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Ballet Talk for Dancers

nudity in ballets???

Guest lurry

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Victoria Leigh

Lurry, while I may not totally agree with the idea of building a rep that is geared for the 20something generation, or a lot of the avant-garde works being presented these days, companies do have to grow and change. They cannot remain only a museum for the classics. How would we ever develop new choreorgraphers, or even continue to challenge the dancers and give them new works to do? That lack of change and growth is what, at least in part, caused so many Russian dancers to defect to the US and other countries.


I think most of us here love the classics more than many of the newer and more contemporary works, and they are still available to choose when going to performances. But the companies also have to appeal to the audience for new works, as they must survive financially and if that is what it takes to do it, then so be it. As long as the classics are still there too! :dry:

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Mel Johnson

So who's in a hurry?


Jones and other choreographers of the moment are not necessarily going to use nudity as a device. In fact, they are probably the less likely to use it, as "it's been done" and they have to keep their avant-garde ticket punched. Kevin McKenzie is a responsible director, too. He knows what his audience would do nationwide if he were to mount a questionable production. People might flock initially, but it would quickly wear off, if there weren't something durable in the work. ABT has always had a function of introducing new choreographers to the ballet audience, and has not been simply a hothouse for the classics. A production that lasts only a season or two is not going to be much use to it. Now, if you see Swan Lake and lots of flapping, but nary a stitch, that would be new - after all, we've had male swans. But what do you think is the likelihood of that actually happening? Near zilch, I'd say.

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Guest lurry

I don't disagree that ballet has it reinvent itself, nor do I disagree completely with modern works. What I do disagree with, is the idea that in order to further ballet, these works have to be integrated to make money. Which, I don't feel that is or should be the case. I mean how many movies do we pay to go see? When we choose to see it, did we say to ourselves, "well, I'm going to see ... because it is cutting edge and the suggestive nature is what I enjoy?" or do we really say to ourselves " I'm going to see this movie because of the plot or the characters?" or "do I like comedies, drama or action packs."

Statistics have shown that most music listeners, listen to music not for the lyrics, but for the beat. I'm sure that if most people understood the words and the "slang" of rap i.e. eminim, they would shut it down, as well as their parents.


In reality, if I'm going to see ballet, it is because I love ballet or a certain ballerina; just like people will go see a movie because of Julia Roberts.


The only reason we saw the latest rep. at the local co. is because one of our favorite dancers was retiring and we wanted to see him for the last time. Interesting enough, this is when "Right of Spring" was performed. I had no idea of the content and I was rather shocked. My 14 DD was with me and I didn't know what to say to her. I did ask if she wanted to leave and she said "no."

Afterwards, I spoke with her about it. Her response was "man, whoever the choreographer is, he sure has some pent up sexual frustrations."

If it had gone a little further, I can't say that I would've stayed. Not only because my DD doesn't need too, but because of empathy for the dancers. Those dancers are people, people that I know, and to see them performing acts like that made me feel uncomfortable. This is called the human element.


The point is, it wasn't the ballet that sold us. Again, their are so, so many other ballets, which most of the public hasn't seen yet, that could be used instead.



Mel, what exactly is a "wilis?" I've tried using my imagination, however, I'm not sure if your referring to a man or woman? :blink: What ever the gender, that was a funny vision. :dry:

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Lurry, based on your concern about the possibility of a dancer doing a penche or some such movement in the nude, I'm guessing that your vision of what's meant by nudity in ballet is different from what many of us are imagining. I'd be pretty upset, too, by that kind of image because it doesn't, in my opinion, express anything other than "if I can get away with it, I will."


I just don't think that's what anyone here means, though. Some of the contemporary ballet works involving a little frontal nudity suit the topic - the Holocaust is a good example - and are treated with reverence.


It's funny you mention "The Rite of Spring". When Stravinsky first introduced that musical work in 1913, it created great controversy and scandal. People were shocked at its pagan sacrifice story. They railed against the feelings the music evoked in them and there was a public outcry against the choreography and costumes. But it's now revered as one of the great musical works in history. So I guess it's nothing new that the current choreography for such a story would continue to inspire such controversy.


The reference to wilis comes from teh ballet "Giselle". They are said to be the spirits of unwed virgins who died when their lovers jilted them. Their skin is very pale, they wear all white, are shroud-like, mysterious and imperious, and they dance young foolish men to their deaths.


Go feminism! :dry:

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the Wilis, who are the ghosts of young girls who died before their wedding day, and who avenge themselves by making the men they meet dancing to death, appear,lead by their Queen Myrtha, and Giselle becomes a Wilis too.
For more info click on this and scroll down: Giselle.


Oops! I see vagansmom and I posted pretty much at the same time. :dry:

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Some if us will be more comfortable with nudity in art, others not. As for exposing ( :dry: ) the dk's to it, well, it depends on what it is, the dk's age and maturity, and the parental attitudes. My 18 yr old dd watches Nip Tuck on TV (nudity and sex); my 12 yr old son is forbidden to watch it. If you don't want your dk to see nudity, that's just fine. It is YOUR child and nobody else's.

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Guest lurry

When the my friend mentioned a Penche in the nude, she was suggesting that what will be next? This is how the entertainment industry was able to make what we see on TV or the movies acceptable. It went from Ozzy and Hariate, to kissing, to showing of skin, etc... Now we live in a society where it is in our face and we have become desensitized to it. Which, I think is very sad.


It is also important to remember, children until adolesents have an area in their brain that is called fantasy. Psychologist have proven that children live in a world which fantasy plays a large role, which isn't clearly defined. Children that see these kinds of productions don't really understand what they are watching; they may as a 13,14 or 15 understand the content, but if you ask them, they will revert back to positive images from the past. This is what makes children love the Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty. It is a fantasy, and eventhough they are "mature" they still can't see themselves emulating what is being performed on stage one day. What they do see, is themselves in a tutu.


With this in mind, is it necessary to subject a child to images they may feel uncomfortable with?


As Kevin Mckenzie said it best, these productions are geared toward the 20 something crowd.


I really think this is a personal choice, I just think that parents should speak to their children about this topic. Especially if they are going to become a professional, or I guess have them see it.


I'm not saying they should or should not be performed, but as far as a child is concerned, we as a society should be a little more sensitive to them and their level of understanding, knowledge, standards, acceptance, etc.. :dry:

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Just my two cents. This discussion could only happen in the US, no place else I know of (except for some middle eastern countries and some of the more rigid states in the far east) has such a problem with the human body.


I have no problem with my children seeing nudity in a ballet. A bare breast or even full frontal nudity in a ballet is, IMO, simply a celebration of the human form in motion. That is dance, not a sex act.


Saying that, I agree it is up to the parent to decide, with the child, if they are ready to see a certain show.

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Mel Johnson

What is it that a child will feel uncomfortable with? When I was just a li'l fella, the Mother's death scene in Bambi made me very uncomfortable. The scene in Snow White where the dwarfs pursue the Witch had me terrified. So, should Disney be out?


Not long after that, I was taken to see NYCB in the season they produced Balanchine's "Opus 34". That had me so shell-shocked I had to sleep with a nightlight for months. My father was worse, he had to sleep on the couch with the lights fully on! It induced nightmares in him! My mom was fine.

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Mel Johnson

Well, as they say in Die Fledermaus, "Chacun à son goût!"

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Guest lurry

“ long live the arts” is probably what the NEC thought too, until they lost the case of Finley Vs. NEC. And, has set precedence of whether or not, the arts receive public funding via tax money according to the "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public."


For you whom may have no idea the relevance, here is part of Judge Kleinfeld ruling.


Kleinfeld, circuit judge states “That offensive or indecent expression cannot be censored does not mean that the government has to pay for it. By drawing the line between private expression and government conduct, we preserve liberty for individual expression, while preserving democracy for governmental decisions. Any time government enters a previously private sphere of conduct, the line becomes blurred, and the issues difficult. Government subsidy of art was an easy issue when the Medicis hired artists -- the Medicis could freely impose their preferences. But when a democratic government pays artists to stick their thumbs in the public's eye, the public naturally becomes annoyed, and attempts to exercise its ordinary authority in a democracy to control through Congress how tax monies are spent…..”

“The case at bar does not involve government censorship. If Congress had prohibited artists from expressing themselves indecently or disrespectfully, the Constitution would make such a law null and void. The NEA statute before us is not such a law. It does not restrict what artists do. It restricts what the NEA can do. This case is about whether the American people can require a government agency to consider, in giving grants to very few of the many artists in the country, "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public."


Even though art may be protected by the first amendment but as Judge Kleinfeld states “The First Amendment does not prohibit the free exercise of common sense.” :thumbsup:

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I just wanted to let my daughter know what to expect. Maybe the nudity would have made her feel uncomfortable, maybe not. Our ballet experiences so far include Nutcracker, Coppelia, Graduation Ball, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet and a few other ballets on the stage. I think watching a man and a woman taking off their clothes and switching them on the stage might have surprised her a little (not much of that in the aforementioned ballets). Now we have talked and she is prepared.

The Jacob's Pillow piece this weekend is indeed the ballet that Pierette mentioned back on Page 1 of this thread.

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Guest lurry

Lets just say, the NEA won. Mel, don't tell anybody, but it was a 8-1 ruling in favor of the NEA. :thumbsup:


So please Mel, if your going to seek grant money from the NEA, I don't suggest you doing a triple tour en l'air in the nude as a way of getting it. :blushing:

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