(Note: This post should in no way be construed as a bashing any dancer. It is just an illustration of the changing ballet technique)
I recently saw on another board a discussion regarding the changing aesthetics of ballet. Specifically, examining the Grand Pas Classique.
I had never actually seen this Pas prior to seeing the discussion. However, after digging deeper (i.e. watching tons of videos on youtube) I was surprised to see how this particular piece has changed. First here is a really great video comparing several generations of the women’s variation:
I the most noticeable difference is always the extensions, but overall I would say the choreography has not changed much. I have to admit I am partial to Platel’s version. It seems very crisp and not over done.
Next, here is Sylvie Guillem. Here, she demonstrates the more modern aesthetic we are accustomed to today:
Her attitude seems more exaggerated and her battements are definitely higher.
Here is a recent version from the Youth America Grand Prix. I would say the extensions are taken to the extreme here. However, I have noticed this is necessary to place at YAGP:
Now, let’s examine the full pas:
Around 1:20, they start a series of supported turns into a balance. The male then does a tour en l’air and the female goes down on her knee at the same time as the male. You will see she struggles with the last two balances, however, this seems like a balance many ballerinas have difficulty with:
This balance seems to be a recent addition to the pas. This 1974 video shows the female going straight into a kneeling position prior to the male’s jump:
So it seems that this particular variation has changed over the years, just as many have. Specifically, the technical demands on the ballerina have grown. Her extensions must be higher, he balances longer.
Is this good or bad for ballet? Is the technique really improving or just changing?