Jump to content

An article on the work of the dancer in the corps


Anjuli_Bai
 Share

Recommended Posts

Anjuli_Bai, I like this article. For me, it is the swan corps in Swan Lake that makes the ballet so appealing. La Bayadere is not one of my favourite ballets but I love the Shades scene. I also love the corps in Suite en Blanc, Giselle and Serenade if you can call it that. To be honest, I'm not so keen on the peasant and courtier dancing that you get in so many tradition ballets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Anjuli, that was a really interesting article. I never think we hear enough from or about artists of the corps. I remember asking ENB once if we could have biographies of the Artists of the Company on the website. I want to know where everyone trained and more info about all the dancers in a company, not just some of them.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've wondered if corps dancers get to dance more than soloists. They will be performing every night of the production at least whereas the named artistes often share the roles between a few of them throughout the run, and might often not have a great deal to do. Is this true? I'm not entirely sure how the hierarchy of a company works either; is it normal for dancers to dance roles below their rank, or is that an absolute no-no? Or does it depend on the company?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On another thread someone who is close to ENB said, if I remember correctly, that dancers up to and including soloist level can be called upon to do corps work eg as swans in Swan Lake. I've no idea what the more senior dancers feel about this but the demands and discipline of corps work are probably a good thing for those dancers and it keeps them grounded and the audience benefits from seeing some really good dancers in the corps. I think that the corps, except perhaps in a really large company such as the Royal, must certainly dance more than the principals but I don't know if they would dance more than those below principal level if they are the dancers that you are referring to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure others will disagree, but I have to say that, in the big 19th Century works, it's the set-pieces for the corps that I now find most satisfying. And that said, it would be good to see all concerned named in programmes, rather than the omnibus "Artists of the xxx Ballet." The Royal Ballet managed to do that back in the 50s/60s, and I wonder why it stopped doing so.

 

A rather pleasant picture was circulated via Twitter yesterday, showing ladies of the New York City Ballet engendering a bit of team spirit before a recent performance:

 

http://twitter.com/#!/nycballet/status/198927199619923969/photo/1

 

(On a somewhat similar tack, and about 50 years ago in Japan, I am assured that ladies of the Royal Ballet Touring Company, all in Swan kit, could be seen going through some Sumo Wrestling moves before curtain-up, inspired by having seen a bout the previous day.)

 

And I suppose we have to recall that maintaining a corps is a luxury that can only be afforded by larger companies, and that it must be virtually unknown amongst most contemporary companies.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've wondered if corps dancers get to dance more than soloists. They will be performing every night of the production at least whereas the named artistes often share the roles between a few of them throughout the run, and might often not have a great deal to do. Is this true? I'm not entirely sure how the hierarchy of a company works either; is it normal for dancers to dance roles below their rank, or is that an absolute no-no? Or does it depend on the company?

 

A great deal depends upon the size and policies of the company. There can be and it certainly does happen that a particular corps dancer does not do every performance of a particular run - he/she might be doing a soloist part that night. Or it may be her/his night off. She/he may have fulfilled the contractual arrangements.

 

Principals usually have individual contracts giving them a specific number of performances and even specific roles and perhaps specific new work choreographed for them. Even the number of 'first nights' might be stipulated.

 

As to having dancers who are soloists/principals dancing in the corps or corps members dancing soloist/principal parts - I have seen both. There was one company in which several soloists were contracted to dance a certain number of performances but due to circumstances had not fulfilled that part of the contract and so they danced corps parts for a couple of nights. And I have also seen a corps member dance Romeo - and many times seen corps members dance soloist parts.

 

I would be loathe to agree with this statement (from above) concerning soloist/principals dancing in the corps:

 

"the audience benefits from seeing some really good dancers in the corps"

 

The dancers of the corps are really good dancers - they may be younger or have less stage experience - but not always.

 

There are dancers who purposely spend their performing lives in the corps - by choice. They also act as leaders for the corps and are the institutional memory for the company.

 

I do agree with this (from above):

 

"I'm sure others will disagree, but I have to say that, in the big 19th Century works, it's the set-pieces for the corps that I now find most satisfying."

 

If the corps is sloppy - or otherwise unequal to the task the entire ballet falls apart. I really do think that a company is judged by the corps de ballet. They embody the long term artistic vision of the director/s. Principals come and go - they can usually go anywhere. The corps is indeed the body of the ballet.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have thought that dancers used to soloist roles wouldn't fit very well back in a unified corps, despite the fact that they would have started their dancing careers there. Wouldn't their individual styles and personalities be too dominant?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would have thought that dancers used to soloist roles wouldn't fit very well back in a unified corps, despite the fact that they would have started their dancing careers there. Wouldn't their individual styles and personalities be too dominant?

 

That's part of the discipline of being a dancer - blending in when necessary.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember watching a well-known EasternEuropean ballet co performing Swan Lake in London. During a solo, the corps swans were all beautifully posed around the stage MUTTERING AND CHATTING to each other! This proved how vital a strong corps was in supporting the whole company.

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...