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The so-called "Modern Art" lobby

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In part, I have been prompted to put up this thread, after watching yet another POB Concours where, in the bit where one gets to choose one's own variation, people who came out and writhed on the ground in Splatts Egg or something despairing of that ilk (ilgg?), were "compared" by the Jury to people who chose to present a fiendishly difficult piece of classical dancing.

At the Concours, I saw a "variation" if that is the word, from the Rite of Spring of Béjart, "danced" by the otherwise delightful Fanny Fiat. That is not choreography, it is just infantile babbling about sex. And not sex of any normal variety, might I add.

First, I question the sanity of the person who first thought to allow any such comparisons to be made at the Concours.

Second, I fail to see why any classical dancer should be asked to turn him or herself into a dusty clot of rags, when all I've got to do is go down to the Gare de l'Est, and face down our unfortunate hordes of dossers - clochards to you Frenchmen.

People say one must be modern. Well, I've got a computer, a dish-washing machine, a clothes washing machine, I fly in aeroplanes, admire the astronauts, and generally become very excitable in a positive sense, when faced with some technological breakthrough.

Modern to me does not mean slithering, writhing, turning in when one is naturally turned out, tearing off one's clothes in public or worse (and I have seen MUCH worse on our own little Garnier stage here).

Why should classical dancers be asked to do "modern" if what is meant by that is NO STEPS, just act like a deranged psychotic ? What is the point of doing ten years' training, to "dance" Splatts Egg et al. ?

Why can't we have STEPS for a change ? And who ARE these people who have such incredible influence over the theatres, that one is expected to put up, and shut up, when faced with a nihilistic eructation ?

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Well, Katherine, if only I knew what one could possibly say to turn this into a discussion ;)

It's pretty obvious everyone here loves classical ballet, and by and large most of the readership here probably prefers it. I certainly do, and I love to see ballet dancers dancing ballet, too. I haven't seen enough Mats Ek (is that one of the people you meant) to make any intelligent comment on his work, but I'm not at all willing to throw out entire genres of dance because I happen to dislike individual practitioners. When I saw Two Cigarettes in the Dark by Bausch in '94 I passionately loathed it. I realized when I was choreographing the next year what I had learned from seeing it, though. Sometimes it's healthy to be profoundly offended.

Speaking not just for myself, but for the site, I'd like to state firmly that the editorial position of Ballet Alert is Pro-Ballet. Not Anti-AnythingElse. Go ahead and discuss this Katherine, and feel free to loathe the stuff. But everyone here is welcome to love modern dance (or TanzTheater, or Kathak, or Flamenco. . ) as much as they love ballet.

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Thank you, Leigh. I couldn't have said it better!

I'd only add that I definitely agree that modern dance belongs in modern dance companies and ballet companies should be dancing ballet - for the benefit of both genres. As I've often said, I wouldn't want to see modern dance companies dancing "Concerto Barocco" either.

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For the record I loathe Pina Bausch. I also loathe "Giselle". But for different reasons. And before anyone jumps down my throat I don't hate all classical ballet, just "Giselle". In the same line of thought, I love opera, but loathe "Madame Butterfly". But that is another discussion to be had.

I am not going to try to alter your poinion Katherine as much as I would like to, because it would be pointless. You obviously don't like anything remotely modern and that is fine because it is your opinion. But I don't think it serves the art form to insist that new works never be done (whether it be good, bad or neither). It is also probably worthless to point out to you that those modern works you hate so much take a separate set of skills to perform well, that not all dancers posess, because you won't think of them as skills. I think that all dancers should be forced to work on pieces like you describe because it makes them move in an entirely different way, broadens their kinesthetic awareness and their artistic minds. After doing these modern pieces, their Auroras may actually be more three-dimensionsal and exciting.

I think it unwise and defeating to condemn an entire genre of art simply because you don't like it or understand it or want to understand it or want to like it. I don't like baseball, but I don't go around saying it should never be played. I just don't ever play it myself.

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I once hated opera,then I studied it.I learned and now understand and enjoy it.I used to dislike modern art,then I studied it.I learned and now have a new view.But then again I know many people who only have(understand )one point of view about their music,art and ballet ,politics and life.

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In an attempt to better understand things like Spleena Croutch and Crans van Bananen, I have been casting around for something to read on the subject. There is not much. However, I did turn up the following.

In the year 2000, a French publisher, "Editions Complexe", in its Cultural History collection, published a piece of research entitled:

DANSER AVEC LE III Reich, Les Danseurs Modernes sous le Nazisme (Dancing with the Third Reich, Modern Dancers under Nazism).

The author, Mlle. Laure Guilbert, teaches at the University of Metz, and carries out missions for the Centre national de la Danse and the Cité de la Musique. Her research was carried out under the aegis of the European University Institute at Florence, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the Paris Institut d'Etudes Politiques.

I mention her credentials, simply to indicate that she does not quite appear to have crawled out from under a rock.

I have begun reading her book. Others might wish to do so as well. It is most instructive. There will be more forthcoming, once I've grasped her argument, and her facts, which are, incidentally, legion.

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And before we start down the road to Naziism, we might remember that Hitler loved ballet and had a favorite ballerina, and also called new art -- in painting -- "vile and decadent." (The theory on that one is he never quite got over not being accepted into either architecture or art school.)What we have of his student work is very pallid and derivative.)

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