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Different styles of ballet


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Hmm I suspect you might. I see it and I know zip about ballet.

Comment from RB I have heard via other routes is that they don't like Russian trained dancers arms (!) and I know the Russian trained dancers like my DS always say RB trained dancers have fantastic feet but rubbish arms! So there is a quite strong difference of opinion there. 

The Russian dancers always seem to me to have a particularly crisp placement and precision of movement. DD who went to see the Prix said she felt there were quite a few dancers with what she called 'flappy' arms which she found off putting.

But again I stress I am a ballet ignoramus so I am sure others on this forum will have a far more valid opinion....

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Well I have been a ballet-watcher for just over 30 years now and I can notice stylistic differences between companies let alone training styles!


I think the Vaganova style is "big" and very outward facing.  A number of dancers I have seen over the years from Eastern European training and companies do not seem to me to act in the way that I am used to seeing British trained dancers act - they are bigger and more cariacatured.  I find the British style of acting more subtle.


The Danish style with its emphasis on glorious deft footwork and beautiful (to my eyes) upper body placement is not so outward facing.  I would say the same about British training too.


Of course, with the more international membership of companies these days, dancers can subsume themselves into the company style.  One of my friends has commented on Mathias Dingman of BRB (who was trained in Vaganova style in Washington) that he now looks more British than the British!!!  And I know exactly what he means!!!


Hope the ramble from the point of view of a ballet watcher with no practical experience makes sense.

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I remember someone who did classes with DS in UK once saw a performance at the Royal when Patricia Zhou was there as an apprentice and she said she clearly 'stood out' - in her opinion as being really amazing but of course if you think about it from the point of view of the director of the corps the last thing you want is a corps member that doesn't look the same as the rest! So perhaps this is why RB are only interested in Russian dancers at principal level since at that level the whole point is NOT to look the same as everyone else- the exact opposite to what is required of a corps member ...


Edited to say its interesting to hear Janet's point because DS has always said that in the Bolshoi Vs Kirov debate the Bolshoi is considered much more 'showy' and outward facing whereas Vaganova is more restrained. This is why DS always thought it suited him better...

Edited by CeliB
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I always think it has a lot to do with the arms and upper back. The 'Russian' style has straighter, broader arm placement and much more use of the upper back, and therefore, Is more 'outward facing'. I think that any of the Styles done well, look beautiful. I am a huge fan of the Bournonville style, they just look so effortless.

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What I find interesting is how the earlier Russian dancers who defected to the West altered their style of dancing once they received different training and at the same time the shape of their body also changed .  I have a video showing Baryshnikov before he defected.  He had very large thigh muscles and a Russian dancer who knew him then, explained to me that it was because the stages are so big in Russia that the males have to develop great strength to cover them and leap high enough.  When you look at later videos you can see that his body and legs have fined out and his lines have become more elegant.  Nureyev also altered his style when he defected - he was very wild and the British training gave him more control and neatness.  On the other hand Nureyev had an influence on the way we were taught in the RBS.  The style of the men became much stronger as they tried to emulate him.  I remember that even we girls were suddenly told to take giant strides before the grand jete en tournant, rather than do the chasse coupe chasse, which we had always used previously.  


I think that today there is less of a contrast as even the Russian companies are performing western choreographers' works and adapting their performance accordingly.  And the British companies have much more of an international membership with dancers from all over joining them.

Edited by Dance*is*life
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