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walboi

The art of modern ballet/dance?

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In the last 10 years or so, I have seen probably some 250 ballet performances of which some 150 are what the critics call modern ballet/dance. And there begins my problem, with the definition! What is the distinction between modern dance and ballet? If I may related to classical music which is a field very much know to me, the same thing was and still is a topic ,very much discussed, and the end is nowhere in sight, allthough audiences have allready decided in this question. Modern classical music ( atonal) is comparable with modern dance/ballet. For me and many others atonal music is a assembly of sounds and freakish machinations rather then a attempt to draw audiences to the concerthall. They are so out of touch with reality that in fact people stay away from concerts and therefore they are marginal in the agenda's of concert programming. The same sentiments apply to ballet. The creators of new ballet nowadays have in my eyes the same problems as modern composers, they simply do not know what to do, and therefore make the most hidious sights for your eyes just to shock you and get attention that way. It works, not for me but for the artless critics that are fed up with classical ballet, and find in modern ballet/dance the perfect playing ground to fill the sky with praises for well..... rubbish. The synthesis between rhythm and cadans, between music and movement is totally lost on most choreographers. They do not created to please but to annoy! And then there is the element of spoken text in the dance! That I think is often a insult to taste, I will not say good taste, because of the lack of a useful definition of that. Complete political statements of sometimes juvenile incompetents that will not understand ,that text and ballet/dance do not go together in my opinion. That is not to say that all modern ballet/dance is that bad, there are plenty of choreographers like van manen, or Kudelka or name them ,you will know, that will give lots of pleasure for eyes and ears, but I walked so many times out of a performance these last ten years, that I felt the need to express my dissatisfaction. Harmony and synthesis are key elements in what I think creates good ballet, it has to fit together like gloves. It is not a natural garden anymore wherein choregraphers look in the gardens past, but make deserts full of stones bereft of natural beauty, and get there inspiration out of unwielding rocks.No wonder it hurts.

Harry

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I think you've answered your own question, and I agree with a lot of what you've written. Many dances these days do indeed seem to be created for shock value, but worse than that to me is the lack of feeling. It's all about steps and tricks, with choreographers apparently thinking that the audience wants ballet to be like Cirque du Soleil.

(By the way, I think Cirque du Soleil is pretty cool; I had the opportunity to see them live a while ago and it was a lot of fun, but it has a very different purpose from ballet.)

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Hi Hans

Yes I forgot to mention the feeling, which is almost totally absent in all the things that I saw. Steps and tricks is really what is predominant these days, and that is good as you say in circus but holds no ground in ballet where simple movements almost always has the most effect in the storeroom of our emotions.

O well, I am going to London coming christmas and will see hopefully wonderfull ballet. I will let you know if I make it this year.

Harry

[Edited by moderator to remove entire quote of preceding post. Please use the Add Reply or Fast Reply buttons when responding to a post instead of the "Reply one. :) ]

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The pitting of classicism against modernity is nothing new, I'm afraid. Neither is the tendency of directors and administrators to try to attract younger audiences with "edgy" works that purport to turn classical ballet on its proverbial head. And, I agree with walboi that very few of these "edgy" new works are actually well-choreographed in their own right. (I say this as someone in the age demographic most attractive to box office admins).

I think walboi's comment that choreographers seem out of touch with reality is well-taken; I'll bring my youth up as an example. I'm as young as they come (for now, anyway), and I have zero interest in the ballets (I use the term very loosely) choreographed to attract people like me. You want my money, give me classics, or something resembling one, at least. If I want modern dance, I'll see a modern dance company. If I'm seeing a ballet company, it's because I would like to see...ballet.

By the way, here are some "classic" threads from the Ballet Talk archives which discuss the ballet/modern issue in wonderful detail, and are well worth a read.

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=3017

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=3016

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My impression is that the era when "modern music" meant "atonal music" is long gone. Am I wrong?

Unfortunately, that meaning still exists in the minds of too many people, who, when they see that a new piece is scheduled, will bypass that program.

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Thanks, walboi, for the topic. And thanks, BalletNut, for beating me to the LINKS to earlier Ballet Talk discussions of this topic.

When I joined the board, I found that reading in the archives was an incredible education. The 1999 discussion about classical/contemporary distinctiions, initiated by Alexandra (and Ballet Nut's first link) was partaicularly enlightening.

Maybe this is indeed an excellent opportunity to revisit the topic in the light of so many new ballet and contemporary performances that have occurred since 1999.

walboi's criticisms ring true for much of what passes for "ballet" in Europe, more than in the more conservative world of the serious arts in America.

Walboi raises the qustion about the relationship between music (rhythm, cadance, etc.) and dance movements. In contemporary ballet, I often find that the movements seem to be forced artbitrarily to "fit" the music on the most superficial and obvious musical level -- almost like an attempt at literal illustration of the sound, rather like a weird kind of semaphore (spelling?). Example: three emphasized beats = three HEAVILY emphasized and repeated motions.

Petipa's -- and especially Balanchine's and Ashton's -- way of fitting movement to music is much more subtle, indirect, and sophisticated.

I hope that others on this board more knowledgeable will re-join this discussion. I'd especially like to hear what Alexandra has to say, in the light of passing time.

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Thanks, walboi, for the topic.  And thanks, BalletNut, for beating me to the LINKS to earlier Ballet Talk discussions of this topic.

When I joined the board, I found that reading in the archives was an incredible education.  The 1999 discussion about classical/contemporary distinctiions, initiated by Alexandra (and Ballet Nut's first link) was partaicularly enlightening.

Maybe this is indeed an excellent opportunity to revisit the topic in the light of so many new ballet and contemporary performances that have occurred since 1999. 

In Europe, more than in the US I think, walboi's criticisms ring true for much of what passes for "ballet" in Europe, more than in the more conservatiave world of high art in America.  One of his quotes is particularly interesting:

Hi Bart

I am very interrested which quote you mean?

Harry

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Woops! Sorry, walboi, I was editing and expanding my comments at the same time that you were responding to my incomplete first draft. The edited post is fuller than what you read.

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Woops!  Sorry, walboi, I was editing and expanding my comments  at the same time that you were responding to my incomplete first draft.  The edited post is fuller than what you read.

That's oke, but I am still interrested anyway!

Harry

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My impression is that the era when "modern music" meant "atonal music" is long gone. Am I wrong?

Hi FarrellFan

They do not use the term anymore, but that assortment of noises still exist. I listen to at least 50 new classical cd's in a month's time and plenty of them qualify to the parameter of noise!

Harry

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walboi, I won't post a link, because it's probably more fruitful in the long run if you just poke around.

Go to the homepage, and at the bottom you'll find our Archives. The first forum includes five topics related to classicism.

Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's irrelevant! :)

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walboi, I won't post a link, because it's probably more fruitful in the long run if you just poke around.

Go to the homepage, and at the bottom you'll find our Archives.  The first forum includes five topics related to classicism.

Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's irrelevant!  :)

Thank you I will just do that

Walboi

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Hi Bart,

You take the words right out of my mouth! So often the movements are made fitting to the often terrible music. You see that and also feel it. It is a attempt to emphazise a literal illustration of sound, and it does not work, at least not for me!

Well this becomes a fruitfull discussion after all, I am very glad about this.

Lets hear more

Walboi

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walboi, I won't post a link, because it's probably more fruitful in the long run if you just poke around.

Go to the homepage, and at the bottom you'll find our Archives.  The first forum includes five topics related to classicism.

Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's irrelevant!  :P

Thank you I will just do that

Walboi

Well I did go to the archives, and read it all! So is not a new topic then, but well worth to revitalize and discuss it even further. Lots of interresting things to read there, I urge everyone to take a look.

Walboi :)

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