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 2dds

  1. Interesting as usual Bart. Glad to see you still fighting the good fight! I am also gratified to see how the idea of "appropriate" topics for a contemporary story ballet has also been freed up from where it was stuck a few years ago
  2. I don't know Danny Tidwell, but understand you are trying to gently let me know there is not racism lurking around every corner. I take your point. I do think however, it is unfortunate that a dancer like Danny or the young ladies in the video too often become lost to the ballet world for whatever reason. Even if it is by their own choice, sometimes a wiser, older, and experienced mentor can make a big difference. Here is where the scarcity of role models may be relevant. Being colorblind will ensure the attrition of such dancers. Only extraordinary effort beyond "business as usual" will ever change the status quo. As I have said many, many times, I truly am not about assigning blame. I am about making positive changes, and discovering what these might be. Are there effective, creative ways to prevent or minimize the departure of promising dancers of color (especially African-Americans) from the overwhelmingly--possibly even increasingly--homogeneous world of ballet? I continue to believe only by going the extra mile in an open-minded and even a creative way, a firm commitment, and possibly pro-active (even preferential) treatment will ultimately make a difference against the inertia, misunderstanding, and challenging practices that pervade the ballet world. Every once in awhile I convince myself that this forum may be one of the places where people of different experiences and perspectives can have a frank (if sometimes less than lovely) discussion without getting feathers too ruffled. Inevitably I do come back to my senses, and back off and learn to leave things as they are. I promise not to continue to pursue this any further, raise any more troubling questions, or engage in any more idle speculation until such time as I regain my idealistic delusions once more. Then, all bets are off, and I may assume my gadfly role again. Everyone is safe for the moment, and you can count on my continued silence for the foreseeable future.
  3. No Hans, my concern was not where he placed in the competition. The fact that Tidwell was in this competition at all should have been a red flag, and to some it was. I haven't been able to track what was during that time a long discussion, not just of the contest itself, but of the fact that a former ABT dancer with an apparently bright future wound up in this forum. I suspect we will just have to agree to disagree yet again. Maybe someone better at navigation on Ballet Talk can locate this discussion. (Thank you in advance). I did notice that a search under Tidwell's name on this site produced several threads where he is mentioned in discussions updating his current 'work,' going back to his ABT days, and everything in between (including SYTYCD). Maybe the longer discussion was on the sister board: Ballet Talk for Dancers. I wonder what you thought about the two classically trained dancers (flanking Beyoncé) who landed in the commercial dance video? PS Beyoncé sang at the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, and an inaugural ball the following evening. Her performance in the recently released feature film "Cadillac Records" has also received decent reviews. Let's hope the dancers were well paid. I suspect they were.
  4. American soccer is dominated by whites and it's not referred to as elitism. So is figure skating, hockey, Irish dance, curling and many other sports dominated by whites. People refer to the culture of ballet as being elitist for a reason. We can't ignore that. I was a poster on some of the threads Mel mentions. #1 I actually have heard soccer, curling, etc. referred to as elitist or overly white, but as you mention, the commenters were themselves usually not white! Probably most in these sports activities neither noticed the lack of a black presence nor missed it much. #2 It is very disappointing for young black dancers already having endured the scarcity of other black dancers in the training years to find out it is even worse when in pro auditions and settings. In addition, skin tone counts with lighter skinned blacks faring better, and darker more noticeably black dancers being viewed as less acceptable. #3 Until ballet is a more pure meritocracy concerning race, the ballet world will be vulnerable to this charge. Many say the dancers are simply not out there, no interest, etc. (see the discussion Mel provides the link for). Please note the fate of Danny Tidwell a long thread on "So You Think You Can Dance" as well as the fact that the most popular (I think the younger hip people call it "viral) dance videos on You Tube includes Beyonce and two other dancers both of whom were exceptional young ballet-trained dancers. Why are they in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrnNC5toyeo rather than a ballet company you have patronized lately? The answer to this question says it all... PS I apologize to patrons of the particular contemporary ballet company that does include one of the dancers (the Boston Ballet trained one!) on the "Single Ladies" video. You do patronize her company and you know who you are. By the way, the director of this company is both non white and not from the United States! This atypical company director does have a much more diverse group of dancers than most US companies. Also please note the contemporary/classical distinction. These dancers' early ballet training included typical classical and neoclassical training (full scholarship to SAB summer for the other young lady who is not the Boston trained one). I rest my case.
  5. There was a time I would have made a lengthy reply to this thread. That time is over. I no longer hold out hope that the American ballet community will become a non-race conscious meritocracy anytime soon enough to make a practical difference in the lives of dancers and companies I currently care about. Having said that, I would love to be proven wrong! I continue to hope that in some future time, this will become the conventional reality. These days, however, that's all the time and energy I am willing to devote to this. You live, and you learn. I would highly recommend Wilkinson's Ballet Review interview to anyone with serious interest on this topic. It is clear, nuanced and frank.
  6. Another bump here. After seeing a lovely Sugar Plum pas with a Latino Cavalier and an African American Sugar Plum recently, I was wondering if anyone has had any concrete results or any other experiences with any of these efforts at inclusion. Has anyone else seen such diverse casting in their local Nutcrackers? Just curious.
  7. Glad to see this thread is still active and open. I reviewed the many posts and was alternately encouraged and dismayed both by what happened then and where we are now. I hope we all continue to think about these inequities in as clear-sighted, creative, and compassionate a way as possible. I also hope everyone continues to notice that the lack of diversity has remained fairly constant, and to continue to ask and think about why this has changed so little, and if we are happy with that state of affairs. If the only faces of color you see are deployed as Arabian in Nutcracker--I suggest, that is not enough. Happy holidays to everyone and here's to finding an accomplished African American Sugar Plum Fairy on many more stages in the coming years.
  8. ditto carbro!!! ...and let's hope that genuine enthusiasm helps his popularity appeal with the now all powerful audience I stand corrected on the Jaimie assessment. Let's hope the Sabra wishers get their request soon like the Lacey-Danny wishers did this past week. I'll be watching...
  9. I also think that smile is a secret weapon: dazzling, confident, yet sweet and somehow a bit bashful. You are not melting alone carbro! I think his other secret weapon may turn out to be Jamie (sp?) who is also without a partner now. I suspect, the best is yet to come.... I hope
  10. I'm weighing in as a no counter. I can't count and fully enjoy at the same time. Also, just in general, I personally find a little less attention to the technique (suspending disbelief--unless it's an egregious lapse--), and a healthier dose of the naiveté and wonderment that first reeled me into being a fan of ballet, always serve me well in live performances. My feeling: it's a performance, after all, not class. I guess that means I'll never be a critic, but I'll still be a happy camper.
  11. Like dirac, I am a Comcast subscriber who lost access to Ovation despite my written and verbal requests and complaints. It was wonderful to have Ovation and we watched it regularly. Classic Arts is my refuge as well. I also wonder like bart, why not just broadcast videos/dvds? As well as why there is such a dearth of ballet even on PBS? The broadcast of Jewels was so infrequent and strangely scheduled, I am sorry to say, we missed it altogether. I have had it explained to me so many times why ballet is expensive to produce, film, everything, as well as the lack of demand. Yet many people are often transported by their first limited live exposure to ballet, but this exposure, too often, never occurs. Then, no audiences. If ballet is an aquired taste, how do we make sure it is acquired? In times of financial contraction and scarcity, with programming choices ruled by a short-sighted view that's determined by the bottom line after it is married to the lowest comon denominator...It's hard even to figure out how to hope. Darn that Gresham!
  12. Thanks Hans for the follow up, and to bring this back on track, I have sometimes observed that dancers of color, particularly AA, are advised to try their luck in Europe. This environment is described as one where they are more likely to be judged on their merits. Never having been to Europe, I have no idea how valid this may be. The existence of companies like "Ballet Black" suggests there may be similar obstacles in Europe comparable to those in the US. Does anyone have first hand information on this race, culture, and ballet issue outside the US context?
  13. Hans, I certainly agree with you about ABT being 'top of the line;' the reason I say possibly unsatisfactory, is I don't know why he didn't wait for the solost roles to ripen into a solist promotion. Maybe he knew something we don't know. I find it hard to believe he did not have a conversation with the powers that be prior to deciding to leave ABT. As noted above, Complexions did not work out either. Baffling. On the hours thing, I am aware of minimum standards for pre-pro in the US, and was just observing it's not an automatic formula more hours=better training. I thought from other threads here and on our sister board, that there were some significant differences by age in hours and intensity of training between US and schools outside the US. One of the differences I thought was "day one" being a later age than some US schools. By the way I am unaccountably fond of inelegant expressions , including the particular one you use (even though I consider myself a friend of all felines! ).
  14. A few quick thoughts-- #1-I wonder if Danny Tidwell was attracted to "So You Think You Can Dance" by the pull of his muse, or pushed by his (possibly unsatisfactory) range of alternative choices? #2-Whether training inside or outside the United States, if dancers of color (even AA, the original recent thread discussion of the "black swans") are not visibly and noticabley distinct, they would have a greater opportunity to 'blend in' and would not face the same issues in the admittedly 'lookist' world of ballet where appearance is so important and capricious (subjective and fickle, but not arbitrary or random) for all dancers. The concern might not exist in the same way as it does for visibly non-traditional dancers. #3-I would also relate this question back to others raised on this thread--if dancers of color need to be twice as good to get half as far (as several have asserted on this thread), maybe they should all be training in Europe or Russia. It would seem they need every advantage. #4-Does anyone know how these diversity issues play out in other countries? Is there the same lack of diversity (missing swans, for ex.) at all levels, and is there the same problem retaining dancers of color during training? By the way, at the studio that "bent over backwards" with so little success, who decided on the methods of retaining dancers? I was just wondering could some of the attrition be attributed to business as usual methods? I would base my strategy on what had worked for dancers (like the consultants I mentioned earlier) who did manage to follow through to careers. #4-Do more hours automatically equal better training? Also do the Europeans and Russians train more at later stages and less at the early stages when so many dancers here (not just minority dancers) are already burning out? I also was excited to see a professional company associated school making apparently strenuous (albeit ineffective) efforts to attract and retain a diverse group of students.
  15. Thank you to Mel Johnson for clearing up some of those points of confusion. This is the link to the Dance Magazine article in the so-called Race issue. This article is specifically addressing African American dancers. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-133008724.html The issue of the advantage the male dancers enjoy comes up again as well as several other observations shared by posters and mentioned in the Kourlas article. When combined, these pieces present quite a range of types of evidence. I do not find as many problems with the recent Kourlas piece as Major Mel. My feeling is much more like that of bart and dirac. This is the article I referred to as June 2006 earlier in this revived thread (I lost a whole year along the way ). When I thought about that article, I just did not want to believe it had been 2005, I guess. We are still treading much of the same ground. I think it is very instructive to see where we find ourselves two years later. Oakland Ballet has folded, DTH still on hiatus, Misty Copeland still in the corps, Stanton Welch still unable to hire a single female African American dancer from the hardy half dozen or so who continue to show up at the auditions (and this from a director who publically states he "would love to have more African Americans"). Maybe this is the "standards" red herring...Happily this has been laid to rest yet again on this thread. On this specific example, I know (firsthand) that African American females have continued to audition for Houston Ballet and at least one of them had been previously employed in the corps of another (albeit smaller regional) professional ballet company. Yet not one of these dancers has been able to attract the director's attention, despite his public statements. Of course, it is impossible to second guess an AD this way, but it does not support the publicly expressed wishes of a director who wants more auditioners not fewer. I do not want to get anyone in trouble here, and this is not the hint, wink, anecdote style referred to above. This is not "deceit," but an acknowlegment of the reality that to speak plainly and name names in this tiny ballet world of ours is to take nearly impossible risks. No one with continued hopes of a career is going to do this. Thus, I suspect certain voices will remain muted in any discussion of this sort. With so few African American female dancers out there, that visibility is very frightening in a profession where reputation and connections are vital. In the current climate, eventually, the ranks of these dancers will thin out, no matter how intrepid. Whatever talents they may have possessed will never be available as emerging or as established mature artists. This does not serve the best interests of either these dancers or the world of ballet generally. Personally, I don't need to wait for the missing swans to testify and name names before trying to come up with remedies. At every step along the way from the time these young black dancers first enter the studio, to the moment they retire and seek a career transition, there are points of opportunity where we can work hard to stem the attrition rate, to inspire and encourage potential talent. For example, what might Tai Jimenez or Lauren Anderson have to offer (based on their experience as retired principal dancers), to help companies and schools attract, train, retain, promote, and hire aspiring dancers? Maybe they are already in huge demand as consultants or advisors and I just don't know about it. If no one is beating down their doors, IMO it might be an excellent idea. Debbie Allen also started out in ballet; has anyone solicited her expert opinion? Ditto Sandra Organ, also in Houston. Her solution was to start her own company, an experience that also might be very informative. Virginia Johnson (editor of Pointe Magazine) would be another obvious source of information and support. Similarly, has anyone checked in with an organization like the IABD (is this even a recognizable acronym for us at Ballet Talk?) I am throwing this out not to overburden these women (and organizations). Of course, I think they should dictate for themselves exactly when, where, and how much they want to be involved in such efforts, and--most important--I think they should be treated (and compensated) just like any other expert consultants. I am simply suggesting some new ways to do a better job at efforts to be more inclusive of African American female ballet dancers. We do not always need to seek male dancers and directors as a first choice (even if they are African American); we do not need to consult only modern or non-ballet companies (no harm intended here--I am just suggesting we remember to seek ballet expertise rather than continually heading to Alvin Ailey as exquisite as they may be). In an alternate approach, how about checking in with Ben Stevenson (who seems to have hired and/or trained the majority of successful African American female ballet dancers outside DTH.) Maybe he could explain to other artistic directors what inspired/enabled him to make the choices he did. We need to do more than make public statements of what we would love to do and stick with what we will and can do; we need to find ways to actually do something other than conduct business as usual (which predictably produces the same predictable results). Standards can be maintained; we all know there are more talented dancers out there (of all shades) than there are positions. Providing extra encouragement to any dancer that has something special (in this case it would be the determination and courage it takes IMHO to simply persevere as an accomplished African American female dancer) has always been a potentially successful strategy. In this case, it also seems to require something special on the part of those who make the decisions (to hire and fire, to train and support, admit or deny, retain or release, to attend or stay home). I wonder what is the difference between those few who are able to make these different decisions, and the vast majority who are not. I propose we look at the limited successes and emulate those. Maybe this belongs in the inclusion thread? ? I defer to the judgment of the moderators here. My overriding purpose is to find concrete ways to make specific positive changes that will prevent us from losing the gifts of the aspiring African American dancers out there. This echoes the sentiment of Mel Johnson as well as the observations of dirac and Oldfashioned Thank you for saying in a single sentence what I attempted to do in a whole paragraph. One artistic director I can think of who has done a decent job of promoting diversity within the company is Ben Stevenson for Houston Ballet. Whatever one thinks of his choreography (on this international and New York-centric board, he and Texas companies are often overlooked), he elevated the status of ballet in Texas, which I think had a lot to do with bringing talents like Anderson, Li Cuxin, Li Anlin, and Carlos Acosta to the forefront. If it's "broke," let's find out from those in a position to know "how to fix it"!
  16. Thanks so much for your respectful response Major Mel. I am glad this whole exchange is remaining so civil, and I think I am becoming more clear on the thrust of your comments. I suspect, ultimately we may have to agree to disagree as they say, but I would still like to follow up on a few of your points if I can. This is a bit confusing as I don't remember ever mentioning any"silly ideas" at all, so I don't know what exactly is getting more play than it deserves. Mystifying still. Thanks for this clarification. I asked specifically as a professional in a related field (AB, masters, and doctorate in anthropology with a geographical focus on the African American Diaspora and a theoretical focus on the diachronic processes of group identity formation), not because I was unfamiliar with the term "negritude," but precisely because I thought I was familiar with it, and this usage seemed idiosyncratic in terms of my readings and experience. Fortunately, as it happens, I know many respected professional historians (some among them have published on "negritude," the Panther Party, the history of Black Social Movements in the US, etc.) who specialize specifically in African American topics, and I will continue to follow up on this and correct any further misconceptions I may still have. As stated previously, I prefer to seek the best experts I know when characterizing African American life and culture, and although I have enjoyed numerous chuckles when reading the satirical and insightful Boondocks, this would not be my first stop when seeking information about "groupthink" (!) or, more accurately IMO, the range of responses to the Black Panther presence either now, during the time they were most active, or in the intervening years. I suspect my attitude toward the established scholarly material specifically on African American history, life, and culture may be one of our points of disagreement. These stories are heart-breaking, and I certainly understand how such experiences would be off-putting and very challenging for you and for the African American students. I am curious to know how you managed, as a teacher, over the years to provide support for your students who faced these obstacles. Did you have or seek access, even indirectly, to African American colleagues and/or role models who were willing and able to consult on solutions to these pedagogical dilemmas? Was this helpful at all? It also seems some of the conventional ways of providing extra support for male ballet dancers (who would appear to share some of the exact same challenges) might be applicable to the African American (female?) students you worked with. I was wondering if any of these strategies were useful to you when trying to advise and encourage the black dancers you trained? Also, it sounds like a restraining order might have been appropriate as well as obtainable in the case of the dancer who was beaten and had her life threatened. Sadly, I know this situation, (which I would classify in a more gender-based rather than race-based way) can be very difficult to address under any circumstances. Like the first set of "silly ideas" you mention, this hits me totally out of left field. I don't remember ever advocating this in any way, nor did I gather this impression from the original article either in intent (always hard to judge, admittedly) or explicit content (somewhat easier to pin down). By the way, further along in this thread, I was very happy to see your candid firsthand evaluation of Aesha Ash's dancing, especially as it referred to her at the height of her neo-classical powers at NYCB. Not surprisingly, as she has struggled (by her own admission) to adjust her dancing to conform to the new Alonzo King choreographic demands, her recent appearance at the Joyce as a member of Lines Ballet would reflect most closely her developing allegience to this specific brand of contemporary choreography more accurately than it does her "technique" in some absolute sense as it would apply to any potential career she might have had at NYCB. For those interested in at least a video version of Ash's dancing, I believe she was the dancing body double for Ms. Saldano (an actress who is not a highly trained ballet dancer) who co-starred in Center Stage. She also appears briefly in the snow scene of the Balanchine choreography Nutcracker Movie that also includes MaCauley Culkin. Both of these are widely available, and recorded during her SAB/NYCB days prior to leaving the company.
  17. I think Ray is definitely on to something here. In most circumstances ballet is absolutely not equally accessible to those of more modest means. This goes for tickets, training (even pointe shoes!), and being able to afford to work for peanuts. It is true, however, that there is, under certain circumstances, some relief for dancers who are merely dedicated and not well-heeled. Student rush tickets are sometimes available, artistic directors of schools who are committed to access and diversity have several creative ways of addressing this issue as far as the training aspect goes. I also know some families make immense sacrifices—for example: literally juggling food and tuition expenses, taking out 2nd mortgages, sacrificing other discretionary expenses—to make ballet training possible for the children they love. IMHO as long as the employment prospects remain as dismal as they are now (both in terms of the small number of jobs and the lack of a living wage), there must necessarily be an increasing reluctance to continue to subsidize a profession that is, frankly, not standing on its own two feet. In such a context, ballet remains a luxury ultimately available only for those who can afford it. I see no way around this hard economic reality. Currently, I think this trend is as gloomy as it has ever been, and getting worse by the moment. To see the sad reality of this situation check the relevant threads on our sister board, Ballet Talk for Dancers. This represents the pipeline for dancers and audiences of the future. Also how many of these dancers will go on to train future students? What effect will this have on the future of ballet? It is also instructive to compare European training—less accessible (more selective in selecting and training students)—and more accessible: more availability of state funding and more economically sustainable careers. I could be wrong about this contrast, and I don't know where Canada, Latin America, Australia, Asia, and (?) Africa fit into this picture. I'm curious to know more, however. Could others weigh in?
  18. I was hesitant to post on this, too Old Fashioned, so I am glad you were glad to see it. I had previously posted on Alicia Graf's recent career adventures, but I received no real follow up, and as a matter of fact, the thread ended with my post on Graf. This was post #23 in a thread called "The Star System - Rockwell in the Times" in the Aesthetic Issues Forum. Aesha Ash's comments had appeared previously as part of a longer discussion in an issue of Dance magazine devoted to concerns about race. I think this issue came out in June 2006, but I haven't doublechecked this. Bart thank you for fixing my attempt at a link to Mme. Hermine's post. I was working way beyond my skills in trying to include all those quotes and links. Also Respectfully, Major Mel, defining black culture as monolithic and then going on to characterize that very heterogeneous world view as both defining and despising ballet as "Not Black" seems to violate my understanding of the social science concept of culture as it is used in the 21st Century. In addition, I am mystified both by your use of terminology like "negritude (doesn't this have a much more narrow practical attribution/application among professional historians?) run amok," and by your concern for victimization of African American dancers suffering from internal bigotry launced by other African Americans. Each observation, in its own way, seems somewhat when looking at the issues Kourlas targets. Maybe you could clarify, since I confess to being quite thoroughly at a loss. By the way, I am not requesting clarification on the fur lined toilet bowl. This is already more than I needed to know... Also respectfully, Old Fashioned, making African American culture into a class-based assimilationist vs. separatist dichotomy improves only slightly on the unitary African American culture Mel Johnson proposes. I very much agree with bart on the direction I would like to see this thread take by focusing on the experiences of both emerging and established female African American ballet dancers (they are the ones specifically addressed in the Kourlas piece, and are associated with very particular concerns; they are explicitly distinguished from other ballet dancers of color or even from male African American ballet dancers). These are the missing "Black Swans." I must admit, I find the reluctance to tackle this issue head on might be a sign that the current incarnation of this topic may fare no better than previous incarnations. Yet, I remain hopeful... I am also hopeful that we will return to the specific circumstances faced by female black dancers within the ballet world rather than continuing to try to characterize African American culture. I understand that we are all free to take discussions wherever we see fit, but frankly, there is already a great body of scholarly expertise out there on African American life, history, and culture, and I would much prefer to see that rather challenging, subtle, and complex aspect of this discussion left primarily to those more qualified experts. IMHO if we stick with our strengths as balletomanes, this will be a much more productve and insightful exchange.
  19. This is a thread bump and refers to Mme. Hermine's link to a relevant article in today's Sunday New York Times—— The second post in this thread by carbro includes links to other related discussions on Ballet Talk. I've read and reread most of these posts. I have already contributed to some as well, As many have commented along the way, frequently these discussions have generated more heat than light. I come to Ballet Talk for enlightenment, expertise, edification, and insight on so many topics, and I am rewarded with discussions so well developed, they are breathtaking. I wonder why the discussions on this topic are so much less well developed. I hope this time may be different. Out of respect to previous discussions, I bumped this rather than starting a whole new topic. This is a daunting amount of material to peruse however closely or quickly, but the tone and content of previous threads might be instructive (or maybe cautionary ) for anyone wanting to pursue ths topic further. As if this was not already enough to consider, I also call your attention to the relevant spin off thread on actual strategies for inclusion: I, for one, will be interested to see how the new discussion goes...
  20. I wonder if some worthy choreography doesn't have a core or a seminal section(s) that can stand alone. I have total subjectivity here as the parent of an emerging choreographer, but I have actually watched this person choreograph over more than a decade. We have also discussed choreography for as long or longer than that. Often these discussions follow performances and inform our reactions as audience members. I have also watched in classes as teachers put together combinations and noted the differences between classes and combinations taught by teachers who are choreographers and those who are not. Most importantly, I have noted the total disjunction among the skills needed to be a great dancer, great teacher, and a great choreographer. I disagree that great choreography will never have stand alone elements. We have all seen excerpts from our most treasured ballets that are not only integral to the overall ballet, but are also quite satisfing as stand alone pieces. Two of my daughter's longest and most successful pieces were built around core stand alone pieces that were presented independently and well received, then later integrated into longer works. In both cases the choreographer intended these independent pieces to be part of longer works from the very beginning. My daughter has also discussed choreographic techniques with established choreographers, and shared aspects of these conversations with me. As a result of observing the choreographic process in these ways, I have become convinced that: #1 choreography, like dance, is partly a gift and a passion; it can be learned, but for some it is a calling, and has aspects that often (more often than dance itself) defy the ability to teach #2 different choreographers choreograph differently; some, for example, work mostly in their heads, others prefer to actually move physical bodies in space (obviously each choreographer is a mixture, but tendancies are usually very clear cut) #3 choreographers hear music differently; some seem to actualy hear it as moving shapes, dynamic formations, negative space, etc.; this is related to how dancers feel music in their bodies, but certainly not identical #4 coherence/intent/meaning are crucial to choreographic success; this relates to the choreograper's vision (which in a particular piece may be more or less grand and ambitious—some pieces honestly are more modest or even actually slight!) #5 transitions are very important in making choreography meaningful, moving, lasting, and successful; memorable choreography usually relies on the "in betweens" to transcend something more than what any well-trained dancer can simply string together #6 good choreography relies on a shared dance vocabulary and will engage an audience with the occasional unexpected passage, but ultimately will say or at least suggest something to the audience that is familiar enough to be intelligible, but unusual enough to be informative and neither predictable, nor trite nor banal. This sounds more set in stone than it is. It's merely my opinion, but is gleaned from conversations with a very articulate (also a writer) person actually trying to create choreography and open to discussing the process. Has anyone else had occasion to discuss choreoraphy with choreographers (established, emerging, or somewhere in between), and/or witness the process? I suspect this happens only rarely...
  21. Thank you all very much for the upgrade and the alert. I hope it makes the board more MAC friendly too. I would spend more time if I didn't crash out so much.
  22. I hope this is not too far . I am responding to bart's curiosity and the current (?momentary?) direction of the thread. I always go to ballets accompanied by one or more dancers, and it is interesting to see how very different their audience experience is on so many counts. As I see you are especially interested in this bart, and since I have a very particular perspective (parent of pre-pro/almost pro/maybe never pro/ dancers), I wanted to share a few thoughts. Not only do I see these dancers twitch though entire performances, I also see the heads nodding and shaking in agreement or disagreement with particular choices in staging or interpretation. My own daughters also grab my hand and squeeze it, or nudge my knee with theirs when they find something particularly outrageous. For the uninitiated, I think ballet can be somewhat like listening to singing in a language we do not understand. It can still be quite enjoyable, sometimes more so or in different ways than when we actually understand the words. I am reminded here of worshippers who, though they understood only a word or two, preferred to attend Mass in Latin. Certain opera fans also come to mind. Once you are familiar with the ballet vocabulary, especially if you understand it as a physical muscle memory, it is an entirely different experience and not just because of the involuntary movements. It is a "conversation" you can decode, and can understand fully the "linguistic" choices being made. What was previously relatively undifferentiated (though possibly still sublime) movement, becomes a series of steps executed by more or less gifted practitioners in costumes and settings designed by technical experts and performed on specific stages with certain lighting in particular theaters on a given night. For the accomplished former professional dancers, I imagine they actually must restrain themselves when they hear the opening sounds of what was once an entrance. My young dancers have the most difficulty with this aspect when they are watching ballets or variations they have actually learned and/or performed. This would be far fewer ballets than for the former professionals, but for highly trained students, this can still be quite a substantial repertoire. Every step (pardon the unintentional but still effective pun) of the way, the dancer is tempted to compare their own potential choices and abilities with those displayed on stage. As mentioned on our sister board, the market is now glutted with talented well trained dancers who will never work professionally not because of any grave deficiency on their part, but simply because of the lack of enough suitable jobs. Supply and demand is working against young dancers in a visciously disappointing way these days. Imagine wanting so badly to dance, training so hard and long, and watching from the audience and knowing (I'm not just talking sour grapes here) or at least feeling you could do as well as dancers up on the stage, if only some Artistic Director would hire you and give you a chance. Imagine watching a ballet from that perspective, the perspective of dancers trapped in the current circumstances that possibly will never allow them to soar. Conversely, when truly awesome dancers and companies perform, the dancers in the audience fully appreciate all that goes in to creating these transcendant events. They know better than anyone else exactly what it takes to get from the studio to the stage. Unfortunately, these young hopefuls sometimes get discouraged realizing they will never be (fill in the blank with the current favorite unbelievably talented dancer) as good as ____, so they might as well stop trying. They forget that most working professional dancers (even today) are not as good as ____ either. I suspect that the current training situation with all the resulting disappointment, may be depleting audiences for the ballet. Maybe after a break, these former hopefuls will become the next balletomanes, but this is certainly a hard transition for many while the disappointment and dashed dreams are still fresh. I also understand why many teachers and academies are understandably reluctant to be brutally realistic with young dancers about the vanishingly small true chances for professional employment, but then the harsh reality becomes even more devastating when it eventually rears its ugly head. To end on a more upbeat note, I am always amused to observe the extremely exuberant dancing that comes out of my dancers in the parking lot, on the street, and often for hours later continuing at home, after twitching through a ballet performance. Interestingly these dances are equally as exhuberant after frustratingly disappointing performances as they are after inspiringly excellent ones. How much more is going on in those darkened theaters than we will ever know.
  23. I was wondering how you would classify San Francisco Ballet's Yuri Possokhov (newly retired as a dancer, becoming quite accomplished as a ????? style choreographer)?
  24. My 2¢ Distracting? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Tyrannical (for vulnerable dancers)? Oh yeah. Prurient? Potentially. Necessary? Why? In such a controversial area, with such a range of personal beliefs, I see little gain for ballet which requires movements I would find utterly incompatible with comfort in the vast majority of choreography. As so many have stated, nudity is not something we see every day, and casual nudity may be unwelcome to many--not necessarily a sign of prudishness. Also since when is modesty the same as prudishness? One more thought. This is all about art, artifice, and illusion. Part of the brilliance is that it's not cinema verité, a documentary, or faithfully (seamlessly?, objectively?, transparently?) revealing all with no discretion, human agency, or choice. This is an artistic effort to symbolize, and produce resonant representations. Including nudity, I think would make it more difficult to direct audience attention and reaction, like including a joker in the hand you are dealing... In the end, IMO I think a lot depends on how anxious one is to fill the seats. I think the audience that seeks and appreciates nudity is bigger than the audience for ballet. Maybe classical dance can become a destination for that group in the interests of the bottom line
  • Create New...