Four Keys to the Future

I hardly have time to write, nowadays, but what will become of Dance, and more specifically about Ballet, is always in mind. I worry, as you know, about their vitality and future.

I was reading this blog of Greg Sandow on the future of classical music (a passion, but I do not follow and study like Dance), and came upon this, that… could have been written for Dance, just by replacing the word music!

Since the link doesn’t embed in the text, I quote:

“We’re in a new era. To adapt to it, and build a new audience, here are four things you should do:

Understand and respect the culture outside classical music. 

Your new audience will come from the world outside classical music. Where else could it come from? And to reach these new people, you of course have to know them. Who are they? What kind of culture do they already have? You have to respect them, because if you don’t, they won’t respect you.

Work actively to find your audience.

The people you want to reach may not yet care about classical music. So they won’t respond to conventional PR and marketing. They won’t come to you on their own. And so you have to actively go out and find them. You have to talk to them where they live, where they work, and where they go for entertainment and for inspiration. You have to inhabit their world.

Be yourself.

Your urgency, your joy, and your passion will draw people to you. But you can’t be joyful if you don’t love the music that you perform. So never pander. Never struggle to be relevant. Perform music that makes your heart sing. Trust your new audience. Trust it to be smart, to be curious, and to respond with joy when it sees how joyful you are.

Make music vividly.

The people you reach will want to love the music you bring them. But can you meet them halfway? Are you bringing them something they really can love? Your performances should be entirely yours, performances nobody else could give. Your music should breathe. Contrasts should feel like they’re contrasts. Climaxes should feel like climaxes. Are you doing everything you can to bring your music alive?”

I’m grateful for Greg Sandow, prolixe me would never be able to write such a splendid resume!

Link to full text

 

Is the wisdom of turn-out being questioned?

It happens I greatly admire a dancer that some (great experts, I suppose) “accuse” of having poor turn-out. I did not care, because it does not impair the beauty of his dancing at all. But then, I read some western reviewers that saw a causal connection between “faulty” turn-out and height of jumps. When I was a dancer myself, a long time ago, I did not hear a single word about this, and it triggered my curiosity now.

I have not found  (yet?) objective information on this connection. Those reviewers used it to explain why Russian dancers jump higher: they would also have “poor” turn-out more often than western dancers, and there would reside their ability to reach greater heights.  The connection may be just one of those myths that grow, who knows how, in every community, but… may Russian dancers jump higher or not,  may their turn-out be perfect or not…  I must say:  it makes sense!

But I also found out some disturbing objective, REAL facts about turn-out: it is responsible for shortening the active career of many dancers, because it wears out all articulations, ligaments and tendons from hips down to toes! Of course! It is logical, isn’t it? It’s an unnatural position, constantly exerting strain on them!

My teachers used to say turn-out was needed for balance. I recently asked some gymnastics physical trainers (not ballet teachers this time) how exactly it helped me stay still on point. They laughed… and I felt cheated! It’s just how, or where, you place the weight of your hip bones and head above your feet, one said, and to a lesser degree, on the strength of your calf and back bones to keep them there. You may be in the craziest position, the other one said, just find your center of gravity and place it in a vertical line above your foot and you are in balance. Hm.

Please, don’t think I would wish to wipe turn-out  out of ballet! There is no way an arabesque will look beautiful with a heel protruding skyward! And an attitude would cease to be an attitude, to become just… a foot pointing up behind your back. An entrechat would be impossible (just think! what a mess!)… and it certainly helps you place your hips correctly and not look like a duck in pliés (it helps, but is not indispensable).

But on the other hand… running through the stage with your feet turned-out is NOT beautiful, it looks,  BE TRUTHFUL NOW!… ridiculous!!! We dancers and ballet lovers, including myself, just became used to this strange aesthetic, and do not question it anymore.  When I allowed myself to see its oddness, I remembered that Juliet running down the stairs with turned-out knees and feet always made me cringe, and vaguely wish something was different… BE TRUTHFUL AGAIN: it looks NOT graceful!

If it depended on me. I would ask female dancers to walk and run keeping 12h in their mind, instead of 14:45h, and male dancers to walk/run using their feet in the most comfortable way…

I analyzed a lot of steps and positions, and came to the conclusion that several of them would be more graceful if legs and feet were in a more natural position… and that turn-out is not needed for several others – the taking-off and landing in big jumps being just one of the examples.  How things came to be the way they are? How did ballet become so unnatural? Why?
Would it not be wiser to use full turn-out only where it is really needed, and keep dancers dancing for a longer time?

Oh, my goodness, this sounds as anarchism in my own ears, but maybe it IS being questioned nowadays, and I just don’t know – after all, my technical knowledge is not extensive or up to date. I hope so: why not question standards that are unhealthy  and/or ungraceful?

I doubt, anyway, Petipa was half as keen on full, perfect turn-out as ballet experts are nowadays…

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!

Uffff – too many issues!

I’m having trouble feeding my blog, because I have so many issues dancing (!) around on my head… I’m writing about all of them at the same time, and nothing is ever ready to post! I’m so confused I posted  THIS before it was ready, sorry!

mess of letters

Issue #1: the recent episode of  Bolshoi x Stanislasvski conflict involving Ivan Vasiliev brought back memories of several similar conflicts, involving both him and other dance professionals, that often guest around the world. It made me reflect on the current ability of ballet companies to effectively cope with the changes in their reality: the increasing numbers of independent great stars; the cost/benefit of their productions; customer satisfaction; visible aging of their audience in live performances; globalization of information; the new ways (mostly digital and far from ideal, but THERE, their importance increasing as we speak) to access ballet/dance productions; the inadequate competitive attitude in a risk situation. I wonder if their funding agencies impose restrictions to effective management? It seems (lack of information!) they have, most of them, professional managers, so why are they so slow to adapt? Does that sound too businesslike? Well, it should!!! Dance companies, as every enterprise and institution nowadays, CANNOT ignore good business practices! Ignore them, nowadays, is to be doomed!

Issue #2: important dance professionals in UK complained about UK dancer’s training – they say contemporary dance schools do not prepare them well enough. On it’s wake, I became aware of information on UK’s Dance audience’s, agencies and training (I did not know where to find that, before). There is a LOT to think and ponder about here, and I follow the debate, and write to clear my ideas, and re-think, and get new information, and re-write… It has been highly interesting, but I’m still processing all these new data!

Issue #3: the general Prodigal Son Parable feeling about Ivan Vasiliev’s “return” to Bolshoi, and its consequences – there are very nice, really exciting consequences, and also, I foresee, some that may not be that nice. As always, Ivan Vasiliev has my interest as himself, but also as an emblematic dancer who raises issues that go far beyond him. There is a difficult, tense, even painful trade-off between an artist’s right and need of independency, and the means to realize his artistry – in Performance Arts even more than other kinds of Art. When I see dancers and choreographers potential unfulfilled, I long for them to find a “home” to fully realize them, but… which of the dance agencies available nowadays is willing to let them realize their potential to it’s full extent? Not a new question, and I don’t have an answer! I keep a keen eye on all agencies I can… there seems to be a great polarization: those “homes” that can afford to stage properly the greater ones, are the less bound to favour their individuality, and vice-versa! Either way, the artist looses, and WE loose!… that’s why I cannot but worry and wonder about solutions! This issue, obvioulsy, is related, but not the same, as Issue#1.

Issue #4: what is Dance about, nowadays? A recent interview of my amazing Natalia Osipova brought me once again to this issue. She is SO accomplished, I cannot imagine a more beautiful 2nd Act Giselle as hers, OR a more fiery Kitri, and the improbable possibility of a dancer to excel the way she excels in BOTH prooves her greatness! She is, however, haunted by doubts about herself, and seeks harder and harder for perfection, but to such an extent! it broke my heart…! Problem is, to be perfect does not mean, necessarily, to create magic, and she, sensitive as she is, KNOWS that, and fears that. Is perfection important to create an objet d’art? If at all, in what ways, and what KIND of perfection? When I reflect about this, I always feel Terpsichore – “the joy in dancing” – looking, very interested, over my shoulder…

Issue #5: I have a post to finish about overuse of strange – and ugly – movements and costumes in contemporary dance (that I love). I’m reticent about them, and try to explain why  – just a humble, but as so often here, radical personal opinion. It involves body-language, the symbolic universe of a culture, and relates the way we see and interpret movements with words, smells and music – for now. I wouldn’t dare to question their artistic value or the creator’s need of them, but I can give a feed-back on how I receive/perceive them!

… and new issues keep arising!

It strikes me as little odd that in “other lives I lived”, in business, science, human science – and for all I can see but lived not, in other kinds of Art and every other organized human activity, issues like that are deeply important and openly and fiercely discussed… but I find so little open discussion and open opinions in Dance! I want to stand up and cry BRAVO everytime I see someone dismiss platitudes and state unconformity in a loud voice! … in good time, all these voices will grace this pages! But they are few, too few…

Quote of the day – Alina Cojocaru

In an interview when she was still principal of Royal Ballet, in August 2012:

jr_fille_cojocaru_close_012_500“I try to go on stage and be honest with myself. I can only rely on my feelings. My main aim is to share what I feel with my audience. When I go on stage I forgive myself if my show’s not perfect, but I don’t forgive myself if I did not become who I should be on stage. (…)
What I love about working in Hamburg is the creative environment. Even working on ballets that have been created so many years ago, you can bring something to it, and feel like you’re still part of it, bringing ideas to the ballet. That’s nowhere to be found in London of course. You have the people in charge of the ballet trying to protect the choreography… protecting it to keep it looking like it used to be. I do respect the choreographers [but] it’s a constant battle there to bring something to every ballet I perform, to bring something new into the old.”

…but then Neumeier created Liliom for her in Hamburg, she won the Benois Prize on it, and moved on to Tamara Rojo’s now revolutionary ENB. Our luck! When she is on stage, her deeds speak for themselves  – she IS what she says! Admirable dancer… AND person!

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A battle to bring something new, of her own, to a ballet?  Indeed!

What are they so afraid of, there in Royal Ballet? Protecting choreography is more important than “ME”, in the audience? Odd way of thinking – choreographies are already very well recorded, that should be enough!

How nice there is ENB now, where I’m taken into account… I don’t have any doubts where I will chose to be in my ballet evenings – there where Tamara Rojo and Alina Cojocaru will be giving us new choreographers, new ballets, new, individual, ways of performing the worn out old roles! 

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.

Limitation and Innovation: the Art of Making it Work Anyway

Just found this post, I liked the ideas and comments, makes you think…

Nadia In Her Own World

On Monday, I went to a lecture by Twyla Tharp about her book The Creative Habit. Her talk included some ideas about how to develop creativity and stories of her own experiences as, peppered with a fair share of strong opinions and unfiltered sass. But what really interested me was hearing the about her modest choreographic beginnings and the extent to which her early career was shaped by adaptation to circumstance.

Her presentation stressed the importance of structure as a framework for creative innovation. This principle, though it might sound a little contradictory to someone with a more romanticized notion of free-flowing creativity, should ring true with anyone who has ever taken an improv class and realized that the instruction “go across the floor without lifting your left elbow off the ground” results in a lot more interesting movement than “just do anything,” or even anyone who has found themself making more progress on a paper during…

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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;

IVAN VASILIEV ACTED SOCKS OFF…

I surrender! I thought I had already seen one Swan Lake too much, but PLEASE I WANT TO SEE THIS ONE!
I was hopeful on the Alina+Vasiliev partnership, but they exceeded by far my expectations. “Poetry in Motion”, indeed! “Like vodka and caviar”!

Of all that was written about this Swan Lake, I liked Sarah Crompton’s informal tweet the most: “Impressive Swan Lake @ENBallet last night. @DancingAlina on heart-breaking form and Ivan Vasiliev acted socks off as well as flying thro air”…

The first review I read must have been written shortly after the performance – it appeared only a few hours after. It made me so happy I suffered from a recurring beaming smile all day long – a day with lot of appointements, I had to wait impatiently until the evening to learn more about audience and review reactions – and then I was even happier. Yes, I am a fan of both of them, specially Vasiliev, but what was more important was they had proved, even to myself, to what degree what this blog defends is justified and right.

I knew that Alina Cojocaru is wonderful, excelling both in technical as in acting skills -I’m her fan.  “Her Act IV, though, is terribly affecting, all frail hopelessness in the knowledge of her inescapable approaching death.” The swan role may fit her like a glove, but she went well beyond dancing it beautifully.
Vasiliev’s case is different. Audience and reviewers had identified him with his bravura roles to such level, that they did not know, anymore, where the role (even choreography) ended and Vasiliev began… they could not stop seeing this “chimera” everywhere, and it was getting worse during last year. Some are still mixing things up, but as a whole, the stunned reaction to Swan Lake is a relief: it seems he was able to lift at least some of the confusion resting upon their minds.
Swimming against the current (a pretty strong one), I always saw his stage behaviour as just acting, not a new personality – probably because I always valued Vasiliev’s expressive power as much or even more than our usual tricks – because of the way I see Dance. His performances in widely different kinds of roles are always in my mind, I try not to be fooled by the stage-filling showman of bravura roles. Since the beginning I placed heavy bets on his acting talent – again and again he has proved me right, stepping well outside any stereotyped image and making a great job of bringing content to dance. Every time this happens, I forget my place as the grateful fan of a great dancer, and become SO proud of him, this unwittingly champion of this blog’s position! With his Siegfried, he once more showed that long-standing rules of Ballet (like emploi) should be viewed suspiciously, and that a lot of assumptions and prejudices that had been piling up about and against him were just  *********, I mean, silly.

But I was wrong too, in my prejudice against what I call hard-classical ballets – I believed they were hopelessly pure form – dismissable except for being beautiful – and he rekindled my interest in them…

“…one its finest current interpreters…”, ” …I hope ENB might think of persuading him to return in Giselle as he would excel in this too…”, said one reviewer.

So much for emploi…

His triumph. And winning one more challenge,  he also gives Dance one more push forward. Great!!!

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Important reviewers must be intellectual, knowledgeable and sophisticated in their opinions, or they would not be reviewers. I suppose they struggle hard against being carried away, so they can give us an objective, expert-wise opinion. It’s their loss (see Sir Ashton’s quote in this blog). I’m relieved I’m not under that obligation, and free to enjoy without second thoughts.

Most reviewers, specially the important ones, dwelled, once more, in… “their usual tricks”, as I will call them from now on: lenghty paragraphs on Vasiliev’s body shape and technical flaws. (Sigh). His height and thigs, AGAIN? do they not tire? It has become a boring issue by now – all audience knows how he looks by now, since all have eyes, too! And are able, and entitled to form their own opinions on the visual aesthetic of dancing, ’emploi’ or not. And technical flaws: boring TOO! all non-experts  are unable to see them – provided they are there, of course – so what should they do: start looking for them and spoil the pleasure on the play as a whole?….

Dance reviewers should consider – seriously! – stop writing from a Dance millieu’s perspective, and start writing to a larger audience. This kind of remark neither informs me of something more I should know, nor is helpful to a growing understanding of Dance. What the audience would like to know is: what was so special about this performance, that made me like it so much – or what was wrong with this performance, that I couldn’t like it?  THIS is educational… If a dancer makes such technical blunders that it spoiles the whole thing, this is the moment to point them out, and explain them – the audience will understand, and then avoid similar experiences. If they loved a performance, and a reviewer sees flaws only an expert can see, what should they do? Repent of their liking and start disliking?

Dance x Theater, why so different?

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Two kinds of acting: traditional in the corps and Giselle’s mother, and believable body-language in Albrecht.

What are the differences, and similarities, between Theater and Dance?  I began to think about because I always wonder why acting, in Dance, is so peculiar. I’m by far not an expert, but I can figure at least some common-sense  answers for myself:

  • Both use live human beings as their media
  • Both use stage
  • Both have thinkers (writer/choreographer) , doers (actors/dancers), and enhancers (designers)
  • Theater specifically uses voice to communicate through words
  • Dance specifically uses the body to communicate through movements
  • Through the voice you can easily express any kind of idea, even complex ones, like Marx ideas about added-value, or how to solve Pithagoras Theorem
  • Through the voice you can express emotion, but the voice alone rarely is enough, almost always body-language will have to be added
  • Through the body you can NOT express complex ideas,
  • Through the body you can easily express concepts and emotion
  • Theater sometimes uses technology to override its media limits (microphones)
  • Dance uses no technology except pointe-shoes (interesting idea: if Theater uses microphones, could Dance use spring-boards, or roller-skates? ok, ok, no need to shake yourselves in horror, I was just wondering…)
  • Both produce a structured result: there is a text/choreography to be delivered, there is a chronological and spatial organization of things.
  • Both must “touch” the audience with their product, must express something that makes people care, be stirred, be enchanted, be shocked: both must ellict an emotional or intellectual response in the audience, or are pointless. I will call this “magic”, because its simpler and sounds so good.

They are not so different, are they? Their media is different, the range of ideas and emotion they can express are not coincident, and Theater has more freedom, in that it not so limited to and by its principal media.  And there are a lot of similarities…

BUT. This was theory, in practice differences are greater.

Acting, HOW you express whatever there is to be expressed, is very different.  In what ways, exactly?

To begin with, in classical Ballet and in some contemporary Dance too, some believe Dance should be pure Form, no acting at all. I quote Mr. Alastair Macauley:

“Ms. Ferri, a captivating nymphet from the first, soon became a star in the sexy, histrionic dance-dramas for which MacMillan was best known. During her years with the Royal Ballet (1980-85) she was in danger of becoming its onstage Lolita, with less technical precision and strength than a complete ballerina needs. (…) Remembering the astoundingly liquid beauty of her graduation “Concerto” performance, I can’t help sighing for the pure-dance side of Ms. Ferri that her audience has never seen again”.

(…)

“Some ballerinas are freaks, bizarre extremes who make you see only the oddness of the art, but Ms. Bussell shows you its rightness, its proportion, its glory, all on an immense scale. No, she’s not an actress.”

Art as pure Form involves complicated discussions even among experts, totally beyond my undestanding, it seems its defenders believe that “aesthetic experience” (this is how the particular kind of response to just Form is called) is capable of changing things, or someone.

In my common-sense, probably gross and oversimplified way to see things, “Art” as pure Form is created mostly by “artists” that are no real Artists, during, but mostly at the end of an art movement (I mean Gothic, Barocque, Symbolism…), using just the typical formal elements of that movement (and insisting on using them even when this movement has run its course and is emptying itself because of social and culture changes), without being able to add the necessary Content that creates magic.

AND “pure, spiritual aesthetic experience”, from a psychoanalytical point of view, sounds like sublimation: if you are sublimating person, you will want to avoid real Art, the kind that needs Form+Content to create magic – because you will want to avoid the kind of response it ellicits in you. But that’s another discussion.

Anyway, there ARE a lot of Dance works that use acting in some way. So, let’s see.

In Theater, if you want to make people THINK, that is, an intellectual reaction, you use “defamiliarization” or “estrangement”, a formalistic approach. It’s used mainly in plays with denouncement goal, on social and political issues. Almost always estrangement is already embedded in the text, and/or the staging, like in Brecht’s plays. Even in formalistic Theater plays, however, the actor is almost always asked to perform in the non-formalistic way.

You use the non-formalistic way when you want to have an emotional response. You will, in this case, try to believable, to be true to life, to be just like people in the audience are, or could be, so they can identify themselves with what is going on on stage. Both text and acting must try to acchieve  that the audience “suspends disbelief”. This is so important, a lot of methods and techniques were developed in the last 130 years to help actors to be believable, like Stanislawski’s or Lee Strasberg’s.

This is Theater, but what is acting in Dance?

Well, I know what it should be: exactly like in Theater!!!…  Why? Because  IT WORKS, obviously…

Instead, in Ballet, the most popular kind of acting is what I call “larger-than-life” (neither of the above – and it may have a proper fancy name). It resembles closely the silent movies made around 1910-20: extra-grand, abrupt gestures, exaggerated facial expression, staring eyes, and so on. This kind of mime is considered  good acting in Ballet, but in Cinema and Theater it was already in total disuse in the fourties (that’s at least 70 years ago!!!) – so Ballet is this small island of anachronism in XXI century – that has still it’s fans:  its own, private, small, anachronic audience.

AND Ballet has no magic outside this audience.

Thought Experiment——————————

I’m a school principal, and want to turn my older students into Dance fans. They are regular teenagers, living in a a regular city zone, tattoed, chewing-gum youths who love videogames, rap or rock, and their smartphones.

So I show them Yacobson’s Spartacus (lonk below)…

Can you imagine their reaction?

I can think of many works I could show them instead, Petite Mort by Kílian, Facada and Mercy performed by Vasipova, Friedeman Vogel’s Mopey, Moonstruck (link in this blog), Hasta Donde by Schorman,  Chekaoui’s Puz/zle,  Bolero performed by Sylvie Guillem, any ballet by Eifman, Serenity by Arsen Mehrabian…  What is their reaction now?

… see my point?

To hook them , at first my selection has to address issues that are central in their lives (it must have Content): relationship problems, sex, violence, with lively, beautiful and original choreography and staging (its Form has to be in tune with our times). And I have to make them realize that male dance evolved and  is now striking and manly, or the whole football team and their fans will simply dismiss the whole thing.

Now that the chewing-gum crowd realized Dance is cool!, I may proceed to a nice passionate version of MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet (Ferri & Corelo’s, for example), or Notre-Dame, or Bourne’s Swan Lake,  Le Jeune Homme, Mayerling. By this time, Grigorovitch’s Spartacus (Ivan Vasiliev performing!) would please not only the girls, the football team would find it awesome! They would become used to Ballet’s visual and learn about dancing skills and difficulties, and eventually  I could bring them even an entertaining  classical one like Don Quixote (although the middle-part, like in Flames, would still bore them).

But see, I believe Yacobson’s Spartacus would Always be out of limits, no way they would think it cool, unless as something-so-absurd-it- is-funny-to-watch!

Out of limits too, would be Sherezade and Le Corsaire, they are excessively kitsch, plot included, and that is an unforgivable sin in their “Weltanschauung”… But there are classical  ballets that, with a less traditional (meaning kitsch) production, less mime and better acting, could please teenagers, and a far wider audience too: The Prodigal Son, Raymonda. In their present state, however, most would be out of limits too – they may have an appealing Content to teenagers, but their Form is so dated they cannot grasp or enjoy it.

An old choreography, production or performance is really timeles (Art…)  if it is able to eventually interest someone young that is NOT a dancer – this is my criteria to judge them, sorry if you don’t like it! There are many ballets that have great value inside the Dance millieu (mentioned audience included), but cannot please, or have no interest, to a wider audience.

Pure-form Balanchine and pure-form contemporary would probably bore them to death…

You may say:  my students are of NO interest as audience , at all, how could Art please such unsophisticated, unprepared…  creatures?

OOOoohhhh! But that’s precisely my point! When Art is REALLY (love this word, specially in uppercases!) Art, it does not need a special audience, it has “magic” to anyone!  My creatures would be perfectly able to enjoy a good, powerful  performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth , for example, I bet they would even turn their smartphones off… If they cannot enjoy Dance, it’s because there is something wrong with Dance, not with them!

UPS!!

Now I make a fast exit to the left, before someone damages his notebook trying to throw things at me…

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Here is a link to a few seconds of Yacobson’s Spartacus, performed  in  8th-grade Vaganova’s acting exam, followed by some professional performances.  Watch, and imagine!