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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Artistic Risk Takers


marigold

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I would be interested in hearing which favorite well known dancers are considered to be "risk takers" and show it in their dancing? Or are all great dancers risk takers, in a way? Is it a given for all or is it something particular to some more than others?

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Marigold, I'm not sure what you mean by 'risk takers'. While some dancers, as with some people in any profession, are naturally more confident and tend to be a bit fearless, I'm not sure I would call them risk takers. :shrug: Now AD's and choreographers, hmmm, they might tend to be more inclined to risk taking! :wink:

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I realize that all great dancers at some point break away from concerns of technique and begin taking risks, therefore letting their personality and spirit reveal itself through their dancing. I would think some might reveal that through their personalities, beyond what the choreographers ask them to do. The same choreography might be set on two different people and look beautiful, but very different, depending on, say what "risks" the dancer takes in their artistic expression? I was interested in some examples of those dancers who might have that reputation, particularly. I think all artists would do this, but perhaps some known to more than others? It seems that it's part of the process that begins early in a dancer's development, as well.

 

I came across a lovely video and interview with Carla Korbes and she speaks of the decision to let go and take risks and what happened after she did. I think the letting go allowed her to express herself more artistically during her development. In that case, the idea may be more suitable to the student forum, as it's part of the process of breaking out from being a student and into the dancer that one is going to be. It's advice my dd is sometimes given. I'm speaking of the letting go and trusting themselves. I also have heard of dancers being admired for their "risk taking". Here is the video of Ms Korbes, by the way. :)

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I think it's interesting that so much of ballet training is about learning to be exact and able to blend in with each other in the corps and yet, it's also about becoming confident enough in your technique and yourself to become an artist who is able to dance the steps with a personal authority and insight. I don't think someone can tell a dancer to do this; I think it comes with experience. I can see the confidence developing with our dd and as it's grown so have her opportunities. When a student transitions to professional, its still a gradual learning process.

 

A concrete example: dd is dancing "Phlegmatic" in Balanchine's Four Temperaments and has been trying to adjust the timing of one pose because the person that she's splitting center with is always early. Problem is: dd is the only one who has been corrected for her timing. After 3 days of this and each day talking with the dancer splitting the middle, she decided to do it to the right count and see what happened. She took a risk, not a grand kind of risk but the kind that leads to confidence and the ability to risk more in the future. The répétiteur clearly saw the error of the early dancer and was able to address them in a way that will improve the performance. I think dd went from student mode (and she's been professional for a year and a half!) to professional mode by having the confidence to stick with what she knew she should be doing. The other dancer benefited from a little extra work on the pose and timing as well. This is just a recent example of what has been an ongoing process as she develops artistically. So IMO, every dancer who is growing artistically is taking risks. It's either that or become predictable and stagnant... and no one wants to do that!

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I think it's interesting that so much of ballet training is about learning to be exact and able to blend in with each other in the corps and yet, it's also about becoming confident enough in your technique and yourself to become an artist who is able to dance the steps with a personal authority and insight.

 

I agree, swanchat. I have always thought this to be one of the unique contradictions that is a requirement for a classical ballet dancer to meet. They are raised in the studio to conform, yet need to go beyond that to express the artist inside of them and stand out.

 

I think that it would usually be the more mature dancer who has the experience to make independent judgements like you describe while performing choreography. There are so many interpretations of "risk taking" and categories it can apply to. I was actually thinking in terms of examples of dancers who push the boundaries while maintaining the refinement of the art form. And whether someone likes what they see in regards to that may be a matter of taste. I realize Sylvie Guillem is known to do this, enough that some feel she could upstage the character she was portraying with her own personal style. Some respond to Natalya Osipova the same way, yet neither could be accused of dancing without going the extra mile for artistic risk. Suzanne Farrell's imprint was all her own, as well, obviously. The thought comes back to personality maybe, and how each individual lets theirs shine through and how early they feel safe to do this or in what environment it is encouraged?

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i

t's also about becoming confident enough in your technique and yourself to become an artist who is able to dance the steps with a personal authority and insight. I don't think someone can tell a dancer to do this; I think it comes with experience.

 

Well...looks like we're both quoting swanchat today. :clapping: To add to this, I would think that almost any Soloist or Principal dancer would qualify at one time or another as having taken this personal authority. If they did not, then they might have been missing one of the wonderful qualifiers that set them apart from the corp they used to belong to. I don't want our young dancers and younger parents thinking this means doing what you want. But instead, it means making whatever that role is your own. And to do that, you can't put on stage a carbon copy performance of another dancer either in your own company or one you've studied on youtube (or live).

 

There are so many interpretations of "risk taking" and categories it can apply to.

 

When I read the original question, this is the first thing that popped into my mind. One might be a risk taker in one area, one style and not in another. To me, it's almost that fearlessness in which a dancer is trained well, coached well, and in making the performance their own is not on stage caring about what the AD says or what the reviewers might say. But in that moment, that they have been given, they give their all and then some.

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Well, if we are talking about risk takers while adhering to classical standards, I love to watch Tamara Rojo. She does more, higher and faster while at the same time revealing great character portrayal. I've not seen her dance in anything but the classics so I can't comment on how that translates to more contemporary choreography. And.. of course, she's risking so much more by taking on the AD job at ENB at the very height of her career!

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Love this discussion and the video was very interesting. Thanks for posting Marigold :clapping:

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1. Ashley Bouder for her willingness to risk falling

2. Baryshnikov for his willingness to try other forms of dance besides ballet

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  • 3 months later...

1. Ashley Bouder for her willingness to risk falling

2. Baryshnikov for his willingness to try other forms of dance besides ballet

vagansmom -- thanks very much for these examples.

Are there other examples of dancers who were willing to try other forms of dance besides ballet at an earlier age and how that changed/"informed" their dance performance as adults? My dd (10) is taking Chinese dance outside of her pre-pro, and while any classes outside of her ballet school are not allowed it would be wonderful to have examples of how this served the careers of those in the past (eg should her school's administrator address us on the topic).

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