Jump to content

WHAT IS A CLASSIC BALLET?


Recommended Posts

A BRB blog has got me thinking. What is a classic ballet?

 

If you asked me I would say the 19th century classics such as the Tchaikowsky Big 3, Corsaire, Don Q, Coppelia, Giselle, Bournonville ballets etc.

 

I often see Romeo & Juliet listed as a classic but why is it included in that canon? It's not a tutu ballet and it isn't associated with a particular ballet-maker such as Petipa or Bournonville.

 

I'd love to hear what other people think.

 

 

I'm adding in the link to the blog so that people can hopefully understand where I am coming from! http://brbathome.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/neo-classicism/

Edited by JMcN
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps we need to define "classic" as opposed to "classical". I would consider a "classic" anything that has stood the test of time and is still considered to be one of the best of its type. Cars and movies are often called "classics". To my mind "Classical" is referring to a certain technique and style, whether ballet, music, art, architecture etc.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to agree with that definition of and the difference between "classic" and "classical." The first has stood the test of time - the second refers to a certain technique or style.

 

But then, there are those pesky details. What is that technique or style which we tend to think of as classical? In the ballet Carmen ( think the choreographer was Alberto Alonso and danced by Alicia Alonso) when occassionally the choreography calls for a turned in foot - does that take it out of the realm of "classical?" At the same time - the question arises: was turnout always part of the classical technique? If so - to what degree? Look at older clips of dancers of a couple of decades ago dancing a classic ballet such as Swan Lake - the turnout seems to be much less emphasized. Certainly the athletisim is different - much lower extensions, not nearly as gymnastic.

 

So then we come to classical style/technique as compared to what and when?

 

I think its more like - we know it when we see it - remembering always that everyone in the audience has a different perception and defintion - some of it related to the age of the observer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hardly ever see 'Bayadere' listed as a 'classical' ballet but I see its choreography as purely classical, and furthermore the story -as sily as it is - is at least on an understandable human scale. I can't get enough of it.

 

I see the Shades act from La Bayadere as the purest "classical" ballet there is, in terms of technique and style, even the emotion has been translated into movement.

 

As for "classic", I think the word has changed now to mean outstanding in it's field, e.g.a new book, film or ballet instantly becomes a "classic".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the same time - the question arises: was turnout always part of the classical technique? If so - to what degree?

 

I think that turnout has always been applied since the days of Louis XIV, and in earlier times not only by professional but amateur dancers as well. I happened the other day on some extracts from a late 18th/ early 19th century manual on the waltz intended for use by ballroom dancers. In it the 5 positions of the feet were shown exactly as we know them today except that in second and fourth one leg was extended in a tendu. I think that since the end of the 19th century turnout by professional ballet dancers has become more precise. Certainly in the early filmed extracts from Bournonville ballets danced by Hans Beck and his partner ( her name escapes me) turnout appears somewhat sketchy, the emphasis being on movement rather than precise placement.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Pas de Quatre above, which means that you can include Romeo & Juliet no problem, but not just any Romeo & Juliet - it has to be an M&S Romeo and Juliet :), or in this case, MacMillan's, say. I wouldn't say that either the Ashton or Northern Ballet's were "classics". On the other hand, I feel that La Fille Mal Gardée (Ashton version) is, whereas the Gorsky version probably isn't. It also seems to me that more or less any "classic" ballet is probably going to be a full-evening one. Or is it by definition a narrative one? Hmm ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would you not consider "Les Sylphides" both classical and a classic? It is not a full evening length ballet nor does it have a narrative.

 

As i recall, Kschessinskaya in her autobiography said that when she was asked why she didn't use turnout when kneeling by the goat, her answer was: (paraphrase) the character didn't call for it. She is in a tutu - but not actually dancing (kneeling beside the goat). There is a picture of this opposite page 61 of "Dancing In Peterburg."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that "romantic" refers to the style and/or content. But, the dance technique, I think, would be called "classical" in construction.

 

You are right about the length of the skirt - short tutu such as in Swan Lake is thought of as classical, long skirt as in Giselle is romantic. However, just confuse things I have seen the second act of Swan Lake done in long skirts for the corps.

 

I should add - that in my post above about Kschessinskaya - the ballet to which I referred is Esmeralda.

 

It seems to me that there are few hard and fast rules and the borders are smudgey.:)

Link to comment
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
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...