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The Bluffer's Guide to Ballet
By Dodd, Craig
Oval BooksCopyright © 2003 Dodd, Craig
All right reserved.
Spell it how you like, was created in 1911 for Nijinsky. It provides a great central role always cast from company stars, when in fact it can be more effectively danced by a good character dancer. The Magician manipulates his puppets for the benefit of the audience, but when the curtain comes down the dramas of the triangular relationship of Petrouchka, Ballerina and Moor continue with tragic consequences. Just like life in the average ballet company.
Director come dancer
The Artistic director is usually a choreographer or dancer either retired or, quite often these days, still dancing. More often than not they are budding megalomaniacs who listen to no-one, ruining careers at whim, often under the mistaken belief they are helping them.
Bluffers should remember that the greatest artistic director was Diaghilev who did not choreograph, dance, design or compose. Nowadays companies cannot afford this luxury and actually expect some work from the director. Other than acting like a god, they usually make ballets or, if they are still dancing, hog the best roles for themselves.
From tutu much to tutu little
The rise of the ballerina is in direct proportion to the rise of her hemline. Note that the first true ballerina was Marie de Camargo at the beginning of the 18th century, and that when she raised the hem of her hooped dress to show off her nifty footwork, it was the first step in the upward rise of skirts, and therefore ballet.
Dresses then shortened to the romantic tutu the short classical tutu, painted body tights and eventually, in Nederlands Dans Theater's Mutations, vanished altogether.
Sirens of the stage
Ballet has been described as a dangerous art, very seductive and liable to arouse previously hidden emotions. It must be faced, ballet is a physical business and, to put it bluntly, sexual. Anyone who pretends they like a particular dancer purely for their arabesque is talking tosh. Looks come into it too, and those who say otherwise are being economical with the truth. A pretty face (on either sex) can make up for lots of technical faults. A brilliant technician, if less than moderately good looking, may have to battle the way to the top.
Excerpted from The Bluffer's Guide to Ballet by Dodd, Craig Copyright © 2003 by Dodd, Craig. Excerpted by permission.
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