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Ballet Pantomime

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The Royal Academy of Dance issued a videocassette in 2002 (and since has re-issued a DVD version) called: "Mime Matters" - this is described as "Featuring excerpts from the classics and a complete vocabulary of classical ballet mime gestures demonstrated by some of the greatest exponents of the form. This video is an invaluable resource for students and teachers alike."

overall it presents a good and wide-ranging example of the "formal language" of pantomime as it was brought to, and practiced in the England.

such artists as Deanne Bergsma, David Bintley, Alina Cojocaru, Sandra Conley, Anthony Dowell, Barbara Fewster, Luke Heydon, Johan Kobborg, Mayuko Maeda, Monica Mason, Pamela May, Genesia Rosato, Anya Sainsbury, Antoinette Sibley, Sarah Wildor and Peter Wright are included.

I believe its still available as both cassette (an NTSC version is, or was, available) and DVD, tho' i think the latter is PAL.

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I've seen it, too, and admire it a great deal. It's rather dry, given the dignity they wanted to give the old ladies who're demonstrating. Monica Mason is asking the TRULY legendary elders to show the vocabulary, and it's pretty much a dictionary of mime -- gesture by gesture, concept by concept. Some concepts have many shades of difference -- such as "No". There are many ways of saying no.

The DVD shows several mime speeches -- there's a REALY beautiful rendition of Lise's mime scene from La Fille Mal Gardee (which Karsavina taught to the RB dancers and had learned from, I believe , Virginia Zucchi). If I remember right, it's been a long time, Sibley and Dowell teach the mime scene from Swan Lake (I am the QUeen of the swans. yonder is the lake of my mother's tears..."). which is also up on youtube every now and then, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHkqnIMKjHc

NB the gestures for "Wait" and "But" are the same ("BUT if someone loves me, will marry me," etc.)

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Thank you, Paul, for that link. Although I knew the basic idea of this mime sequence, seeing it broken down -- with each segment highlighted -- and then to see everything flowing in sequence -- is extraordinary. Especially when demonstrated and explained by sensitive, articulate dancers like Sibley and Dowell.

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