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Subject: "New works " Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2342
Reading Topic #2342

10-12-01, 02:24 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail gary Click to send private message to gary Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
"New works "
   I have a thought which I want to share, and would like some response.
2001 is almost over and having watched ballet for a while I am a little sad to see that none of the largely funded companies are moving quite with the times when it comes to new ballets/works.
If dance is an art form then why is it that one has to go to smaller venues to see new creations that broaden the levels, ideas, technique, and possibilities of ballet?
I recently saw Double Concerto, (ENB) which I agree with most was a refreshing expression of ballet and visions. Although I was a little bit sad to see that there was no thought or subject in this piece which is a common trait in most new works in Britain that are funded heavily these days. I am not critisising this piece, but I can't say that I think people will remember it once they have left the theatre.
What I would like is to see subjects taken by choreographers and handled maturely enough, with choreographic skill, so as it can be seemed relevant for dance to stand on its own as a form of expression that will touch people in a way that no other form of art can.
For this to be so, I believe that new works of dance should be allowed to be more experimental, and less predictable. Museum ballet is the way it is going, but a Museum is a place to look at the past, where can we see the future?
I don't mean technical feats, I would like to see intelligent creations of dance, with something to say, wouldn't you?

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: New works Paul A 10-12-01 1
  RE: New works PhilipBadmin 10-12-01 2
     RE: New works Charles 10-12-01 3
         RE: New works Bruce Madmin 11-12-01 5
  RE: New works Bruce Madmin 11-12-01 4
     RE: New works eugene merrett 11-12-01 6
         RE: New works JamesW 14-12-01 7
             RE: New works Bruce Madmin 14-12-01 8
                 RE: New works Terry Amos 14-12-01 9
                     RE: New works Paul A 14-12-01 10
                         RE: New works AnnWilliams 14-12-01 11
                             RE: New works Paul A 14-12-01 12
  RE: New works Jonathan S 16-12-01 13

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Paul A

10-12-01, 11:03 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: New works "
In response to message #0
   Gary a huge topic - this won't do justice to all the questions you raise but some thoughts.

- much of what I have seen at the theatre over 25 years has been unmemorable. There has been no difference whether that originated in big, traditional or small, experimental venues.

- I think it is a logical progression that we have to search out what is new in smaller venues. Those venues and the people who create their work there are cutting a path forward. I think we are probably wrong to lament the lack of creativity in our big companies' inability to find lasting, important new choreographers. They have become museums - refreshed by a vast heritage, of which we see too little, some new exhibits, seen too rarely, and a trove of comparative perfomances.

- content is an issue. Abstract work can challenge us cerebrally or emotionally - but the big themes you lack have been tried by some. Think of some of the topics of MacMillan's late work - war, holocaust, dysfunctional relationships - they only imperfectly translated to dance.

- because of their large size and pedigree I don't believe large companies can move with the time. They can acknowledge its trends but not lead. Others will challenge that.

- how I long for the death of the three act ballet - or at least a year without them. Look how wideranging the NYCB season of triple bills is this year, very stimulating. But to try that here would mean commercial suicide. If the big companies are museums, then their audiences appear to be mauseleums. Why is this so? Why is there no audience for the challenge of what's new.

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10-12-01, 07:30 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail PhilipB Click to send private message to PhilipB Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: New works "
In response to message #0
   Could you clarify what you mean by "largely funded companies"?

Do you mean companies with public funding, relatively rich or well-known companies, or something else?


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10-12-01, 10:05 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Charles Click to send private message to Charles Click to add this user to your buddy list  
3. "RE: New works "
In response to message #2
   Ah Phillip

Fiddle while Rome burns, or rather it has burnt to the ground and your outdated, quibbling views and bourgeois love of this elitist, draconian "art" form with it.

With regards


In answer to the question why the large funded companies (Phil that means those who receive the vast proportion of Arts Councils budgets, and elitist corporate funding just because they're headed by an old queen) don't invest in new work and remained pickled in artistic, fly blown aspic is because the chattering classes want to see three acts going nowhere with pretty ballerinas. So art forms that intend to push forward the boundaries of their form just have to eat cake, while the Opera crew eat cak, three acts of it.

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Bruce Madmin

11-12-01, 08:33 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: New works "
In response to message #3
Charles, please be more respectful of other posters and those who fund dance and ballet.

And perhaps rather then just tell everybody they are wrong try telling people what good stuff you see and why.

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Bruce Madmin

11-12-01, 08:29 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: New works "
In response to message #0
Thanks for the thought provoking post. I think anybody who loves dance and ballet inevitably starts to have concern about the future - the growing of choreographers, the comparative lack of new work etc.

You say museum ballet is the way it is going, but I'm not sure there is so much change - ballet has long traditions and people have been watching some ballets like Giselle for over 150 years and still deriving great enjoyment from seeing them. And of course new productions present them in slightly different lights. Long may they go on. But we have to go for the new too - if people hadn't done that in the 19th century then we wouldn't have many of the pieces that are so liked now. I make no apology for enjoying these and running a popularist site that says this is great art that more should enjoy. But its not good enough - we must chase and support the new.

There is less work around from the major companies because money is tight and a world class choreographer has not really emerged to capture the publics imagination - with the exception of Matthew Bourne, but he tends to work in his own company only. So management are careful... and this in turn stops young choreographers getting the commissions they need to really learn and learn fast. So its a bit of a vicious circle.

The reason why you have to go to small venues to see new things is because new things don't fill 2200+ seats. But theres nothing peculiar about dance in this - most art forms are the same.

While I'm quoting out of context, the latest Turner winner - for an empty room with a light going on and odd every 5 seconds - will chime with a lot of people as just how far off the rails some 'artist's can go and yet be praised and indulged by an arts establishment that seems to have lost touch with many in the country. The flip side are the number of people who now go to Tate Modern - so there is hope!

I'm also pleased about the work GPD is doing, NDT2 and Mark Morris tours seem to do well etc. And underneath them are an array of smaller companies doing business to greater or lesser extents. And in Stretton and Skoog we have new AD's (in the UK) who I think are more wedded to new work then their predecessors. There is also the ADI work of Deborah Bull in the Clore and Linbury and The Place rebuilding. These are reasons to be more cheerful. But you can't just expect to ram new work down peoples throats and haranguing them for enjoying what they do is no way forward - which is where I take issue with Charles. People need pointers to what other feel is 'right' - and my question to Gary and Charles is what do they see that cheers them and why...

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eugene merrett

11-12-01, 11:56 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: New works "
In response to message #4
   Ballet like opera suffers from the problem that it is very expensive to put on new works. It is not like paintings or sculpture where new works can displayed cheaply. A new ballet requires a huge investment in time and money. Moreover given the financial struggles most ballet companies have it is all to easy to rely on bankable evergreen works.

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14-12-01, 00:48 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: New works "
In response to message #6
   I can't believe that on these pages people are screaming about the lack of new work but at the same time leaving the likes of Wayne McGregor and Henri Oguike so far down the list for the new AD of Rambert!
Oh come on - AMP have done nothing close to the work of Rambert, Deborah Bull is a dancer and administrator - not a coreographer and Adam Cooper is a soley a dancer! Ashley Page's last ballet was nothing to write home about and Nunn & Trevitt have recently made a name for theselves off the back of a certain Japanese dancer and a channel 4 TV series not for anything artistcly outstanding.
The most recent works of any worth have been Duo:logue and those in the recent tour by The Henri Oguike company.
For real innovation people need to stop looking at the works of the big companies and start looking further afield.
Decent new work which is truly innovative is not going to come from the RB or ENB - Get real!

James W


James W

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Bruce Madmin

14-12-01, 08:16 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: New works "
In response to message #7
   Interesting thoughts and I hope theer are some responses

Given the content I've put a copy of this on the Mini-poll thread about the new Rambert AD - its perhaps best discussed there:

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Terry Amos

14-12-01, 10:59 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: New works "
In response to message #8
   I come from the West Midlands where we are free of chattering classes and boarish people who consider themselves superior to the rest of us. For the last two weeks, I have been watching performances of the BRB Nutcracker, with full houses of ordinary people, mostly in family groups, who clearly thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Isnít it a bit snobbish to be so critical of such people? And isnít it just possible that by choosing to see the classics they are demonstrating their innate good taste?

This is not to say we shouldnít have new ballets. But, to quote: it doesnít have to have a new form or a different style to be good, being good is different enough.

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Paul A

14-12-01, 11:40 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: New works "
In response to message #9
   Share your appreciation of BRB's Nutcracker, Terry. It is an example of a classic that works. But not all classics do work - I do not enjoy Peter Wright's RB Nutcracker for instance.

When I first started to discover dance I then was under the misapprehension that ballet only equated to the three act classics and one ought to appreciate then just because they are there. Truth is I was bored by the first three act ballets I saw - Nureyev's Swan Lake, Lavrovsky's R&J, a Giselle.

Seeing Elite Syncopations, as something new then, in 1974 was a revelation. Here is an art form that hadn't stopped short in the 19th century - here was a more vibrant, alive art form (compared say to opera).

Of course new does not equate to good. But things new do pull an audience forard however slowly and expand the boundaries of what dance can achieve. True much is unmemorable; true much focuses on the "shock" of the new rather than more enduring qualities. True there are plenty of hoaxsters about.

I struggle to understand the language of much of contemporary dance - that's why to me it is fascinating to see Mark Baldwin move closer to clasical technique in some of his recent work - and fuse that with his Rambert background to create something distinctive (at least for me who looks at dance from a classical perspective. Others from a contemporary background find him less convincing). That is why I think he would be a good choice to be AD of Rambert (assuming he wants to) - far more credible than the celebrity figures who are currently topping the poll.

I do struggle to understand is why there is such a small audience for new work. When did to be new or challenging stop being mainstream. I'm thinking about how much new work was the cornerstone of the early days of the RB. When did we come so blinkered in our obsession with the three acters. It can't just be economics. When did the language of dance cease to be understood?

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14-12-01, 01:55 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail AnnWilliams Click to send private message to AnnWilliams Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
11. "RE: New works "
In response to message #10
   A couple of points:

Is there something wrong with me? I adore the old three act ballets - I've wept through Giselle with the best of them, and I've crossed the channel to see 'Bayadere' and the Atlantic to see the Kirov dancing Balanchine, but I have also crossed into the murky depts of South London (I'm talking Laban Centre here)to see the works of little-known choreographers and dance groups such as Oguike, McGregor, Linehan and Khan, and I'm a regular at The Place. In other words, I'm a dance fan, not just a ballet fan and I think that's the right way to be.

Paul, I agree absolutely about Mark Baldwin. I think he'd be an brilliant choice for the Rambert. James, don't forget that whoever is chosen will need considerable administrative experience with a large company, and this may rule out both Oguike and McGregor (and may of course also rule out Baldwin). Looking at that poll list, though, I'd say that Deborah Bull has more than an even chance and I'm surprised that she's lagging so far behind the (to me) unlikely duo of Trevitt & Nunn.

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Paul A

14-12-01, 03:43 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: New works "
In response to message #11
   Ann, very good posting. Just to add, yes the three-acters can work for me sometimes, but often I do not have the patience with the formula to get to the end. And yet the real eye-opener for me was a three-acter, Fountain of Bakchisarai.

Friends, non dance goers, with whom we went to Prince of Pagodas commented on how little narrative content the third act has - they could not grasp the 19th concept of a divertissement ending.

(Having driven through New Cross last weekend like your description of that area as a one of the "murky depts" of London. Now there's a typo that adds meaning).

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Jonathan S

16-12-01, 11:27 AM (GMT)
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13. "RE: New works "
In response to message #0
   >while I am a little
>sad to see that none
>of the largely funded companies
>are moving quite with the
>times when it comes to
>new ballets/works

Which or whose times are these companies not moving with? The repertoire of any company contributes to the composition of 'the times'. It seems to me that a more logical explanation would be that you have not yet come to terms with the times as they are.

> If dance is an art
>form then why is it
>that one has to go
>to smaller venues to see
>new creations that broaden the
>levels, ideas, technique, and possibilities
>of ballet?

What is wrong with going to smaller venues to do this? As above, these are the times as they are. The fact that they do not align well with how you would like them to be is not the fault of ballet or art.

> I recently saw Double Concerto,
>(ENB) which I agree with
>most was a refreshing expression
>of ballet and visions. Although
>I was a little bit
>sad to see that there
>was no thought or subject
>in this piece


>a common trait in most
>new works in Britain that
>are funded heavily these days.


>I am not critisising this
>piece, but I can't say
>that I think people will
>remember it once they have
>left the theatre.

Museum ballet is
>the way it is going,
>but a Museum is a
>place to look at the
>past, where can we see
>the future?

On the one hand, you imply that you want ballets that people will remember (and by the way, I do remember Double Concerto - vividly) and on the other, that there should be no museum ballets. This, to me, is paradoxical - you want pieces to have all the hallmarks of a masterwork, but discredit the framework under which pieces achieve that status (museums).

> I don't mean technical feats,
>I would like to see
>intelligent creations of dance, with
>something to say, wouldn't you?

Personally, not in the way that I think you mean, which implies a logocentric view of intelligence. Double Concerto 'spoke' to me in physical, visual, musical, choreographic and formal terms in a way which books and words can't.

My own view, fusty as it may be, is that choreographic works which 'have something to say' need to do so to compensate for a paucity of technical, choreographic or musical means. I do not need to watch half an hour of dance to know that war is bad, relationships are difficult, or that people are different, when any Anglican vicar could tell me the same.

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