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Balanchine, Martins and "modern" choreography

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I think the ballets started to go south for two connected reasons:  Martins' extensive use of Heather Watts as his muse and use of minimalist scores by Torke, Adams, etc. 

I respectfully disagree, HF, because long, long after Heather had left the scene, when PM turned to Darci as his chief Muse, we still got Heather. I think Heather was simply an effective conveyor of the Martins (pardon the term) aesthetic. Darci, so pink and fresh and open in everything she did during her early career (and finally returning to a mature version of that persona, thank you very much!) brought other qualities into the studio, and these were not exploited, explored, or even given an opportunity for expression in the works made on her.

A Muse cannot draw from the Master what the Master doesn't have.

Actually, that was the point that I was trying to make. The truism is that Balanchine thought the choreography supreme, but you can see his dancers in his choreography. Even after Farrell left NYCB, and he was devastated, he choreographed Who Cares?, with three distinct roles for the ballerinas he featured. The only dancer I've ever seen in Martins' modern ballets is Watts; the rest of the ballets seem made for Watts surrogates, among whom were the greatest ballerinas of our time, or feel generic, as if the steps and partnering in his ballets are the only things that matter, not the dancers who bring them to life. I'm sorry I wasn't clear.

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I don't know that it's true that Peter's recent roles for women or recent pas de deuxs are all for Heather Watts clones -- In Stabat Mater, and in the Ballet done to the Strauss songs last year (what was the name) and in a bunch of others one could mention there is a good deal of rather moonstruck and sentimentally very soft material.

His recent and extensive work on Janie Taylor also seems to me to have had a quality drawn very much from her rather unique, not to say strange persona.

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I think that's what flipsy is referring to -- meaning, depth.  That's the one thing that pop arts don't give us. (But then we get back to the "is this possible in ballet, using an academic vocabulary?" question.)

If it weren't possible, I wouldn't be interested in ballet. I agree that the classical vocabulary can be perceived as limiting, but Balanchine showed us time and again how it can take on new depth and meaning. Pick your own examples -- I'd start with Serenade.

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I wouldn't disagree with that at all -- and dozens of other examples. By "meaning" I was referring to overt content, realism. I love many narrative ballets, but adapting contemporary fiction using the classical vocabulary ..... well, anything is possible, but I don't think anyone has figured out how to do it yet. And no one since Balanchine and Ashton has, for me, imbued the classical vocabulary with depth and meaning. When others try to be "meaningful" -- tell a complicated story, in a simplistic way, but graphically, or, say, deal with The Impact of Drugs on Our Society, they're asking ballet to do something it's not meant to do, in my view. But what I was trying to say is that there's a whole wing of the party, if you will, that things that if ballet isn't taking on the deep issues of life -- i.e., the impact of drugs in our society, or Her Second Divorce and the Encounter with the Felon, etc., it has no meaning and is only "pretty" or a "divertissement" (not my view).

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Hockeyfan, I wouldn't worry about the "Dixie Chicks" ballet if I had faith in the artistic director. I think, in theory, the "get 'em in the door" idea is fine.  The problem is that, too often, next year there will be two "Dixie Chicks" and one Balanchine (or ..... how does one phrase it?  serious ballet?  non-pop ballet?) and the year after that, none.  Just a season of a pop ballet triple bill, a watered down Swan Lake, and a resident choreographer's Romeo and Juliet with a nice Dracula thrown in. I'm not making this up -- that's been the trend of the last 8 years, at least.  (I've been comparing ballet company schedules since 1996 for Ballet Alert!)

The Danes have decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed:

Opera classics by Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner will be performed at Denmark's annual Roskilde Festival [www.roskilde-festival.dk], one of Europe's biggest outdoor rock events.

Members of the Danish Royal Opera, a chamber choir and a symphony orchestra will play during the July 1–4 musical festival known more for its rock, punk, funk and hip-hop jams.

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Let's say we go with the Suzanne K. Langer theory Alexandra so succinctly sums up. If we need art as a kind of indirect worship, then the reason we need it less as a society now is because our society is moving towards more direct religious experience--in other words, a society of evangelicals communicating directly with God (or engaging in pop mystical practice), needing neither priest, teacher, nor mediator, be that Balanchine, or Bach. (That would be the sacred music or dance part of worship spun off, but retaining its spiritual power.)Art as an investigative tool is also less needed, because who needs to investigate when already directly guided?

Perhaps there is something to that theory, but many Direct Communicators patronize the fine arts, and some DC schools and universities have fine arts programs. My feeling is that the DCs you're talking about, if I understand you correctly -- for example the pop-mystical (nicely put) "Christian rock" fans, and the "Christian rap" fans -- only follow the larger culture in their taste, substituting as they do the direct, easy and shallow for the indirect, difficult and evocative. I don't see a break theologically that accounts for why, at the risk of sounding flip, Christians aren't still creating masterpieces at the same rate.

For what it's worth, I too very much see art as a form of indirect worship.

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