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Different Ballet styles explained

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Balletismykidslife!

Can anyone provide a resource either from past forums, or current topics about describing the differences between the many styles of Ballet training. For instance schools that teach "Balanchine" vs "Russian" and different styles of Russian (classical Russian & more) and others as well?

 

In addition is there a resource that shows many of the world class schools and what style that particular school would teach? I always here about different styles, but unless it is mostly Balanchine I really don't know the differences between many other styles. :shrug:

 

I know ... I know ... BIG question with lots of possible answers and ways to approach this subject! :)

 

Let the discussion begin?

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balletbooster

Bournonville:

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...=18221&hl=Style

 

Vaganova:

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...=27085&hl=Style

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...=29114&hl=Style

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...849&hl=vaganova

 

Balanchine:

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...4&hl=Balanchine

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...4&hl=Balanchine

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...9&hl=Balanchine

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...5&hl=Balanchine

 

General Discussion:

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...=27700&hl=Style

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?...221&hl=vaganova

 

That's just the tip of the iceberg! :)Use the search function, search titles only and put in the word(s) that indicate what you are looking for (i.e. Balanchine, Vaganova, Cechetti, etc.) You'll find a wealth of existing topics. Add your questions to the ones you are interested in, so that they come to the top and others can view all the good information that is already out there! :shrug:

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Holly Golightly

Are there books or sites where I can learn more about Vaganova?

 

Holly

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Mel Johnson

Use the amazon.com banner at the top of the page.

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jen888

There is a book written by Agrippina Vaganova called Basic Principles of Classical Ballet Technique...or something very close to that. Also Suki Schorer has a book about Balanchine technique. There is also a book by Gretchen Ward that illustrates the differences in the different techniques.

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Philip

The following is my view, based upon my own thoughts and ideas.

 

This is a huge question. However...

 

"Technique" not "style".

 

First of all, "style" in all art forms is only based upon the ideology, cutlure and foundation of technique within each school. So, Culture invites and codifies "style", then technique either ferments (if it is a new art form arising from the culture from whence it comes) or is incorporated, which is mostly the current case with ballet) or the "style" evolves out of the technique, but also informs that technique in regards to how any art evolves. When you refer to the schools, you should refer to them as "techniques" not styles, per se. It is the raw technique, not style, that codifies any particular school "Classical Ballet".

 

Here are some contrasts between the Vaganova (or eastern European techniques) and Cecchetti and some western European technical schools:

 

In brief:

 

- The ideology of the Vaganova school is to train the dancer in proper positions, and only then train the students in the variety and methods of movements between and through those positions. A Vaganova dancer uses space more fully than dancers of other schools, to communicate with their audience.

 

The Vaganova school (and the Balanchine school) looks at the dancer from primarily a spatial placement point of view. Ergo the audience is considered as primary importance for the dancer to place their body with in it. (Note: the Cuban school is primarily Vaganova based, but has incorporated methods from most of the other schools as well.)

 

Therefore, Vagnova dancers must be trained so that these positions become second nature, regardless of their body type. Logic: this athletic view appropriates the audience as of import and creates a more fully engaged performance from the dancer. It also promotes more complex technique. Downside: some Vaganova dancers are sometimes very intense and often have a difficult time relaxing because it requires much more muscular recruitment and athletic prowess. If trained appropriately, this can be eliminated.

 

---------

 

- The ideology of some Cecchetti and British influenced schools is to train a dancer to in proper placement

and at the same time, develop movement from there in a relaxed and rhythmic way. A dancer from these techniques usually uses more subtle movement to communicate with the audience.

 

The Cecchetti & English influenced schools and other related teaching, tend to view the dancer from a somatic placement point of view. Ergo, the relationship of the dancer to the audience is dependent upon the dancer's placement within the abilities of their body.

 

Logic: a dancer using a more natural placement moves with more ease and thus maintains safety and aplomb as well as conservation of energy through the period of dancing. (There is much more to this logic, but I want to keep this short.) Downside: it is less physically challenging thus less athletic than other forms. However, this can be overcome by incorporating techniques from other schools.

 

Note: this has changed over the years in these schools as they have been influenced by most of the other schools, and some brick and mortar schools incorporating these systems barely look like they used to 30 years ago. So, in many schools sporting the "Cecchetti" name do not apply this. (To my knowledge, only RAD and ISTD syllabus schools maintain some or part of this idea. Please inform with proofs, if otherwise.)

 

---------------------

 

Contrasting examples:

 

The original Cecchetti and British influenced schools perform `a la seconde aligned with the natural turnout from the hip. This is accomplished by the dancer's somatic awareness of her/his own body in relation to placement, space and procenium. It is accomodated by recruiting specific groups of muscles to create the position and movement.

 

The Vaganova school performs `a la seconde aligned with second position of the feet, regardless of anatomical build. This is accomplished by the dancer's somatic awareness of her/his own body (proprioseption) of his/her body, in relation to position, space and procenium. It is accomodated by recruiting a greater variety of muscle groups to create the position and movement, than the Cecchetti and British influenced schools.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Philip

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Victoria Leigh

Philip, while you are talking specifically about the Vaganova versus Cecchetti and RAD schools, if one examines the vast majority of pre-professional and company related schools, at least in this country, you will find that the technique taught is neither Vaganova, Cecchetti, or RAD. There is an International mix, which uses technique from all of these schools, plus the French and Bournonville and Cuban.

 

You stated:

"A Vaganova dancer uses space more fully than dancers of other schools, to communicate with their audience."

 

I will take serious issue with that statement. There are way too many really excellent dancers in this country, and many other countries, who were not trained specifically Vaganova. Or, specifically any other school. And there are teachers who can train a dancer to all of the standards you seem to see only in one method.

 

We recognize all methods here, and while we can discuss them, we will not make the judgement that one is better than the other. And truly, I do not believe that any one of them is better. Good teaching is good teaching, and that is what makes the difference, assuming that there is a student with at least a workable facility.

 

There are problems in the Vaganova schooling when taught in this country, outside of possibly the Kirov Academy, which has the students on a daily basis. However, even the Kirov does not limit their school to the physical standards needed for acceptance to Russian schools which are State supported. The method requires not only a body with exceptional facility, but daily training from a very early age. That just does not happen here.

 

Another problem in this country is qualified Vaganova teachers. Most of them are Russian, and simply do not seem to recognize that they are not training the same kind of students they have in Russia. Most seem unable to adjust to the differences. I have seen many examples of the damage done by some of these teachers. Those who do have the ability to really think about what they are doing and how to do it in the circumstances where they are teaching, seem to be few and far between. But, there are some, which is the good news. Just wish there were more.

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Philip

HI Victoria.

 

We have agreements and disagreements with each other. First the agreements: there are too few appropriately trained Vaganova teachers in this country. However, with the flight of Russians to this country we are seeing better teachers arrive, training dancers and also non-Russian teachers. Don't get me wrong; I have seen just as many bad Russian instructors as good. In particular, many Russian teachers who have not gone through pedagogy and/or choreographic institute. However, this has been a problem with dance instruction everywhere for many years, particularly in the US where anyone can say "I'm a dance teacher, and I'm gonna open a school". GASP! (Note: Though I've been teaching for 30 years with pedagogy in other techniques, I have had pedagogy in Vaganova, but not in a formal institute. Therefore, I do not think it appropriate that I teach in a major school, unless I was also provided with that training myself. This isn't to say that I do not have an understanding of it.)

 

The difficulty in translating Vaganova into the American culture is that the Soviet system allowed for the full time career training that Vaganova required of its dancers. Unless there is a unique situation where this is made possible in the US, it simply cannot work in the same wayas well as it did (does) in Russia.

 

I do agree that a good teacher is a good teacher. I don't agree that a potentially good teacher is a good teacher if they do not have the training on top of inherent talent. I do agree that pointing fingers a specific people and personal attacks are not helpful, I don't like it and I will not do it here. I left another site because of this and other insular problems like this. It is why I've chosen to have some activity on this site.

 

I agree about the recognition of all dance styles in the US. It is a melting pot. I do not agree that this is always a good thing. Though, it is not particularly the case now, but ABT has suffered from this syndrome from time to time, making it look like a very uneven company. The "American melting pot school" (to coin a name) is a result of a random variety of schooling that dancers have studied between either various specific schools of ballet, or from teachers who were also trained in a cross-section of techniques.

 

I am a product of this. I do not think that all of that training was good, and into the beginning of my career, I had to target specific techniques I though I would excel at. I believe that if a dancer hasn't trained with a mentor in a specific method, regardless of whether it is Cecchetti (though it is not used much by most companies today), Vagnoava, or any of the 4 or 5 other schools, they will not gain enough strength and mindful understanding about what they are doing to focus a career. The Cuban school was designed deliberately as a mix of “the best” of the various schools, so much so that it can now be considered a “school of classical ballet” unto itself. This is not true in many brick-and-mortar ballet schools in America, where there is little emphasis upon specific curricula because the faculties' backgrounds are mostly a random and unfocused mix, from a lineage of instructors with no specific training.

 

You have stated a common misconception about Vaganova technique that I would like to take issue with. You stated "The method requires not only a body with exceptional facility, but daily training from a very early age. That just does not happen here. "

 

Though, it is true that very few schools are able to train dancers as they did in the Soviet Union, it is untrue that a dancer has to have an exceptional body to learn it – particularly in the US. I have students who are not very turned out, have difficulty with extensions and the general view of the "ideal body type", who are excelling using strictly the Vaganova technique. This is because they care, are inspired and we are nurturing them. Further, I can list half a dozen teachers within a 50 mile radius of me who are doing the same. Will these dancers become great principals? I doubt it, but in my 30 years of teaching I've also learned never to say never. Dancers? I think they have as much chance as anyone, as long as they receive and take focused career guidance.

 

Second, Vaganova ballet training begins in earnest at age 10 or 11 with level 1 and goes through level 8 at age 18 (more or less). preparatory ballet may happen before that, but it is Level one that is most important. This age is substantially later, by two to three years, than most other schools for beginning serious study of classical ballet as is not "daily training from a ver early age."

 

Third, don't you think daily training is preferable to train a dancers, versus just a few times per week, regardless of the technical school they are training in? I do. A teacher simply can't train an artist/athlete towards a career otherwise. But, I don't teach at a school where this is possible. Still, I see active results and growth in my students, though many only study twice per week. Daily practice is up to the child and parents in most schools. Whether we like it or not, in most schools, I'm sure you agree that it is the way it is.

 

I witnessed a performance yesterday by a local Vaganova school with fully trained American Vaganova instructors with a large contingent of adult trained dancers performing to a level I challenge others to duplicate. Were they great? No. But they were very inspiring! So, though there are some really bad teachers out there of all techniques, it does not mean that there aren't good ones as well. (Indeed, the amount of lordodic backs with anterior rotated pelvises I've seen in every type of school in this country, alarms me!)

 

The problem with Russians who come here is first, the language barrier and second (as you stated), the idea that Vaganova school can be translated onto the American culture the same as it did in Russia. We are still in the process of reworking the suggested curriculum that Mdm. V and her progenitors have brought to us so that it "fits" into an "American Vaganova School of Classical Ballet", if you will. It is happening. They are just beginning to feed American ballet companies with dancers.

 

Things are changing with Vaganova. I have to explain anatomically and kinesiologically, how to stand in a more crossed fifth position, a full `a la seconde, and quiz them to memorize that 5th en haut in other schools is third in the Vaganova. This didn't have to happen in the very insulated Soviet Union, and now, only slightly open Russia: they just taught it and the students did as they were told. Its a cultural and systemic difference between the way the two countries do things.

 

As far as my statement ""A Vaganova dancer uses space more fully than dancers of other schools, to communicate with their audience." This is my personal perception, based upon my experience, witnessing, training and evaluation of it. I find that because of the incredible size of their stages, (Bolshoi means "big") combined with the fact that in Vagnaova preparations share visually as important as resultant steps and/or positions, they tend to move "bigger" than other schools. This doesn't mean that other schools don't teach dancers to move well. This isn't to say that, for example, "I don't like the way the Danish move because they don't use space as well as the Russians" First, this would be a lie: I love the Danes and the Bournonville school. I also love the Balanchine school. I don't love everything about the way they train dancers. Others may like their methodology. The use of space, just as any other trait, in a technique is a result of the culture within which it grew. Vive la Difference!

 

There is little doubt that there are differences, similarities, inherent strengths and weaknesses between technical methods and the variety of styles that can be conveyed upon them. Contrasting them is a process of personal perception as well as particular obvious traits each has hard-wired into them.

 

Civil debate encourages shared and more accurate view and data sharing among stakeholders of any craft or art form. However, the syntax of my post was not to provide debate, but to relay my perceptions. I would love to debate my "space" comment with you. However, by the sound of your statement "We recognize all methods here, and while we can discuss them, we will not make the judgment that one is better than the other," we are not allowed debate. First of all, did I Did I state one school was better than another? If it read that way, my apologies. I was simply relaying some observations of contrasts.

 

I tried to be diligent in not playing oneupmanship in my comparison between the British/Cecchetti methods and Vaganova in my post. However, I realize that disagreements will occur upon personal perceptions thereof. I admit my preferences, but we all have those, don't we. So, I was pre-aware that this is an egalitarian site.

 

 

Thank you for the debate. I look forward to more, if this is okay on this site. Please be specific and inform me if it isn't.

 

Philip.

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Victoria Leigh

Philip, discussion is one thing, debate is another. I do not intend to debate anyone. That is not the purpose of this site. Your statement on the Vaganova dancers use of space is your opinion. Fine. But, it needs to be stated as an opinion, not a fact. My opinion is that that is not a fact at all.

 

I also do not consider Balanchine style a "technique", or method. But, I said "I also do not consider", and did not say it is NOT a technique or method, as others feel differently, including, it seems, you. My opinion is that Mr. B did not create a syllabus or train people to teach young dancers. He created a chorographic style, using things in his work with professionals which are not appropriate for training purposes. That is my opinion.

 

I'm sure you get the point by now. Personally, I do not have the time nor the desire to debate anyone. I think you would get along a lot better here on this site if you recognize that your posts are perceived as lectures, and stated with an attitude that everything you say is absolute. We are not here for lectures.

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Philip

Sorry. I'm getting used to this site. I was trying to edit a post above, but hit "quote" instead. How do you delete a post that you didn't want to create?

 

Thanks, Philip.

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Mel Johnson

I can do that for you. Don't worry. Wrong buttonology happens to all of us.

 

Which one do you want gone?

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Victoria Leigh

Thank you for adding the edit at the top of the post and deleting the repeat of the whole post! I'm assuming you just edited out the content and replaced it with the question about deleting? Anyway, members cannot delete their own posts, however, they can edit them.

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ripresa

I for one, find this discussion very interesting. It's fascinating to see educated opinions differ.

Thank you Philip.

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Victoria Leigh

Absolutely, as long as they are opinions and not stated as Gospel! :D

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ripresa

Yes, I think this is one of the keys of this board.

I've been here for I guess.. a month or so. And it's taking me a while to get the feel/social politics of this board. I'm still figuring it out.. ballettalk is a complex social entity!!

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