Ellisa Marsack Professor Amy Metcalf

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Ellisa Marsack

Professor Amy Metcalf

April 1, 2010

Ballet in the Spotlight

Ballet is one of the oldest forms of dance; however, that doesn’t mean that isn’t popular because it still is today. Ever since ballet was created other styles have blossomed, but only for the mere fact that it had everything to do with ballet. Other dance styles were able to form from using the techniques of ballet. Ballet is an art form that is shared among many audience members in a magnificent theatre that beholds a stage where all the magic occurs. Also the dancers are not to be forgotten since they are the ones that bring ballet to life and make it an enjoyable experience for all. Dancing is a timeless performing art that will be truly cherished for years to come. The foundation of dance can be traced back to one style: ballet. Ballet is a good style of dance because it is the foundation of every other dance style; it is an art form that beholds beauty and style.
Ballet is the foundation to all of the other styles of dance. Ballet has grown to be the most technical style of dance and with it’s own language; it is the most useful style. Without ballet other styles of dance would have no backbone, no basis for creation. Different styles of dance would have nothing to model various models, techniques and styles. Ballet allows other styles to use its vocabulary and formulate to abstract new forms of dance. Ballet is the most simple and creative way to express feelings, mood and emotion based on ones character and action. Cohen explains, Kirstein’s feelings of ballet and how it has a sense of discipline or a “ system of fundamental instruction for dancing comparable to an understand of cadence, harmony and counterpoint in music.” Taking on a further look, someone could tell that from Kirstein’s point of view how ballet has to do with many other factors other than dancing. When Kirstein speaks about counterpoint she is referring to this because of its term; to study two or more objects that interact with each other like bodies and instruments. Kirstein may have chose to bring up counterpoint since it involves ballet in the way that ballet uses instruments or music to express the language of dance. Dance is the heart of different forms of things such as music and its ability to bring the music to life or vise versa. All things have a way of connecting, and interacting with each other and it is seen much in dancing. I would like to introduce the Pacific Northwest Ballet, which, is a prime example of a dance company that has been around for 36 years. It is also known as one of the best ballets in the United States even with stiff competition from New York City and San Francisco’s ballet. The Pacific Northwest Ballet is still considered in good shape with 36 years and running. They are a dance company that has a strong foundation that has been influenced by phenomenal dancers, musicians, scenic designers, and choreographers. One choreographer that has shaped the Pacific Northwest Ballet is a choreographer named George Balanchine. Balanchine is the influence and a tribute to him for the recent performances of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Balanchine once said, “ The ballet is purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and man is the gardener.” His insight on ballet was more obviously shown more towards the females as a symbol of utter beauty.

The stage is the performance space where everything comes to life. Where breath-taking moments occur and the basis of beauty is captured. When the lighting brushes upon a dancers body it is magical. The dancers bring such stage presence and poise, which is so effective. These performances have been around for ages. When ballet was transferred into France, England, and Russia it was performed in a concert manner. The concerts took place in a proscenium theatre. A proscenium theatre gets its name from the massive arch in front or close to the stage. “The use of the term "proscenium arch" is explained by the fact that in Latin, the stage is known as the "proscenium", meaning "in front of the scenery." In a proscenium theatre the audience faces the stage, which is raised several feet above the front row audience. Also if there is no proscenium present then this is what is called “end-on” theatre space because it would be absurd otherwise. The staging is an important aspect of the dance world. It is what a ballet dancer trains for. Ballerinas and Male performers spend numerous hours perfecting and working with choreographers to create pieces of work to do one thing: perform. It is what all the hard work has come down to, which is the on stage performance for any viewer or audience to admire. While the audience is admiring the balletic dancing they are seated in a gorgeous theatre, which was designed for beauty. It was specifically created to be pleasing to the eye with such an archway to another world; ballet world. It is the atmosphere, which includes several elements: the stage, the audience, the dancers, and the choreographers that are delightfully regal. That is the balletic atmosphere, which no one could ever assume otherwise.

Dancers are incredible the way that they have the ability to bring a choreographers story to life through movement. It is a skill and a talent that is creating in the pit of a dancers soul. They must first connect with their choreographer to understand the story or motive and then they must transfer that information to their own body in order to present it in a way an audience can connect and understand. It is not to say that an audience can understand exactly what a dancer is trying to portray; however, it is actually a goal for a balletic dancer or any dancer for that matter. Alex Martin a bachelor in fine arts at Wayne State University expresses her feelings on the beauty of dance, “As a performer and artist I strive to be both aesthetically pleasing and keep my personal vision in my work. Dance to me can be beautiful both by the choreographer and dancers. I tend to like movement that pushes a dancer both technically and emotionally. But I respect every type of dancer and movement. If I don't care for something aesthetically it is because I have probably not fully understood it.” Martin is both a dancer and a choreographer here at Wayne State University. She has a wonderful vision for dance and is quite understand and cooperative as a choreographer. Martin expresses how the beauty of dance is found in both the creator or choreographer, and the dancer whom is the performer. They are both equal in the sense that they both contribute to the beauty of it all at large. Dancing comes in countless styles there is ballet, African, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, social dance, participation dance, electronic dance, historical dance, folk dance, ballroom dance, Latin dance, swing dance, traditional dance, Liturgical dance, improvisation dance, belly dancing and many more.

Some may feel as if ballet is dangerous and does more harm than good. Also people may say that they wouldn’t want to risk damaging their body for the sake or ballet or art. Ballet is a prestigious style of movement it requires much talent and drive as any strenuous activity would. Through ones ballet training it is difficult from the moment it becomes apart of a dancers life. Have you ever noticed the way ballerinas look? Do they look skinny to you? In ballet there is a certain look that is expected as a ballerina, a look of perfection. Which includes being the perfect weight, height and appearance. At some ballet auditions judges will and do cut ballerinas and males if they are not skinny enough. In some cases, this means that these balletic dancers starve themselves, which is preposterous and life threatening. Another factor that may be frowned upon is the advanced technique of ballet, which is Pointe. A style of dance that uses Pointe shoes that has ballerinas or the woman on the very tips of their toes for hours upon hours. This is can and will damage your feet if female attempts to perform Pointe before their teen years. If they do they are at a high risk of stunting the growth of their feet or abnormally shaping the foot since the shoe is restricting on the bones and joints. However, with special training and the right instructor health concerns can be waived. Most ballet instructors don’t allow their ballerinas to do Pointe work unless they are at the correct age where it won’t cause damage to their feet.

Ballet is a style that is highly honored when all of the other styles have been created upon its works. It is appealing to the audience as it is wonderfully presented whether it is in a proscenium theatre or in another kind of theatre. It is the essence of beautiful in every way from ballerinas to the male balletic dancers. "Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts. For it is no mere translation or abstraction of life. It is life itself." -Henry Havelock Ellis. When a dancer is born, and this can be at any age they become a dancer for life. It is a special sense of connection it allows one as a dancer to connective with themselves and others on an intelligent level. It has to do with a lot of respect for ones thought process and opinions and how open a dancer or person is to allow they to be free and feel appreciation and the celebration of dance. Ballet is the movement that allows all types of dance to be expressed and explored by all types of people. Everyone has a dancer within himself or herself. Ballet is where it all began and where it will continue to allow all new creators and dancers to express themselves.

Work Cited

Cohen Selma. • The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 9. Blackwell Publishing , 1950. 111-118.

Pacific Northwest Ballet. 10/6/08

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