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Subject: "More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2843
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katharine kanter

26-06-02, 11:48 AM (GMT)
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"More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
 
   "There is a danger in shifting from one style to another. The body is subjected to contrary positions, antagonistic effort. Far more accidents occur now, than ever before. Dislocated shoulder, a heretofore unknown injury, is now commonplace. Why ? Because of those off-centre movements, one's partner yanks out an arm as far as it can go: there's nothing to prevent the thing from popping out ! Professors are now required to know something of anatomy, well and good. But such knowledge would come in useful for choreographers too. It is not enough to have ideas, one must know how to apply them. The human body is not a machine, that one bolts on, or off, at will. In the USA, things have become dramatic: a career lasts ten years, after which, the dancer is a wreck (cassť). He's tossed out, and someone else is hired. In a few short years, at NYCB, everyone had changed. I enquired anxiously: "But what about Mr. X ? Miss Y ?" and I was told, "he tore this, or that, three times, she's had a knee, or a hip, or a back operationÖ" Let me shout it out: Stop ! Save the dancers !

Claude Bessy, interview in L'Express, a weekly newsmagazine (Paris), May 9th 1986


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) BrynJns 27-06-02 1
     RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) katharine kanter 27-06-02 2
         RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) AEHandley 27-06-02 3
         RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) BrynJns 30-06-02 4
             RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) MAB 01-07-02 5
             RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) AnnWilliams 01-07-02 6
                 RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) Flight 01-07-02 7
                     RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) alison 04-07-02 9
                 RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986) BrynJns 03-07-02 8

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BrynJns

27-06-02, 06:53 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #0
 
   A thoroughly appropriate extract, Katharine.

So why all this emphasis on athleticism. Is it that some choreographers have become isolated from the broad theatrical world which they are supposed to inhabit? One of the most endearing aspects of the “understated” English Style is its complete avoidance of “fire and fury signifying nothing.” A “theatre person” will be acutely aware that the sparing use of athleticism will also be the most theatrically effective.

More theatre, less injury?


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katharine kanter

27-06-02, 09:29 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #1
 
   "Le Monde" came out yesterday with a full-page spread, tied to a front-page leader, on the role the film "Scream" has played in a spate of vicious murders perpetrated by adolescents, based, not on theory, but on POLICE reports. Three years ago, a film entitled something like "Natural Born Killers" (?) was cited in similar crimes.

Do not think for one moment that the media moguls do not know this. Not only do they know it, they are going for it, like hounds on the chase.

Ballet is "evolving" (!) in that precise environment, an environment dominated by Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Over the past thirty years, as America's heavy industry has collapsed into dust, "entertainment", i.e. film, video games, and so-called "popular" music, whatever that is, have become the NUMBER ONE EXPORT INDUSTRY of the United States. It is also a significant export component for that other industrial rust-heap, Great Britain.

Year by year, month by month, the entertainment industry has upped the ante, in terms of porn, mindless violence, and so forth, injecting ever-higher doses of poison, turning tens of millions of people into slathering addicts.

I shall refrain from referring to any choreographer by name, but X, Y and Z, with whom we are all rather familiar with, are no more than a highly-commercial reflection of that in the "art" world. Smashing and breaking dancers' limbs is part of their aesthetic. Although there's perhaps no real blood on stage, sub-consciously the audience KNOWS that people are heading straight for serious injury, in the short-to-medium term, and I suppose they must enjoy it, or they would not come back for more.

Laetitia Pujol, a lovely young woman who is the newly-appointed ťtoile at the Paris Opera, told "Paris Match" last week that "one gets up in the morning, knowing that one is going to be in pain (que l'on va avoir mal)..." Does not anyone out there realise how ABNORMAL that is ?

As I have been grounded from dancing myhself for the past fifteen years, owing to recurrent foot and knee problems, I've had to "fall back" on singing, as an amateur of course. Every voice coach in the business repeats, every day of his life: "if it hurts, STOP. There's something wrong !" In fact, if it hurts, it means that you are about to BLOW OUT YOUR VOICE !!!!

Cannot people in the ballet world today get it into their little heads, that there is no difference between ballet, in this respect, and every other art form ? If it hurts, THERE's SOMETHING WRONG. I am not confusing a paroxysm of effort, which is a necessary, eternal part of classical dance, with PAIN. Pain is a completely different kettle of fish. A dancer SHOULD NOT BE IN PAIN. But most of them are, these days.

That is our problem, and we must deal with it.


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AEHandley

27-06-02, 10:26 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #2
 
   >"Le Monde" came out yesterday with
>a full-page spread, tied to
>a front-page leader, on the
>role the film "Scream" has
>played in a spate of
>vicious murders perpetrated by adolescents,
>based, not on theory, but
>on POLICE reports.

Well, these adolescents must be several years behind the times, then.

>Over the past
>thirty years, as America's heavy
>industry has collapsed into dust,
>"entertainment", i.e. film, video games,
>and so-called "popular" music, whatever
>that is, have become the
>NUMBER ONE EXPORT INDUSTRY of
>the United States.

... and what, pray, IS a "beatle"?

>Year by year, month by month,
>the entertainment industry has upped
>the ante, in terms of
>porn, mindless violence, and so
>forth, injecting ever-higher doses of
>poison, turning tens of millions
>of people into slathering addicts.
>I shall refrain from referring to
>any choreographer by name, but
>X, Y and Z, with
>whom we are all rather
>familiar with, are no more
>than a highly-commercial reflection of
>that in the "art" world.

Sorry, I have never seen the work of X, Y or Z.

>Smashing and breaking dancers' limbs
>is part of their aesthetic.
> Although there's perhaps no
>real blood on stage, sub-consciously
>the audience KNOWS that people
>are heading straight for serious
>injury, in the short-to-medium term,
>and I suppose they must
>enjoy it, or they would
>not come back for more.

Trust me, the audience knows no such thing. If I wanted to watch an activity where the risk of serious injury was all part of the point, I'd stick to Ski Sunday.

>
>Laetitia Pujol, a lovely young woman
>who is the newly-appointed ťtoile
>at the Paris Opera, told
>"Paris Match" last week that
>"one gets up in the
>morning, knowing that one is
>going to be in pain
>(que l'on va avoir mal)..."
> Does not anyone out
>there realise how ABNORMAL that
>is ?
>
No - it's absolutely normal and has been for over 100 years. See Pavlova, A. Ballet is fundamentally un-natural!


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BrynJns

30-06-02, 06:45 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #2
 
   I have not noticed any bestial tendencies amongst UK audiences for the classical ballet, though I cannot speak for the contemporary scene. The audience will be interested to see how well the ballerina achieves her balances in, say, the “Rose Adage”, but if she fails, the initial shock is usually followed with much sympathy. The ballerina is more likely to suffer wounded pride than actual physical injury.

Many activities involve pushing the body to extremes. The important thing is to know when to stop or serious physical consequences can ensue. Some classical dancers can display signs of premature aging if they continue to perform at too high a level for too long. The audience certainly don’t want that.

Like you, I deplore the commercial decent into gratuitous sex and violence exhibited by various media, and its effect on the suggestible young, but there is relatively little of it in the lyric arts. Nevertheless, I do detect something of a reaction to what there is amongst (older) UK audiences, which is rather the opposite of your contention.

Comments by a prominent ballet editor and critic expressing irritation over the bedroom scene in NBT’s Carmen for example, or members of the Opera community deploring sexual frolics on stage by somewhat well developed divas. The work of Sir Kenneth MacMillan was always contentious. Some RB supporters who hugely admire his choreography still wish he had never made “The Judas Tree”. To them ( and I am one ) the explicit portrayal of a hanging is an example of appalling bad taste. At the very least, scheduling the work without prior warning is unforgivable.

Artistic directors must have their fingers on the pulse.


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MAB

01-07-02, 12:11 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #4
 
   LAST EDITED ON 01-07-02 AT 12:12 PM (GMT)

Actually there was nothing very new about the hanging in The Judas Tree. The leading dancer in Petit's Le Jeune Homme et la Mort hanged himself onstage in a ballet created around 40 years earlier. But the Petit work was inspired, MacMillan's was not.


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AnnWilliams

01-07-02, 12:24 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #4
 
   >Some RB supporters who hugely admire his choreography still wish he had never made “The Judas Tree”. To them ( and I am one ) the explicit portrayal of a hanging is an example of appalling bad taste. At the very least, scheduling the work without prior warning is unforgivable.<

And was the explicit portrayal of a hanging the only example of 'appalling bad taste' you could find in 'The Judas Tree'?


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Flight

01-07-02, 06:12 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #6
 
   Isn't there a hanging in Las Hermanas, or is that just me?


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alison

04-07-02, 01:19 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #7
 
   No, there's one in there as well, it's just a little better concealed.


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BrynJns

03-07-02, 06:22 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: More cats and pigeons - Claude Bessy on injuries (1986)"
In response to message #6
 
   No Ann, it was not.


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