Quote of The Day – Paul Lightfoot

Tatyana Kuznetsova, respected Russian dance critic, asks: Why in such a small country like Holland, are there so many talented choreographers from different generations?

Lightfoot: Because in the Netherlands there was no ballet tradition. Clear field. The Dutch set up the first company  55 years ago – just decided it was time to get hold of their own ballet. getimageAnd yet – they are very tolerant, open to any culture, it is a historical feature. When the Dutch colonialists plied the oceans in their ships, they did not destroy them in new countries, they absorbed everything, studying around. Unlike English, which was perceived as hostile to any foreign culture. Therefore, in the Netherlands, with such a mentality, it was very easy to create an international ballet company.
And of course, there is good financial support from the state. Maybe not the same as in Russia, but still two-thirds of the money our NDT receives from the country and the city of The Hague. The Dutch sometimes ask: “Why do you call the company “Dutch”, if you have only three or four Dutch members?” And I say: “Look, it is international, but it also is Dutch, in that you know how to respect and use the culture of other nations.” For me, a foreigner, this is a great place to live.

Paul Lightfoot, choreographer, since 2011  Artistic Director of the Ballet company of NDT – Netherlands Dans Theatre. Interview in March 2016, when Paul Lightfoot and Sol de León were staging one of their works in Bolshoi.

Link to interview

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The outcome is a logical, direct consequence of the Culture policies in Netherlands, as much as its society  attitude regarding Art.
The countries where Concert Dance was traditionally stronger face nowadays a chronic shortage of really great choreographic work: England, Italy, France, Russia.  On the other hand, innovation is a constant in Netherlands, Scotland, Monaco, Germany…

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Ms. Tatyana Kuznetsova says herself: Unfortunately or fortunately, our country is unlikely to repeat the fate of France: “Contemporary dance in Russia will not become popular. In France, two things coincided: first, the revolution of flowers in the ’60s, when the whole of society updated, requiring a different aesthetic and ethical life, and second, the active support of the state. To modern dance to became widespread in Russia, we need the demands of upper and lower classes to be completely different.”

Link to interview

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Considering that Concert Dance is nowhere as loved as in Russia… sad! 

The outcome THERE is, they have a shortage of choreographers not only in contemporary, but in classical and neoclassical too. Choreographers and Artistic Directores who try anything new, from choreography to scenery, face so strong an opposition that they usually give up after no more than 2 or 3 years.

You must be really hard-skinned to introduce change, as the tale of Vladimir Kekhman shows. He was able to turn Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg into a thriving company, but innovation process  was far less dynamic than he wanted.  When he tried to do the same for Novosibirsk (Siberia), however, opposition was nothing less than furious. 

In consequence, Russian companies, more often than not  “import” works and choreographers when they decide to stage more up-to-date works – knowing they will meet supercilious disgust of a good part of the Dance community, and the complaints of dancers unused to move outside the classical standards.

Again… how sad that such a huge infrastructure, so much skilled professionals and a loving public are used just to perpetuate the past.

 

 

Quote of Day – Lisa Howell, Dance Physiotherapist

Now we’re seeing labral tears (tear in hip joint) and issues in their back in 11 and 12-year-olds, which is very disconcerting because while they’re doing these moves to make themselves better dancers, they are often actually ruling themselves out of a professional career because they are getting injuries so young.

Lisa Howell, Dance Physioterapist, among others, of Australian Ballet
Lisa Howell, Dance Physioterapist, among others, of Australian Ballet

Lisa Howell is Dance Physiotherapist in Australia, where dance is becoming more popular than any sport except swimming.

Here the whole text

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Worse thing is,  I don´t even like that gymnastics-look trend in Dance. I see at all these popular pictures, and great dancers like Natalia Osipova and Sarah Lamb being bent and twisted until almost being turned inside out, and see no beauty and no magic. Choreographers like Wayne MacGregor and Alastair Marriott seem keen on that kind of “dancing”, that feels to me, specially when it comes in plotless works – where it doesn’t have even the excuse of imparting a meaning – just like a kind of perversion of Dance should be.

Weird pics like that make me sad.
ba-Ako Kondo of The Australian Ballet by Dan Swinson

Alina Blakova and Oleg Gabishev in Rodin by Boris Eifman
Alina Blakova and Oleg Gabishev in Rodin by Boris Eifman

196fc597b6ec4124b4f0ef6fc2296560

You see these strange things done more often by female dancers. Why? Are they more flexible as a rule? I hope, because I would not like to think this is a new way to fetichize woman's bodies.

You see these strange things done more often by female dancers. Why? Are they more flexible as a rule? I hope so, because I would not like to think this is a new way to fetichize woman’s bodies.

Quote of the Day – Ismene Brown

“No dancer should be unconfident enough to need to read their reviews. What would they do? Try to adjust their performance? As Tamara Rojo once pointed out to me, which critic should she try to please?

Tamara Rojo
Tamara Rojo

(…)
The memorable interpreters and creators are those who burn us with the heat of the flame that propels them, they’re not asking us to help bring their hesitant little glow to life with our paper cuttings. They know when they felt they’d done well, got it right – and very likely there were no critics there at the time.”

Read the complete original

 

As to the point as Ms.Brown article, is the first comment made by a reader:
“I agree with the sentiment of the comment and it does not in the least bother me if I do not agree with what critics have written but … too many critics can make personal and unnecessary comments about the people they are reviewing and that is reprehensible doing a disservice to the artists, audience and readers.” JanMcN

I agree again!!

Ms. Brown writes: “As they [reviewers] write, they have no feelings about the performer at all, only a selfish interest in whether the interpreter delivered them, as spectators, what they sought, what they wanted to feel as a result of experiencing this work of art.”
We are often “graced”, however, with the reviewer’s opinion on the performer behind the role, on his character and private motivations… the work of art just a misty background! A missed opportunity to inform, educate and share appreciation of Art.

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I agree!! See  The Tower of Babel – Opinions on a Performance.

Quote of the Day – Tai Jimenez

What makes one’s dancing compelling is one’s love for it. What draws the eye is the ability to watch someone having a profound internal experience translated into the external physical world. As a dancer, you are a kind of translator for divine energy, the non-verbal prayer.” … “When dancing felt best to me, it was when all parts of myself, some I could name, and some I could not, danced together, without hierarchy.

TaiJimenez

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Terpsichore! she is talking about Terpsichore…

Tai Jimenez was Principal Dancer of The Dance Theatre of Harlem and with the Boston Ballet, and is a teacher now.

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This blog is, more than anything else, about the reception of Dance, about what we in the audience – I should better use “I”,  since my opinions are far from being an unanimity – want, wish, expect from Dance, and think/feel when see it. But often things get mixed up, because I want to understand what makes a performance compelling – and end up reading with great interest what dancers and choreographers have to say about their motivations and experiences.

Although it is meant for dancers, this prayer she wrote feels so right!, I had to quote it too:

“Dear Universe,
Help me to love myself as I am.
Let my dancing be an expression of that love.
Help me to recognize the Light in others
without diminishing my own Light
by falling into jealousy.
Help me to move through doubt, fear and self-hatred into the dance of Love.
Help me to love every part of my body without exception.
Help me to practice recovering quickly from my mistakes,
and to honor my limitations with patience
so that I may uncover the gift in the disguise of that limitation.
Help me to see through the obstacle of the Ideal Image
and to trust that my best is good enough.
Help me to nourish myself mind, body and soul
so that I may be a vessel for Grace,and help me
to let go so that I may be One with ecstasy.
Thank you for this day of dancing.”

Amen!
Anyone who has these wishes granted will certainly be a great pleasure to see dancing!

Quote of the Day – Twyla Tharp

twyla tharp“I don’t see it as pandering to the public when the work I do becomes slightly commercial in a sense, and succeeds. I always assumed that if one did quality work one would be like any other worker in our culture: able to support oneself, taking the responsibility of not being in an ivory tower.”

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In an interview to Sharon Basco in Cambridge (Creativity Forum at Lesley University), 27.04.2015.  Twyla Tharp has written extensively about knowing your audience, and creating work that connects with people.

Quote of the day – Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

“As a choreographer you always have a choice. Do you want to impress the audience with speedy movement, intricate footwork and tricks – or do you risk simplicity, and try to touch people with the facts of life and death that all of us experience?

The audience always knows if you’re going for flashiness at the expense of meaning.”  

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa - choreographer
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa – choreographer

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Oh, yes, we know! Sad thing is, even knowing, part of ballet’s public prefer empty flashiness, or pays attention only to the flashy aspects of a performance. I have seen dancers truly ripping themselves to impart the dramatic content, and being applauded in the middle of it, because of a well-done jump or something like that!  It outrightly shocks me!

But another part of the audience, where I include myself, cannot see worth in a piece that does not touch you, be it of the utmost simplicity, or include the flashiest features.  By the way, simplicity may be very hard to dance properly!

Quote of the day – Francis Patrelle

” CLASSICAL  DANCE  IS  SO  UNFORGIVING . ”

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I found this  quote as single sentence, out of context. It started so much associations in my mind that I decided not to search for the context, but let it stand there in all it’s shortness and possible meanings.

Quote of the day – Tennessee Williams

“Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive – that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims.”

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marlon-brando-vivien-leigh-21607
Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. Don’t they seem to be dancing?

One of Tennessee Williams’ most powerful plays, A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), became a movie (directed by Elia Kazan) that earned various Oscars at the time – a raw, heart-wrenching and desillusioned affair… and an absolute must-see!

 

 

 

 

Scottish Ballet
Scottish Ballet

Two choreographers did a great job translating   it to dance: Neumeier for Marcia Haydée and Stuttgart Ballet, in 1983, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, working together with movie director Nancy Meckler, for Scottish  Ballet (2012).

 

Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart Ballet

Neumeier play is in Stuttgart’s regular repertoire (scheduled next in May, 2015), and an item in my wish-list!

 

 

 

There was some dismissive nose-wrinkling, once more, on these kind of story-telling ballets, “a lesser kind of dance art”… If Tennessee Williams’ were to write a play equivalent to  a ballet without narrative, it would be made of meaningless sequences of beautiful words… and THIS should be some kind of “higher art”?  Oh, spare me!

Quote of the Day – Daniel Nagrin

“They don’t want to deal with people. They want to deal with things. They want to deal with extensions and plies and beats and words that don’t have to mean anything. They’re not interested in people. They’re not interested in you. They don’t plumb your depths. In other words, they’re not humanists.They’re playing with things.  They make dance a thing.  A thing.”
(interview when he was 85 years old, talking about post-modernism in Dance, exemplified by Merce Cunningham’s style).

Danile Nagrin was an actor and a dancer, choreographer and teacher. He wrote, among other books “The Six Questions: Acting Technique For Dance Performance”. He was deeply influenced by Stanislavski’s Method, and a fierce humanist.

I’m a fan!!! And we have something in common… in the Introduction of The Six Questions he says: “I may believe fiercely, but I’m sure of nothing.” (italics are his)  If you read my ABOUT, you know that’s exactly how I feel.

Link to the interview is: <http://jashm.press.illinois.edu/12.3/12-3Interview_Roses-Therma114-119.pdf&gt;