Ananashvili are interviewed about the coaching process.
  12. I'm in the dark about the circumstances of Mme. Sizova's return to St. Petersburg, but I know her pedagogy at UBA will be deeply missed. The best female dancers from UBA came out of her class (Michele Wiles, among many others). She brought out the best in a lot of girls, and she passed along the traditions of Russian style with an unbelievable freshness. There exists a video of her in La Viviandere (probably labeled as Markitanka, as the Russians sometimes call it). I think it is one of those "best of Russian ballet"-type videos, from the late 1970s or 80s. Sizova is dancing the lead rather late in her career and is, of course, exceptional.
  13. Here's another anxiety-induced one: leaving on a plane for an audition or tour, I realize in flight that I've fogotten to pack all dance clothes and shoes. The rest of the dream is spend trying to figure out how I'm going to track down some serious dancewear fast and in a foreign city. Then I wake up and realize I've quit-- thank god!
  14. If I'm not mistaken, there was only one mention of the lovely Nina Ananiashvili, and I'll second it-- Georgian fire and divine proportions to boot.
  • Create New...