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BBC's "Christmas" Dance Offerings 2015


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Good for you. Pleased to see the Radio Times selecting your letter. Given there must have been quite a few letters reflecting on the Christmas schedules, it is refreshing to see ballet being chosen to bring this matter to its readers' attention.

Letter of the Week - brilliant!

 

Incidentally, over in another generally ballet-free universe (Mumsnet), there was much discussion of the programming on TV over the Christmas period. Generally speaking, most felt that there was very little worth watching. Only a few programmes got the thumbs-up, one of which was... Darcey's Ballet Heroes.

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I just watched Darcey's Heroes on Youtube, so I can put in my two cents worth.  I found it enjoyable and I think would be quite informative for the general public.  The fact that we buffs on this forum didn't learn much new is perhaps beside the point.  You had after all Clement Crisp, Judith Mackrell and Julie Kavanagh talking quite knowledgeably and informatively on the subjects and she introduced some interesting people too and gave quite a varied picture of male dancers today.  I have to say I was rather put off by Ed Watson sliding around in some yukky looking substance and do hope that that is NOT the face of ballet in the future!  I agree that the end clips were daft and absolutely unneccessary!  She was charming, although I thought she played rather too much the ingénue, but obviously that's what they thought the general public would like and goes with her image on Strictly. 

 

I think that there could have been a little more about the role of male dancers before Petipa came along and gave them back their standing.  I mean until Camargo shortened her skirts, ballet was all male virtuosity, but then they were demoted to supporting cast for the ethereal ladies of the Romantic era.  There were even ladies in male costumes dancing the male roles - en travesty - I think it was called.  I read that in France men slipped so low that Franz in Coppelia was danced by a woman!  The real men only came forward when they needed to lift the women!  It's a long way from that to the Superstars of today and there are indeed amazing male dancers in every company nowadays.  Perhaps the earlier historical background could have been covered, but it was okay as it was and a pleasurable hour's entertainment!

Edited by Dance*is*life
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I have to say I was rather put off by Ed Watson sliding around in some yukky looking substance and do hope that that is NOT the face of ballet in the future! 

 

Don't worry, that was Arthur Pita's The Metamorphosis, so not ballet at all :)

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I agree, although I loved The Metamorphosis when the whole work was on TV, it was perhaps not the best clip to include in this sort of programme.

 

There was a very interesting programme not very long ago, The King Dances. It started with historical background about Louis XIV and then showed BRB in the ballet of that name. Worth looking for on the internet.

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The contrast between the tone of the programme presented by Bussell and the 90 minute documentary about contemporary dance was too great to pass without comment. I don't think that it is simply a question of the channels for which they were commissioned which explains the difference in tone. A great deal of the difference is attributable to the style of the presenters Presentation style is important because it governs how the audience assimilates the programme and its contents and how it  perceive its subject matter subsequently." The medium is the message" remains true to this day.

 

One programme had a series of presenters each of whom spoke with enthusiasm and obvious knowledge about the significance of the choreographers whose work they were discussing.Their enthusiasm was infectious and combined with  their obvious knowledge and professional involvement in the world of dance made them sound authoritative and gave extra weight to the importance of the subject matter of the programme . The other programme had a presenter whose chosen television persona is giggly, gushing and girly who by her  style of presentation says to the audience "None of this really matters. It's all superficial entertainment."

 

I said that ballet programmes could do with an obviously intelligent presenter. When I said that I meant it. It  

is a criticism of Bussell's chosen presentation style not of her intelligence. I accept that Bussell is very well known and popular .As president of the RAD I had hoped that she might have used her television  programmes about dance to do a bit more to get the general public to take ballet seriously.Gushing, giggly, girlishness may be an acceptable and  effective persona for someone in their late teens or early twenties but  is it appropriate in a presenter in her mid forties who was a highly regarded professional dancer? Just occasionally the mask slips for example when she is filmed watching a dancer in class, and suddenly you get a glimpse of the real Darcey Bussell professional dancer who is far more interesting and potentially far more engaging than the carefully crafted Darcey Bussell television dance presenter who we usually see.

 

 

 

 

intelligence

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You sum up my thoughts so well, Floss.  Okay, I am not Ms. Bussell's biggest fan but I think I am still able to make an objective judgement.  I don't think she is remotely interested in bringing ballet to a wider audience or any of the myriad other objectives that nicer people than I are attributing to her.  I think Darcey misses the limelight and will do anything to remain in the media spotlight.  Okay, nothing much wrong with that and she won't be the first, but I do think she could make an effort to stop the gushing and the girlishness and just talk about ballet about which she must know a great deal.  You don't get to the top of RB without being street-smart and I find the persona she adopts intensely irritating.

 

Contrast that with Steven Macrae.  He is hardly a shy star and is always out there twittering and promoting himself.  And why not?  He is honest and upfront about it and whilst some may think it is OTT, that's what he does.  With Darcey there is something faux that for me strikes a wrong note.

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YOkay, I am not Ms. Bussell's biggest fan but I think I am still able to make an objective judgement.  I don't think she is remotely interested in bringing ballet to a wider audience or any of the myriad other objectives that nicer people than I are attributing to her.  I think Darcey misses the limelight and will do anything to remain in the media spotlight. 

 

With Darcey there is something faux that for me strikes a wrong note.

 

First of all, I would like to say that I do not find anything offensive about your post, Penelope.  While you have expressed yourself a little more forcefully than perhaps I would have done, I do agree that I think Darcey enjoys being in the public eye, and relishes the chance to branch out into television.

 

Nothing wrong with that, but as I said before, I wish she would use her status as a judge on SCD, which has has made her well known to a wider audience, to attract a whole new audience to classical ballet.  She has the profile to get a programme on the main BBC channel, and I am sure there is something she could do that would broaden the knowledge of the general public.  I would love to see her do something similar to the programme that Rojo did a while ago.  

 

Edited to add that I posted before I read Janet's post.  I guess the reaction to Penelope's post depends on whether or not you are a fan of Bussell.  I was always fairly neutral when she was performing, appreciating the technical abilities, but not gushing in the way that others did.  Personally, I thought her contemporary, Durante, was better all round. 

Edited by Fonty
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First of all, I would like to say that I do not find anything offensive about your post, Penelope.  While you have expressed yourself a little more forcefully than perhaps I would have done, I do agree that I think Darcey enjoys being in the public eye, and relishes the chance to branch out into television.

 

Nothing wrong with that, but as I said before, I wish she would use her status as a judge on SCD, which has has made her well known to a wider audience, to attract a whole new audience to classical ballet.  She has the profile to get a programme on the main BBC channel, and I am sure there is something she could do that would broaden the knowledge of the general public.  I would love to see her do something similar to the programme that Rojo did a while ago.  

 

Edited to add that I posted before I read Janet's post.  I guess the reaction to Penelope's post depends on whether or not you are a fan of Bussell.  I was always fairly neutral when she was performing, appreciating the technical abilities, but not gushing in the way that others did.  Personally, I thought her contemporary, Durante, was better all round. 

Oh gosh, me too.  I was a huge Durante fan.  She and Mukhamedov were the dream team, for me.  I never really understood why she left RB - so many different explanations and all of them convoluted - so I guess I'll never know.  I did enjoy Darcey dancing and made a point of booking to see her, but I was never a fan worshipping at her feet.  I stand by what I said that I think that she misses being in the public eye (and what on earth is wrong with saying that escapes me) but would support her if I felt she was genuinely pushing ballet forward - the equivalent of a muscular Christian for religion!

 

However, I find her Strictly persona pretty nauseating, particular the way she patronises the male judges, and I don't like her presenting the cinema relays.  Quite why it is, apparently, verboten, to say this is a mystery, but...there you go.

 

And Janet, I get the rebuke even if I don't understand the reasoning.  What I don't get is this board's toleration of a poster who never posts anything of any substance or raises subjects for debate, but who sits in judgement on others, jumping in like a Commissar when he feels he doesn't like something - the point of debate apparently passing him by.  

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First of all, I would like to say that I do not find anything offensive about your post, Penelope.  While you have expressed yourself a little more forcefully than perhaps I would have done, I do agree that I think Darcey enjoys being in the public eye, and relishes the chance to branch out into television.

 

Nothing wrong with that, but as I said before, I wish she would use her status as a judge on SCD, which has has made her well known to a wider audience, to attract a whole new audience to classical ballet.  She has the profile to get a programme on the main BBC channel, and I am sure there is something she could do that would broaden the knowledge of the general public.  I would love to see her do something similar to the programme that Rojo did a while ago.  

 

Edited to add that I posted before I read Janet's post.  I guess the reaction to Penelope's post depends on whether or not you are a fan of Bussell.  I was always fairly neutral when she was performing, appreciating the technical abilities, but not gushing in the way that others did.  Personally, I thought her contemporary, Durante, was better all round. 

 

 

Not that it has got anything to do with the price of fish but I am not and have never been a fan of Darcey Bussell.  My reaction would have been the same no matter whom the subject of the post had been.  I think because the same thing has been said over and over again it has had something of a cumulative effect on me.

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Oh gosh, me too.  I was a huge Durante fan.  She and Mukhamedov were the dream team, for me.  I never really understood why she left RB - so many different explanations and all of them convoluted - so I guess I'll never know.  I did enjoy Darcey dancing and made a point of booking to see her, but I was never a fan worshipping at her feet.  I stand by what I said that I think that she misses being in the public eye (and what on earth is wrong with saying that escapes me) but would support her if I felt she was genuinely pushing ballet forward - the equivalent of a muscular Christian for religion!

 

However, I find her Strictly persona pretty nauseating, particular the way she patronises the male judges, and I don't like her presenting the cinema relays.  Quite why it is, apparently, verboten, to say this is a mystery, but...there you go.

 

And Janet, I get the rebuke even if I don't understand the reasoning.  What I don't get is this board's toleration of a poster who never posts anything of any substance or raises subjects for debate, but who sits in judgement on others, jumping in like a Commissar when he feels he doesn't like something - the point of debate apparently passing him by.  

 

 

And I think you are now getting to the stage where you are bullying another member.  Perhaps if you were more temperate in your own vehement dislike postings you would not get some of the reactions you get.

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I don't imagine any of us are acquainted with Bussell's personal motivations in her work choices or conduct, so in my view comment should be confined to what she does (or could do, or could not do) - not why she does it. (And my view of her as a dancer has no relevance to my opinion of her as a presenter.)

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