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Archive for the ‘Ballet Classes’ Category

A social media friend of this blog, Ballet Master Jonathon Levy has written an interesting article on LinkedIn in which he explores “Concepts about Training – realities and absurdities”

What is accepted is not always efficient. So how do we get ourselves, and others, to higher levels of efficiency without placing them, or ourselves, under more pressure than it is worth to achieve?

This article touches on aspects of dancer motivation and is relevant to this blog’s  focus. You can find the article here. If you have comments that are relevant to this blog, feel free to comment here as well as on Jonathon’s article.

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Here is an interesting look into the long day of a ballet dancer at The Australian Ballet (@TheAusBallet). Their love of dancing and performing is clearly behind their motivation. However, how does this “love” feel in the mind and bodies of the dancer?

 

 

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Ballet Anatomy Jete – YouTube.

This is one of an excellent series of online ballet class lessons. It is certainly invaluable to a beginner like me, but I suspect also advanced students.

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It is said that every young girl’s dream is to be a ballerina. I would say it is every not so young anthropologists dream to spend some time with a fascinating cultural group. Today, I had such an opportunity. At 10am I was met at the stage door of The Sydney Opera House by the Artist in Residence of The Australian Ballet, Colin Peasley. Colin is an amazing person and dancer. He joined the company as a dancer in its first year in 1962 and next year he will celebrate 50 years along with the company’s anniversary. We spent the first hour chatting about my research into ballet dancers, and he was able to relate many anecdotes from the past as well as talk about the life of dancers today.

Following our discussion, he took me to watch the company’s daily class taken by a guest teacher, a former principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, London. I spent the entire hour and a quarter watching as the dancers warmed up at the barre, discarding layers of attire as the pace increased. The real treat for me came when they set aside the barres and worked energetically in the centre. It is often claimed that ballet performances are meant to look easy – which of course they are not. I have to say that for me, I was fascinated as I watched the dancers performing leaps and other energetic movements without prior choreography. The teacher would instruct them in what to do once, and without exception they would launch into the routines with enthusiasm that displayed raw talent. It was the edginess of the occasional mistake and stumble amongst the brilliance that gave me, the onlooker a feeling of excitement. Whilst fully rehearsed performances with costumes and live orchestra will always be the ultimate goal for these dancers, seeing them in class, will be something I will never forget.

Following class, Colin introduced me to the Artistic Director, David McAllister. Despite a very busy schedule, David listened to my ideas about my research with genuine interest. I look forward to discussing this more with him.

From there, Colin and I went to the Opera Theatre to watch part of a rehearsal for the current production of Graeme Murphy’s Romeo & Juliet. Since the rehearsal was in progress, I did not speak to Graeme Murphy. However, I did watch for a while until I decided that I should save seeing any more until I see the full public performance as an audience member on Thursday evening.

To say that today was the most exciting single day I have had in a very long time would be an understatement, and thanks to Colin Peasley and the dancers of The Australian Ballet for making it such a day.

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I would especially like to hear from ballet dancers about this, but other professional dancers’ experiences would be valuable.

I am trying to get a focus on what consumes professional dancers in their normal day. Please share with us what often goes through your mind during a typical day of classes, rehearsals and performances. For my research I am interested in anything and everything that runs through your thoughts from waking until sleep. Nothing is inconsequential since I am trying to establish a focus for eventual fieldwork. If you feel there is something other dancers may relate to, share it by way of comment. Also, respond to other comments so that we may get an active discussion going. If you are shy but happy to discuss privately, message me through my contact page.

Some things you may like to talk about are:

  • How my body works and feels;
  • What motivates me to dance;
  • What makes it worth the hard work;
  • The aesthetics of dancing as a performer;
  • How I engage with space and movement.

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“Question from a contributor” is a series of posts with topics posed by readers of this blog. Ask your question here.

From Magdalena:

How much artistic influence should be used in the ballet class, and how much should be saved for rehearsal.  I have studied with some people who think of the classroom as someplace to focus, and I have worked with some people who view the class as a place to explore and experiment with what the body can do.  Anyway, I would like to know how others feel on the subject.

I have come across the idea of ballet class as a place to focus before. So, it would appear that this is an interesting idea to explore. What do others think? In your comments, please indicate if you are answering as a dancer, teacher, or from another perspective.

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If you are a dancer (any type), choreographer, artistic staff, dance consultant, ballet teacher, or an academic with an interest in ballet, it is very likely that you have been or are a ballet dancer, or trained as one at some point in time. I would like you to suggest a dancing related topic or question in the comments below. Perhaps it could be related to the daily routine of professional dancers moving from classes to rehearsal to performances. I would then rephrase some of these replies as posts for ongoing discussion. This way I hope I will be able to engage others in an open ended discussion on subjects of relevance to current ballet dancers – especially professional ones.

This is a bold attempt by me, an anthropology researcher, to engage in participant observation online. This whole area of ethnography online is relatively new and one of the largest hurdles to overcome is in trying to engage with people who you wish to participate with. I have had some small interaction with people like ballet teachers in a group on LinkedIn. However, this is a very specific group of people, and I would like to open up the discussions to all of those people with an interest in dance.

Don’t be shy. Join in and help discover new ways of looking at dancers.

 

UPDATE: I have some good responses to this post and need more. I have decided to start a series of posts I am calling “Q from a contributor” where we will discuss some of these questions. If you want to contribute but prefer to remain anonymous, send your question via my “Contact” page and I will respect your privacy.

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