The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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What I hate about modern choreography March 15, 2013

Filed under: ballet — theworstat @ 6:54 pm

Yes, I did lift this from RBV, and I ask that you ignore the ignorant title he put on this video:

The racist ignorance and stupidity is, for once, not the point of this post.  The choreography (or lack thereof) is.  I really doubt one could find anyone, anywhere who has a kind word to say about this joke of a ballet.

I am a painter, and can tell you that painting in general went into a very long, persistent mode where painters were more designers than purveyors of any kind of visual truth.  There is still a very dominant school of what I call commercial fine artists.  Of course they can do “reality” as we know it, but instead they splash the canvas with color and leave it that way and call it a painting, rather than searching for a reason for anything.  Their paintings make nice decorations and that’s about it.  There is nothing to seek within them. Happily, the art of painting is emerging somewhat from this century-long headache, but it is happening slowly.

No, I am not totally against abstraction, but I do think it leads to a lot of bullshit art (excuse the term but it’s the most accurate I can think of).

Anyway, as painting emerges from its pain, ballet is coming down with the same ailment.  A symptom is bullshit choreography like what you see in the video above.  Totally dependent on props, the ballet says nothing about movement or feeling (other than that someone is sad or dead or something?). The eternal bliss of The Kingdom of the Shades is completely lost on whoever is responsible for this travesty.  It’s utterly materialistic, and completely misses the point.

I’m not against modern dance, but I do think its lack of one specific technique invites this sort of garbage to happen.  And I wonder why there is virtually no one choreographing new classical ballets.  There is still a ton of room there and great challenges.  No need to collapse into an orgy of set design masking the fact that all the dancers are doing is walking.

What trash.  And I’ll leave it at that.

P.S. I noted that the video has been taken down by YouTube.  Suffice it to say that the “ballet” depicted was nothing more than a bunch of dancers wedding-marching single-file through a set prop, to the glorious music of The Kingdom of the Shades.  Total crap.

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5 Responses to “What I hate about modern choreography”

  1. atlanticw Says:

    I agree. Aside from the ignorant comment, the clip is pretty bad. I mean, I get the whole parallel to Kingdom of Shades, but that was just bad.

    Does Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland count? It was nutcracker-ish but I still have enjoyed the videos I have seen. It seems like the only story ballet in a long time.

    I feel like Balanchine (sorry he comes up so much) kinda started this fire. It seems that he created this new genre of dance (neoclassical). Perhaps there should be more of a push to categorize classical and neoclassical ballet and not lump them together.

    Some of the new stuff is tantamount to an opera singer just hitting impressive notes, but not singing a song with a meaning. “In the middle somewhat elevated” comes to mind. Just really impressive physical feats but no real substance.

  2. Well I rather liked it. I thought it made imaginative use of the performance space while challenging the convention of dance being restricted to a flat stage. The lighting was ingenious and the dancers’ pedestrian shuffling profoundly resonated with the anonymity and loneliness so often found in our modern urban society.

    This subversion of the infamous Kingdom of Shades scene was a powerful and daring juxtaposition which I found particularly poignant. If Art is to remain vibrant and relevant we must be willing to challenge old (and even ‘sacred’) works and bring them – kicking and screaming if necessary – into a more modern setting.

    I am, of course, parodying the vile white wine sipping, pseudo intellectual art crowd who are wholly to blame for encouraging this kind of piddle.

    I too long for choreographers to stop navel gazing and pandering to the narcissism which has infected ballet over the last decade or two and actually choreograph some proper classical ballet for a change (both narrative and non narrative).

    RE Wheeldon’s Alice… FWIW I regard it as little more than ‘Alice in Wonderland on Ice’ only without the ice.

    “… all the dancers are doing is walking…”

    Philistine! 😉

  3. Jennifer S. Says:

    From a purely classical ballet perspective, this is bad. However it is not meant as another version of Kingdom of the Shades. Duarto is merely using Minkus’s score for that particular dance, so he is only referencing Kingdom of Shades as opposed to actual reconstruction of it.

    Sometimes classist need to see things that are jarring in order to be reminded of how wide of a spectrum dance can be expanded. This piece was not meant to be presented as classical ballet so it’s useless to judge it as such. Now viewing it as pure piece of dance- performance art theater, it is not a particularly innovative nor interesting work. That’s my assessment at least.

    But I definitely agree about lack of modern choreographers who work within the confines of classical ballet. Modern choreographers like McGregor or Forsythe make too much use of gymnastics and almost no footwork or so-called finesse techniques like petit allegro. The choice of music too often leave us audiences wonder if we’d just been to a techno club instead of ballet performance. I’d recently came out of a McGregor ballet with my ears literally ringing from sitting close to the stage and too close to the source of the score was emanating from. The score was just a constant loop of clashing, loud, asynchronized, techo-synth music.

    Now I actually am thankful when a choreographer like Ratmansky presents new works, because at least he uses mostly classical ballet vocabulary.

    • theworstat Says:

      I understand what you are saying, but I wasn’t judging this as a classical piece, let alone a remake of The Kingdom of the Shades.. I was judging it as a piece of trash, lol.


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