Jump to content
alison

Christmas TV and New Year dance programmes - discussion 2016

Recommended Posts

Darcey Bussell's programme on Margot Fonteyn having just finished, here's a thread to discuss that and other dance-related offerings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was, as some here predicted, a re-hash of documentaries about Fonteyn that have been aired previously ( and have been done better). There was a lot of walking around by Darcey, looking very chic in many different outfits, visiting some rather handsome locations and reading extracts from Fonteyn's autobiography - at times reminiscent of Michael Portillo's Bradshaw railway series. There was also some unnecessary sequences of Darcy coaching and talking to Kevin O'Hare and Laura Cuthbertson about what the name Fonteyn means to them. On the positive side it was lovely to see an interview with Beryl Grey and the detailed diaries kept by Fonteyn's mother. I must have nodded off and will have to catch up on the final ten minutes as I suddenly found myself watching Lucy Worsley's series on the Six Wives of Henry VIII. Not a good start to the festive offerings.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Darcey seems to have accepted Margot's published view of Tito and their relationship at totally face value. I must say the opinion that he was acting for the liberation of the Panamanian people is a new one to me. He has never struck me as such an altruistic politition before.

 

It really wasn't anywhere the same league as the South Bank Show special of a few years ago. Came over as something of a vanity project I am afraid.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Came over as something of a vanity project I am afraid.

 

As did the article by Darcey Bussell in yesterday's Daily Telegraph, I'm sorry to say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do wish we could break the monopoly Ms B appears to have on presenting any ballet related programme.  She is a rather wooden reader of script, and the conversation always comes back to something that reflects well on her personally.  I remember thinking during World Ballet Day that the streaming from the Royal Ballet threw up a number of current dancers in discussion spots who seemed intelligent, thoughtful and articulate (Sarah Lamb for instance).  I guess the challenge is finding someone however who actually has the time available too. In some hopefully distant time when Tamara Rojo eases off her commitments, I hope the TV producers pick up on her charisma and knowledge, and as a result we get some more intellectually stimulating fare.

  • Like 14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have really liked seeing / listening to Deborah Bull. She comes across as highly intelligent and has a more natural style of delivery. It's a shame that she's not used more.

  • Like 14

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I have to say that although I am not a fan of Darcey's presenting style, she came over as rather better than usual, I thought. Not so much gushing. Would have still preferred someone else, though.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jonny Cope did well on the live relays or whatever it was he presented.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately this is exactly what the BBC does.  It employs someone and then makes them totally ubiquitous.  Other examples of this are Clare Balding (who is very good) and Greg Wallace (who isn't and seems to be less than popular with the public).  I suspect that we are about to see something similar happen with Ore Oduba.  

 

I am afraid that sometimes they pander to the lowest possible denominator on the grounds that a certain person is well known to the public so only they will do.

 

If you are talking about effective ballet presenters I would add David Bintley to the list, although I doubt the BBC will.

Edited by Two Pigeons
  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another disappointing documentary was Phillip Schofield on Prince Phillip. It was supposedly to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.  Over the years I have acted as an assessor for various pupils who have used ballet as their "Skill" or as the "Physical Activity" for their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.   If you didn't know much about the Awards, you certainly wouldn't have learnt much more from this progamme - it was all about Phillip Schofield!  Such a missed opportunity!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last year's Christmas' television schedule gave us two dance programmes which revealed the BBC's ambivalent attitude to its duty to educate and entertain when it comes to dance as an art form. One about contemporary dance in which and hour and a half were dedicated to the subject and everything was taken very seriously because it was a worthwhile subject which the audience needed to know about and one about ballet on television in the 1950's,which had the potential to be very interesting, but in which the tone adopted suggested that the whole enterprise was something of a joke.The serious dance programme was tucked away on BBC 4 while the other one was on a channel with a bigger potential audience. Those responsible for commissioning the two programmes did their duty as far as dance output is concerned but they also managed to suggest that no one watching the popular channel need worry their pretty little heads about anything as silly as ballet or even sillier ballet on television. 

 

As the BBC seem terrified of putting anything on television that might be described as "elitist" I think it unlikely that they would now consider anyone other than Darcey to front the sort of "documentary" which was shown last night.As so much of the BBC's output is provided by outside programme makers the presence of a celebrity presenter is now absolutely essential to such programmes being commissioned in the first place. The presence of Darcey, the best known British dancer of her generation is, no doubt seen as giving the enterprise  a degree of credibility which it might otherwise lack and guarantees a reasonable sized audience.

 

We just have to accept that this programme was never going to be a documentary about dance as such. The programme would have been much improved if it had made it clear that "Fonteyn the ballerina" was as much a product of de Valois' will and Ashton's choreography as it was of her "perfect proportions". It would have helped if the audience had been told that it was Markova's departure from the Vic Well's company which prompted the need to create a new ballerina for the company..Dame Beryl hinted at some of this when she said that Fonteyn took corrections but this should have been followed up and developed. Dancers are given corrections it would have been interesting to know what was different about the way she applied them. The most insightful thing that Darcey contributed was her comment about Nureyev's and Fonteyn's harmonious proportions as partners,very like the comment which Sibley made about dancing with Dowell.Sir Peter's comment on Fonteyn's balance and its security should have been followed up so that the audience understood its significance. After trawling through all the archive material the thing that was missing was Moira Shearer's comments about Fonteyn in which she said that she thought that the real secret of Fonteyn's success as a dancer was her consistency in performance. Other dancers,she said, gave great performances but were more variable in their quality than Fonteyn.'s were, with her you were guaranteed a fine performance every time.

 

But then following up and developing these comments would have required some thought to be given to the enterprise. It might have transformed the programme from a popular one into one coming dangerously close to being "elitist" if it had discussed the degree to which Fonteyn or any other outstanding dancer is a construct and how much they owe to their own natural physique. Worst of all it would have denied Darcey and her film crew their trips to New York and Panama and exotic places like Sadler's Wells.

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take your point about a programme which actually looked at what made Fonteyn so very special might be viewed as 'elitist' if transmitted on BBC 2.  I think there is every chance that someone at that august institution may have taken that very view which is why the probably far more interesting programme on Sir Peter has been consigned to the more recherche BBC 4.

 

It is a paradox then that the much more in depth study of Fonteyn's life was made by the far more populist ITV.  Sadly populism seems to have caught up with the South  Bank Show and that has been moved to Sky Arts.  As mainstream television continues its plunge to find the lowest common denominator I think we are fortunate to have Sky Arts, even with all its limitations.  I have enjoyed to the two broadcasts of the Australian Ballet this month and at least the channel is trying to provide a wider range of arts programmes as the mainstream channels decrease their coverage.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As per (FLOSS' comment) this is an unnecessarily ungenerous response. Sure as someone who goes to ballet I would have liked something more analytical, but there have been previous documentaries as well as the play -rather enjoyed that too. But clichés such as "vanity project" are missing the point. Darcey Bussell is popular, will bring in viewers, some of whom will find out more about the subject. And although there's an unintentional whiff of French & Saunders parody ("I'm back in Panama/I'm in New York...), and her interview manner is a little intrusive, she's neither evil, nor are kittens killed in the process of making the programme.

Edited by Vanartus
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you consider how many of the GOM and GOW of British ballet were interviewed in connection with this documentary it seems such a wasted opportunity. For me it's a case of "The mountain laboured and brought forth a mouse.". I hope that the BBC does better by Sir Peter and that they have something better lined up for Dame Beryl for her ninetieth.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that this forum has, arguably, an esoteric membership - and I enjoy it and the interesting comments I read.

 

Many of those who I know watched last night's programme are not balletomanes and don't have any great interest in ballet or ballet dancers, but were attracted to it because of Margot and Darcey. All seem to have enjoyed it; learning something about Margot's (sad) life - their words, and about ballet itself, both historically and in the modern age.

 

This hour long 'populist' and easily watchable programme will, in my view, have increased the interest in ballet of most of the large audience, not only in one of ballet's icons, but in how ballet has developed since Margot.

  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that Ore may be poached. I liked him during the olympics, but suspect the fame could spoil him. Strictly has a lot to answer for!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haven't seen the prog yet as just got back from London and has been recorded so cannot comment on that yet

 

But Beryl Grey being 90 is wonderful and she looks terrific still!!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not perfect, but I really enjoyed it! However, it would be good if we could separate out the problems with the programme's content from Darcey. Darcey is not the programme maker, she is the presenter, and as such, she does an excellent job; she is warm and engaging, knows her subject inside out, and obviously has the respect of those she interviews. It is the director and the researchers, however, who will have been responsible for the programme's content (although Darcey will have been consulted), and any slant on such things as Fonteyn's relationship with Tito, will have been their decision. If we saw too many shots of Darcey walking abut, that was the director's decision in the edit, not Darcey's.

Edited by cavycapers
  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes you are right cavycapers - the director is responsible for most of these aspects. In terms of presentation, the seemingly endless walking around significant landscapes, sometimes tenuously, connected to the subject matter is like a rash across documentary programmes. (There's a three-part one on Vienna at the moment that springs to mind).

I would like to think the Darcey has a little more control over content . Perhaps if we saw the rushes of the various interviews, her questions may have been more probing, following through on the comments made, and that these were edited out.

The lack of footage of Fonteyn dancing at the expense of "location walking and talking" was inexcusable whoever the programme was aimed at. As has been noted earlier, we needed to see some of her attributes followed through in visual terms. Such amplification would have served both those with a passing interest in ballet and those of us who might be mistakenly termed as 'elitist'.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed the Darcey Bussell "Fonteyn" programme very much indeed.  It is well produced and presented, and I am delighted that there are a few TV shows this Christmas about ballet on the mainstream channels.  Long may it continue.  Regarding Panama etc, I had hoped before that they would show footage of it, and the ending was very touching.  Definitely worth watching, and Ms Bussell is doing a lot to bring ballet and dance to the general public, which should make ballet enthusiasts very glad!

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Darcey programme was better than I expected, easy on the eye and on the ear - how refreshing to hear people speaking knowledgeably and clearly, about the subject in question. I am so tired of the mumbling and inarticulacy that seems to be fashionable otherwise - I mean, like, yer know etc etc.

I felt the programme fulfilled its remit, was probably informative to those less well aquainted with the story of Miss Fonteyn and with one or two snippets of interest for those who already know about her.

I would have preferred, at the beginning, to see footage of Margot before Darcey and her name mentioned before Darcey, but this was never going to be an indepth study. There were one or two, probably unintentionally, funny moments particularly body language and the art of the loaded silence.

I do feel that Miss Bussell could probably present any subject under the sun, in exactly the same manner. She must be a director's dream. She rather reminds me of that character from The Fast Show, who would stand in front of the camera and say Today I am wearing....Darcey could say Today I am wearing (insert label) and I am looking for (insert name).

Anyway, for me the programme wasn't great, nor was it bad. It was what it was and at least it got ballet on tv, even it was on so late.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just watched it, better than I was afraid it might be from some of the comments, but still I think it could have gone into more depth and had more footage of Margot dancing, or is there a copyright problem?  

 

Do you think it actually matters when a programme is screened?  Many people record rather than watch live these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, but for the casual viewer who's not going to bother recording, they're only likely to come across it if it's on TV at a reasonable hour. Mind you, it *was* straight after the News, I believe.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, well, this ninny here forgot to record it.  However, I am no fan of Miss Bussell as a presenter, because I always feel that the focus is frequently on her, rather than the subject of the documentary.  I realise that the idea is that she will bring in a larger audience to watch a programme about ballet, but I find this in itself rather sad.  I am a lifelong fan of ballet, who is being put off watching because of her.  I just find her to be rather amateurish, even after all this time.  She simply isn't a natural at it.  

 

Do people only watch a programme because A Famous Person is presenting it?  I've seen loads of programmes presented by people I have never heard of, on subjects I have no particular interest in, and the reason I continued watching was because the subject matter was brought to life by a person with the ability to convey their knowledge and passion for the subject without gushing, giggling, or grinning at the camera every 30 seconds.  .   

I wish Darcey could be paired with someone else.  Jonathon Cope came across as a natural presenter when I saw him, and he and Darcey know each other very well.  Could they not share the role?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do feel that Miss Bussell could probably present any subject under the sun, in exactly the same manner. She must be a director's dream. She rather reminds me of that character from The Fast Show, who would stand in front of the camera and say Today I am wearing....Darcey could say Today I am wearing (insert label) and I am looking for (insert name).

 

 

 

When Darcey presented one of the Royal Ballet live cinema streamings, she had a notes clipboard which she unwittingly let turn towards the camera at one point. On it in large capital letters we we all saw the prompt 'thank you'.  :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm delighted to hear she had full, detailed and clear notes.

 

Anyone who preferred to 'wing it' without notes in front of a (live) audience of 5 million would probably be a liability!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm delighted to hear she had full, detailed and clear notes.

 

 

 

Did she? Good to hear that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do people only watch a programme because A Famous Person is presenting it?

It would appear that way - look at how many programmes are entitled "[Celebrity name] [programme title]". I fear that's what the cult of celebrity has led to.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would appear that way - look at how many programmes are entitled "[Celebrity name] [programme title]". I fear that's what the cult of celebrity has led to.

 

 

And not only in the UK.  Years ago, perhaps when it wasn't so prevalent here, I saw a production of Private Lives in Toronto.  Reading the programme, one of the actors was a TV regular and he was applauded on his first appearance and wildly at the end.  The other actors acted him off the stage!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...