werlkj Posted July 21, 2004 Report Share Posted July 21, 2004 I get the strong impression from a couple recent topics that, as parents, we haven’t done enough to learn about ballet because it’s our kids that are interested in it, not us. We’re mostly concerned about helping them by getting them good training, paying the bills, supporting them through emotional and physical crises, etc. But I do think that if we’re concerned about helping our kids make good decisions while they attempt to achieve their dreams, it’s probably a good idea to spend a bit more time learning about what they're doing. Whenever I’m faced with something I know little about, or feel I don’t understand, I study it...A LOT. I don’t intend to become an “expert amateur” when I do this, but it seems to happen quite frequently. I’ve done it with art (went back to school for three years), with mid-century design and collecting, with perennial gardening, and many, many other things. (I have an edge over some of you in that I'm old!) I’d guess most people have done this in one area or another. It seems pretty clear to me that few parents really know what nudity in ballet entails. Honestly, in this country, it’s not much...especially in the “hinterlands,” so to speak. It’s a lot less than in most of the movies we all see, for example. In fact, I’ve rarely have seen a live performance in this country that had more nudity than at the local swimming pool (and I live in Idaho, I’ll remind you.) I.e., we’re not talking a lot of topless dancers. I heard one long-time Martha Graham dancer recently say that the jiggling she saw in Europe, where there was a brief rage for full nudity a couple years ago, was pretty distracting. At the time, she commented that it probably wouldn’t last long for that reason alone; they couldn’t do much movement without a lot of extra movement going on (we all laughed, I remember, and could picture how distracting it must have been), and she felt it really detracted from the choreographer’s intentions. I think that a lot of concerns about “nudity” could be answered with a just little bit of research. (This is besides going to every performance you can that’s done by a respected company, and not balking by having to drive a few hours (less costly by far than paying for an SI) and sitting in the nose-bleeds if that’s all you can afford.) Even our teeny-weeny ultra-conservative little rural town library has dance videos, not more than a handful, but not just classical story ballets either; there are a few with more contemporary work too. So that’s a place to start. That and checking out a few ballet histories and bios at the library, and reading how and why and what people were thinking as dance evolved, and watching as many examples of the dances they’re referring to as possible. As a result of most libraries’ limitations, I would also suggest purchasing videos and dvds on a regular basis, as many as you can afford, watching them multiple times and then reading as much about that particular choreographer and period to understand a little more about what you’re seeing. You can sell them on ebay when you’re finished for close to what you paid, or you can keep them to watch again and again later when you’ve learned more. Even videos don’t seem to lose their value hardly at all, except if they’re also out on dvd. Even then, some dvds have awful picture quality, and people will buy the videos instead. I would venture to say that watching ballet (modern too!) and understanding it is quite similar to studying art history, or studying classical music, or studying dogs or horses (if you show them), or collecting antiques (if you’re really serious and have the money to spend), etc. etc. I believe that the more you know, the more you can appreciate it and understand it, the more comfortable you’ll be about what you’re seeing, and the more you’ll want to see. Actually, I think I can guarantee it. I really and truly do not mean to offend or talk down to anyone with this post and I can see how some people might think I am. It’s just that I’m fairly sure that most people don’t realize how much there is to learn about this. The task is really quite similar to that of being able to go to a museum and be moved to tears, or fall in love with, or appreciate all the paintings, not just the pretty landscapes. Most people might find that effort just totally overwhelming, but it’s not, really. It's exciting. Quote Link to comment
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.