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Everything posted by DefJef

  1. Bart, I like everything you said in your post this morning. The high cost of attending ballet and studying ballet may be more about the priorities of the young in society today who choose to spend their money (parent's) on cell phones, clothes, pop music concerts, sports and place "arts" lessons, attending theater or ballet low on their priority list (if at all). Yet young children before they are poisoned by pop culture and peer pressure probably would find ballet thrilling and memorable. It is too bad that more young people are not exposed because they often are more colorblind than th
  2. 2dds and omnshanti make excellent points. We cannot address the ills of society which are manifest within the subsets of the institutions which make up that society by saying that when society cleans up its acts all the institutions which make it up will follow suit. Which comes first.. the chicken or the egg? In a sense, passing a law such as providing equal access is such a measure. It is a step, but it is not changing minds and behavior. The issues which I am trying to understand are: Do racial featues which are not basically European "jarr" with classical ballet? Does this act much
  3. Jazz is very much an American music. It's roots are from the African American communities and probably the most well know jazz performers are black males. But there are white jazz musicians and many famous and talented onces. Jazz, albeit modern, and "improvisational" seems to be open to the influence of different forces and not as closed as more tradition based performance arts such a ballet. Notes are colorblind... No? Dance as a whole certainly includes all ethnic groups.. and this makes sense since dance seems to be something common to all humans. One can also observe many Asian musi
  4. First, I want to say that A few aggressive comments on an online discussion board is not going to offend me after almost 6 decades of dealing with all sorts of people from all classes, races from every corner of the earth. Second, I came to BT as an audience goer. I am not a student of ballet, a teacher, an arts critic, a dancer. I have been "consuming" the arts since I studied architecture in the late 60s, including ballet, theater, music, art and architecture. In the past 6 or seven years at my initiative, my wife and I have begun to attend the Met regularly for ballet and opera. As I w
  5. Omshanti, I do tend to see the world in a non racists way, which is easy for me as a white man who has had a good education and so forth. However, my wife is Hispanic and works with underprivileged people in her job and is exposed to the effects of racism has on society on a daily basis. It was actually her comment to me about the lack of black faces at the ABT which inspired me to raise this issue for discussion. My sense is that ballet itself is not racists but is very much a Euro-centric dance and very much a "relic" or a tradition which dates back a hundred fifty years or so at most (
  6. Helen, I am well aware, as most are, thate West Side Story is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliette. Same story different vernacular. I recall being told once that there are only 7 plots themes in all of litereature. I don't care about the period of the story or the location, Verona or the South Bronx.. then and now... Perhaps, the question is: Is the vernacular of ballet a historical relic that we hold onto because it is part of our (europeans') past? Or is it and can it be a living art form where the color of the skin of the dancers matters not?
  7. First, let me dispel the notion that I believe that racism is a white expression of superiority over blacks. It is far more pervasive than that. And yes Alvin Ailey would be practicing racism by excluding whites from his company, were he to do it. Call it bigotry, tribalism chauvinism.. it exists in many flavors and nuances. Some is very overt and ugly... some is less obvious but insidious. For whatever reason humans define themselves in terms of membership is some group... some of those groups are genetically determined and others you can chose.. and acquire membership in, or earn it by s
  8. Hans, I suppose that as new ballets are created the librettos and stories can have more universal appeal than romance between princes and princesses and then more "ethnic" groups will "fit" in. But this means that the classic and romantic ballet will be like a relic from the past... and increasingly smaller part of the dance repertoire. Does the vocabulary of ballet DOES end itself to a more universal storyline than those we see in the traditional repertoire?
  9. Mel, Admittedly the world is full of many many talented wonderful non racists people. We read their books, watch their movies, see them dance and so on . But, in my opinion, these "evolved" people are few and far between and vastly outnumbered by what I would characterized as "unevolved" people. Racism is one example of the expression of power and control which seems to be so much a part of the human condition. For whatever reasons we worship power and its various forms of expression, money property, weapons whatever. As I noted above the expression of racism in ballet is woven througho
  10. The problem is not that people with cash support the arts as opposed to buying another pied a terre, rather it is the egotism it appeals to to and the crass commercialism. Put on top of that it reminds us of selling and owning slaves it is a completely odious activity. Shame on these companies who allow and promote such activities. The ABT has their printed list of sponsors which are tiered by how much cash the donor gives. That is enough in my opinion. Even a plaque in the hall in bronze listing all the sponsors in order of their gilt amount should be enough to massage the ego of the wealt
  11. The reason that ballet is lilly white is racism. But this expression of racism is to be found in many places. It does not rest solely with the ADs or the owner's and sponsor's of major companies, but sure they too are guilty of racism. It is also found in our educational system, it is found in our economic system which treats blacks in such a manner that proportionately very few can afford to do ballet even if it were "accessible". It is found in the peer pressure of the black culture which discourages their people from "embracing" white culture. This was a tragic failure of the promise of
  12. What I am getting from some of the comments here is that rich white folks are racist.. they stick together, support only lily white Euro-centric arts and do little to promote, support and encourage minority participation on the arts. As important as financial suppert is for the arts, when rich white folks buy in and then control it something is terribly wrong. What's the deal with dancer's having sponsors at the ABT? Can't they just give their support without their names being placed there? How much money do I have to give to have my own ballerina? What do I get for it? Does this bother
  13. Carbro, Thanks for the links.. I'll read them! Well as far as the number of blacks in the audience at a typical ABT or Met Opera performace, I stand by my estimate and if I was off by a factor or 2 that would be 50 out of 3,500 seats! There is still something going on. Since you attend ABT performances, what would be your estimate of black faces in the audience?
  14. I am always struck by how few non Caucasian dancers there are in ballet. My first reaction is that ballet is so Euro-centric that is holds little appeal to non Europeans or those who upbringing was not Euro-centric culturally based. However, in cities like NYC, San Francisco, Washington, Boston, London, LA and so on we have large black, Asian and Hispanic populations all living in more or less the same "cultural milieu". Admittedly there are entrenched ethnic communities which strive to celebrate their culture of "origin" etc. So what are the reasons there are proportionately so few non Ca
  15. Hans, I have thought about trying to see rehearsals at both the Met and the ABT... if that is possible for someone who is not a professional such as myself. On the one hand I would imagine I might discover some of the answers to the questions I find swirling in my head answered as the performers prepare their magic. On the other hand I love the feeling of not seeing the nuts and bolts and just experiencing the finished work of art. I have similar conflict about actually seeing an artist outside of their medium. This is not that I place them on a pedestal (which I do to some extent)... but
  16. One thing which I want to comment on here is that the intelligence, wisdom, the command of language and complex ideas are so beautifully conveyed by people who are involved in a art which uses no words, only movement. Damn you people are amazingly articulate! The more I look at ballet from the other side of the proscenium.. and read the comments of those on BT... the more I realize how little I understand. As I age I realize I know more and more about less and less or something like that. What is happening to me is that I am increasingly being drawn into to ballet, the beauty, the mystery,
  17. To elaborate on my ignorance... What are some specific "things" dancers do which personalize a role? They cannot change the choreography... yes or no? Artisitry is not, in my understanding, simply acheiving perfect technique. I suppose in music, for example, a pianist doing a concerto can "play" with tempo and even intensity of the notes as an example how they can perform technically well, but add their own flair... artistry if you like... interpretation. I do understand that dancers also interpret their roles.. but I don't know of any of the mechanisms available. Please excuse my ignor
  18. vrsfanatic raises an interesting issue which I am not even sure I want to know the answer to.. and I am sure there are many many answers... ie no correct one. But here goes. When a principal dancer is doing a role such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet... she clearly has to perform the dance with technical perfection.. at least that is one objective of course. But she is also an actor and conveying the moods and mental states etc of the character. How much of her focus and thought is really "in charaster"? You can, of course, read this in facial expressions perhaps more easily than in how the
  19. And perhaps this is why ships go left to right on stage???
  20. Hans, I am not advocating perfect bilateral symmetery. I am just wondering why the hand of a ballet is never reversed (I asume it never is). And I am wondering is the entire dance uses symmetry? Why spin to the right and not the left for example when a ballerian comes whirling down the center of the stage? Is the direction often what suits the dancer or the dance?
  21. Yes I understand some mirror symmetries within a ballet, but .. for whatever reason... ballets are not "bilaterally" symmetrical and for whatever reason one finds various "asymmetries". For example I have noticed at the Met in both ABT and Opera when a boat is part of the libretto it always seems to travel in the same direction from stage right to stage left... if my memory serves me correctly... but my memory is not all that good. These sorts of directional asymmetries may have no meaning or rationale... or they may be subconscious... who knows. I do know that in classical architecture bi
  22. I am confused about the clockwise vs counter clockwise issue. I would have thought that a trained dancer develops their musculature in perfect symmetry.. or as close as possible. Why would there be any "advantage" to making a step in either clockwise or counter clockwise direction? I do understand that our individual handedness causes most of use to "favor" one side.. and consequently develop our muscles, movements and memory of same. Perhaps the fact that most people are born right handed means that they favor that side... "pushing" off the strength of the right side and effectively turni
  23. Clara 76, I was away so forgive the delay in replying. I don't have to think about walking and so I have muscle memory for walking under most circimstances. Dance, however, I would argue IS more complex than walking and perhaps one can after much rehearsal acheive the identical muscle memory to my walking. The only analogy I can relate to is sailing and "moving about" on my boat which after years I don't have to think about it and can move effortlessly even in the dark! But of course the thing I was trying to grasp is: What are the non techinical things dancers to communicate.. to add tha
  24. Handedness causes us to develop our muscles somewhat assymetrically. I would assume that dancers work to develop their strength symmetrically. Ambidextrous people may, in fact also develop symmetry of their muscles. (don't know). One would think that if one has these muscular assymetries it would impact on how one executes any handed motion. No?
  25. On another thread the question was posed: What is technique? This seemed to me to be a rather "self evident" question and the more interesting one is: What is artistry in ballet? One interesting notion about the ballet is that, like music, theatre and opera, so much of the performance is "set down" in writing... the notes, the lines, the steps. Each participant must perform their bit with precision so that the entire structure of the work has coherance and integrity. I can read aloud the lines of a play, but those lines done by a skilled actor make more than a world of difference. So th
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