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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Online Videos:"Acrobatic" Swan Lake

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I just heard in dance magazine about this new version of the Swan Lake ballet comming out of China. The article featured a picture of Odette(Wu Zhengdan) balancing en pointe in first arabesque on the prince's(Wei Baohua) shoulder! When I first saw it, I honestly thought the pic was photoshopped so I was of to YouTube to find a video clip of it.


Here's what I found:


acrobatic swan lake


In searching for the acrobatic Swan Lake, I also came across another video clip of a brodcast of the Chinese New Year's Gala which featured a dance peice featuring similar tricks. In this clip it also shows the female dancer promenading en pointe on her partner's head completly unsupported!



I'm not sure if the couple here is the same one in the Swan Lake(they happen to be a married couple, btw) So what's everyone's thoughts? Could this possibly be the next step in the evolution of ballet as we know it?

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  • Mel Johnson


  • Clara 76


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Let's hope this is not the future of ballet....Cirque Du Soleil, yes, ballet, NO! :innocent: .

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I couldn't agree more, Clara76. It is veering off in too gymnastic of a direction for me.


I saw a Snowqueen pas de deux in a film of ballet variations from the 40's, 50's and 60's. Once and only once did the Snow couple do something that was acrobatically amazing and the movement fit with the music very well. If I think of the title of the video, I'll post it. I think the key with acrobatic is less is more.

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This is circus. The performers are acrobats with ballet training. We should pay more attention to Chinese performers as a whole and recognize what genre they work in. There are some absolutely fabulous Chinese classical dancers out there, and they deserve recognition.

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So, it is being billed as Swan Lake done by a circus group??? That would make sense. I thought it was being done by a ballet company...that would scare me! :blink:


I agree Major Mel. It is amazing what these Chinese athletes are able to do. As long as they're not calling it ballet, it's ok by me!!! :thumbsup:

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Wow, that's impressive! I've nothing against it although it certainly couldn't be called classical ballet, maybe a new genre will evolve: 'ballet-gym' or something!

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Or "Circus-Ballet"?

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So, it is being billed as Swan Lake done by a circus group??? That would make sense. I thought it was being done by a ballet company...that would scare me! :thumbsup:


It's done by The Guangdong Acrobatics Troupe of China with the Shanghai City Dance Company. I should have mentioned that in the first post but I forgot.


I wonder if this will have an influence in what audience's expectations are regarding ballet and will companies have to incorporate some of these moves into their rep. to keep the audience's intrest? In this age where uber-skill reigns suprime, I can see that being a possibility.

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It could encourage more fans of ballet and ballet students which is always a good thing! Yeah, I like the name 'Circus-Ballet' Clara 76!

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This is the sort of thing that is Cirque du Soleil does so well. Fusion stuff.

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Yes Mel, you're right.

And while I admire the athleticism in the 'YouTube' clip - the The Guangdong Acrobatics/Shanghai City Dance program doesn't display the conceptual genius that has made Cirque du Soleil a world class phenomenon.

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I don't see how incorporating these Chinese acrobats into a ballet company would "encourage more fans of ballet and ballet students". :shrug:


The tricks and artistry of these acrobats are possible first and foremost because of the 'freak of nature' elasticity of their tendons and ligaments. It is hyperextension gone wild. If we fuss and fight over the requirement of the dance community for a particular 'ballet body' now, I would really hate to see the furor it would create if the contorsionist's ability to fold his/her body into literal knots would become grafted on to that 'ideal'.


I can marvel and appreciate the artistry, beauty, and just plain :jawdrop: factor of the Chinese acrobats and contortionists. I enjoy Cirque de Soliel, but if truth be told, I grow weary of it before the full show is over. (But I never tire of the costumes! :P )


I think the acrobatics and artistry displayed in the YouTube excerpts linked in this thread can be appreciated, but I see absolutley NO reason to graft or incorporate them into a ballet company. Just because a troupe of whatever type utilizes and interprets movements to a classical ballet music composition does not redefine that movement---or troupe--into classical ballet or even contemporary ballet.


But, of course, that's just my uneducated-in-the-arts opinion. :o

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I have to agree, if any of this were to be incorporated into a classical ballet setting perhaps you could get away with one of these "tricks" in a peice... any more than that and its just distracting. Many of the lifts were very inventive though!


Also I wondered about the "strings", you could see that many of the preformers were attached to some kind of harness with cables going up, was this only for saftey reasons or were the harnesses giving them a lift? I can't tell, but perhaps the work on the male's shoulder was assisted in this way... if not I am very impressed!

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In the circus business, these harnesses and cables are called "lungers", and were originally only used as safety in rehearsal or in training. As time and technology has moved on, the cables have become less and less visible to the unaided eye, until we have "Flying by Foy" and like organizations worldwide.

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