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Dance on TV

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From today's Boston Globe:

An off-balance series from WGBH

Two polar opposites have developed in the medium's treatment of dance. At one end is the full-length ballet made for an opera-house stage; it almost always looks scrunched and flattened on the small screen. At the other end is dance made especially for TV. Between the two are the behind-the-scenes shows such as choreographer profiles and shows dealing with sweat, suffering, and process or with dance history.

We touch on this topic from time to time, but what do you like about dance on TV? What don't you like? What would you like to see covered, whether it's PBS, cable, or (gasp) the networks?

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There's plenty of room, all over the place, for dance production on the small screen whether scrunched and flattened or deep in the bowels of the artists involved in production, although the latter seems to be more in the precincts of Feature News than Arts programming. Given the lack of touring by major companies these days - hey, ANY companies! - TV is the only way a lot of the audience gets to see the art at all! And remember that TV fueled the Ballet Boom of the 60s and 70s. Alas, some of the best talents in this sort of presentation are gone - I'm thinking here particularly of Emile Ardolino - but there's lots of room at the top.

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I would like to see excerpts from our favorite ballets on PBS. PBS is educational, so there are tons of folks out there who know the Nutcracker and many who have seen it, and there are many who have heard of Swan Lake but most have NEVER seen it, and many, who have never seen AND never even heard of Coppelia or Giselle!!! So why not put the best scenes from the best ballets on PBS in order to educate and introduce people to the BEST.

If I was producing such a thing, I would start with something beautiful from the Nutcracker so people will not "tune out". They will see something familiar to them and they will get drawn into the program. Then graudually show things that they have never seen before.

Just an introduction to the best ballet scenes... that is what I would want to see. It would be educational and it would be putting our best foot foreward.

Hey, if PBS in not doing ballet it is not because they are bias against ballet, it just means that the things that the ballet world is giving them is NOT what people want to see. Give the audience "time proven" things and they will enjoy. The ratings will go up and PBS will come back for more.

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Before even getting to the question of which ballets should be on tv there is a more fundamental issue...the tv producers and directors and the camera men need to learn how to film ballet. They invariably get it wrong and it is so frustrating to watch ballet on tv because they switch to a close up of a face or cut out the legs or you lose the corp. Tv does not show ballet at its best because it isn't filmed right in the first place. :confused:

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I'm going to go "small" with this question and suggest that dance companies invite local cable access volunteer crews to shoot their performances, rehearsals, stuffing wool in the shoes etc..You know: the Cspan total-view approach.

I was around 12 when some goofy daytime local Ladies Show wedged between the soaps had as guests some male dancers who performed a wonderful piece as horses galloping and prancing around the tiny curtained studio. It was completely entrancing: athletic and strong and also graceful and imaginative. I date my strong interest in dance to that moment.

And this on a grainy black&white old tv circa 1962. I know that some companies might think that people who watch them on TV won't come to performances. I think evidence is to the contrary. And what about those 12 year old boys who need to see and feel the thrill of dance? Why they could be the future posters of BalletTalk!

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