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Subject: "Ballet as Pornography." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1408
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Alice

01-03-01, 06:36 PM (GMT)
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"Ballet as Pornography."
 
   I was defending ballet against my friend who described it as 'pornography for the posh' having taken her to Romeo and Juliet...she loved it but said that it is so sexual and should be taken out of the relm of 'innocent high art' and into the relm it belongs to 'sex, drugs and rock an roll'.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ballet as Pornography. Jim 01-03-01 1
     RE: Ballet as Pornography. eugene merrett 02-03-01 2
     RE: Ballet as Pornography. Stuart Sweeney 02-03-01 3
         RE: Ballet as Pornography. Annabel 02-03-01 4
             RE: Ballet as Pornography. Carly Gillies 02-03-01 5
                 RE: Ballet as Pornography. trogadmin 03-03-01 6
                     RE: Ballet as Pornography. Nikki 03-03-01 7
                 RE: Ballet as Pornography. Richard J 03-03-01 8
                     RE: Ballet as Pornography. Annabel 04-03-01 9
                         RE: Ballet as Pornography. Richard J 04-03-01 10
  RE: Ballet as Pornography. Sonja 05-03-01 11
  RE: Ballet as Pornography. Robert 05-03-01 12
     RE: Ballet as Pornography. Alun 10-03-01 13
         RE: Ballet as Pornography. Susie 11-03-01 14
             RE: Ballet as Pornography. Robert 12-03-01 15

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Jim

01-03-01, 08:59 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #0
 
   I have given thought to this subject ever since a posting appeared here some time ago which asserted that "ballet is a place where rich old men go to look at posh girls' knickers. I think Stuart may recall this, because he responded very quickly to say that he wasn't rich. In the OED, pornography is defined as "explicit representation of sexual activity ... to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic feelings". Key words seem to me to be "explicit" and "aesthetic". Manon being raped by the jailor seems to me to be pretty explicit. What about the more sinister thrashing of Juliet by her father in NBT's R & J? I would even purport that the awakening of a sleeping princess with a kiss is pretty explicit too. That is tantamount to sex without consent.
So we are left with "aesthetic". What does that mean? We are down to personal value judgements again, aren't we? For my part, I will say that, in the case of NBT's Romeo and Juliet, I was on the very edge of shouting out "Stop that you bastard". It engendered feelings of anger in me I had not experienced before. It took me outside myself. That is what art is about, and therefore, by definition, it is not pornography.


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eugene merrett

02-03-01, 01:01 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #1
 
   Pornagraphy is by a US legal definition has no artistic merit - it serves to titilate and bring about lustful thoughts only. I suppose one could argue that certain ballets have aethetic value and at same time has the effect as pornagraphy. Can one argue that this is art and not pornagrapy simply because a given work has something aethetical or intellectual content?

I think that something can only by pornagraphic if its sexual depiction are so strong as to dominate the minds of the audience and serves to distract one from thinking or feeling. I do not think that ANY ballet I have seen (certainly not RanJ or the Invitation) can meet this requirement. Certain ballets (and many other artforms) do have an element of sexuality. That does not make it pornagraphic in my views. Otherwise practically everything that has a young female content can be considered pornagraphic - including Britney Spears and Womans Figure Skating!!!


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Stuart Sweeney

02-03-01, 02:55 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #1
 
   >"ballet is
>a place where rich old
>men go to look at
>posh girls' knickers
. I think
>Stuart may recall this, because
>he responded very quickly to
>say that he wasn't rich.

Gosh! I must be getting old as I had forgotten, but it's nice to be reminded.

If the phrase 'innocent high art' is meant to characterise all 'high art' then I must demure. A look at much sculpture by Rodin and a read of 'Ulysses' by James Joyce should lay that argument to rest very quickly.


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Annabel

02-03-01, 03:00 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #3
 
   ballet is regarded as 'innocent high art'...for example the image of a little girl in a tutu..and the sugar plum fairy......when in reality it is far from that.


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Carly Gillies

02-03-01, 03:43 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #4
 
  
I suppose there is no reason why dance could not be just pornographic - In the same way that dance can also be ritualistic, symbolically healing, or designed to arouse war like blood-lust.

However all these types of dance would be extremely limited and specific,and dance that was sexually explicit and lacking aesthetic sense ( ie pornographic )would necessarily be very simple.

( "Aesthetics" is to do with "appreciation of beauty or good taste". - "Beautiful" is to do with "qualities that delight the senses",- so I suppose we're right back to personal taste there )

Ballet on the other hand is hardly ever simple. I think its enjoyment is an extremely complex issue - which is presumably why there are so many varied and strongly felt opinions about it.

To stick to the R and J example, - the enjoyment of this ballet for me has much to do with Prokofiev and Shakespeare, and much to do with costumes, set and lighting, before I even get to the dancing.
I also find it a very sensual ballet. It also evokes humour, fright and grief and various other emotions at various times.

My enjoyment of the dancing itself has a lot to do with watching beautiful bodies moving in beautiful ways. I guess that for different people their own perception of this "beauty" will vary depending on cultural and societal influences, technical knowledge of ballet and/or bodies, and personal experience.
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, and will always be so.


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trogadmin

03-03-01, 10:17 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #5
 
   While there have been some very strange stories and subjects portrayed in ballets, I really can't imagine Deep Throat or Debbie
Does Dallas being adapted to the nobel art.


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Nikki

03-03-01, 10:38 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #6
 
   Any story can be adapted and anything can be tried in ballet as long as it is done well....that is how one breaks new ground


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Richard J

03-03-01, 09:19 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #5
 
   Isn't there a bit of confusion in the mind of Alice's friend about the meanings of erotic and pornographic? 'Erotic' pertains to sexual love, from the Greek erotikos (Eros = god of love), and there are certainly erotic moments in various ballets. Why not? Ballet is a branch of theatre art. Why is it thought that high art should be innocent? All forms of artistic expression articulate ways in which we see ourselves, and sometimes this can be challenging. But art is not real life; instead, it deals with the elements of real life in a controlled way. Even the film "Un homme et une femme", famously unscripted, was subjected to the discipline and control of selecting those bits which fitted to make a satisfying structure for the film.

If Alice's friend found R&J an eye-opener, I wonder what she would have made of The Cage or The Judas Tree, to name but two. However, she won't have been the first to be surprised at the powerful way in which dance can convey a message, and hit you hard in the emotional gut. It's not all 'pink fairies on the Christmas trees'(thankfully!).

(Also, Alice's friend could compare ballet with some of the seamier pop videos around now, and then decide if any of them seem to be nearer to pornography than R&J, taking into account some of the comments regarding the definition of pornography made by previous posters. Such a comparison lets you see how art can convey an erotic meaning without descending to
pornography. On the other hand, art does get a bit dodgy - or tasteless - at times......but we were talking about R&J, not Ms Emin's bed.........)


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Annabel

04-03-01, 11:07 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #8
 
   Music video dancing is fine...nothing at all tasteless about that....i sometimes prefer break dancing to ballet..but that's beside the point...

But like you im so glad that ballet is not just pink tutu's and pretty smiling prince's


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Richard J

04-03-01, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #9
 
   Annabel

I didn't mean all videos! As you suggest, some are great (I nearly put something in about this in my original posting, as I know a lot of thought goes into production). But that's why I said 'the seamier videos'; some I've seen on TV music channels seem to be a bit crude (which I hope ballet isn't, however suggestive it might be). And when might I be watching music channels? Pedalling away on an exercise bike in the gym.........you might think my judgement was therefore impaired, working too hard to concentrate properly!


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Sonja

05-03-01, 07:58 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #0
 
   Alice, better NEVER take this friend to Neumeier's "Lady of the Camellias"...!


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Robert

05-03-01, 11:37 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #0
 
   Alice
I think your friend has been reading the Sun newspaper. They are always going on about the posh or nobs as they often call them.
Ballet is never pornographic and the people who watch it are not posh, it can be sexy or erotic, but not pornographic. The audience is made up of all sorts of people, most of who would be outraged to be considered posh. Some people rather stupidly think that if you go to Covent Garden or any theatre you are posh. Many people have had to fight against that sort of prejudice.
Ask your friend if the popular pornographic live sex shows in Amsterdam are ballet for the working classes, Ballet, pornography for the posh indeed!


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Alun

10-03-01, 05:11 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #12
 
   Naive possibly but I have never thought of ballet as pornography - it strikes me that for the cash spent on a ballet ticket anyone could avail themselves of porn more easily. Living in Wales I was amused by a quote in the Welsh Book of Quotations made by a Councillor in a west Wales town that "Ballet - Ballet is just a leg show for the toffs!!" Well it was a few years ago and I am sure they are now more enlightened.


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Susie

11-03-01, 07:49 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #13
 
   In the wake of this discussion I would be interested to know what people thought about the portrayal of sexual relationships in Ashley Page's new ballet "This House Will Burn", and whether they think it was appropriate to programme its premiere at a schools matinee attended by primary school children?


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Robert

12-03-01, 11:27 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Ballet as Pornography."
In response to message #14
 
   I could not really understand what it was about. I wondered about the children in it and felt a slight unease in case there were sexual implications, but I did not think it was very sexy, just confusing. I do not think it was a good idea for a schools show as it could put people off ballet.


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