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Subject: "ballerina or balletdancer? " Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2679
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vivian2

30-04-02, 12:26 PM (GMT)
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"ballerina or balletdancer? "
 
   Was talking to a very eminent ballet master the other day and had an interesting debate about the qualities which make a true ballerina as opposed to a good standard ballet dancer. I wonder what others think?

Have we lost the ability to discriminate,now that so mant new ballets are being created which don't seem to require anything but technical strength and the so called perfect physique, whatever that is ?


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: ballerina or balletdancer? trogadmin 30-04-02 1
     RE: ballerina or balletdancer? AnnWilliams 30-04-02 2
         RE: ballerina or balletdancer? vivian2 30-04-02 3
             RE: ballerina or balletdancer? katharine kanter 30-04-02 4
                 RE: ballerina or balletdancer? vivian2 02-05-02 10
                     RE: ballerina or balletdancer? alison 03-05-02 12
             RE: ballerina or balletdancer? alison 30-04-02 5
                 RE: ballerina or balletdancer? Flight 30-04-02 6
                     RE: ballerina or balletdancer? alison 01-05-02 9
                         RE: ballerina or balletdancer? Flight 02-05-02 11
                 RE: ballerina or balletdancer? Flight 30-04-02 7
                     RE: ballerina or balletdancer? Terry Amos 30-04-02 8
                         RE: ballerina or balletdancer? vivian2 04-05-02 13

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trogadmin

30-04-02, 02:35 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #0
 
   I have always felt that a "ballerina" has that indefinable something known as "star quality". Fonteyn had "it" and a lot of her technique was below par. Her 32 fouettes were described in contemporary reviews as "a cooks tour". I guess the really good dancers have both "star quality" and faultess technique.


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AnnWilliams

30-04-02, 02:40 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #1
 
  
Here's a link to an earlier thread on this subject:

http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/2396.html


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vivian2

30-04-02, 04:26 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #2
 
   Trog, you are so right! There is so much more to ballet than the pursuit of perfect technique. Sometimes I wonder whether too much concentration on technical perfection can inhibit the growth of a potential ballerina.

Ann, thankyou for directing us to a previous thread, which I have read with interest.

May I quote you a little section from it which causes me concern;......


"A potential ballerina also requires an artistic director who is perceptive about her needs and in a position to respond to them, someone who knows what can and should be done with the raw material she offers. Fonteyn was the most fortunate of beings; her choreographer was Frederick Ashton, who shaped the aesthetic of England's Royal Ballet;................."

I often wonder why Britain possesses so few home grown ballerina status dancers. We all love the current crop of ballet stars like Alina + Tamara.

They have the intangible ballerina factor , without doubt....
But they were all trained (for the most part)abroad. Britain seems incapable of finding its own home grown versions.

Do you think it might be because we fail to recognise the innate potential in our obsessive pursuit of technical perfection and physical prowess.?

Could it be that schools and directors are letting it 'slip through the net' in the frenzied pursuit of physical perfection?

I saw some beautiful young charismatic students dancing the other day full of hope and potential, but I have serious concerns as to whether anyone will bother to give them the encouragement and opportunity to meet the right choreographers and directors for them to be nurtured and developed in their own individual styles.

Would love to see British home bred students with potential intelligent + charismatic ballerina factor going up the ranks of British Companies!


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katharine kanter

30-04-02, 05:26 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #3
 
   Viv,

One tends to think about the Fonteyn generation as having been "British", but Fonteyn herself was, if I'm not mistaken, half-Brazilian, and was brought up in China, where she began to train. Many of the stars of her generation, came from all over the Commonwealth, a winsome little talent pool of roughly one BILLION people, with the Indian subcontinent.

Classical ballet is, too put it mildly, an extremely demanding form, and no one country can be guaranteed to produce genius "on tap" with bone-grinding regularity.

Your second point made me think of Atylnai Assylmouratova's November 2001 interview with Marc Haegemann, where she says, among many fascinating things, that "one is not a star at age twenty. Ulanova started with very small roles, and so did I...." etc. Commercial considerations today are so pressing, so critical, in the art world, that young people are being pushed beyond their strength, the moment they shew a shred of talent. Close scrutiny of Alina Cojocaru's's still photographs (I haven't seen her yet in the flesh) reveals what appear to be certain technical hitches, that I won't elaborate on here. Is she getting the slow build-up of technique, is she getting careful correction ? Given the rehearsal schedule at the ROH, I would doubt that. Where will she be in five years ? Burnt out ? God willing, none of that, but is there not a risk ?

Lynn Seymour was not a world-wide celebrity at age 19, and neither was Antoinette Sibley. Margot Fonteyn certainly was not ! And had they stopped dancing at age 25, which is when many, over the last decade, have begun to call it quits, they would not have made it into the history books.

But artistic directors today DO NOT HAVE THE TIME. They have got to fill the house. People's development, the building blocks of technique and interpretation, are a secondary concern. Ask any repetiteur. Apart from Monica Mason, who IS world-famous, there are other splendid people whose talents are massively under-used, because to bring them into the theatre to coach people properly, would TAKE a bit more TIME. And today, a theatre's time, is money money money.

The third point your comments raise, is the "multi-purpose" (polyvalent, in French) dancer. One is expected to go out there and strut one's stuff in fifty different styles and techniques, including, most emphatically, what is called "modern dance", i.e. stuff that has gone horribly past its sell-by date before the sets are even dry. All that, in the course of a single twelve-hour day. That is where the big injuries are coming from. And that is where the "dumbing-down" of technique is coming from. THAT is important, and with your permission, I'd like to deal with the issue more fully on another occasion.


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vivian2

02-05-02, 02:08 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #4
 
   Katherine,

I wasn't thinking so much about the genetic origins of the dancers( your ref to Fonteyns origins), more about how we, as a nation, might be responsible for overlooking the true potentials of some of the best dancers this country is currently training ( whatever their gene pool) by over emphasis on technical + physical perfection .

I totally agree with your comments about 'time is money' as one possibility for our dearth of home grown ballerinas.Perhaps it is easier to develop true potential in countries where there is good state funding for ballet. There may be less need for politics and publicity stunts where there is adequate state funding.
There would be less need to push certain dancers with the right connections( not necessarily the right ability) who get unfair advantages from influencial people and their much needed donations.

What a sad state of affairs that the pursuit of 'artistry', as
Terry Amos calls the essential ingredient, is sacrificed so directors can put bums on seats .

Awaiting your views with interest on how we could avoid the dumbing down situation.

I suppose it all boils down to governments who dont value art forms enough and a public who are brought up to prefer football to ballet.


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alison

03-05-02, 01:35 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #10
 
   >What a sad state of affairs
>that the pursuit of 'artistry',
>as
>Terry Amos calls the essential ingredient,
>is sacrificed so directors
>can put bums on seats
>.

That reminded me of something I'd been meaning to comment on. Having actually acquired a new RB programme recently, I was flipping through and reading some of the blurb about/by Ross Stretton. I haven't got it to hand, so can't quote it directly, but it was along the lines that he wanted to inspire audiences with dance's physicality and a couple of other attributes which I can't remember. I noticed that artistry wasn't mentioned, and I don't think that musicality was either. I suspect that's partly why I haven't been seeing eye to eye with him in terms of programme choice.


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alison

30-04-02, 05:56 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #3
 
   >Trog, you are so right!
>There is so much more
>to ballet than the pursuit
>of perfect technique. Sometimes I
>wonder whether too much concentration
>on technical perfection can inhibit
>the growth of a potential
>ballerina.

I suspect so. I wonder if more ballerina-quality dancers would be produced if there was as much concentration on challenging their *minds* as their bodies? I'm thinking of extending their education in terms of music, art, theatre, stagecraft, design, all those things that people such as Diaghilev used to do with their protégées. Now I hear most dancers saying that they never have enough time to go to the theatre, see other companies, etc. etc. I should think that the number of dancers in London that I regularly(ish) see at other performances could be counted on the fingers of both hands.


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Flight

30-04-02, 08:14 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #5
 
   May I ask who? Just to be nosy?

I suppose to me a ballerina is a dancer who lets - even makes - one forget everything that worries them and stop thinking about mundane things like having to do the Hoovering when they gets home.


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alison

01-05-02, 01:28 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #6
 
   This is only among the ones I recognise and have spotted frequently, mind you, (and at performances of companies other than their own) but the ones who immediately come to mind are people like William Tuckett, Christopher Hampson (a lot of choreographers, in fact), Edur and Oaks, Deborah Bull (although she's technically retired now) ...


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Flight

02-05-02, 04:04 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #9
 
   Thank you!


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Flight

30-04-02, 08:14 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #5
 
   LAST EDITED ON 30-04-02 AT 08:17 PM (GMT)

Ooops! I posted twice! Someone can delete this if they want!


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Terry Amos

30-04-02, 09:57 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #7
 
   When trying to judge a dancer, I like to rate them on two aspects: technique and artistry. A balerina needs a good technique ( you don't want to have to worry all the time that she is going to fall over )but it needn't be wonderful. What distinguishes the good from the very good and the very good from the great is the artistry. By that I mean the ability to play on the emotions of the audience so as to move us in tragedy and delight us in comedy. Of course, all decent dancers can do this to some extent but we tend to reserve the term ballerina for just a few who can do it to an extraordinary extent.

From some of the earlier postings, I get the impression the many would reserve the term for a very select few. Keeping it to dancers who had their careers mainly in this country and for the past 50 years, say, you could argue that the number of true ballerinas hasn't been in double figures. Personally, I'd make it much more than that but it does depend how strict you want to be.

Finally, I'd like to point out what I perceive a danger in all of this. If we keep worrying about it, being too critical and saying there aren't any ballerinas these days, we can talk ourselves into the position where we can't enjoy ballet performances any more.


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vivian2

04-05-02, 01:39 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: ballerina or balletdancer? "
In response to message #8
 
  
Terry

"If we keep worrying about it, being too critical and saying there aren't any ballerinas these days, we can talk ourselves into the position where we can't enjoy ballet performances any more. "

Agree with everything you say EXCEPT the above comment.

How can we enjoy ballet performances if essential ingredients like artistry and musicality are not respected as important, in fact , quintessential to the art form?. Feel this is what Alison means. This is what most of the above commets seem to say. People go and pay good money to be thrilled by a performance. They are looking for the above ingredients.

They are not saying there arent ANY ballerinas--- just that there is a dearth of British trained ones at present and has been for a while.

If we shouldnt express concerns, then how are things ever going to move forward, so the directors dont have to worry so much about unsold tickets!?


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