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Subject: "Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitud..." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2792
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Helen

06-06-02, 08:51 AM (GMT)
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"Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
 
   I was horrified to read the following observation in Shaaron Boughen's review in The Australian of the RB's Swan Lake:

"The function of this ballet today differs enormously from its original narrative escapism. The story no longer has relevance either literally or metaphorically, but the ballet provides the framework for virtuosic performances, and it is this that engages audiences."

Do Ballet. co readers agree with this? Is it really why people go to Swan Lake? If so, is it a worldwide attitude or an Australian one? It seems very philistine to me.

Of course, it's entirely possible that I am completely out of touch with modern attitudes to ballet, and that virtuosity is now what it is about, even in Swan Lake. Any comments?


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Brendan McCarthymoderator 06-06-02 1
     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Helen 06-06-02 2
     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... AEHandley 06-06-02 3
         RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Brendan McCarthymoderator 06-06-02 4
             RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Annelieseagain 07-06-02 6
                 RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Brendan McCarthymoderator 07-06-02 8
                     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Annelieseagain 07-06-02 9
     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... cathjames 09-06-02 16
         RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Brendan McCarthymoderator 09-06-02 17
  RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Bruceadmin 07-06-02 5
     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Annelieseagain 07-06-02 7
         RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Bruceadmin 07-06-02 10
         RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Shirley 07-06-02 11
             RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... AEHandley 07-06-02 12
                 RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... AEHandley 07-06-02 14
                 RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Shirley 07-06-02 15
             RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... AEHandley 07-06-02 13
                 RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Paul A 10-06-02 18
                     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... MichellePotter 11-06-02 19
                         RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... Bruceadmin 11-06-02 20
                     RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... James 11-06-02 21
                         RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century att... alison 13-06-02 22

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

06-06-02, 09:51 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #0
 
   This review is utter tosh. The motif of redemptiveness is one of Swan Lake's enduring qualities. The ballet still offers something very close to religious experience.

In all likelihood this writer knows little of dance, and is a general reporter, who simply happened to be available to file for The Australian from Brisbane. We shouldn't get too excited about it.


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Helen

06-06-02, 10:03 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #1
 
   Thanks, Brendan! I did wonder whether the writer was a critic or, as you say, just a reporter. I'll try not to get excited.

I'd like to add that I didn't intend to imply that Australian attitudes in particular were likely to be any more philistine than those of anywhere else, but from the way I put it, it could be taken like that. I love Australia, and my husband was Australian - not a bit philistine.


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AEHandley

06-06-02, 10:54 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #1
 
   >This review is utter tosh. The
>motif of redemptiveness is one
>of Swan Lake's enduring qualities.
>The ballet still offers something
>very close to religious experience.

Actually, I think you are quite wrong. I can think of a good many people who would dismiss your verdict as utter tosh! I wouldn't go that far, but I believe that the review had a lot of truth in it.



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Brendan McCarthymoderator

06-06-02, 11:29 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #3
 
   Anneliese - continue.


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Annelieseagain

07-06-02, 01:23 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #4
 
   For many people these days, this type of fable with allegorical elements is quite simply baffling (I work with scientists and engineers most of whom never open a book without a spaceship on the cover...). There are many MANY people who just don't "get" the eternal relevance. OK, these people may be the same people who don't "get" art at all, who need everything on a plate, but the fact remains that to (probably) most people this is just a pretty fairy story which if anything illustrates that most men don't think with their brains... I do think it was a valid comment from the reviewer.

But what I have the real problem with is your statement that (sorry don't have the post in front of me, can't reproduce exactly) that this is equal to a religious experience. That I do find at best worrying. It's something I don't really have the vocabulary to enlarge on at length, but can I just leave it as art and religion being very different things?


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

07-06-02, 01:28 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #6
 
   Anneliese,

This is a complicated discussion and I'd like to answer you properly. As I'm trying to clear a backlog of work, I'll reply next week if that's ok. Very quickly, psychologists of religion argue that the same parts of the brain are involved in aesthetic and in religious experiences. I used the word 'akin' - and did not mean to imply that both experiences were identical. They clearly aren't. More to follow....


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Annelieseagain

07-06-02, 02:40 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #8
 
   I thought it was too complicated for me atm too - but it struck a chord with me as I'd just read a piece by the Bishop in our Church magazine on the book "chocolat" which was taking exception to Vianne Rocher's take on pick and mix spirituality and how it was not in the same league as faith and theism (paraphrasing and also not remembering very well). I think I can see where you're coming from now you mention the brain activity area - and one could also quote the philosopher Hume who said there were 4 essential elements of religion one of which was ritual, which one could also link with classical ballet.


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cathjames

09-06-02, 06:46 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #1
 
   Hi Brendan, Shaaron is a well informed choreographer and teacher based in Brisbane with a masters degree in choreography from the Place. She has played a huge part in training dancers from the Queensland University of Technology, among them include Miranda Lind, Rambert, Robert Tannion DV8, Sonja Peedo, Richard Alston Dance Company, Myself, Siobhan Davies/Rambert, Deborah Saxon, Siobhan Davies, Diana Loosmore, Richard Alston, Ross Hounslow DV8, Susan Laraghy Nederlans Dance Theater. Her approach is intellectually rigorous and questioning as opposed to dictatorial, so the review, I imagine, is to create debate which seems to have worked. Her view is as valid and informed as any reviewer you could care to mention, but it would do to note that her aesthetic is more contemporary than ballet.
Cath


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

09-06-02, 07:13 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #16
 
   Thank you Cath. I stand corrected. I still disagree with her though!


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Bruceadmin

07-06-02, 07:53 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #0
 
  
Swan Lake still captures the imagination - it's a roller coaster of a story and connects with people just like soap operas seem to - people love a good yarn.

Yes we want to see great technical performances but acting is so very important. For me I don't think the reviewer really understands why the public goes or identifies with the importance of the classics. Rather out of kilter like the Ann Sacks (sp?) reviews sometimes were.


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Annelieseagain

07-06-02, 01:25 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #5
 
   >
>Swan Lake still captures the imagination
>- it's a roller coaster
>of a story and connects
>with people just like soap
>operas seem to - people
>love a good yarn.
>
Oh yes, but that's very different from what Brendan said.

>Yes we want to see great
>technical performances but acting is
>so very important.

Then why do people flock to see Bussell in this?

(sorry, naughty of me - but I'm not so fussed about the artistic credentials of the leads in Petipa as I am in MacMillan)


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Bruceadmin

07-06-02, 05:18 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #7
 
   >>
>>Swan Lake still captures the imagination
>>- it's a roller coaster
>>of a story and connects
>>with people just like soap
>>operas seem to - people
>>love a good yarn.
>>
>Oh yes, but that's very different
>from what Brendan said.

Er... it probably is, but I was repsonding to Helen and the original posting with my take on it. But peopel go for lots of different of reasons


>
>>Yes we want to see great
>>technical performances but acting is
>>so very important.
>
>Then why do people flock to
>see Bussell in this?
>
>(sorry, naughty of me - but
>I'm not so fussed about
>the artistic credentials of the
>leads in Petipa as I
>am in MacMillan)

The Bussell is liked for many reasons I'm sure - not leaset is that she is incredibly well known and has the best PR of any ballerina for some time. That's no bad thing for ballet - we need all we can get. Regulers well know that Bussell is good, but can put her performnces in their rightful context which is that RB have a number of great ballerinas capable of deliveing terrific shows.


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Shirley

07-06-02, 06:32 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #7
 
   LAST EDITED ON 07-06-02 AT 06:46 PM (GMT)

>
>Then why do people flock to
>see Bussell in this?

Anneliese just because you don't like Darcey Bussell doesn't mean to say that loads of others adhere to your view and some people do think she can act.

I assume that all your negative comments are based on recent first hand experience of watching her dance because as they say - you are only as good as your last show.


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AEHandley

07-06-02, 09:15 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #11
 
   >LAST EDITED ON 07-06-02
>AT 06:46 PM (GMT)

>
>>
>>Then why do people flock to
>>see Bussell in this?
>
>Anneliese just because you don't like
>Darcey Bussell doesn't mean to
>say that loads of others
>adhere to your view and
>some people do think she
>can act.
>
>I assume that all your negative
>comments are based on recent
>first hand experience of watching
>her dance because as they
>say - you are
>only as good as your
>last show.


Well, my view is as valid as anyone else's. I gave up going to see her because she couldn't act.


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AEHandley

07-06-02, 09:22 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #12
 
   Sorry, got cut off before I could finish editing this. See below.


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Shirley

07-06-02, 11:01 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #12
 
   LAST EDITED ON 07-06-02 AT 11:17 PM (GMT)

>Well, my view is as valid
>as anyone else's. I
>gave up going to see
>her because she couldn't act.
>

Yes your view is a vaild as anyone else and as far as I am aware I didn't say it wasn't!

All I stated was that not everyone has the same opinion and enquired if your comments were based on recent performances. From your reply it looks like that isn't the case.

As for your comment about Darcey's fan club policing the site - well I assume it was a joke other wise I would say they are doing a pretty bad job.


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AEHandley

07-06-02, 09:21 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #11
 
   I didn't realise her fan club policed this site. I don't dislike her - she seems perfectly charming, dances beautifully and has IMO the best legs and feet in the company. HOWEVER... I have seen no evidence that she can act and hence have tried to avoid her performances recently. The constant disappointment in the artistic effect, combined with extreme difficulty in getting decent seats, meant it just was not worth the effort. My opinion of her performances is perfectly valid. Maybe she's improved recently - it's just not worth finding out IMO, particularly given the fact that I've also been greatly unimpressed by her regular partner over the years!


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Paul A

10-06-02, 05:13 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #13
 
   I've not seen Swan Lake for a long time - last visit was the Kirov about 10 years ago. I've always been unengrossed by it in the theatre. I only managed the first two acts when this RB version was new.

I've never felt it worked literally (Peter Wright's for BRB got closest). Metaphorically, I must admit it's passed me by - sorry but immune to the redemptive aspects discussed higher up this thread. Tough old boot this!

What does hit me profoundly is the score - particularly the ending. I've never felt the choreography equals it. Somehow it's too earthbound and doesn't rise to the scale and power of the music.

To answer Helen's concern about SL being only a showcase for virtuosity - I see the logic but wouldn't choose this as the first choice for athletic pyrotechnics. Can't explain it - love soprano coloratura (thinking of Karita Mattila on the warpath in Don Giovanni) - somehow never been convinced by the fouette equivalent in ballet.


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MichellePotter

11-06-02, 00:16 AM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #18
 
   Well I have to say I was a bit taken aback by Shaaron's review and went to Sydney wondering what to expect. While my comments don't bear all that much relationship to what has been said in this thread I can't resist posting. The opening in Sydney was a knockout as far as I'm concerned. And it wasn't just because of the principals (Bussell and Cope) but more because the entire company danced (and acted) with such spirit. For example, I haven't seen such expressiveness in the upper body for years. It was almost like seeing ballet for the first time - no kidding. I saw two more performances. Different principals etc but the qualities that I loved in the dancing on opening night hadn't dimmed one bit. Hatley and Meissner in the Neapolitan just blew me away. I was sitting close enough to hear Hatley give a little shout of excitement before they started the dance proper and this epitomised for me what the show was like. Everyone, but everyone, looked as though they were there to dance their hearts out because they just loved doing it. And as for Marianela Nunez, what a gorgeously expansive mover she is. My companion turned to me at one stage and said 'Are you sure this is Swan Lake?' And he didn't mean it was different from the version we are used to here in Australia (Anne Woolliams), which indeed is very different, but that at last he felt engaged. The Ashes are yours.


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Bruceadmin

11-06-02, 06:51 AM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #19
 
   I've put a copy of Michelle's (excellent) posting over on the thread about RB in Sydney:
http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/2793.html#7

More reviews and thoughts please!


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James

11-06-02, 06:34 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #18
 
   >What does hit me profoundly is
>the score - particularly the
>ending. I've never felt the
>choreography equals it. Somehow it's
>too earthbound and doesn't rise
>to the scale and power
>of the music.
>
I agree Paul, and it's partly because no choreographer has followed the prescripts of Tchaikovsky and his original collaborators. According to that scenario, Siegfried's betrayal is not only irredeemable, but Siefired effectively kills Odette by tearing off her crown (a talisman given her by her mysterious unseen grandfather) and throwing it into the lake. This destroys her immortality and she dies in his arms as the swollen waters of the lake engulf them. The final "allegro agitato" in Tchaikovsky's score is intended to denote all this, which explains why the usual stage action, post Petipa/Ivanov, is unsatisfactory. Of course, how you could put this on stage is another matter.

To me, Swan Lake, in which the protagonists are completely at the mercy of implacable maglign forces, is a tragedy on a par with King Lear.

I agree with you about the fouettes. When you think about it, it's a bit sad that people are so disengaged from the action they they actually count them.


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alison

13-06-02, 01:17 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Australian review of RB's Swan Lake and 21st century attitudes to ballet."
In response to message #21
 
   >I agree Paul, and it's partly
>because no choreographer has followed
>the prescripts of Tchaikovsky and
>his original collaborators. According
>to that scenario, Siegfried's betrayal
>is not only irredeemable, but
>Siefired effectively kills Odette by
>tearing off her crown (a
>talisman given her by her
>mysterious unseen grandfather) and throwing
>it into the lake.
>This destroys her immortality and
>she dies in his arms
>as the swollen waters of
>the lake engulf them.
>The final "allegro agitato" in
>Tchaikovsky's score is intended to
>denote all this, which explains
>why the usual stage action,
>post Petipa/Ivanov, is unsatisfactory.
>Of course, how you could
>put this on stage is
>another matter.
>
That's fascinating, James, I never knew that before!

I was left wondering, yesterday, what happens after the "happy" ending which we get inflicted on us. Do Siegfried and Odette just go off, get married and live happily ever after? It doesn't seem to fit, somehow, does it?


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