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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Past Links 2013-14


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It can be very helpful with some new works to have people in the audience who do know when it has finished, and thus lead the ensuing applause. Sometimes it can be hard to decide whether it is a dramatic pause or the end!

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I agree Doubleturn. There seems to be that awkward silence when everyone is trying to see if this is just a pause in the dancing or if the piece has been completed particularly in the contemporary works.

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I agree Doubleturn, it is especially hard in contemporary works to distinguish the end from the next section sometimes. We, who are ballet lovers also sometimes forget that in an audience mostly filled with 1st timers, they can't that same distinguishment sometimes in a pas/variation combo.


I've seen quite a few companies during a run for multiple shows to make sure I saw all my friend's kids or the costumes on all those wearing them. Or even when going to see my own DD and then going back to see her friends in the same role. I've often sat wishing there was a scatter group of those encouraging clapping. It's amazing to me that with the same show and sometimes even almost the same cast that the audiences night to night can go from enthusiastic and warm to not so. And that with no reflection on the dancers themselves or their performances.

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That is indeed true, that sometimes one cannot tell when it is "a dramatic pause" or "the End".


But, to me, that is one of the skills which a choreographer should also learn/develop, as much as it is a skill for the audience to be open to different timing and dynamics. These things (the education of an audience) take time, and it behooves a choreographer /regisseuer /director to figure out how to get the "message" accross in ways which are not only understood, but appreciated.


That said, I will also applaud first if I know when something is over, just to get the audience going. :) (it happens all the time in plays, too!)



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I think the difference, though, between starting applause at appropriate times in the choreography and the Bolshoi claqueurs, is the intent. I have begun applause to cue the audience, but the idea of the claqueurs is that they are being compensated to applaud a particular dancer, not a particular portion of the choreography. That's where there is crossing of lines.

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... the idea of the claqueurs is that they are being compensated to applaud a particular dancer, not a particular portion of the choreography. That's where there is crossing of lines.

That and actually sabotaging a dancer/s who won't play their game.

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I believe this is a very old practice and has taken place in the opera too, performers hiring claqueurs in an effort to promote their careers or sabotage the careers of others.

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  • 2 months later...

What this article doesn't discuss is the link between ballet and politics in Russia. Many ballet dancers are also politicians, if not overtly, then through their marriages to high level Russian government officials. Beginning with Stalin, ballet was used by the Soviet Union to emphasize Communist principles; artistic directors had to create ballets with socialist themes. During that time, ballet dancers who had ties to government officials or were leading Communist officials themselves were able to lead a much better life than the regular folks; imagine how tempting that must've been. The exodus of so many great Russian ballet dancers, however, was due to the craving for artistic freedom instead of having to perform the often monotonous, trite


Anyhow, that relationship between politics and ballet, with the Russian government dictating the employment of various ballet officials and, sadly, even dancers, at the Bolshoi, continues today. The claquers have been part of that relationship. Politicians hire them. I read a long article about this several years; I think it was in the New York Times, but I could be mistaken.


My daughter has danced professionally in Russia on a number of occasions. During her first tour there, she was surprised at the loudness and fervor of the audience throughout the performance. She said it was difficult to hear the music and often dangerous onstage: so many flowers were thrown there while the dancing was going on. She said it was a full-bodied onslaught. I mostly doubt claquers were there - this was an American dance company - but who knows? Russian politics work in mysterious ways.

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A study on force strength and muscle development and bone density.


It seems to conclude that proper diet as a young dancer is needed to ward off loss of bone density as a young professional.


I am sharing because I am interested and thought others might be too.




But I have to say I would like to see a more in depth article on the results of this study.


The presentation at a thesis competition is on youtube:





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Thanks for sharing! Interesting article! So strength may predict bone health!


My question is what about dancers and athletes who eat well and are a good healthy weight, (BMI >18), yet remain without their period? This is thought to be due to low body fat. Do they have less strength? Are they at risk for poor bone health now and in the future?

Lacking their period, called amenorrhea, is a symptom of low hormones or estrogen which is known to provide more strength/less fatigue when present. Do those stronger dancers have their periods? That may be a better marker even then strength.

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My only issue with this is that it is one study done in one country with a narrow margin of dancers.


Ultimately, only a dancer's doctor knows for sure if he or she is healthy. Any statistic that includes specific numbers is merely a jumping-off point, and certainly not something that should be adhered to as law.

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