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Respect for ballet?

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I am interested in how critical and public respect for the art of ballet has changed over time and wonder if anyone in this forum might be able to help me with either aesthetic or (preferably) historical references. Clearly we all respect those who have more discipline, but has ballet as an art changed in terms of public and critical respect? For instance, I read that Balanchine felt ballet had differentiated itself from music as an art form, and that (implied) as a result ballet and those who perform the art were worthy of more respect. As with artists in other areas (ie painters vs actors vs composers) does this reflect a continuum from 'dis-respect' to more respect over time and/or after a considerable amount of work and investment (ie pre vs post Vaganova)? Also, in a more contemporary context, one need only google the words of "ballet" and "respect" in combination with multiple other words to find a plethora of perspective and opinion about the subject about how large a part "respect" actually works in ballet. What i am looking for is more a historical, social, and/or aesthetic (if appropriate) summary.

If you think this topic might be better placed elsewhere please do not hesitate to suggest.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Kind regards.

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Thank you for starting this topic,storyballet4dk. Offhand I would say yes, that ballet did struggle to be taken seriously as an independent art form for a time after it had separated from opera. Potentially a rich topic, and I would be interested to hear comments from others.

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Balanchine said that ballet was the younger sister muse to music, by which I understand that music as a sophisticated art form has been around for about 500 years and ballet for a much shorter period. As he demonstrated in many works, ballet as an art form continues to develop and become more sophisticated. He felt that large scale structures were a function of the musical mind (rather than solely physical gestures), but anyone who has seen Serenade, Apollo, Agon, or any number of other works knows that ballet can uniquely enhance and intensify a musical experience. I find a contrast in Alexei Ratmansky, who has a keen musical ear, and likes to refer to ballet as "just dancing".

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Actually Ratmansky in his NYPL interview says that he doesn't use Bach, Beethoven or Mozart for his scores because he couldn't compete with that.

"Ballet is just dancing," he says. "Music says very important things about the universe. We should not compete with that."

Balanchine too didn't try to compete either, for instance using Mozart's divertimenti and his Gluck variations ("Mozartiana"), rather than the big symphonies and concerti – and never Beethoven.

Regarding ballet as an art in itself – having the respect of other artists, I think that came with Balanchine's and Robbin's work in the 50's – when painters, poets, writers (Denby, Elaine deKooning, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, Bill Bryson, Susan Sontag later, etc) came to see the work at City Center and considered it as a complete thing in itself.

Though perhaps you could say the same for Nijinksy's ballets earlier, in the teens. And before that Loie Fuller about whom Yeats and Mallarme and Valery wrote intensively.

Not sure if that helps ...

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Dear All,

By way of perspective, it was my 11yo daughter who first raised this topic when preparing for her video essay (which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0UmHoLiUpw&feature=youtu.be) and set me to consider relationships between producers, conductors, composers, choreographers and ballet dancers, over time, and as the art developed. Thus while competition between the arts exists, to some degree in various ways at various times fertile ground appears. Is it the timing of need and willingness (ie Loie Fuller/Yeats/Mallarme, etc)? I can appreciate Mr Ratmansky's "can't compete" perspective, but not sure that Stravinsky and Nijinsky would necessarily agree. We like to imagine Herbert Von Karajan working with a choreographer -- yes, a big leap -- and wonder what might have arisen.


Kind regards.

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I like the graphic's "Reading" column "criticism of criticism" as a humorous caution of the vain search for strict overarching rules of good taste, ie if in doubt avoid alienating one's peers; if you want to break or flout that which is considered appropriate then ensure peer recognition of self-conscious purpose -- since purpose alone is not enough; best to be seen as a custodian of classical or contemporary, etc.

As anxiety about selection in taste and the aspiration to a higher social status has changed has respect for ballet always also changed? Also, ballet considered provocative, challenging, disruptive, controversial may (or may not) be out of favor with funders but in (or out of) favor with audiences and critics, and it's not clear if the reasons are actually (ie empirically) related to class. Quite possibly it's something a little more or less personal and thus opaque?

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