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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult performance opportunities outside of a career..


Ginniathezinnia

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In addition to being a professional singer, I also run a start-up theatre company and another venture for singers. I think someone brought up starting a company for adults before and we discussed how much work is involved. At one of the studios I go to, we did perform a ballet this year--all adults. It turned out to be a nice performance but the STRESS and time commitment was immense. And I say this, as a professional who has done hundreds of shows--I had not been in a situation that was so stressful ever, and worse since I was not getting paid for it--I was off from work that time so I did not have any other commitments but we spent about 5 hours a day rehearsing and a lot of work went into it by volunteers who handled costumes and other things. The choreographer wore many hats including producer. It was stressful mainly because of the amount of organization that fell on one person and the many details that needed to keep track of, and also that there were many different abilities and levels in the ballet. It was not like a professional show where people have to audition to get in and all have a certain level of expertise or experience and know what they have to do. We had folks who had never ever performed before. It all turned out okay since it was a nice group of people but it was definitely more than many people bargained for when they signed up.

 

One of the most difficult things I have found with my start up performing groups is even with very minimal commitment required of the participants if you are not PAYING people, it is hard to get them to consistently show up for rehearsals and events. If people do not show up all the time, there is time wasted trying to back track and get people up to speed. Most adults do not have the time to put into rehearsing a dance concert or ballet if they have a job or family. To participate in the short show we did (we did not do the entire ballet) most people had to take off of work.

 

I'm not saying it can't be done but it is a LOT of work--if you are organizing, it can be a nightmare. If you are dancing in it you have to put in more hours than you normally do for dance and also have to pick up and remember choreography. At some studios this is not taught as most adults come and go and drop in. So perhaps for some it might make more sense to start out doing those character and walk-on roles to just get their "stage legs" and then move up to more interesting and challenging roles and perhaps mounting their own show.

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Yes, completely agreeing with luceroblanco that producing your own show will be a LOT of work. The companies I know of work over the better part of a year to prepare, doing a little bit at a time, and they are exceptionally well-organized. Most of them do not do full-length pieces and even include pieces in different genres by different choreographers. It's definitely key to have a solid, committed, like-minded group of organizers rather than having any one person take on too much.

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I vaguely remember writing about performance opportunities for adults not long ago in another thread. So if I repeat myself, chalk it up to old age.

 

I have been very lucky in the sense that I’ve had the opportunity to perform a lot. I attribute that to simply living in the right place. The school I go to used to have an adult show each year. There are quite a few very good adult dancers in the area, enough to create a critical mass for an annual performance independent of any school. And finally, there is a wide range of dance styles that one can study, which I believe is related to opportunities to perform.

 

Let me say a little about this last thing. The overwhelming majority of performances I’ve done have been modern dance pieces. Second would be Spanish dance performances. I’ve only done one ballet performance, which was done in the school’s adult show. I do think style is related to opportunity to perform. Spanish is by far the easiest to perform for two reasons. One is that there is a demand for it and can be performed well in a number of small venues. Another is that in studying Spanish, you learn reparatory, which means there isn’t a lot of choreography that someone has to do.

 

Now I know I am going to offend some people when I say this, but I think adults are much better suited to performing modern pieces than they are ballet pieces. It might be just me, but when I see adult dancers do ballet pieces, . . . . . . well . . . . . . . they just aren’t that good even though in a class setting, these same dancers are excellent. My guess is that my standard for ballet performance is what I see when I go to the ballet. It’s just not the same.

 

You can also say that we adults can’t do the work of say Paul Taylor or Mark Morris, which is absolutely true. Adults, however, can do modern pieces that are interesting. I remember hearing a quote once to the effect that good dance wasn’t making difficult things look easy, but rather making simple things look interesting. Whether true or not, I do think that is an advantage adults have. They have the life experiences that enables them to do things that are interesting, something that in my opinion goes to the heart of modern dance.

 

Having said that, let me say that in any production there are two critical pieces—producing and choreography. Producers and choreographers must be absolutely dedicated to their tasks. These tasks carry a heavy load. I think dancers greatly underestimate what is required to produce a dance concert. Dancers do have a better notion of the requirements for choreography and can appreciate just what is required. But usually a producer needs several choreographers to do a concert.

 

Dancers want to dance. But without the necessary infrastructure of people and resources, it is really difficult.

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I remember hearing a quote once to the effect that good dance wasn’t making difficult things look easy, but rather making simple things look interesting.

 

Rudolf Nureyev said that. :D

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tutu2you,

 

I apologize for the confusion -- this was not the right thread to bring up this issue. My initial post was a comment not just on a post in this thread, but to other posts and a global 'interpretation', if you will. In addition, it was not just in reaction to rlyons but to others as well.

 

rlyons' second post clarified her position, and I fully understand her desire to perform classical dance as opposed to more 'filler' roles.

 

Regardless of this thread, I would always encourage dancers to get a larger view of the artform.

 

Again, I apologize for reacting without consideration as to the place I was posting. Mods, I'm happy to delete my posts on this thread if you wish.

 

Hello,

Hopefully no apologies were needed.

 

I like that this entire thread was brought up as well as the side conversation-that was related- that was generated.

 

Lst weekend I went to a ballet by a pre-professional company here in town and was blown away by the four contemporary pieces they performed. Wow. THAT made me want to perform, as an adult who is only beginning and is soon to be 45. I really was impressed with the feelings these dancers shared/created and gave the audience. That is what I would like to share.

 

Sure, they were pretty but, they were strong, stirring, expresive and I am so surprised that many people are missing "this!" The audience wasn't packed but, I am SOOOO glad that I was one of them!

 

After the intermission there was a classical ballet and it just wasn't the same for me, which is new.

 

Thank you for this topic, again, and for the side convo.

Jen

p.s. now I have referred to ballet as "my sport" as well as dance, edit, but I do not it for fitness but because of how it feels.

Edited by Gennaver
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Well, there is contemporary ballet. I haven't seen that much of it and have only seen by one company (the one in my city--a regional company). I have not been impressed by the five or six pieces I have seen, but that was not necessarily the fault of the dancers, but rather the choreography and choice of music.

 

I think people are generally missing that because in my city at least, the ballet does not sell very well. The most full performance I've seen was the Nutcracker and that was only HALF full. And most of the people in the audience knew someone in the cast and/or got comp tickets. There are lots of dance schools in my city. I believe that the modern dance companies and the ethnic dance companies get better attendance in my city. Although their tickets are cheaper and often the venues smaller. I have tried to get tickets to one of the modern groups and they were sold out. I never worry about that happening with the ballet. There is a smaller contemporary ballet company in my area which I will have to check out.

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And, to bring in Ami's perspective, we may have to be flexible in the kinds of performances we're willing to be part of.

 

Gav, thanks for this and for making me more articulate than I am on my own! Obviously there are other types of dance performances -- modern, etc -- which we may choose to participate in. I guess what I was trying to say was that even in ballet, there is so much diversity, and it's useful to embrace that. I see a lot of ballet, in addition to other types of dance, by top companies -- there are many, many, many more non-tutu ballets out there than there are tutu ballets. If we 'dream' of the dream of young girls, of tutus and pointe shoes and fairies and princesses, we restrict ourselves in a variety of ways:

 

1. We limit our overall understanding of the art form.

2. We may limit ourselves in terms of performance opportunities.

3. We may also limit our own technical achievements and ability.

 

Ballet is ridiculously diverse -- most companies these days run the gamut in terms of what they perform, from Petipa to Bournonville to Balanchine to Nijinsky to Ashton to Tudor to MacMillan to Cranko to McGregor to Forsythe to... to... to.... So, I think that recognizing this diversity helps us in a variety of ways, including in our perceptions of what a performance opportunity might be.

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  • 1 month later...

I think this is a great post and it really makes me appreciate the studio I am currently taking my classes at. This studio has the largest adult program in the area (and not just in ballet) and adults always have the option to perform in the annual recital production. Our director also founded a semi-professional performing company which is geared towards adults and teenagers, with a few children as well (depending on the performance). There is usually an audition and an additional performance fee that we have to pay so it's not for everyone, but it gives us adults a chance to work on new choreography and perform on stage B).

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This might sound kind of unusual but I perceive master classes as a performance opportunity. I don't know if this is true all of the time, but at my school, when a master class is offered, people can pay to come observe the class as well. There were several parents and fellow students there when I took it. So it felt like a small, intimate peformance, almost better than a big perfomance in ways because they're so close to you and can see you crystal clear! Maybe there is no costume, but there was that same feeling - especially for the variation class (where you get to dance to the actual music from the ballet). Next time I am totally taking my mom and my boyfriend! B)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Any of the posters to this discussions located in Southern California, Los Angeles-Orange County areas? If so, please, do kindly share the school/studio that you attend. I would love to participate in a performance :D

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  • 11 months later...

I know that this is an old topic, but I want to chime in. In San Francisco, there is a ballet teacher who runs an adult company. She teaches ballet classes, and then holds rehearsals after her classes.

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Are you talking about Ms. Mata from SF Dance Center? She does a lot of awesome and interesting things with adult dancers from her classes.

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Yes, I am talking about Ms. Mata. When I was in SF, she had performances at the studio. From looking at her web page, it appears that her group has expanded.

 

Are you talking about Ms. Mata from SF Dance Center? She does a lot of awesome and interesting things with adult dancers from her classes.

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I notice this is an old topic,but interesting to me - perhaps my school is the exception to the rule....

 

<We have three shows a year in the theatre which belong to the Northern Ballet School, whose studios we use for classes. There seems to usually be a beginners piece (ballet and contemporary classed combined), an advanced ballet piece, the tap guys do their thing, as do the jazz class. Its all choreographed by our teachers, and they generally perform somethings as well. Participation is entirely voluntary, and except for the week leading up, classes carry on as normal.

 

Is it polished and professional looking? Probably not, but that's not why we do it. I've not been in one yet, partly because I've not really been able to get to class as much as I'd like, let alone commit to rehearsals, but mostly because I don't have the confidence to be seen on stage actually 'dancing' just yet. But I like that fact that I can if I want to, and for me that'll be a huge step in terms of body confidence and just self esteem in general.

 

:offtopic:incidently is the teacher in the last post this lady?

 

http://www.kqed.org/arts/programs/trulyca/shorts/episode.jsp?essid=29515

 

She looks amazing!

Edited by doormouse
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