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Subject: "Style or Stereotype" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2833
Reading Topic #2833
BrynJns

22-06-02, 08:18 AM (GMT)
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"Style or Stereotype"
 
   Some choreographers run their own companies, and create most of the ballets performed. This can lead to a distinctive coherent style, but can also be restrictive. I have heard prominent dancers assert that performing for a major company featuring a wide repertory is preferable.

Even when creating work for a big company, some choreographers can end up stereotyping themselves. “This is the kind of dance I do so this is the kind of ballet I create” and “This is the kind of ballet I create so this is the kind of dance I do.” A sort of self perpetuating vicious circle that can be difficult to escape from.

External influences can help broaden creative work. If a choreographer does interpretive dance, a third party scenario can enforce new dance to meet new situations. Uncomfortable to start with, but better for long term choreographic development.

With this in mind, is a resident choreographer desirable? Unless he / she is outstanding, probably not. Having a broad coherent body of work created for a company in a distinctive style is nirvana; Permanently associating the company with a body of inadequate work is a disaster.

A useful middle way is to establish some kind of associate status which does not overly restrict either partner, but does indicate the company’s commitment to the choreographers development. As mutual confidence develops, full resident status can be considered. If I were an artistic director, I would want to do this.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Style or Stereotype Alexandra 22-06-02 1
     RE: Style or Stereotype BrynJns 23-06-02 3
  RE: Style or Stereotype alison 22-06-02 2
     RE: Style or Stereotype BrynJns 24-06-02 4

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Alexandra

22-06-02, 04:21 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Style or Stereotype"
In response to message #0
 
   There's a lot to think about in this post. In modern dance, the whole point of having a company was to reflect one person's vision. (It's always interested me that, generally, one refers to as "Graham technique" as opposed to "Ashton style", which indicates that in modern dance technique is the matter of the movement, while in ballet, the choreographer owns the vocabulary only for a time.)

But in the early modern dance days, "permanently associating the company with a body of inadequate work is a disaster" wasn't a problem. The problem was more having a body of great work that's so specifically associated with the body (literally) of its creator that it cannot outlive her/him.

In America, we don't have a company like Rambert or the late (lamented?) London Contemporary Dance Theatre and I wish we did. That seems a good middle road. The style is a bit general, which, on the plus side, means that many different choreographers can work with the dancers and on the minus, that it's unlikely to produce a masterpiece, as those are usually rather personal and idiosyncratic.

In ballet, the technique is always there, but how it's used, of course, is so different. When you have a resident choreographer, his taste and style flavors the whole company. Think of Ashton's Petipa -- and how Ashton started not to look quite like Ashton when he left the company.

When a choreographer with a strong, individual voice comes in to a company, that voice flavors everything, like putting a new, pungent spice into a stew.

Is the only answer to accept the fact that dance is -- must be -- temporal and give up on the notion of trying to preserve masterworks?


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BrynJns

23-06-02, 06:50 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Style or Stereotype"
In response to message #1
 
   Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Your contrast with the contemporary scene is very interesting. I sometimes think the contention that some dance is so special in terms of technique, or the abilities of the dancer on which it is set, is overstated, but maybe that is because I am not a dancer. The range of dance undertaken by the artists of some companies is amazing, though some seem to doubt that it is always desirable.


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alison

22-06-02, 04:37 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Style or Stereotype"
In response to message #0
 
   I think it's fine for a company to have a company choreographer (depending, of course, on the quality of his/her work!) provided that they are not providing all the material that the company dances. Committing yourself to a choreographer can I think bring a lot of benefits (can't go into this in detail - I'm about to get logged out) such as getting to know the dancers and spot their good and bad points, but generally (there are exceptions - Mark Morris, for example) I wouldn't want to see a whole evening of one choreographer's work any more than I'd choose to go to a concert featuring only one composer.


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BrynJns

24-06-02, 05:33 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Style or Stereotype"
In response to message #2
 
   Your point about knowing the company dancers is very important. A resident choreographer will have an advantage here. Hopefully an "associate" choreographer would achieve some of this in time.


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