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Subject: "Do video achievements count for much!?" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #521
Reading Topic #521
Bruce Madmin

16-02-00, 04:06 PM (GMT)
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"Do video achievements count for much!?"
 
   I've just dipped into POB X where video's are being mentioned a fair bit and the achievements of POB in the 80's are being applauded but unless I'm much mistaken based primarily on what was captured on video. While I will respond there later, I wanted to throw this open to a wider debate...

So is video a good way to calibrate a dancers achievements or a companies achievements?

Is it possible to talk with authority about a dancer just based on video evidence in a role and never having seen them dance it in the flesh? I'm not into making cheap points here - while I personally would be very unwilling to make judgements based purely on video I can see others feel differently and was interested in what the broad view of video was in this context....

Personally I find it very hard to compare dancers I've seen in the flesh with others only seen on video. I see them almost as different arts... Somehow I'm not really sure I 'trust' video to convey what really happened.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Estelle 16-02-00 1
     RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Bruce Madmin 16-02-00 2
         RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Eugene Merrett 16-02-00 3
             RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Marie 16-02-00 4
                 RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Eugene Merrett 16-02-00 5
                     RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Catherine 17-02-00 6
                         RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Stuart Sweeney 17-02-00 7
  RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Helen 17-02-00 8
     RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Eugene Merrett 17-02-00 9
         RE: Do video achievements count for much!? eugene merrett 17-02-00 10
             RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Bruce Madmin 17-02-00 11
         RE: Do video achievements count for much!? Anneliese 18-02-00 12

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Estelle

16-02-00, 04:31 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #0
 
   Well, even if I was among those who mentioned videos in that POB thread, I think one has to be very cautious with videos. If a dancer looks great on a video, then there must be a reason for it, but some dancers might look bad on videos and be great on stage (and also it depends on the conditions of the filming: a video made in studios can't be compared with a live video...) Also, in general I think it's unfair to judge a dancer on a few performances/ videos only.

But sometimes videos are the only way to see some dancers, when they've retired (which is almost the case with Elisabeth Platel), or when you can't travel to see them perform... Of course it's not as great as real performances, but it still is better than nothing! Also, good ballets deserve to be seen many times to be fully appreciated, and it's far cheaper to see a video many times than to buy tickets for tenths of performances.

I wish there were more good available videos in France (I don't know the UK market). The POB has released a few videos in recent years, but it's mostly Nureyev's productions (which I often don't like), and for example they still haven't done any video of "La Sylphide" or "Giselle" (what a pity they didn't film it before Platel and Loudieres retired!) In most stores, only a handful of videos are available (mostly POB, Kirov and Bolshoi, with
sometimes a few RB or ABT videos, often not in French video SECAM format).


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Bruce Madmin

16-02-00, 04:56 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #1
 
   I think videos are good for all the reasons you mention. But here is a specific query..

Say there was dancer captured on video a number of times 10-20 years ago, but you never saw them dance - or possibly once or twice but at the end of their career when perhaps the odd allowance might have to be made. Based purely on that evidence can you rank that dancer against the present day dancers and say they were better, worse, nearly as good or whatever?

For myself I don't think I can really do that. I could say such things as "my they looked very impressive" but I don't think I could draw definitive or anywhere near definitive conclusions just based on video. Its probably just me!

Er... this is a question for everybody...


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Eugene Merrett

16-02-00, 05:57 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #2
 
   It can be argued that a dancer may perform far better on a live stage then a sterile studio. There is something unique about the stage that can never be duplicated in a studio. On the otherhand dancers take more risk in a studio then live becaue if they fall the scene can be reshot.


I am sceptical about the arguements that dancers may not deliver all on video. They are professional who should be able to perform 100% in any venue providing physical conditions are satisfactory (temperature, floor etc). Classical musicians seem to cope very well in studio recording halls.

Regarding video of La Sylphide. There is a stunning video of La Sylphide with Ghesilaine Thesmair filmed in 1970. It uses the original score which although not quite as good as the usual Bourneville score (cannot spell the name of the composer) is quite adequate. Alas it is only available in the US on the Kultur label. It is a wonderful video and anyone who has a video machine capable of playing it should watch it.


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Marie

16-02-00, 06:47 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #3
 
   This video of La Sylphide is with Guislaine Thesmar and Michael Denard from POB.It's the first and original version of La Sylphide by Philippe Taglioni , the father of Marie Taglioni .It was created in march 1832 in Paris.The danish Bournonville who saw this ballet at its creation wanted to make his own version , he did it in 1836 and asked Lovenskjoeld to compose him another music since he couldn't get the original music partition of Jean Schneitzhoeffer.Taglioni's Sylphide had a lot of success , it was danced in Berlin , Wien , London ,Milano , St Petersburg and even in New York.But it was abandoned after the death of Emma Livry and disappeared from the Opéra's repertory in 1863.Pierre Lacotte recreated this disappeared ballet by looking at original maquettes , reading the critics of that period , reading Taglioni's correspondence etc... and filmed this ballet in 1972.Since then , POB has it in its repertory and I saw it last july.It was really enchanting , I could of imagine being in 19th century!


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Eugene Merrett

16-02-00, 07:04 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #4
 
   Thank you for that information.

There is something about that ballet which I find very powerfull. It is the embodiment of early and dark Romantiscm .There are no frail vulnerable girls who drop dead when thier fiancee betrays them. (ok there is Effie but she is minor player and promptly marries someone else when James does a runner). Instead it is a ballet with a lot of pain, hate and ultimately dispair.

The Sylphide is no angel - she is captivating, mischevious yet seemingly so innocent. No wonder why James is so entrance by her.

I think the lack of geniunely sympathetic characters make this ballet less popular then say Giselle.

I always associate this ballet with Schubert darker lieders. His songs are full of the super natural and of pain and anguish. Rather like La Syphide.

La Sylphide deserves more respect as a ballet!


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Catherine

17-02-00, 01:14 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #5
 
   I think video is useful to have remembers of the period. We can even see if a dancer is good or not. I have too many video and I'm happy to have it because I can compare the different school, the different styles, the different dancers. And it's sad to not have all POB Ballet in video. They must more attention and they film more and more because we have a public who can't go to Opera and like that he could discovert this art I qualify greater than Sing.
We must go to Opera to see what is really a ballet but I think video can offer luck to people to discover and to have courage to make dance. Legris always said he made dance after seeing Nureyev and Fonteyn in Swan Lake.
I think it's necessary to film ballet. And it's useful for dancers which can learn with it. I Know that in POB, too many dancer learn rule after video record, because they can repeat on studio, they don't have too many coach to learn rules. It's a mean to learn and to keep in memory all the beautiful things it exist


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Stuart Sweeney

17-02-00, 07:03 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #6
 
   I guess I take a position on videos somewhere between Bruce and Eugene - I'm renowned for standing up for my right to be wishy-washy.

It is much more difficult to produce a successful video than a music CD. But, if it is done well then solos, pdds and small ensemble work can give a good view of a work. What is really difficult are the sections involving the Corps. Little figures in the distance are one of the dullest things on film.

Videos I've seen that work very well are:

- 'Swansong' and it is clear to me and others, from the video, that Koen Onzia is a superb dancer

- The POB 'Les Noces', which had me in tears with the beauty of Nijinska's tableaux.

Most of the time I expect videos not to give the atmosphere and the emotional impact of live performance. Thus the Houston Ballet 'Ghost Dances' is interesting, but seeing the Rambert performance live meant much more to me.

I am delighted that future generations will be able to make up their own minds about Guillem, Durante, Mukhamedev etc in their prime. Oh, that we could see Markova, Nijinski, Massine et al in the same way.

'Interesting' fact No.1. When you look in Dance Books at the videos, you'll see that a lot of them were directed by Thomas Grimm in Denmark. This was a dedicated facility for recording dance and Grimm has an unfussy style that lets you forget about the filming - it was probably the best facility for dance filming ever seen with rehearsal studios for the dancers et al. Sadly it is no more.

'Interesting' Fact No.2. Turning to another topic on video, it's worth remembering that the Video Place in London's The Place has recordings of all the works that have been peformed there in recent years plus a lot of other material - some 2000 recordings, from memory. To access it (like a reference library) you need to join Dance Services for £20 pa.


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Helen

17-02-00, 07:31 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #0
 
   I don't believe that you can really make comparisons or judgments of dancers based on impressions from video alone, but you do get some idea. For instance, I saw enough of POB on video to know that I wanted to see them in reality. I don't consider the video to be reality, just a sort of indication.

Eugene's comparison with classical music recordings is interesting. Musicians may cope all right,but a modern classical recording, unless it's live, is fairly artificial. (I've done them,as a choir singer.) It's a feat of engineering, rather than a performance, by the time the best takes have been cobbled together, the balance altered, and the odd bar edited in. The sections of a piece aren't even necessarily recorded in the right order.I don't know if ballet videos are made in the same way, but it seems likely. A CD is a good way to get to know a piece of music, or get some idea of a famous performer, but it's not alive,it has no real atmosphere. Of course, it's usually more "correct" than a live performance. The same goes for videos. I suppose the art of the producer is to make the finished product sound or look like a "real" performance.


.


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Eugene Merrett

17-02-00, 07:58 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #8
 
   I said that CDS are compromise not a perfect substitute.

I think the standards of CDs recordings are so high (providing you have a good systme) that I find it a pretty good compromise.

I tend to go to concerts for big and loud stuff like Verdi Reqiuem (my last really enjoyable concert) etc. These works really do shine in the concert hall.

I think that the advantages of live music over CDS are diminished for chameber music, instrumental or smaller scale works such as Mozart or Bach.


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eugene merrett

17-02-00, 08:21 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #9
 
   Just following on from my posting.

Videos do very well to capture the soloist and pdd. They are not so good for corp scenes although some directors have done very well to pull it off.

But no one has yet given a reason as to why a close up video of soloist doing say the Sugar Plum Fairy Variatons is so inferior to seeing it live that any judgement about the performance is impossible. I would argue that it is better to have it on video because you are having the best seat in the house. Moreover you can review or reassess her performances by "rewind" etc. Quite frankly I feel far more comfortable forming an opinion on Elizabeth Maurin by seeing on video then I would if I saw her live on stage unless I had the best seats in the house.

One comon arguement is on video the director dictates what you must see whilst live you can decide where to cast your eye. But that arguement does not really apply to solos as thre is nothing else you should be looking at other then the soloist. It is an argument more relevant to ensemble scenes.

Arguements such as no atmospere are very metaphysical and as such a matter of personal consciense. But when it comes to an evaluation of dancers ability I fail to see why a video performance is not satisfactory. The only possible grounds I feel are if the dancer does not feel comfortable in front of a camera and consequently is unable to give his/her best

Ironically it is music that suffer more from artificial reprodcution the ballet because you can never be to reproduce the true sound of an orchestra on even the very best audio systems. Yet CDs of music are far more common then videos of ballet.


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Bruce Madmin

17-02-00, 09:58 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #10
 
   >But no one has yet given a
>reason as to why a close
>up video of soloist doing say
>the Sugar Plum Fairy Variatons is
>so inferior to seeing it live
>that any judgement about the performance
>is impossible.

But Sugur Plum lasts a couple of minutes or so in a ballet that is 100 minutes long and with all manner of corps and other work going on. Surely one judges the complete performance and video is not so good for that. And a close up of a principal or soloist is just that - it looses the context of the bigger stage, the design and the arrangement of other dancers. While I too conctrate on soloists and principals I find I'm also looking at what else is happening live on stage and that too helps make the performance for me (or ruins it).

So I guess I'm not saying its impossible to compare a close up video to seeing something live (probably through binoculars) - just don't see it as so central to summing up a ballet.


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Anneliese

18-02-00, 06:16 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Do video achievements count for much!?"
In response to message #9
 
   No, no, no!!!!! (your last statement)


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