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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Character


Guest Michy

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Guest Michy

I was just wondering who else takes character classes and what style you are trained in? i am predominantly trained in the russian style. :)

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  • 2 months later...

I go to a Russian school and there's Character classes being offered (not a level but as an teen/adult open class but that dosn't really matter). But I was wondering what really is character dancing. I've seen it in the PNB Nutcracker video and it looks pretty easy. Is it? Is there a whole other world called character dancing that I don't know about (I don't know much/hardly anything). Could somebody please enlighten me?

~*Meghan*~

P.S. How important to a dancer is learning how to character dance?

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Guest Paquita

I used to take character class, and I miss it a lot! My studio is Vaganova based and offers different levels of character. I remember thinking it looked pretty easy too, but it does take a lot of energy and endurance, as welll as a good understanding of the different styles. I would say that character dancing is challenging, but in different ways than classical ballet is. Acting and expression is a big part of it. Technique, as always is important too, but the steps are a little more natural and you can 'get away with' a little bit more. I've always enjoyed character dances because they're less stressful in terms of technique and it's more about performing to an audience.

I wouldn't say character is a whole other world from ballet. (i.e. I don't think there are separate 'character' studios, however there are some very specialized schools of Spanish, Ukranian folk dance etc.). Character evolved from national dances from places like Italy, Hungary, Russia and so on. It's important to learn these dances (Polonaise, Tarantella, Mazurka, etc.) because almost every major classical ballet includes character, often in the 2nd or 3rd Act. The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Coppelia, for example. If you have seen folk dancing before, character is sort of like it, except conformed in varying degrees to ballet. Some dances are very authentic and the dancers wear traditional costumes and character shoes/boots, while in some ballets the character dances are done in pointe shoes with very classical steps and the main thing that makes it 'character' is the port de bras.

Some character dances include a lot of mime, like in Sleeping Beauty, there's Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots.

I hope this helps and feel free to ask me to clarify anything. There's also demi-caractere, which someone else might be able to define better than I can, and I think it's been discussed on Ballet Talk before.

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Paquita, thank you for that nice overview of character dancing.:) I think it would be great if more programs really included it in their training.

 

Just the other day I was speaking with one of my daughter's main teachers, who is Russian, and she was explaining to me that she was incorporating many different character steps and port de bras in her new choreography - from there, she proceeded to show me the differences in say, Polish, Hungarian and Russian crossed arms held in front...just based on elevation! :)

 

I think it always looks as though the dancers are having a great time when they're performing in "character". :cool:

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