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mouse

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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    Columbia, South Carolina

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  1. Hi! As I've said before, I really don't know anything about ballet; but, amazingly, I know something about Modest Musorgsky (frequently spelled Mussorgsky, but not my the most recent biographer) and "Pictures at an Exhibition". No, I don't know much about classical music either. I just happened to have created an original art gameboard (sort of "Trivial Pursuit" and "Parchessi" mixed together for a local symphony charity event!) Hence, I've done a little research. Anyway, I also happened to attend Sunday evening's IBC in Jackson, quite unexpectedly. On Friday, my husband asked what was stopping us from driving eleven hours to see Sunday's performance. I couldn't think of a thing, so we put out a pile of cat food and headed west. I was a nervous wreck by 7:30. My child and his partner were opening the program. (Yes, I'd love to hear opinions on the junior competition by some of you more knowledgable ballet people!) Frankly, I thought it was great. Of course, not falling on ones face is "great" in my book. Come to think of it, their piece had quite a lot of falling in it but it was obviously part of the choreography. Therefore, I'm not qualified to evaluate them at all. I was also crying at the time, my "norm". (I'm told that one day I will enjoy seeing my child dance. That day wasn't Sunday and isn't likely to be coming before the end of the summer.) Then, the South Korean junior female, Kim Je A, started dancing a piece (Haunting Vision, music from Ballet Goya by Valeria Besedina with Konstantin Uralsky choreography). It included many hyper-extended "leg lifts" (likely a more proper name, but I don't know it). Directly after one of these almost uncomfortable looking movements, she went gracefully down to the floor. She'd been on the floor before, so it seemed very much part of the choreography. In fact, I'd bet it was. However, she stayed there, curled up in a little compact ball, and only moved her arm a little bit for several dozen bars of music. Tension could almost be seen rising above the audience for a few pregnant seconds before simutaneous applause started with the lowering of the lights. The music ceased. There were a few people with flashlights quickly coming onto the stage. The curtain fell and then we could hear the anguished cries of pain. ANYTHING can happen at these competitions. ANYTHING happened. I cried some more. I will be buying the music that Andres Felipe Figueroa Leon danced to with his non-competing partner Diana Catalina Gomez Gonzalez. It was the pas de deux: Nous Sommes set to Marie-Joseph Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne with choreography by Jimmy Gamonet. Stunning. As beautiful to the eye as to the ear. I'm personally rooting for Brooklyn Mack as he's from my hometown and I've known him since he was twelve. His performance was wonderful. Fortunately, it wasn't any longer than it was as I don't think I inhaled a single breathe during it. More crying. Then, we have Daniil Simkin. Yes, he's the most incredible dancer I've ever witnessed. I saw him in Vienna when he won the Grand Prix and again in Helsinki. Even an idiot like me knows that his talent is in a class of its own. I was so excited to see this piece. The choreography was set by his father, Dmitrij Simkin. It is not a new piece. Daniil Simkin has performed it before. It is called "Moorhuhn". "Huhn" is "chicken" in German. The music was some modern variation based on Musorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". This segment of that famous, originally piano, score was based on Musorgsky's impression of a ballet costume sketch done by Victor Hartman. In fact, all the music was based on artwork done by Victor Hartman, a young artist who died and for whom an exhibition of his work was displayed to honor him. Modest Musorgsky went to the exhibition and then wrote the music based on several of the pieces of art. Many of the pieces are still in existance, including the one called "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks". The sketch is a perfectly horrible one of a young dancer wearing a big "egg" with a little chip of a shell on his head. Believe it or not, it was a real ballet (thankfully, lost!). I think Petipa did it. The story was at first to be set in Scotland but later moved to Switzerland. I have no idea why chickens were in it at all. Yet, the children of the Imperial Ballet were to have danced this part. (The men of the corps were to be cockatoos!) The music is impossibly fast and, like all Musorgsky's work, was meant to literally SOUND like chickens. It does. At no point in the past could I have imagined anyone actually dancing to this music. Now, I will never be able to imagine anything other than Daniil Simkin dancing to this music. The "egg" at the end was priceless! The humor was endearing. The ease at which Mr. Simkin showcased his abilities was breath-taking. I wish I could see Round Three. I'm already nervous again. mouse
  2. Hi! Who's in Jackson? Is anyone going to post messages? If so, please post often. The only thing I'm likely to hear directly from Mississippi is a string of predictable phrases that add up to absolutely nothing. I'll hear, "It's okay" and "We'll see" and other utterly useless information. Nervously, mouse
  3. Hi! Here in Columbia, we attend what is likely considered a "smaller" theater. It seats 2200 in an orchestra with two balconies. We generally sit anywhere in the last row of the orchestra in order to avoid the awkward feeling from others glaring when we don't participate in the standing ovation that ALWAYS happens at the end of EVERY performance. We started sitting in this area years ago when my boys were young. They'd stand or sit on the seat cushion without pulling it down first. We weren't in anybody's way. mouse
  4. Hi! I cannot believe I am typing. This is a thread I've followed and read through several times since it was first posted. I remember reading the title before clicking the screen to the postings. "Elitist" image? Well, in my pea brain the word "yes" popped right up. Certainly someone like me wasn't going to have anything to say on the subject, but it's been fascinating. While most of the posters have serious opinions and state them with eloquence, I thought I couldn't contribute at all. Why? Because I thought I was too stupid. I don't really know anything about ballet. How could I have a novel idea, a worthwhile comment, or even have enough background to agree with anyone else's statement? You guys are the experts, my "elitists". Yet, some of you have shared enough personal backgrounds to make me think you'd like to know what one as ignorant as I thinks. So, maybe against my better judgement, here's a few: I can read music! Although I have only about a six tone vocal range and can bearly now pound out Christmas carols on the piano for lack of practice, I can read music! I wasn't a junior high schooler in 1971 but did attend my first opera that year. It cost a great deal more than $3.75 though I have no idea how much. We went annually to the Salzburg Festival. We drove up in a severely worn rental car that even the police officers directing traffic had to look at twice before flagging us into the opera-goers lane, but we went! We wore the same outfits every time, handing them down to younger siblings the following year. We went to orchestra and chamber music concerts too. The seats weren't the best, but we were there. We were a working class family that had been farmers the generation before. We were simply taking advantage of the opportunities available. We were not "identifying with the rich and "copying" their "behavior"". We were not trying to ""get with the program" and acquire the "trappings" of wealth". We were also not alone in this honest pursuit of beauty and appreciation. Class mobility never figured into any of these activities. (We're all still happily middle class, working people!) While it was certainly fun to "rub elbows" with the "well heeled", I think the middle class knows exactly who they are. Those making sacrifices for the arts to so because they LOVE the arts, pure and simple, even without sophisticated knowledge, education, or background. I'm the daughter of immigrants. Of course this is the land of opportunity and I could have grown up to be president. Okay, it's a myth; but, like most myths, there's an ideal involved that encourages the hopeful to reach heights never before imagined. Myths are important. Dreams are what makes artistry work. Believing as a child that each classmate and I could have grown to be president made it possible for each to dream of an occupation beyond those we already knew. Who is to say that the myth really doesn't work? Perhaps those that found no promise in it simply stopped believing and hence stopped trying to achieve their goals. This thread got me to ponder the very word "elitist". Though there are well written definitions, the statements Helene made gave me a greater sense of what, for me, this thread is all about. She wrote of a psychological barrier. She wrote, "What to wear? How to behave? Will all those rich people judge? Will it be comprehensible? Will it be boring? Will I have anything to say about the performance? (Will I feel comfortable posting about it?) There's the sense that there are a select number of well-trained people who know anything -- the elite--" These words spoke to me. Though I've seen scores of live performances and know what to wear and how to behave, the psychological barrier still exists. Why? Because of the elitists, those well-trained people who know everything (and are comfortable posting!) Just as those in the middle class might appear to be assuming the airs of the rich, the elitists might appear to be part of a private club looking down their noses at the rest. When one assumes that another is only really interested in upward social mobility, one becomes a snob. When one assumes another is a snob, one loses the opportunity to learn and find ones rightful place. What I guess I'm trying to say is "Thank You" to all those who aren't judging and are willing to share, to teach, and to help one like me, an ballet ignorant fan! By sharing little tidbits, like "I don't read music" and "I come from a working class family too", you break down the barrier. We seem more alike than different. I'm trying on this end, by reading everyday and now by getting enough courage to post. mouse
  5. Hi! Almost every day, like a good student, I read this board's "links" in a very feeble attempt to learn something about ballet. Here was a "review" I actually understood. Of course, I didn't learn anything; but, I laughed and laughed. Reading the descriptions of the dancing was hilarious. I couldn't have done it much better; I'd just know not to share it with the world! It was way too long and full of uncomfortable words and phrases that weren't polictically correct. I laughed anyway. I don't know Ethan Stiefel or Gillian Murphy, but I've met them. They make a lovely couple. I hear that the kids participating in Stiefel and Star's summer program on Martha's Vineyard enjoying reciting lines from the movie (especially the "pep" talk!) and that Ethan laughs right along with them. They say he's a "good sport" in addition to being a nice person. Thanks for bumping this up. Jackson starts at the end of the week and my nerves are already tightening with worry for all the competitors. The laugh this thread provided was much appreciated. mouse
  6. Hi! Thank you tango49 for the tip about the site in the UK. I found it and the very nice, day-by-day, dancer-by-dancer group of posts for the entire 2002 competition. It was very interesting to read about which I'd only heard tales, stories, and highlights. I posted a question too, asking if the same sort of coverage was planned for this year's competition. The answer came almost immediately and was YES. Now, like tango49 stated: "it will be wonderful to follow the events for those of us who won't be able to make it and have family members or friends who are competing!" Yes, it will be wonderful! mouse
  7. Hi! Natalie wrote: "I won't attend but I hope that BalletTalkers who will be in Jackson may post impressions." PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Do post, those of you fortunate to be making this trip! I cannot count on my competitor having his cell phone with him at the moments of available time. He doesn't say much when competing anyway! I had no intention of missing this and looked forward to it (with fear, doubt, and excitement) since 2002 when my neighbor, Joseph Philips, won the junior men's gold. Now, I'm unable to attend. I guess it's okay because I really don't know anything about ballet. (It's like in another language, and I'm not just referring to the French terms!) I've learned so much from the posters on this board that I doubt that I could have written anything worth reading anyway. So, please, those of you going, post messages! I will be anxious to read anything about the competition and promise to continue learning as I go! I will definitely miss seeing Daniil Simkin. Even an "idiot" like me knew to be blown away each time he took the stage in both Vienna (2004) and Helsinki (last summer). I quite agree with Natalie's statement: "Sinitsina absolutely 'wowed' me at the recent UBA graduation show, dancing an amazing 'Nikiya's Snake Dance' from Bayadere." Again, I know nothing about technique; but she is quite stunning and very beautifully expressive. By the way, Joseph Gatti is competing in the senior men's category, not the juniors. I so very much wanted to see him perform. Hopefully, that day will come soon! mouse
  8. Hi! Two Americans: Mathias Dingman and Sasa DeSola from Universal Ballet Academy will be dancing as partners in the junior division. mouse
  9. Hi! Stacie Calvert is doing an excellent job here in Columbia. The USC dance program just became an accredited major this year. One could only minor in dance before. Miriam Barbosa, a former Martha Graham dancer, is also on staff and doing some interesting choreography around town and elsewhere, including collaborative efforts with Marcelo Novo, a visual artist originally from Argentina. It has been almost like witnessing the birth of a new ballet and a new department, one open to exciting contemporary visions and grounded in strong technique. Recently (well, last November), I ran into Stacie in a long line outside the stage door. My non-dancing son performs the role of Mother Ginger in the local civic company. Stacie's daughter was a mouse. She said, "Ballet Mom? Not a role I actually ever imagined for myself" We both laughed. About Jackson and contemporary choreography, I don't believe there are any hard-fast rules about music or the choreography. In Helsinki, one of the contemporary pieces was suppose to be set to music from the competitors home country. This rule didn't seem to be followed closely. Yet the competition did require proof of ownership/permission to use the choreography. Two modern pieces were required and both had to have written permission from the choreographer submitted before the event started. There were no such rules in the IBC Moscow competition. I'm not sure if written permission is required in Jackson or not. There is generally a time factor, however. In Helsinki, I think modern works had to be at least two and a half minutes or maybe three minutes. One competitor's work was too short. He simply changed the opening cue and added the necessary amount of time beforehand as movement without music! It worked perfectly with the mood and style of the piece. Had my son not told me about it, I would never have known that the dance wasn't suppose to be performed as I saw it. The dancer made the final round. There was a maximum amount of time too. I don't remember how long it was but some of the music abruptly "cut off" allowing everyone (including non-ballet people like me) to realize that the music should have continued but the dance was finished. If memory serves, these dancers didn't progress past the second round. mouse
  10. Hi! I'm intriqued by this post and its questions. I couldn't possibly answer. I don't know enough to even try but cannot wait to read other "fantasy" programs. I have a question, however. Could you tell me more about Rasta's Bumblebee piece? mouse
  11. Hi! My husband and I will be going to Jackson. I'm glad that this thread is being updated as I learn so much from the postings here on BT. I'm hoping to read all sorts of ideas, insights, points of view, opinions, and just general information about other viewpoints. Such postings will undoubtedly enhance my experience in Mississippi. I've seen the line-up for this competition. I've seen the line up for a few others. I really don't know anything about ballet (my son dances instead) but from what I understand, a dancer just can't dance variations or works from certain choreographers. These works are held tightly in trusts. These works, as all artistic works, enjoy years of copywrite protection. One must have permission, in writing, in order to perform such work. One must also generally have at least some level of supervison/oversight by someone deemed knowledgable by the trust to guarentee that the work is presented in the proper method/style/manner. Here in South Carolina, our local university is very pleased that Stacie Calvert is now on the faculty. She brings with her access to Balanchine's choreography. Every program printed has a little blur expressing heart-felt debt to the Balanchine trust for permission to dance the work. Thus, this is my understanding. In Helsinki, competitors had to present, in writing, permission to perform or proof of the rights to their contemporary pieces too. mouse
  12. Everyday I read from these pages. It is difficult. I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BALLET, but I'm trying to learn. I read the "links" daily and ponder what the year ahead will bring. Possibly, this site will be my only connection to a son who turned eighteen today but will live/dance across the Atlantic by autumn. I try to understand the casting notices, the Russian names, the polls, the upcoming performances, the preferences Choreography, my God, I'm in well over my head. It is really, really hard for someone like me. I feel stupid everyday. I feel alien. Then, as if by magic, there is a thread like this one! There are volumes written on the symbolism of flowers and bouquets. Color selection is important. The grouping and numbers of blossoms are important. These are customs much older that the Victorian era (from which most of my books on the subject come). Giving and receiving flowers is, at least, something to which I can relate. I've even seen a laurel wreath presented on stage! Our ballerina (yes, Mel, she's considered a "ballerina" here in South Carolina!) presented one to her partner/husband at his final bow as principal dancer on the last performance of Nutcracker. I didn't know this was a custom. I didn't know there was a reason behind the floral selection, but at least I knew that flowers are and likely always will be symbolic if given properly. For six years I've asked my son, "How many flowers, what kind, what color, which evening?" Thanks for the reminder that I've got these questions to pose just one more time! After that, he's on his own! (It's been a sort of joke in our house to present the most outrageous flower to our son after significant performances. Fortunately, the botanical world is full of all sorts of rare and exotic and "highly suggestive" blossoms for these occasions! We're not purists! We'll create our own floral translations! It is really sort of fun to find new plantlifes for male dancers!) mouse
  13. Hi! I am new to BT. I am actually kind of new to ballet. My child dances, not me! Of course, I had never heard of this award. Yes, our media would not likely have informed me. So, thank you Marga for telling me so much about it. I will now, more eagerly, look forward to hearing the results! mouse
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