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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Articles: Wendy Perron on Acrobatics in Competitions

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Thank you to each and everyone of you who have helped me understand what a good contemporary dance is suppose to look like! I have had the pleasure to see many good pieces, but could not put my finger on what made it good. I think music is a big part of it and the dancers musicality. am also fond of dancers who look comfortable in their piece and agree with all of you who have expressed a dislike for "angsty faces". I almost prefer the teenage snare/eye roll to the angsty face. At least its age appropriate! LOL


One of my favorite contemporary pieces that I watch all the time:



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Interesting discussion. I found it interesting that in at least one of the (male) contemporary variations selected for the Prix de Lausanne this year, there was a cartwheel. But it seemed to work in the context and the remainder of the variation was very much NOT about tricks. I think it's all about context and the composition of the piece as a whole.


Not about YAGP, but about "contemporary". The RAD has introduced contemporary variations as an option for all their vocational level exams (Intermediate Foundation to Advanced 2). Very few have tricks - off the top of my head I can think of a very quick handstand type kick in the Advanced Foundation male option - but most focus heavily on musicality. For example, the female Advanced 1 contemporary variation is much easier technically than the classical option for that level BUT one of my teachers (an RAD examiner) said to me that the tricky thing about the contemporary variation is the musicality and the nuances that need to be expressed in the "pauses".


To me, the best contemporary pieces show off musicality and movement quality and everything that learningdance spoke about - the specifics of articulated movement. Simpler is often better but simpler can be more difficult. Showing off extensions, kicks, tricks, etc can be easier than truly dancing to a particular piece of music.


The Prix de Lausanne daily livestreams (one hour only) are available on YouTube and you can see a lot of the contemporary variations and the coaching of them. Very interesting viewing and also a demonstration of how the same variation can be danced very differently by different dancers.

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Thanks. I was beginning to feel that I was completely off base with my thoughts about this.


And I also watched the Prix live stream of the group contemporary piece. Honestly, I found that Cont piece to be dreadful, uninspired, and forgettable.

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Yes, swantobe, context is everything! Whether the context is good depends on so many things/people: the choreographer, the dancer, the teacher, the theme/story if there is one, etc. etc. etc. That is why it makes it so hard to determine when it's good to allow and when not. Some will get it right and others will get it wrong. When it's wrong it's painful to watch sometimes.


And thank you for reminding everyone to watch Prix compulsory variations being performed. In my humble armchair opinion, that is where you can spend time determining your own views of artistry, musicality and "it". Dancers all learning and performing the same choreography (learned over a shorter amount of time!) and then seeing what each dancer truly brings to the table. Important remembering that the dancers in reality are all equally talented, all equal technicians, and the choreography developed for certain reasons. (performance quality not really one of the reasons) This is one of the things Prix is so good at. I like what Adam Skulte said in this article in Dance Magazine: “As a judge, you have to be careful not to confuse your like or dislike of the choreography with the artistry of the dancer,” He also mentioned some things about when and when not to include all that we've discussed here.

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I'd add "clutching dress and climbing it up legs with distressed anguished facials". :devil:

I had to laugh at this, because my husband refers to these as dances the ones with the "girls in nightgowns rolling around on the floor, looking constipated."

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I had to chime in...a couple comments have me spitting my coffee out with laughter! Not criticising...just laughing. My non dancing daughter (maybe a new acronym...NDD?) is a new teenager so has a lot of interesting things to say? She is a huge supporter of her dancing younger sister, but seriously can't grasp contemporary. The thing that drives her craziest is what she calls the "my dress itches dance." Sister is a huge supporter of DD and watches competitions seriously. She takes notes in her program via small flashlight. I love the notes that refer to the "constantly grabbed dress." Or, "why is she constipated, yet happy about it at the same time?" Or "where is her hand leading her that is so obviously important, yet futile?" Or the best one I think, "ok, we get it. Your foot can go behind your head in 50 different ways."


Obviously this style escapes her?. But...seeing it done well is breathtaking in my opinion! Just a learned taste.

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But...seeing it done well is breathtaking in my opinion!

It is indeed but ONLY if well done! and my husband agrees with the terrible constipated look!

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Beezus21, thank you for sharing that beautiful contemporary piece. It was gorgeous in every way!

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I did a spit take when reading the constipation comments because that is EXACTLY what I was thinking about the anguished faces comment.


My feelings on contemporary are that you can watch companies like Martha Graham or Mark Morris and realize that you don't need the same tumbling stunts as an Olympic gymnast to have a great contemporary dance.

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