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psavola

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About psavola

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    student and audience member
  • City**
    Finland
  1. The Finnish National Ballet has programmed Rudi van Danzig's Swan Lake for late spring. I plan to go see it. However, Finnish National Ballet used to dance Vladimir Bourmeister's version, so I have no idea what to expect this time. Mime? Classical dancing? Running around and high legs? So what is Rudi van Danzig's Swan Lake like? Päivi
  2. A parallel thread of learning to see things in ballet performances inspired another question: What did you watch and/or notice in your own very first ballet performances, before you learned to know and see "more"? When I first started watching ballet, I was totally ignorant of everything. I had no idea of what I was seeing, but I was totally facinated by the line of the dancers. I would watch their shape and movement in space, and ooh and aah at it. I also loved the music. I had no idea that big jumps and pirouettes were supposed to be exciting and difficult, or that seeing a specific dancer to interpret a role was somehow significant. I remember being vaguely interested in the emotions portrayed and the development of the plot, and liking classical mime (the program notes back then used to contain small primers for a few gestures, and the puzzle of fitting all the different pieces together and finding out what they were saying on the stage was irresistible). The funny thing is, I stayed that way for several years, completely satisfied in just seeing beautiful things once a month from a cheap student-price seat. No intellectual curiousity at all. ( Then I became a ballet student, and everything changed. ) Päivi
  3. This sounds a bit preposterous and stupid, but for me ballet classes are a way of being (in my own small and humble way) connected with something more beautiful and grand than any single invidual or concept. I'm trying to learn to create beauty and art. Additionally, the abstraction, rules and harmonies of ballet appeal to my engineering mind. I cannot say I ever really get bored in a class. I do feel I'm improving, which gives me a strong motivation to work harder. I have been lucky in finding teachers that care about my improvement, and an abundance of classes that give me room to grow. I do not know if I would be content and satisfied to "just take classes", if at some point I realized that I have come as far as I can, especially if there is no hope of ever being graceful and enjoyable to watch. Maybe I'd go back to painting or piano. But for now, I'm enjoying the ballet journey. In our school the professional track children/teens classes are completely divorced from the adult or recreational children/teen classes, so I have no idea how I would feel seeing teens, let alone professional track teens in class on a regular basis. I have shared a barre with one professional track teen for a short while at a visiting teacher intensive, and I was thoroughly inspired by the experience. I plan on adopting the teen's work attitude. I think people value things they put time and effort in, and conversely, the rewards we get are dependent on what we give. Certainly ballet has become more important to me than some other things, which I intuitively "just knew" how to do and happended very easily and naturally. And yes, I guess one could say that a good class exhilarates me, if I have understood the word correctly. (English is not my native language.) Päivi
  4. The Volta was indeed for a time Queen Elizabeth's favourite dance, and while it was not quite perfectly respectable in all eyes it was not morally too dubious either. Perhaps the equivalent of shaking one's hips instead of just stepping side to side in a disco. And yes, the Queen did indeed do several galliards before breakfast each morning. (The Volta is musically a type of a galliard, with a variation of the galliard rhytm - the galliard has a peculiar, unique, very recongnizable beat, "pulse", which, when played correctly, will make your head nod and feet tap. ) The moral problem with the Volta was not so much the fact that partners were close together, but that it required the man to lift the woman, and pivot turn her about three-quarters around. This sends the skirts flying, unless the woman uses her free hand to keep them down. I know from experience that if I wear a farthingale, the throw/jump takes off badly and my hand is not where it should, the spectators are sure to see at least a calf or knee. :eek: (That said, the Volta is a fast, fun dance, and when both partners dance it well, the "wheeeeee" effect is amazing.) As Alexandra noted, dancing was one of the few ways young people could get close together. While it would be misleading to say, that dances commonly contained elements of body contact more intimate than touching hands, some did. Several surviving dances have the man lift and/or turn the woman in different ways, in one the partners embrance. And Arbeau indeed advices young Capriol of the usefulness of dance in finding out the health and close-up attractiveness of a girl. The discussion is about the virtues of dancing, and the main argument is that dancing is a gentlemaly pastime which - unlike, for example, tennis - allows one to meet the girls. Checking them out is just one of the side points raised. Pleasing the girls is not mentioned, because at that time all young gentlemen were expected to be willing to dance. (There are some warnings about things girls do not like, however, in the interest of keeping their favour, and advice on how to behave if a girl does not want to dance.) Consequently, this unequal world had many dances with more male than female parts, and some "male showoffs only" dances, where the women pretty much walk around and stand still charmingly while admiring the great danseur. ;) While the Volta itself is a bit too quick for much flirting, several other renaissance dances are made for courtship, which they regularly seem to have been used for - and which some circles of course fiercely disapproved. As a note of interest to a ballet board, many dances contain small courtship games in their choreography with a slow opening section, one or more preening solos for both partners, and a finale which they dance together. Others have mimed love stories or references to local popular song lyrics. Many dances have names from somebody's nightmare of the current top ten list - our group is currently learning Nido d'Amore (The Love Nest) and Gloria d'Amore (The Glory of Love). Apparently they loved to play around the edges of the ideal of female chastity with the idea of courtly love. :rolleyes: Päivi
  5. Here I am again, after seeing the third cast. Maybe it was the fact that this is the final performance of Raymonda this season, but the evening had a very special atmosphere. I've never seen so many technical slips in one single performance before (most seemed to mess up at least once, and there were no less than three falls), but everybody on stage seemed to have great time, and most danced with abandon. I enjoyed the performance very much. I wouldn't care to see this many problems in every performance, but a exception to a rule is forgivable. Anastasia Dunets danced Raymonda. She has not been my favourite in past performances but I must say this time I was convinced. Her acting was good - she actually seemed to have a dilemma, and not quite understand all her actions. Her technique was great, very solid. (Her obligatory slip was very small, a brief loss of balance in a "posing" scene) And unlike I remembered, her arabesque line was beautiful. Either I imagined the winging in Cinderella, or she has fixed it. Physically Anastasia Dunets does not match my mental image of Raymonda as well as Minna Tervamäki, whose tallness and royal neck-line made for a great figure, but I must say I still preferred Anastasia for her better acting, and the joy of dancing which shone thorough at times very clearly. Juha Kirjonen was Jean de Brienne. While his face could have used more different expressions, the few ones he had weren't bad, and his gesturing and body language were eloquent. He and Dario Franconi seemed to have great time puffing up. Dario Franconi was again Abderahman, and made up for his technical problems (which he did not have last time) with even stronger acting. (Last time was already great.) Instead of freezing up at the face of difficulty, he threw himself even more passionately to the role and received thunderous appaluse for it. Raymonda's friends were again great - they definitely have some of the best dancing in this ballet. I also want to specially mention Jarmo Rastas whose miming was superb and expressive. I loved the way he reacted to the monkey! Unfortunately my language skills are not good enough to translate the mime role name (Linnanvouti) to English. Countess Sybille, played by Jaana Puupponen, was also better than last time, and adjusted to Abderahman's new, stronger personality well. I hope people who see Raymonda at ABT have time to post their impressions. Päivi
  6. Major Johnson, Is it possible to know from what source you have learned this version of La Volta? I'm an amateur renaissance dance student, and your description resembles only remotely anything I have been able to find in the renaissance choreographic sources that I know of. (Arbeau's Orcherosgraphie has very detailed instructions) This one feels to me as a later descendant based on the balletic steps and partner changes - is it still danced in galliard rhytm? (resembles the modern 6/4 with a peculiar beat - God Save the Queen is a galliard)
  7. I'm not very knowledgeable, I'm afraid. I'll try to consentrate on stuff Jaana did not cover, since I pretty much agree with everything she said. In my opinion, this ballet was good entertainment, but mediocre art. It was stuffed too full of dancing and running around, and consequently lacked depth and drama. The emotional content and story were somewhat shallow. The choreography was generally interesting, if a bit crowded. I could not help thinking, that the ballet had been meant for a larger or differently shaped stage (wider and less deep, perhaps?). In general the ballet had lot of good dancing in it. I particularly liked the wedding scene. Some of the costuming, especially in the dream scene failed to impress me. (In fact, I really did not like the way the dream scene was done. Too many people crowding the stage in too many kinds of costume with too many details. Dancing was bland and unconvincing too.) The first act was nice, and the last act quite good. There were some utterly beautiful tutus on stage. (Raymonda's blue tutu with roses in the beginning of the second act was splendid. Suited the tall blonde lines of Minna Tervamäki extraordinarily well.) Male costuming, however, was in my opinion generally excellently done, and most of it was very flattering with nice pseudo-late-medieval details. I liked the staging - horrendously American colour choices, glittery and crowded, and most of the time complementing the mood of this glittery and crowded ballet very well. The story has been changed around again. Jean de Brienne is not Raymonda's intended, and he is not away on a Crusade but right there in Raymonda's garden. In fact, it seemed like Raymonda and Jean weren't having any kind of really serious affair before the ballet starts, and Abderahman is the catalyst for a stronger bond. I would have liked to see more mime - I understand it was mostly taken out. I really like seeing good mime that flows naturally into the dancing. Maybe I would be clearer on all the details then, since the acting was not strong enough to carry the nuances of the story and to communicate the reason for each dance. I have to agree with Jaana, that the role of Raymonda in the ballet seemed shallow and bland, and/or Minna Tervamäki did not act it very well. The supposed attraction to the exotic foreigner looked like fear or disgust, except when it looked like glued-on smiles. It is a pity, because while she is a cool, more technical dancer type, I've seen her act quite well in other ballets, notably Giselle. On the technical side she was her her usual competent self. (I don't want this to sound like I don't like Minna Tervamäki - I do quite a lot. Her strong classical technique, beautiful lines and restraint in introducing mannerisms or over-athleticsm to her dancing are admirable. She is generally my favourite female principal for the "big tutu classics".) I also liked both of the male principals. Nicholas Ziegler was a beliavable "nice guy" Jean de Brienne and an exciting turner as well. Dario Franconi as Abderahman was my favourite character for his clear, loud, yet natural-looking gesturing, which sneaked some forbidden mime elements in. He seemed the only one of the three principals to be really completely comfortable with his role on more than a technical level. Raymonda's friends were great, especially the female ones. They sparkled with life and their unison in timing and styling was breathtaking when it was not very, very good. I'm going to see the third cast in June; I can post an update. Päivi
  8. I can try to describe the Finnish tango, but it is difficult because while I can dance the Finnish tango (most of the adult population can) I've seen Argentinian and ballroom competition style tangos only briefly and therefore it is very hard to "compare and contrast". The Finnish tango is a social dance to be danced for the enjoyment of the participants, and practically never performed to an audience or competed in. There is an element of the dramatic, temperamental and sensual in the execution of steps, but in keeping with the reserved Scandinavian mentality it is very subdued when compared to the Argentinian and ballroom versions. The Finnish tango steps are shortish, because the dance floors are often very crowded. It is danced quite close together, and the man always leads. The music has a characteristic Finnish tango rhytm and structure, is mostly sung (as opposed to instrumental) and always melancholy. Suitable Finnish tango subjects include unrequited love, unhappy love, memories of lost love, betrayal and impossible dreams. In Finland, tangoing (and other social dancing) is a very respectable pastime, and especially popular with the elderly, because it offers natural opportunities for socializing and moderate exercise. Persons of all ages and shapes dance the tango, and most learn it at the latest when they go to the university or their friends start getting married, because almost all Finnish social occasions and bigger celebrations include a dance portion where tangos (in addition to other social dances) are commonly played. There are also numerous public dance halls around cities and towns, which fill every night with people who want to dance. The tango has also many special events and festivals in Finland, but I don't know much about those. Päivi
  9. Thank you Ms. Leigh, your explanation did help quite a bit. (The teaching approaches part of the epaulement discussion still goes partly over my head, but that is probably only natural in a beginning student like me. ) I wonder how many other ballet words are similarly charged with multiple meanings in various ballet dialects. Andrei, I did not mean to say that epaulement affects the real height of the jump. I meant that using the upper body in a certain way a dancer can make a jump look higher than it is. For example if a dancer looks to the floor in grand jete, the audience attention is directed downward and the line is hunched. The dancer must gaze diagonally upward to make the jump look high and flying. Päivi
  10. I seem to either have really confused things up, or my English skills are inadequate. Probably the former. I'll have to go ask my teacher about this again, and I apologize if I confused anybody. (I thought the word epaulement could mean two things. The first being a concrete position/direction of the body and limbs as in "pointe tendue croise devant". The second would be the consept of usage of upper body in dance as in "his great use of epaulement makes his jumps appear higher", but apparently my understanding of the second meaning is faulty somehow. Maybe it isn't called epaulement at all, but something else?) Päivi
  11. Andrei, I'm afraid I do not understand what you mean when you say "He can bent in his shoulderblades". As far as I know shoulderblades are bones and cannot be bent? :confused: (I'm sorry, English is not my native language, so I really have no clue here) Are you saying that rotation of the spine is not part of good "movement" epaulement beyond the requirements of "position" epaulement? :confused: (Position epaulement being things like showing the back to the audience in fourth arabesque. Movement epaulement being things like using one's shoulders and upper spine in sissonne - tombe - pas de bourree on the diagonal with half first port de bras) I'm editing this to add that vrsfanatic and I were writing at the same time, and what I wrote relates directly to the upper posts on this thread and to not to the directions of the body. Päivi
  12. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I've also had the impression that in addition to bends of the body, a slight twist of the shoulders in relation to hips is a very important component of having "good epaulement". Like if a dancer was moving diagonally downstage during a step, she might rotate her spine slightly to move the downstage shoulder back in order to present the body to the audience in a more interesting way. Päivi
  13. Yes, Asylmuratova did dance Swan Lake. I haven't seen the whole of it, only the black swan pdd on video, but I tought she was glorious. Technical brilliance combined with fake meekness. I'd love to see the whole Swan Lake. Päivi
  14. I've seen also the Finnish National Ballet's version. I think the first act was not as good as it could have been. There was a needless amount of scenery moving around, and the costumes did not show the dancers' lines. I did like the second act, though, and the dancers were great. Minna Tervamäki looked like she weighed absolutely nothing, and Anastasia Dunets' contemptuous Myrtha smile stole half of the second act. Kare Länsivuori danced Albrecht, and I liked the acting. The production had less dramatics and mime than the other one I've seen, and the gestures were accordingly more subdued, yet communicated Albrecht's feelings clearly. I'm not sure I'd describe the role of Albrecht as light, unless you are referring to the fact that in this production Albrecht is dramatically not very indipendent character - he reacts instead of acting. I have later heard the scenery thing was there because the production was originally meant for tv. Does anybody know where? Päivi
  15. For Finnish National Ballet I'd like to nominate Salla Suominen. She has during this year several times demonstrated an amazing capability to dance any role with any partner, however short the notice, and dance it technically confidently and expressively. The most amazing feat I saw was a last day emergency change for Nikiya in La Bayadere. She was not cast to appear in La Bayadere at all this year, yet there she was with Anu Viheriäranta's partner dancing her heart away. I may not be the most accurate judge of techique, but she danced so confidently and smoothly that I thought she must have been Nikiya in the second cast, until I read the program notes. (Now that I think of it, smooth may not be the right word to characterize Nikiya - her interpretation of the second act was emotionally anything but smooth) In fact, it seems last year almost every time I or my friends go to see ballet, Salla Suominen is dancing the main role, wheter she was scheduled to appear or not. Either there is a coincidence of unbeliavable scale or she is shouldering a truly disproportionate amount of the company "dance load". I wonder what has happened to the other female principals? Päivi
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