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Bruce Wall

UK Ballet-The NEW Normal(s) - Post Covid/Black Lives Matter: What Might/Should it/they Look Like? ... How Might/Should it/they Change?

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Posted (edited)

There have now been so many articles, papers, speeches, TV items etc., on this/these subject(s)/theme(s) I thought it would be good to have a thread/strand on this/these topic(s) here to see where it might go.   Perhaps a Resolution List for UK Ballet for 2021 ... (We could - keeping within this/these theme/s - even involve discussions of a/assortment of 'New Normal(s)' for BcoF as well if you wished.)  All, of course, by way of suggestions.  Change can be good.  Certainly it can be exciting.  This is after all (and certainly will be) a different/changed world for us all to engage in/with.  The past is resolutely now the past.  A changed/changing future is defiantly nigh.  

 

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall

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Posted (edited)

One thought on the cutting costs side would be less opulent productions .... less scenery, less flamboyant costumes, cutting special effects, fewer participants on stage.  I realise this last suggestion means fewer jobs 😔

 

Having seen Johan Kobborg’s R&J with cast of 25 or so convey crowd scenes even on the enormous Arena Di Verona stage, it can be done.   And indeed to me, was more enjoyable than having one’s eye constantly being distracted by inconsequential action going on.  There is already a lot going on in the story!

 

 

Edited by FionaE
Removed weird images

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Posted (edited)

I was just thinking about Bayadere in fact - the last time I commented on its appropriateness, the thread was shut down. But I think that because of BLM, there has been a shift in attitude in some of the arts and raises again the issue of cultural appropriation. One outcome is that the use of white actors to voice minority ethnic roles is stopping. So I think it's worth revisiting and asking the difficult question about whether it can really be performed again in the UK in its current form. Especially as it's not just a statue or painting or book, but a living breathing piece of art. I guess for me, I would be happy to preserve the third act and some excerpts, but I wouldn't see it again as a whole.

 

Also, one point I didn't make last time was we don't know how dancers (from any company) might feel about dancing it, the sacred fire dance for instance. Do they have a choice to refuse to dance it? If they don't, how comfortable are we as an audience to pay for a ticket?

Edited by Sunrise

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9 hours ago, Sunrise said:

I was just thinking about Bayadere in fact - the last time I commented on its appropriateness, the thread was shut down. But I think that because of BLM, there has been a shift in attitude in some of the arts and raises again the issue of cultural appropriation. One outcome is that the use of white actors to voice minority ethnic roles is stopping. So I think it's worth revisiting and asking the difficult question about whether it can really be performed again in the UK in its current form. Especially as it's not just a statue or painting or book, but a living breathing piece of art. I guess for me, I would be happy to preserve the third act and some excerpts, but I wouldn't see it again as a whole.

 

Also, one point I didn't make last time was we don't know how dancers (from any company) might feel about dancing it, the sacred fire dance for instance. Do they have a choice to refuse to dance it? If they don't, how comfortable are we as an audience to pay for a ticket?

 

I see absolutely no point in re-rehearsing the previous discussion about La Bayadère, which was only closed down after all the arguments had been fully aired.  

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5 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I see absolutely no point in re-rehearsing the previous discussion about La Bayadère, which was only closed down after all the arguments had been fully aired.  

 

I haven't rehashed any arguments. My point is just that attitudes have changed because of BLM and I thought that as result there may be more reluctance to stage Bayadere by some companies again, but I may well be wrong.

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41 minutes ago, Sunrise said:

 

I haven't rehashed any arguments. My point is just that attitudes have changed because of BLM and I thought that as result there may be more reluctance to stage Bayadere by some companies again, but I may well be wrong.

 

You were implying the validity of the arguments against staging it in its current form. But it may well be the case that companies will not want to risk being attacked and so will not programme it at the moment.

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I agree with FionaE that pared down productions might be one way forward, and although I love theatricality and opulence -  gasp-inducing scenery and gorgeous costumes - the dance is the most important thing. This was brought home to me watching the three live concerts from ROH when the dancers performed on a bare stage, with the simplest of costumes - and the starkness allowed you to focus completely on their movements and the music.

 

 - I also agree with Sunrise that BLM is prompting widespread reflection on issues and practices related to racism, diversity and inclusivity. I was interested to read this on the ROH website - https://www.roh.org.uk/news/statement-black-lives-matter - which prompted me to watch Marcelino Sambe's performance and listen to Joseph Sissons' poem again - both of which are thought provoking and moving. 

 

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Well, I have several times this decade expressed a wish that choreographers, and especially perhaps more junior ones, would at times concentrate on the choreography rather than going overboard on design, "sets" and so on.

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9 minutes ago, alison said:

Well, I have several times this decade expressed a wish that choreographers, and especially perhaps more junior ones, would at times concentrate on the choreography rather than going overboard on design, "sets" and so on.

 

...and the minimalist lighting we always seem to get these days!

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21 minutes ago, alison said:

.....    would at times concentrate on the choreography rather than going overboard on design, "sets" and so on.


....   on unnecessarily expensive design, sets and so on.

Completely agree. There never was much justification for doing this but there is absolutely none at all now.

It would be interesting to create a list of money-saving ideas. Here is my contribution (and I am not pointing my finger in any particular direction)

- avoid shipping in costly guest stars (however wonderful) when there  is home talent in plenty (i.e build the preparation of several ‘covers’ into the rehearsal process)

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46 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

 

...and the minimalist lighting we always seem to get these days!

 

I agree with that, I would love the Opera house to go back to how it was some time ago.  I remember attending Wolf Works and finding it difficult to see from the amphitheatre what was happening, it was much easier to see at the cinema relay.

 

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I don’t mind smaller-cast works in the short or medium-term. Think of all the wonderful neglected Antony Tudor works requiring 10-15 dancers (or less) that can and should be satisfactorily revived in the post-COVID season...or the early small-scaled Ashtons, such as Facade or even Foyer de Danse? Hmm?

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I know nothing about the relative costs of new productions - reliable information is hard to come by - but at least the RB is in a place now where the designs for the classics are generally well liked. If cutbacks mean that re-designs of these and expensive new commissions (such as Alice and Frankenstein) aren't considered, so much the better IMO. (Though I would mourn if Ashton's Cinderella is deferred yet again, as the current production seems to be the sticking point.)

 

The Opera, however, is not so comfortably situated.

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The cheapest way to continue is to cancel any new creations and show repertory productions for a while. No need to reduce sets and costumes, as they already exist. Nutcrackers and Swan Lakes fill the house and bring money in, which is what all the companies need after the long closure. When they have some kind of financial basis back, they will continue with the productions they had postponed, I guess.

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However, Kevin O'Hare said on air that the RB would continue with its mix of old and new. Maybe new works (small, socially distanced as they might need to be) could provide opportunities for dancers to DANCE where the larger full company productions might not.............

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4 hours ago, Jeannette said:

I don’t mind smaller-cast works in the short or medium-term. Think of all the wonderful neglected Antony Tudor works requiring 10-15 dancers (or less) that can and should be satisfactorily revived in the post-COVID season...or the early small-scaled Ashtons, such as Facade or even Foyer de Danse? Hmm?

 

Yes, but don't they tend to require smaller theatres, too?

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Facade and Tudor’s Gala Performance worked well at Sarasota Opera House, which is quite large. 

 

These are unusual times. I would rather have the RB try these small-scale works with ensembles & decorative elements, than just a bunch of solos and pdds.

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Either you touch, or you don't. So it's either an evening of solos and pdds for the married couples, and nothing else - or the whole company feels safe to dance together again.

 

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10 hours ago, alison said:

 

Yes, but don't they tend to require smaller theatres, too?

 

I've been wondering whether the Linbury might have a place in the gradual re-opening. If guidelines were to evolve to limit numbers rather than or as well as specify distances, it might make more sense than the main theatre.

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Yes, I wondered whether they might start again with the film screenings in the Linbury.

 

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But the Linbury is already so small that once you factor in social distancing the audience would be vanishingly small.

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True,

We'd both enjoy it though...

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4 hours ago, bridiem said:

But the Linbury is already so small that once you factor in social distancing the audience would be vanishingly small.

 

Well, that's why I said, "If guidelines were to evolve to limit numbers rather than or as well as specify distances"...

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59 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

Well, that's why I said, "If guidelines were to evolve to limit numbers rather than or as well as specify distances"...

 

Sorry, Lizbie1 - I didn't register the 'limit numbers' bit! But I fear that some sort of distancing will be part of the equation for quite a well yet.

 

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