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What is "beautiful"?

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On another thread, a Festival of Beautiful Ballet has been proposed.

So, what is "beautiful"? What really moves you? Is it the way a movement is executed, an unexpected change in tempo or rhythm or direction, the tilt of a head, the interplay of bodies .... or no single thing? Can it be put into words? Or is it one of those 'I know it when I see it' phenomena?

What makes a single moment beautiful? What makes an entire ballet beautiful? Is the whole more than the sum of the parts?

Please, don't just cite specific movements in specific ballets -- that would duplicate Glebb's "Single Moment" thread.

Also: Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Does my eye catch the same movement that catches yours? Does my breath catch at the same instant as yours?

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The ballet vocabulary is absolutely beautiful. Anyone executing ballet movement is beautiful. I am taken aback time and time again, usually watching in the studio. That is why I am a ballet dancer.

After that basic vocabulary, everything else --- interplay, costumes, etc --- is secondary to the beauty of ballet. You can have bad costumes, stark music and boring choreography, yet the dancers and the dance is still beautiful.

This is off topic but tangentially related: I think catching the audience's breath is a matter of theatrics. If you do something flashy, they clap. This is highlighted in our Nutcracker. After our tree grows, the stage lights all go off and the tree lights go on. The audience is taken aback and claps, even though there is no dancing going on at that point.

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No matter how times I've seen it, the curtain coming up for "Serenade" never fails to take my breath away (and most of the audience)

That moment where your brain just tries to figure out what's going to happen and your heart is just arguing with your brain to shut up.

I think everyone goes in with a pre-conceived notion or a prejudice towards a certain style.

I think those moments of "beauty" are definitely what you take to the table and what you expect to be served, and when you can't argue it, that to me is true beauty.

So I guess to answer your question, Treefrog, for me, it's all of the reasons you listed and everyone sees it their way and when people agree it makes you want to go back and see it again.

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Ballet is beautiful when it is beautifully performed. Ballet itself has no beauty unless those doing it have beauty and the ballet itself has beauty. The most beautiful idea and choreography and sets and costumes will not be beautiful if the dancers have no classical line, artistry, musicality, and tecnique. I can watch beautiful dancers in almost anything, but I can't watch bad dancers in anything. In other words, a bad ballet can be, IMO of course, at least watchable (if the music is not awful), as long as the dancers are wonderful. But if the dancers are bad, then I don't care how good the ballet might be or could be, it's not watchable. I will admit to also having a very hard time watching a ballet with music I really don't like, even with good dancers.

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