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I'm puzzled, why not create?

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I'm quite puzzled about something.

Why not create new storylines for ballet right here on the internet? This thought came to me when I noticed all the creativity and brilliance of the people who post on this site. So I went ahead and put up a couple of posts that invited people to give their ideas on storylines. If I recall correctly, one was called "Lets create a new ballet".

Now, I know how generous everyone is on this site in responding to posts, so I was quite puzzled when there was no interest in the post. (now, this is not a complaint... I am just asking this question out of curiousity) Why do you think there is no interest in creating something here on the internet?

I have been thinking that maybe it might have something to do with copyright, since someone with a good idea may not want to put it out in the public domain. Or maybe it is because there are many ballet goers here that have seen too many new things that turned out to be rather lousy when performed onstage. Or maybe it is simply because this site is devoted to classical ballet and not "new things".

So can anyone give me a hint as to what might be going on here. Its a puzzle to me. thanks

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Originally posted by ronny

Now, I know how generous everyone is on this site in responding to posts, so I was quite puzzled when there was no interest in the post.  (now, this is not a complaint... I am just asking this question out of curiousity)  Why do you think there is no interest in creating something here on the internet?

In a word, terror. Terror that some enterprising choreographer will read it and stage them.

Seriously, ronny, we can have fun with twisted librettos, and do from time to time, but you can't choreograph a ballet through letters, or on the internet. You need a choreographer in a room with dancers.

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Another thing to consider is the unpopularity, or is it now merely unfamiliarity of potential librettists to the idea that a ballet CAN have a story, so pervasive has the musical-visualization abstraction become in the choreographic world. There is nothing wrong with abstraction, but it seems to have driven programmatic works out of the repertory in many venues.:)

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Many young fans of TV shows, movies, etc., are constructing their own plots online, but I wonder if many ballet fans are less Net-oriented in some ways? Judging from what I've seen of such offerings, their creators must practically live online. But I may be overestimating the time it takes!

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Alexandra, I don't understand your use of the word "terror".

If someone takes a story from the internet and does something lousy with it... it may last one day and people will not return to see it again. On the other hand, if the idea is used for something great, people will return again and again. So I just don't understand your use of the word terror.

And Mel, the thing you are talking about is one of the reasons that I thought it would be good to put out some storylines. It seems so odd to me that ballet is going in the direction of no story line. Very odd. Without a story how can I have a connection with the individuals that I see on stage. This idea of abstract dance may be just an excuse for not using the imagination. But that is just a statement about my own bias in favor of storyline ballets... I love classic storylines.

And Dirac, It may take some time to put together a storyline, but sometimes they can come "in a flash" and then it is just a matter of getting it down on paper. But I do understand your concern.

I am very glad that I asked this question, this trend of no storyline... well, I hope it gets old in a hurry. I want to see things created that are more like the old classics. It shoud be possible, it must be possible.

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They don't just last one day, ronny. The really bad ideas last a long time :) Any long-time ballet fan will have an experience, I think, of saying, in jest, at an intermission, to friends, something like, "Wow. That was just awful, wasn't it? I think the next thing the guy should do is something to the 1812 Overture. Maybe he could call it Cannonade." And, sure 'nuf, within two years, someone, if not necessarily the Awful Choreographer in Question, will do it. Long before the internet, there seemed to be a ballet jungle telegraph system.

A few summers ago on alt.arts.ballet, someone came up with the idea for the most impossible story ballet ever -- Moby Dick. We had such fun with fish dives, pas de poissons. I thought Moby should be a ballerina and Juliet came up with wonderful costumes for her, and for her 24 sister whales. When lo. Someone posted that her daughter's ballet school had done a Moby Dick ballet just that spring.

But seriously, ballets are made in studios.

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A dance libretto is also a very specific thing. I've seen ballet choreographers use the most interesting librettos created by writers or historians that had one little problem.

They were not danceable.

Among the other issues a librettist for ballet needs to think of, s/he needs to ask:

Am I writing something that ought to be an essay or a short story rather than a dance? Am I trying to tell a story that needs words? Does this libretto provide for dancing to arise organically?

Constructing something like this takes real knowledge of dance (not how to dance, but what dance does) as well as skill in writing.

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Of course, we could also talk about what our fantasy ballets could be - to certain pieces of music or to famous stories. The thing is, I don't care if it's already been done (even if it's been badly done) - the idea is that it would be a fantasy so in my head it would be perfect and brilliant.

I'd never suggest I could choreograph anything, however!;)

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Yes Alexandra, even as new as I am to ballet, I do realize that a ballet is finished in a studio with real dancers. But I don't think that Swan Lake, Giselle and La Sylphide started in a studio. I think that they all started in someones imagination.

And I thank you very much for the Moby Dick example... this is EXACTLY what I am talking about. Why even put out those kind of funny ideas? People will act on them! I don't want to see those kind of ideas, I want to see good ideas, and good ideas are dwelling in the hearts and minds of so many of the people who attend this site. If we are kidding around and put out strange ideas, then strange people will see them and act on them... so I DON'T want that. I want to see people put out their good ideas. Good people will recognize a good idea and act on it, strange people will pick up on strange ideas. We need to put out some good storylines... but it seems that this kind of thing is not encouraged on this site. That puzzles me, but I will honor that tradition if you feel so strongly about it.

But thanks for the info on bad ballets... I always thought that bad things died quickly, so you have given me something here that I didn't know about... ie, that bad ballets last a long time. I didn't know that.

And Leigh, I have noticed the thing you are speaking of also. MOST stories do not make good ballet. It take a very special kind of story to make good ballet. And Leigh, I love your expression about a story that "allows dancing to arise organically". That is a beautiful statement, really wonderful. Thank you for this very nice post.

And Kate... I agree with you, I don't care if something has been done before or not... a good fantasy should have no restrictions as to its source. And I think you have a very good formula for presenting good ideas and that is to say "oh, this is my fantasy ballet" Or this is what I would like to see. Who can argue with that? And like you, I would never entertain the thought that I could do choreography... but I do suspect that the really great classical ballets did not start with choreography, they simply started on a whim or a flight of the imagination. I can't do choreography, but I can fly (in my imagination anyway) Thanks Kate.

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I don't think talking about possible storylines etc is actually discouraged (site owners will correct me if I'm wrong, I trust?).

Nevertheless, I too feel that discussing a possible story-line online not in real time would be awkward. I have not done any ballet storylines, of course, but I write some fiction, and it seems to me that the beginning of creation is pretty solitary work. You turn the idea around in your mind, ponder and polish and maybe talk about it to someone - but that some one must be present so that they can react immediately and you can go on pondering.

When it's somewhat polished you might post an outline on some board, to say "I've got an idea like this for a story, do you think it would work? Do you see any blunders with the plotline? Any suggestions to make it better?"

This is to say, I think you could get more interested posters if you actually posted a suggestion for a story line and asked for comments, instead of a general "let's create". (Which is what I recall you doing, forgive me if I remember wrong.)

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Another thing which enters into the stew is the ever-popular issue of author's rights and likewise copyright. Let's say you want to adapt a Dashiell Hammett story to a ballet libretto. What are the rights of the Hammett estate concerning the original story? What are your rights as a librettist in case the libretto gets picked up by somebody and actually used? Do you care, or is it enough to have a story told, regardless of credit? These and other considerations make broadcasting of proposed libretti a difficult thing. I know I would want to be compensated for an idea, if I ever got one!;)

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[board Host Beanie on]

Just a reminder to Ronny and everyone, that because people weren't wild about the idea of creating librettos on the Internet, the topic isn't verboten or banned. This was just a reality check, but if anyone wishes to discuss libretti, It's Allowed.

Just don't blame us if "Dynasty: The Ballet" shows up at your local company. Shoulder pads, anyone? :D

[board Host Beanie off]

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As a theatre professional, I have been amazed at how choreographers such as MacMillan, Tudor, DeVallois, DeMille Etc have been able to adapt plays into powerful story ballets.

Read Chekhov's Three Sisters then view MacMillan's Winter Dreams. The distance traveled from the word on the page to the foot on the floor is obviously a circuitous one, as Sir K strove to capture the essence of these character's subtle feelings.

In stark contrast, I think of Trey MacIntyre's treatment of Alice in Wonderland, Alyss, with its humorous and sometimes terrifying take on a well known dreamscape.

Looking at the myriad styles of "interpretations" I would think it more practical to write a novel, play, poem without regard for dance possibilities. As long as you strike a deep vein of truth and modern interest, the poets of the stage will respond.

Unless Hollywood gets to you first. Then all is lost.

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I hope this was a lighbulb moment, but I realized today that there must be quite a difference between simply being a ballet fan and being a professional ballet critic. I think that I can assume that the second has customary guidelines that I am not familiar with since I am simply just a new fan. But as I though of what those guidelines could be, then it became clear to me that ballet critics would not be involved in any phase of ballet production, storyline or otherwise. So from that point of view I saw that all the responses to my posts made perfect sense.

And Jaana, I think you are right there... this post about "lets create" is just too general. Your suggestion is very good. Thanks.

And Mel, you might get paid for your ideas... I was kind of thinking of going to vanityballet.com with my ideas!!!

Watermill, yes, you mention a wonderful resource for storylines, there must be many storylines already out there in poems and books that have yet to be discovered.

And thanks Leigh, I surely want to visit this website you mention.

And Alexandra, once I started thinking about you and your responses in terms of your profession, then I understood what was happening. So If I said anything that wasn't right, I want to apologize. And I want to repeat this thing I posted a while back, your website is such a treasure. I have never seen a website that is as well attended to as this one. Most of them are just empty houses, this one is really a beautiful home. Thanks for being here.

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Ronny, everybody on this board has a different background or angle that will be behind what they post here -- and all are welcome. You surely did nothing "wrong". You asked why people were responding and I gave you a reason why at least several aren't :) As Leigh wrote, no one was trying to stop discussion. (And thank you very much for your kind comments. Please remember that the web site wouldn't be worth beans if people didn't ask questions!!!)

Jaana, I think libretto writing was a solitary activity. In the early days of ballet, the choreographer wrote his own libretto. When ballet started to become show business, in the early 19th century, they brought in professional librettists (Bournonville, who wrote his own "ballet poems" his whole career, said this would be the death of ballet as a creative art form :) )

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Great, thanks to both of you. I learned quite a bit from this discussion.

And Alexandra, this thing about the web and people taking ideas and making unusual things from them... I think I finally got the point. This is very good advice about posting. I'll keep it in mind for the future.

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