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BBC Dance Season 2020 Discussion

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Posted (edited)

Well that [Men At The Barre] was fascinating. It's rare that I can sit completely absorbed for an hour of television but that just flew by. Hopefully a lot of people who have never experienced ballet before will be moved to go and see a performance (when they can!).

 

It just brings home what we are all missing both for audiences, dancers and all staff alike...

Edited by alison
For clarification
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Thor enjoyable, interesting and lovely to see dancers who are familiar to us, even if at a distance. But, as MJW says it makes us realise what we are missing. And I thought I was coping so well!

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1 hour ago, ninamargaret said:

Thor enjoyable, interesting and lovely to see dancers who are familiar to us, even if at a distance. But, as MJW says it makes us realise what we are missing. And I thought I was coping so well!

I am not coping well at all, especially when I think of how long it might be before we can return to a normal night at the ROH or anywhere else. 😢😢. But the programme was very interesting.  Made me so sad for all these incredibly hard-working young dancers who are losing so much precious time.  

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Posted (edited)

Starting this because people’s views about Men at the Barre are beginning to appear on the information thread and there was so much dance on BBC4 last night to talk about.

 

Edited to say that Jan has now kindly moved earlier posts ahead of mine!!!! I will return with my own comments later.

Edited by capybara
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Thanks Capybara, what an excellent idea.

 

I've moved the comments over and they now appear ahead of your opening comment as they were posted before you opened the discussion.

 

I really enjoyed Men at the Barre last night.  I thought it did a lot to show how much goes into the "making" of a ballet dancer and debunked many myths.  All the dancers came over really well.

 

What a shame it was "hidden away" on BBC4 though.  I thought it was worthy of at least BBC2 if not BBC1.

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I found Men at the Barre both trite and ignorant.  Apart from the dreadful editing which at one moment had the corps for the ball in Onegin apparently going on for Beauty, it reinforced many a stereotype and tackled few.

The programme maker clearly had no knowledge of ballet and hadn’t even read the Ladybird book.  His questions were often uninteresting, his comments uninformed.

To start the entire programme with a discussion of ‘what male dancers wear under their tights’ was crass to the point of being tabloid.

To state that it is this generation which is challenging stereotypes and bringing the male dancer to the fore shows total ignorance  - Anthony Dowell, David Wall, Irek Mukhamedov, Carlos Acosta, Johann Kobborg etc etc etc. at the RB alone.

In search of a ‘story’, much was missed out.

For anyone remotely interested, WHY is Muntagirov considered ‘the best’?  Did anyone talk of technique? No.  Artistry? No. 

Was the director of the RBS or Ricardo Cervera asked about the challenges of teaching boys for ballet?  No.

Did anyone look at partnering?  No.

The young men of the company all came across as charming and modest, and there were some telling ‘talk to the camera’ moments, but...

This was a missed opportunity and an utter failure.

One star from me.

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15 minutes ago, The Sitter In said:

I found Men at the Barre both trite and ignorant.  Apart from the dreadful editing which at one moment had the corps for the ball in Onegin apparently going on for Beauty, it reinforced many a stereotype and tackled few.

The programme maker clearly had no knowledge of ballet and hadn’t even read the Ladybird book.  His questions were often uninteresting, his comments uninformed.

To start the entire programme with a discussion of ‘what male dancers wear under their tights’ was crass to the point of being tabloid.

To state that it is this generation which is challenging stereotypes and bringing the male dancer to the fore shows total ignorance  - Anthony Dowell, David Wall, Irek Mukhamedov, Carlos Acosta, Johann Kobborg etc etc etc. at the RB alone.

In search of a ‘story’, much was missed out.

For anyone remotely interested, WHY is Muntagirov considered ‘the best’?  Did anyone talk of technique? No.  Artistry? No. 

Was the director of the RBS or Ricardo Cervera asked about the challenges of teaching boys for ballet?  No.

Did anyone look at partnering?  No.

The young men of the company all came across as charming and modest, and there were some telling ‘talk to the camera’ moments, but...

This was a missed opportunity and an utter failure.

One star from me.

 

I understand your comments, The Sitter In, but I think this was a programme with a particular purpose. It wasn't about men in ballet, with all the areas such a programme would/should cover; it was about the image of men in ballet (for the general public) as opposed to the reality. So I do think that ultimately it was pretty superficial, but it gave everyone a chance to see (and hear from) these magnificent dancers and that in itself is more than worth doing. And I agree with Jan that it would have been better placed on BBC2 or BBC1 since it was clearly aimed at a general not a specialised audience.

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I agree that it was a very  'general' take on the subject and that there is a place for that. I also liked the chosen themes: new graduates getting contracts; 'golden' generation (where was Reece Clarke BTW?); dancer at the top of his game, disappointed non-promotee; injury challenges; retirement; subsequent career options.

However, apart from focusing for too long and too often on Valentino Zucchetti, everything was really only a snippet and the various themes became jumbled. At times, also, the 'joshing' got it the way of what was being said - especially in the Character Artists' dressing room and on the bench in the relaxation area. I agree with TheSitterIn (above) that aspects of the questioning were trite (and a touch disrespectful).snd that the fundamental issues of artistry and technique were ignored.

Since this was being made for BBC4, they could (and should) have gone for three programmes and explored their valid themes more thoroughly.

That said, it was, of course, a real treat to have the dancers we love so much with us 'at home' for an hour.

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Hmm.  In the Times article from a recent Links post (warning: Share Token runs out shortly) it says

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b63676e0-9b61-11ea-945c-98ec4f4d8558?shareToken=670e840b11e9721fa7e2acec566107c3

 

"For Cahusac [commissioner for BBC Arts], Men at the Barre is a chance for dance fans to see their favourite stars up close, but she is expecting it to appeal to a wider constituency as well. Audiences, she says, are turning more and more to dance in general, and she’s not just talking about the Strictly Come Dancing effect. ... Appreciation is spreading out beyond a very genre-specific audience.”

 

This begs the question even more of why it was hidden away on BBC4 rather than on BBC2 (and I still haven't seen any advertising for any of the programmes), which sounds far more like its natural home and would have made the approach taken rather more understandable.

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24 minutes ago, capybara said:

I agree that it was a very  'general' take on the subject and that there is a place for that. I also liked the chosen themes: new graduates getting contracts; 'golden' generation (where was Reece Clarke BTW?); dancer at the top of his game, disappointed non-promotee; injury challenges; retirement; subsequent career options.

However, apart from focusing for too long and too often on Valentino Zucchetti, everything was really only a snippet and the various themes became jumbled. At times, also, the 'joshing' got it the way of what was being said - especially in the Character Artists' dressing room and on the bench in the relaxation area. I agree with TheSitterIn (above) that aspects of the questioning were trite (and a touch disrespectful).snd that the fundamental issues of artistry and technique were ignored.

Since this was being made for BBC4, they could (and should) have gone for three programmes and explored their valid themes more thoroughly.

That said, it was, of course, a real treat to have the dancers we love so much with us 'at home' for an hour.

 

Yes; and if the BBC is really serious about arts/ballet programming it will make good the assertions in this programme about 'men in ballet' and actually commission those other programmes...

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10 hours ago, Sim said:

Made me so sad for all these incredibly hard-working young dancers who are losing so much precious time.  

 

Not to mention all the incredibly hard-working older dancers who may be losing out on final opportunities to dance roles.

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4 minutes ago, alison said:

"For Cahusac [commissioner for BBC Arts], Men at the Barre is a chance for dance fans to see their favourite stars up close, but she is expecting it to appeal to a wider constituency as well. Audiences, she says, are turning more and more to dance in general, and she’s not just talking about the Strictly Come Dancing effect. ... Appreciation is spreading out beyond a very genre-specific audience.”

 

This begs the question even more of why it was hidden away on BBC4 rather than on BBC2 (and I still haven't seen any advertising for any of the programmes), which sounds far more like its natural home and would have made the approach taken rather more understandable.

 

There's a double-page feature in this week's Radio Times, interviewing Kevin O'Hare, Edward Watson and Matthew Ball, to highlight the programme. The headline is 'Ballet boys - From support acts to taking centre stage - the role of the male dancer has changed radically, say three of the Royal Ballet's leading men'. I'm not sure it's actually changed 'radically' - I think it's a very long time since the men were just 'support acts' (after all, Mayerling was made more than 40 years ago). But I suppose it's a way of trying to provoke interest in male dancers.

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Sorry, I meant advertising on the BBC.  I'm aware from the links that there have been plenty of articles in the "printed" press.

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3 hours ago, alison said:

 

Not to mention all the incredibly hard-working older dancers who may be losing out on final opportunities to dance roles.

Yes I meant them too.  Compared to me, they are all young dancers, even the older ones!!  😂

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Posted (edited)

I really enjoyed the BBC4 programme last night, but I think I would enjoy any programme which included interviews and clips of these wonderful dancers given that  they are an endangered species on television channels, including the joke that is Sky Arts.

I do agree that there were elements which were frustrating as you longed for certain themes/interviews to be developed. The length of time spent on Nureyev was for me the most irritating aspect  - I began to think that Ed Watson wasn't going to feature.

How desperately we need a full series that enables a serious look at ballet in this country. 

Edited by Odyssey
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5 hours ago, bridiem said:

 

I understand your comments, The Sitter In, but I think this was a programme with a particular purpose. It wasn't about men in ballet, with all the areas such a programme would/should cover; it was about the image of men in ballet (for the general public) as opposed to the reality. So I do think that ultimately it was pretty superficial, but it gave everyone a chance to see (and hear from) these magnificent dancers and that in itself is more than worth doing. And I agree with Jan that it would have been better placed on BBC2 or BBC1 since it was clearly aimed at a general not a specialised audience.

exactly  this

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

I really enjoyed the BBC4 programme last night, but I think I would enjoy any programme which included interviews and clips of these wonderful dancers given that  they are an endangered species on television channels, including the joke that is Sky Arts.

I do agree that there were elements which were frustrating as you longed for certain themes/interviews to be developed. The length of time spent on Nureyev was for me the most irritating aspect  - I began to think that Ed Watson wasn't going to feature.

How desperately we need a full series that enables a serious look at ballet in this country. 

the problem is that whatever you  put in that series  people would complain it missed stuff out , focus on the Big 5 and M Bourne  and  the none big 5 companies would be  missed out ... 

focus on the  growth of recreational ballet and some of the human interest stories there  (even though some of them have been told all ready)  you know it will bring out the various  hate groups  with their absolutist  views  even if those views are such that they are "not worthy of consideration in a democratic society" 

Edited by NJH

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40 minutes ago, Odyssey said:

. The length of time spent on Nureyev was for me the most irritating aspect  -


Agree; but the American broadcaster made several unwelcome appearances and she is old news

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1 hour ago, Odyssey said:

I really enjoyed the BBC4 programme last night, but I think I would enjoy any programme which included interviews and clips of these wonderful dancers given that  they are an endangered species on television channels, including the joke that is Sky Arts.

I do agree that there were elements which were frustrating as you longed for certain themes/interviews to be developed. The length of time spent on Nureyev was for me the most irritating aspect  - I began to think that Ed Watson wasn't going to feature.

How desperately we need a full series that enables a serious look at ballet in this country. 

Given that it was a programme aimed at a general audience, I suspect the focus on Nureyev was because it was a pretty safe bet that most people had heard of him. How many people in this country could name any dancers, male or female, currently in UK companies?

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37 minutes ago, capybara said:


Agree; but the American broadcaster made several unwelcome appearances and she is old news

 

Yes - I actually thought it was unnecessary and disappointing to use her comments as the reason for the programme.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Odyssey said:

I began to think that Ed Watson wasn't going to feature.

 

I saw a notice on BcoF that spoke about/promoted this programme that featured a picture of James Hay .... That made me smile.  I think he is one of the most special male dancers the current Royal Ballet roster possesses.  I was shocked therefore that he wasn't even mentioned ... let alone seen - even in passing.  In my book - well, to my mind - I found that sad.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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interesting to speculate who selected which dancers would be featured. Was it the RB or the BBC?  Are some dancers more comfortable in this sort of programme than others? I can think of several,dancers who I would like to have seen talking about careers and possibly views on how the role of the male dancer has changed. A more in depth series of programmes could be welcome.

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49 minutes ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

I saw a notice on BcoF that spoke about/promoted this programme that featured a picture of James Hay .... That made me smile.  I think he is one of the most special male dancers the current Royal Ballet roster possesses.  I was shocked therefore that he wasn't even mentioned ... let alone seen - even in passing.  In my book - well, to my mind - I found that sad.  

 

 

You weren't the only one, Bruce :(  Come to think of it, we only got a glimpse of Federico Bonelli in passing right at the end, too.

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By the way, do feel free to use this thread to discuss all the other programmes in this season as well, folks - contrary to what some people think, this forum doesn't entirely revolve around the Royal Ballet :)

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Well, I really enjoyed it, and more to the point, I watched it with people who knew very little about ballet beyond "tutus and point shoes" aspect, and they found it really enjoyable as well.  It wasn't meant to be an in depth analysis of the male ballet dancer, just a broad sweep of various aspects of their daily lives throughout their career, and I thought it made for a very entertaining programme. .  I thought the little snippets that showed the dancers  laughing and joking with one another showed that these were just normal blokes who happen to dance.  How often do we hear dancers speaking, let alone talking in a casual way with one another?  

 

I even thought the bit about the jock strap was perfectly in keeping with the tone. There are lots and lots of people who have had very little to do with ballet, and who must be slightly curious about such a garment, and what it is like to wear one.  I've never actually seen one myself, for that matter.  You would expect a programme about female dancers to dwell on point shoes at some point, so why not a standard piece of male ballet dancers' attire?
 

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Am just about to watch this now and will be looking out for why Steven McRae feels so affronted by the programme 🤔 among other things....but there was an implication whoever made the programme didn't do their research properly......

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44 minutes ago, alison said:

Does he? 

 

I see that he's posted this on Instagram: 

 

'JUST TO BE CLEAR☝🏻 I have received a number of messages from people, worried about my injury after watching the latest Royal Ballet Documentary, ‘Men at the Barre’ that was aired on BBC4 or from reading some articles reviewing the program. Unfortunately I was painted as a dancer of a particular age, riddled with injuries and having to come to terms with my career coming to an end...... I would like to make it VERY CLEAR that I have NO INTENTION of stepping away and I am more determined than ever to make the best possible return to the @royaloperahouse stage & screen...... I am also more determined than ever to ensure that future generations of Dancers are given the respect that they deserve by allowing Dancers to decide if they have been portrayed correctly or not when people (Film makers/Journalists) choose to capture snapshots of a persons career.... A lifetime devoted to the profession should always outweigh the view of any film maker who can never truly understand what the person being filmed has gone through.... I look forward to sharing my own journey with you all, in a Film that enables me editing control, that will of course tap into the darker sides of the profession, but ultimately it will celebrate all the incredible facets of life as a Professional Dancer WITHOUT highlighting the usual cliches or reinforcing stigmas! JUST TO BE CLEAR, I AM 34 YEARS YOUNG, I HAVE NOT PEAKED YET, & I WILL ENSURE THAT MY CHILDREN GET TO WATCH THEIR FATHER FLY AROUND THE STAGE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME 💪🏻'

 

On reflection I think his reaction is understandable, judging by my sister's impression from the programme - she wasn't sure what had happened to him and got the impression that his career may well be over, so I explained that he's still in rehab and fully hoping/intending to come back.

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12 hours ago, Fonty said:

I even thought the bit about the jock strap was perfectly in keeping with the tone.

 

Yes, this was something that had to be got out of the way, and put to one side.

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8 hours ago, bridiem said:

On reflection I think his reaction is understandable, judging by my sister's impression from the programme - she wasn't sure what had happened to him and got the impression that his career may well be over, so I explained that he's still in rehab and fully hoping/intending to come back.

 

I haven't revisited the programme yet, but at the time I don't recall getting the impression that it suggested his dancing career was coming to an end (unlike the section on Ed Watson). Indeed the section on Steven's rehab, including the psychological coach (?),  indicated the steps being taken to get him back to performing. So I am slightly surprised at Steven's reaction - possibly over-reaction - albeit understandably a very sensitive topic for him. I don't think anyone choosing to taking part in a documentary such as this can really expect to have much (or any)  editorial control- unless it's their own film, which Steven  seems to be contemplating. 

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