Online discussion #2 is available for comments February 13-19. The rubric I’ll be using to grade your participation and a description of these assignments is available here.


 

Music is fundamentally collaborative—musicians to work together, obviously, but musicians almost always work with or are inspired by artists from other disciplines: literature and poetry, painting, architecture, and, of course, dance.

As you prepare to comment on this discussion, try to go beyond your first impressions: listen to the music and watch the videos more than once. Here’s a listening plan (similar to what we do in class) that you can use to tease out more details and more meaningful descriptions of the music you hear:

  1. Listen to a piece all the way through for the overall impression it gives you but also to get a sense of how long the piece is, how loud/fast/intense it is, and what musical features seem to be the most important to your ears.
  2. Pick one musical feature (melody, rhythm, instrumentation, etc.) and listen again, following that feature and noticing how it changes (or doesn’t change!). Like we did with Michael Jackson the first day of class, think about what the music sounds like, what it reminds you of, or other associations you have with these sounds.
  3. Do the same with another musical feature. How does it interact with the musical feature you already noticed (e.g., does the melody change while the instrumentation stays the same?)
  4. Because this is a visual medium (dance), compare what you see visually and look for corresponding musical differences—use the visual aid of the medium to help you hear more.
  5. Ask yourself why the artists involved would make the choices they did—they could have done (almost) anything, so why did they do specifically this?

 

So what is ballet, anyway?

Ballet is a style of dance (moving one’s body rhythmically to music). It began as a pastime for the aristocracy, who, in addition to learning to play instruments to show off how refined and cultured they were (call back to Online Discussion #1!), were expected to dance gracefully at all social gatherings. Diplomatic events, weddings, birthday celebrations, and state dinners would all feature dancing at some point in the evening, and everyone participated. We’ll look at some of the common dances that people enjoyed in the 17th and 18th centuries in class.

Dancing at this point in time was participatory—the people enjoying it and being entertained by it were participating in making it happen. Over time—and the same thing happens in the trajectory of music history—dancing became performative or presentational: something that professionals did (often on a stage) for a passive audience who was entertained by it.

Ballet evolved into a theatrical (with costumes and staging, taking place in a theater), presentational style partly due to another musical genre: opera. Operas in the 17th and 18th centuries always included a few dance numbers — people liked to see dancing! — and these performances of dancers on stage eventually inspired their own independent productions.

louis-xiv-apollo
Louis XIV of France (1638-1715), costumed as the Greek god Apollo for a ballet

The “classical” style of ballet coalesced in the 19th century in France and Russia. It features both intense emotional stories (much like other 19th century music!) and a high degree of elegance in terms of the costumes, set design, and movements of the ballerinas (dancers). [The word “classical” here has nothing to do with the Classical period in music history; it refers to what is now considered the apex of the style and is taught in most modern studios as the fundamentals of ballet.] Ballet is both stylized and quite technical; a difficult and defining feature of high-art ballet dancing is complete control of body alignment: ballet dancers are constantly thinking about the lines that their bodies make, from toes to hips to fingers. Female ballerinas, once they’ve achieved a certain degree of competency in their training, learn a technique called dancing en pointe, going completely up on the tips (points) of their toes:

ballet-en-pointe

ballet-en-pointe-barefootThe effect is the illusion of floating across the stage, weightless and seemingly effortless. The reality can actually be quite painful, and dancers’ bodies are only at their peak until their mid- or late-30s, making their careers quite short. There is a fascinating chronicle of an exhausting week in the life of a professional ballet dancer in NYC available here.

 

 

Ballet also has other critical uses outside of the theater: helping children reach developmental milestones, both physical and social (body coordination, confidence, teamwork, self-awareness, etc.); helping people with Parkinson’s disease improve their balance and coordination skills; and helping football players (especially running backs and receivers) improve their finesse, increase their body awareness, and reduce the risk of injuries.

I think of ballet (and much modern dance) as a celebration of the body: its gracefulness, its beauty, its power. I am consistently inspired and awed by dancers’ bodily control, their ability to tell an emotional story using only their bodies, and the joy that their movements often express. Some modern dance companies in New York City include Dance Theatre of Harlem as well as ensembles formed by leading dancers of the 20th century: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Group, and Paul Taylor Dance Company.

How does ballet get made?

When ballets are staged, there are several people involved in the process:

  • Librettist – person who outlines the story or plot that the piece will convey
  • Choreographer — invents the plan of the dancers’ body motions (called choreography)
  • Composer — the person who writes the music
  • Set designer — designs the scenery, props, and sets that are the backdrop
  • Costumer — people who design and sew costumes
  • Conductor — person who leads the orchestra and coordinates musical decisions with the action on stage

As with other genres of theater, including plays and musicals, there are several backstage or offstage jobs required to present ballet: house managers, assistant directors, producers, impresarios (who find or provide funding), marketing, make-up artists, and understudies.

Three examples of ballet

For this discussion, let’s consider three contrasting examples of ballet by three different composers:

tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s style and career strongly aligned with classical ballet. He wrote much other music, including chamber music, opera, piano works, concertos and symphonies, but these works often sound like Romantic ballets: sweeping melodies, clear rhythmic accompaniments, and melodramatic emotions. Tchaikovsky was quite successful as a ballet composer, largely because he was intent on pleasing his listeners. His music features what 19th-century audiences wanted: beautiful and lyrical melodies, clear (but long!) phrases, rich sonorities and colorful orchestration, and sweeping emotional buildup. Most ballet companies in the US today earn their yearly revenue every November and December by staging his ballet The Nutcracker (1892).

 

His other ballets, including Swan Lake (1876) and Sleeping Beauty (1890), are staples of the classical ballet repertoire and a good introduction to the ideals of classical ballet dancing: graceful gestures (pointed toes, curved arms and fingers), feet turned out, bodies that seem to float or fly across the stage (dancing en pointe, leaps, lifts), light colors, romantic pairs of male and female dancers, celebration of dancers’ physiques (tight-fitting clothes, slender bodies, flexing muscles), and traditional notions of beauty.

Sleeping Beauty is a fairy tale (a princess is cursed to sleep until a charming prince wakes her with a kiss). There are hundreds of excellent productions of this work, and the short excerpt below is performed by Aurélie Dupont (b. 1944) and Manuel Legris (b. 1964), dancing with the Paris Opera Ballet in 2011.

stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky was also Russian, but he settled in Paris, where he composed a series of experimental ballets for the opera company Ballets Russes; he later moved to the US during World War II. His ballet Rite of Spring (1913) depicts a pagan fertility ritual in an imaginary primitive society (the central young female character is a virgin who sacrifices herself by dancing herself to death) and was created by a powerhouse line-up of leading artists working in Paris: Pablo Picasso (set designer, 1881-1973), Vaslav Nijinsky (choreographer, 1889-1950), Sergei Diaghilev (impresario of the ballet company, 1872-1929).

 

There are many things about the music and the dancing in this work that are “wrong” right from the outset compared with the Tchaikovsky’s precedent: the eerie opening bassoon solo (that doesn’t sound like a bassoon at all!), avoiding beautiful melodies, intense and aggressive rhythmic accents (e.g., around the 3’00 time stamp), the almost constant use of dissonant harmonies, the dancers’ feet turned inwards, their gruesome makeup, costumes that hid the dancers’ bodies, grotesque or contorted body positions, and the story line is neither moralistic nor uplifting. The video below is a 1987 production by the Chicago-based company Joffrey Ballet that recreates the original 1913 choreography and staging.

Stravinsky is a fascinating composer in that he is difficult to pin down stylistically: every piece in his oeuvre seems like it could have been written by a different person. He fastidiously made sure that whatever artistic impulse he had for one work was completely expressed in that piece, and then he would move on to another style or idea for his next work. His catalog includes emotional Russian music, neo-classicism, and serialism, all deftly executed and completely different from each other.

copland
Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland was an American composer who composed ballets, symphonies, film scores and chamber music, much of it with the intention of being artistic, accessible, and utilitarian. His music often has a simpler sound quality than either Tchaikovsky or the Stravinsky, which some people interpret as have a pure, innocent, or uniquely American quality to it: open spaces, a can-do attitude, a Protestant work ethic, and uncompromising optimism. Appalachian Spring was written at the request (a commission – another call back to Online Discussion #1!) of dancer Martha Graham (1894-1991), and the set was designed by Isamu Noguchi (1904-88).

 

The story line of the ballet follows a group of 19th century pioneers in Pennsylvania: building a farm house, a young couple getting married, and Americans conquering new land. In the video below, filmed in 1959, the main female dancer is Martha Graham herself, and Noguchi’s original set design is used.

degas-dancers-practicing-at-the-barre-1877
Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Dancers Practicing at the Barre (1877)

 

As you watch these pieces, try to notice the differences in the way the dance is presented: costumes, body lines and body carriage, staging. These visual differences are also reflected in the differences in musical style: melody (how prominent the melody is, how complicated it is), rhythmic regularity or predictability, timbres or instruments used, etc. Try to think about what visual cues you see that correspond to the differences in musical sounds that you hear.

One particularly interesting thing about all three of these ballets is that they all attempt to depict an idealized past: a historical time that never may never have actually happened but that is inspiring in its beauty and gives its viewers a sense of pride or comfort in where (they imagine) their culture comes from.

Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty (1890)

 

Stravinsky, Rite of Spring (1913)

Copland, Appalachian Spring (1944)

 

An amuse-bouche: Riot at the Rite

The premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was scandalous (May 29, 1913 in Paris) — audience members started to hiss and boo during the first notes, already displeased at the ugliness and un-balletic quality of the music, hecklers threw objects into the orchestra pit to disrupt the players, and a large fist-fight broke out between people who hated the ballet and those who appreciated it. Those who hated it felt their beloved balletic tradition was being mocked, parodied, and distorted; they found nothing in it to be beautiful, graceful, or harmonious. Those who loved it were drawn to its freshness, its newness, and its overt break with the stifling or hampering traditions of the past. In short, the work became a litmus test for where people fell on the spectrum between tradition and modernism.

matisse-1869-1954-la-danse-1909-10
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), La danse [The dance] (1909-10)
During the collaborative process, Stravinsky and Nijinsky both thought specifically about the necessity of novelty in their work. Stravinsky complained about audiences who wanted to hear music from him that sounded like his previously successful works, writing in a letter to a friend, “I cannot…compose what they want from me, which would be to repeat myself.” Nijinsky expressed similar concerns — and delight about the shock value of their work — in a letter to Stravinsky in January of 1913 after rehearsals for the premiere had begun:

Now I know what Le sacre du printemps [The Rite of Spring] will be when everything is as we both want it: new, beautiful, and utterly different — but for the ordinary viewer a jolting and emotional experience. (January 25, 1913)

Stravinsky knew the immediate reaction to his work would not be favorable, saying that “we must wait a long time before the public grows accustomed to our language. Of the value of what we have already accomplished I am convinced, and this gives me the strength for further work.” Following the premiere, one music critic in attendance, Louis Laloy, similarly remarked that “The composer has written a score that we shall not be ready for until 1940.” The dancer Marie Rambert thought the work was “fifty years ahead of its time.”

The artists’ intentions were also driven by how they perceived themselves to fit into history, society, and politics. Diaghilev, Nijinsky, and Stravinsky were all Russian, having moved west for more professional opportunities, but their progressive and un-traditional style of art was partly fueled by their participation in the contemporary political climate. In 1916, Diaghilev proclaimed in an interview with the New York Times that

We were all revolutionists…when we were fighting for the cause of Russian art, and…it was only by a small chance that I escaped becoming a revolutionist with other things than color or music.

In his 1989 book Rites of Spring, the historian Modris Eksteins argues that this ballet contains several themes that are sympathetic to or a product of empathy with a revolutionary political position:

The ballet contains and illustrates many of the essential features of the modern revolt: the overt hostility to inherited form; the fascination with primitivism and indeed with anything that contradicts the notion of civilization; the emphasis on vitalism as opposed to to rationalism; the perception of existence as continuous in flux and a series of relations, not as constants and absolutes; the psychological introspection accompanying the revolution against social convention (Eksteins, Rites of Spring, 52).

Final thoughts

Although there are one or two images or stereotypes that often come to mind with a word like “ballet,” the medium is quite varied and constantly evolving. An interesting question when thinking about art and society is of who is pushing whom: does art push society to change, or does a changing society lead artists to produce new art? The differences in these three ballets (spanning approximately 50 years) bring questions like this to the fore and force us to think about what remains constant within the medium as significant changes occur.

-Dr. J.

Questions to get the discussion started:

Don’t feel like you need to answer all of these questions, and there’s no need to restate the question in your comment. Think of your responses to these questions as interesting things you would say out loud—be clear, be concise, and leave room for others to respond. The most effective comments are brief, contain specific examples, and would feel reasonable to say in a stimulating conversation to another person directly.

  1. What differences do you notice between these pieces, either in terms of choreography or music? Based on what you know about the plot of each ballet, why do you think the artists chose to distinguish their work from other ballets in this way?
  2. Ballet dancing is a short-lived career that can come at a high physical cost. Why do you think someone would choose this as a career path? Can you think of any other careers that are similarly short and/or intense?
  3. What kinds of artistic production today elicits reactions from audiences as strong as those that The Rite of Spring did? Is it possible for art to serve as political/social commentary without being experimental/unpleasant/a departure from tradition in some way?
  4. Why does the past matter—or, why is the past interesting enough for three different groups of artists to attempt to tackle it with the medium ballet?

88 thoughts on “Ballet (Online Discussion #2)

  1. (This is a responds to number two) I see Ballet as a form of art but it can be expressed by dancing making it unique. Some people may say how weird paintings expresses something that is the same thing with Ballet, To the dancer they are expressing their own feelings or to the people watching expressing their own. Ballet also haves the power to come in contact with people hearts on a huge, ideal level. Some Ballet dancers just feels free and it can be the perfect outlet for their creativity. I’ll say football because just like ballet dancers it requires a’lot of training for specific moves, training the body overall ,confidence, and concentration

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    1. I agree with you. Ballet is a form of art and a dance itself. ballet is a way to express oneself. it is also another way to express oneselves and people can enjoy it.

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    2. Agreeing to your response to questions #2 I believe ballet is a form of art and people who express by dancing find this line of work as a passion other than a career. I also believe people who are in it just for the money wouldn’t last long doing it, because of long practicing and tortured training of standing on the tips of your toes. In addition i believe the sport Boxing that is played here in our country is similar to ballet because of the intense training and concentration of learning a technique to further a persons skills in both sports

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    3. I agree, Ballet is one the most beautiful forms of art because dancers are able to evoke so much emotion without a single word, just by using the fluidity of their body. People attend ballets to see grace and beauty, and for most, being a part of a world that celebrates such beauty is extremely enticing and makes one seem much more aristocratic and opulent than they really are. Gymnasts similarly have to put their bodies through tremendous amounts of stress in order to pull off such grace, agility, and balance.

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  2. According to this reading ballet has “helped children in developmental milestones,both physical and social; helping people with Parkinson’s disease improve their balance and coordination skills…” Music and dance seem to have a great impact and leads individuals to a better life. A reading from Cornelius states how music can help with severe stutters, Tourette’s syndrome as well as many other things. It’s amazing to think an art like this can really improve someone’s daily life.

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      1. Why do you think it has only positive effects on dancers ? ( according to the passage ” what is ballet anyway”) when ballet could be quite painful and also has many negative effects on dancers .

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    1. Very true. It is fascinating to learn that music isn’t just the sound you hear, it evokes emotions and feelings. It is even healthy!

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  3. In all three videos that were posted its obvious to see how makeup, hair and costumes all play a big role. In the first, “Sleeping Beauty” the costumes and makeup seem to go hand in hand. All white. Makeup was so pale almost seemed to blend into the outfit. In this same ballet the dance was so precise. Almost seemed like wind up dolls. Similarly to the other two, “Rite of Spring” and ” Appalachian Spring” the dancing corresponded to the music very well. In ” Rite of Spring” there was a part of the song that reminded me of a flower blossoming and the dancers seemed to portray something similar to that as four dancers were grouped together in a circle and bending backwards. Dancing in all three went along with the different melodies throughout the performance.

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    1. I see in your response that you have came to like a sort of connection of being one with those ballets, because of your deep concentration to the movements against the music. When I watch a ballet, theres a sense of emotion that comes over me, I was wondering, what types of emotions you felt while watching these performances?

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    2. I would like to complement your observation about “make up” with a thought that came to my mind while watching those videos. For me it was clear that all “lightness” of skin corresponds not only to a simple match to the costumes but to a clear depiction of social class and race division from the different epochs of each ballet. If you think about it all three ballets were written and premiered before any kind of civil right movement even surfaced on earth. And if you consider each one separately, you can see how Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty was clearly made for a Caucasian-European-aristocratic public; the majestic courts and ballrooms, the princess in distress, the heroic prince, and the joyful people of the castle were not your average Joe in the late nineteenth century for sure. On the other hand, one may argue that Stravinsky’s Rite of the Spring was intended to be revolutionary at all levels (and it certainly was at many), but when you think about the background of this controversial ballet you will find that it is inspired on Russian tribal chants and on the political tensions between both Russians and French with the German Empire, so again we find ourselves between the struggles of Caucasian-European-aristocratic people. Now we have the Appalachian Spring, this one will surely save the day…well…not So much, as much as we consider ourselves (The United States) as a land of freedom and pursue of happiness, by the time this ballet was premiered (1944) segregation laws were still active in America, so it’s no surprise that there’s is not even one non-Caucasian dancer on the video. Furthermore, if you consider that the first settlers on Pennsylvania were mainly German and Dutch we find ourselves with the Caucasian-European ingredient again. It seems to me that even today ballet and high social spheres are closely tied, I had a chance to assist to a modern ballet recital from an Alvin Alley company at Lincoln Center last year (I was fortunate enough to be invited by a friend) and even though the cast was, let’s say, more “racially diverse” (there was an Afro-American female and an Asiatic male out of almost 20 performers) you could tell that 99 percent of the public wasn’t struggling economically like many of us. Prices for such show started at a humble $95 on the fourth balcony (where you literally have to use binoculars to appreciate any of the show) and going up to $350 on the orchestra row. And don’t get me wrong, I did enjoyed the show and the beautiness of kinetic arts -it was great-, but that doesn’t sound like a price any working American can afford nowadays.
      Which brings me to one question: Do you think Ballet is really becoming more accessible to common public or is it just an illusion?

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      1. Monroy I commend your meticulous explication.
        Regarding your question, when we talk about ballet, or rather ask about it, I suggest you put into consideration location and time. Rather me explain, ballet in some cultures especially Western African countries, are very accessible to the public. The cultural heritage, norms and traditions of African lineage are twisted into ballet. That way, it stays alive and go on from one generation to another. When I was a teen, I danced. The lyrics of the song and the body movements contains the wisdom of African tradition.
        This is application also to other cultures of the world.

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  4. Why would someone choose ballet dancing as a career? Asking yourself that question seems very similar to asking, why would a modern day artist choose to produce music as his or her career, knowing it may not be the steadiest or best paying. Sometimes despite the challenges and possible consequences, we choose to do what makes us happy.

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    1. I think we can say that all artists start as dreamers, we all were captivated by some inspiring performance, artist, close friend or even a relative. We all have really high hopes when we start than grow into more tangible ones with time. And we could also say that all artists also have a need, an urge to communicate and to make history instead of just witnessing it.

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  5. Ballet dancing is has some good perks like getting paid and performing at huge venues like Met opera and Lincoln center. The results of dancer injury like pelvic mal-alignment, “Snapping Hip Syndrome”, ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendinosis, stress fractures, osteoarthritis and sciatica. I think the intense careers are football, boxing, basketball, and ice hockey because all good sources of income but the common thing for these sports is a lot of injuries.

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    1. I also agree with you Brandon, Ballet dancing has its good and bad perks. For instance, ballet dancing has good health benefits. I also agree the sports you listed ” football, boxing, basketball” are also extremely powerful sports that are similar to ballet dancing in terms of intensity.

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    2. What would you say causes more intensity and stress, the actual physical injuries as a ballet dancer or the pressure ballet dancers have to face?

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      1. Both because the pressure ballet dancers have to face are paid for performing. Also if they get injured, they are risking their job and livelihood.

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        1. well true but one can also affect the other for example if they are so pressured and nervous that they do the wrong move and get hurt or maybe how because of the pressure the go past the limit to make it to perfection not caring how much it hurts them but then again thy are professionals so im not sure these are just opinions

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      2. I like your question, I would have to say that what is more intense and stressful for a ballet dancer is the actually stress of the performance. When people dance ballet they want to be as flawless and elegant as possible when they dance. They want to seem like they’re effortlessly flowing through the entire piece making the dance look as a whole. I had a friend that used to dance ballet, and she would always speak to me about how everything was hard but the hardest thing she faced was waiting backstage before a performance and coming out on stage. In this case, I believe that pressure is more stressful to these dances instead of the actually injuries but everyone is different so that might not matter to the next person.

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  6. What differences do you notice between these pieces, either in terms of choreography or music? Based on what you know about the plot of each ballet, why do you think the artists chose to distinguish their work from other ballets in this way?
    Each ballet with the chosen music to play emits a feeling towards the choreography, such as Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty creates a calming sound which allows the viewer feel balanced and cooled; while the Stravinsky, Rite of Spring starts off playful and then transition to feeling pumped up with energy allowing the viewers to really pay attention with the various scenes in the ballet. The artist chose to distinguish each other’s pieces to simply create an entirely new feeling and moment to the viewer, no artist wants to replicate each others style even in the making of movies, music and writing pieces.
    Ballet dancing is a short-lived career that can come at a high physical cost. Why do you think someone would choose this as a career path? Can you think of any other careers that are similarly short and/or intense?
    The choice of the career can be brought upon the very parents forcing their child to go in the harsh training that will only last a small fraction of their years, since most successful dancers start at a young age and have no will to take part on their career path. Another career that maybe short lived can be voice acting or acting in general because the actors have a lot of competition and a small image that can be broken for the smallest actions they have done to make them lose their part.
    What kinds of artistic production today elicits reactions from audiences as strong as those that The Rite of Spring did? Is it possible for art to serve as political/social commentary without being experimental/unpleasant/a departure from tradition in some way?
    Many artists such as kendrick lamar, Tecn n9ne, or even Arsonal de Pebel in the song C-walk discuss our surroundings and bring light to today’s troubles. It is impossible not to upset people when giving your views on social commentary, but as people we should leave our mind opens to what people have to say about social commentary without labeling those bearing their souls with today’s issues with distain and labeling them as “experimental’’ or “unpleasant”
    Why does the past matter—or, why is the past interesting enough for three different groups of artists to attempt to tackle it with the medium ballet?
    The past is a fragile thing, but to share your feelings or thoughts about the past brings about change or at least create a different mindset for learning from the past. Like the injustices and treatment to the Native Americans and other ill moments in history.

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    1. What do you guys think of the message of the ballet Stravinsky, Rite of Spring (1913) was trying to come across with the audience?

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  7. I believe it’s interesting that many people ask “why does the past matter” and I for one would have argued with you about 2 years ago. Using my own experiences I can see how three different groups of artists decided to attempt to tackle it with the medium ballet. In my eyes I am always excited for anything new especially when it is reaching a new personal fitness goals. However it is more than that because it is more than just watching your body change or get bigger. This has to do however with something that a large body of people who can relate or come together to watch those perform and in turn enjoy ballets. From what I had saw in the videos the performances had told a story both of which did it in different ways. Watching the art change is something to be admired because if it wasn’t for the past the things we know now might have not been created today if at all even. So in short the past is important because there can always be room for new and innovative ideas.

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    1. Yes! I totally agree with you about “the past is important because there can always be room for new and innovative ideas.” That is also the thing I want to express! We need to innovate to change the world.

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  8. “I think of ballet (and much modern dance) as a celebration of the body: its gracefulness, its beauty, its power.” Its such a beautiful thing to see how a person can describe ballet so beautifully, “as a celebration of the body”. This portrays the passion some people truly have for their careers. Even though dancing ballet can come at a high physical cost, its all about doing what you truly enjoy. Individuals will choose this career path because they will do “what makes them happy” as “vtsoumpariotis” stated above. Its all about passion. There are also several benefits to this career such as promoting creative expression, helping relieve stress, etc. There are numerous careers that are similarly intense, such as extreme sports instructor, military, EMT’s. Also very high in intensity.

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    1. I agree, ballets and then other occupations you listed are all high risk for high reward. These people put their lives on the line for the love of the sport/job and to influence a large amount of peoples lives with their talents.

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  9. first let me say WOW on that first ballet video of sleeping beauty i could not believe the dancer’s movement they were so fluent the girl for example was so flexible able to stand on her toes and stay in that exact position while being twirled that is some true talent also in the i believe it was the third part of the dance when the guy danced by himself he was pretty flexible as well and it actually made me dizzy to watch him twirl about 10 times. also like the text stated the way of dressing is quite fashionable and elegant i was able to see the royals as well as the crown but i wasn’t quite able to catch the musicians. What also surprised me was the way the woman was lifted by the man although these are great talents i couldn’t help but wonder if in any of the carries or jumps was helped by having the string attached to her like they do with standing on their toes to make it seem like and illusion and make it seem effortless im sure there are an have been dancers the have not needed to make the illusion because they can make it in reality with effort or if their just that strong to support it even the article states its painful speaking of which i was disappointed in finding out that around the mid to late 30’s of age a dancer looses their peak its sad that such beautiful careers are so short on the other hand they can continue dancing even if its just teaching others you should never let goof the thing that you love to do in a completely different manner as i watched the second video of the right of spring i was astounded by the huge difference in both these performances as one was so fluent and delicate the other is more tough and frankly not as fluent or elegant when i watched the dance i saw a couple of ballot moves and they were wearing ballet shoes but watching it gave me more of a musical vibe than a dancing performance just it seems as if their having a theater musical all without the singing rather than a dance performance but im not judging i mean i actually felt bad that people hissed and booed because its not fair to them thats THEIR interpretation of dancing ballot their style and they shouldn’t be judged i mean throwing things seriously starting a fist fight? if you don’t like it then leave! the third video was different than the other two as well when i watched the third one it changed my perspective of the second video it didn’t so much seem like a theatre musical or play or seem like one at all the third video however did give a sense of a theatre play performance of some kind the moves where very accurate and the dancers where trying to communicate something by dance like a scene they had their fences and doors the group of women dancing changing to just one women to a man and then a man and a women some of the moves where very dramatic like the ones where they threw themselves on the floor but overall it was interesting i liked how their dance moves matched the song timing for like the fast high notes and the slow calming rhythm at the end i also enjoyed the way they used stomping or hitting he floor as sound effects to math the other dancers moves and the music playing this information together with the visual pictures and videos have changed and opened my mind to what is expected from ballet dancing

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  10. so what did happen with male ballet dancers? like what change made them stop dancing this type of music? its you see these guys dancing for other people to watch and enjoy as they do something they love but over time the whole “guys are to be tough” and all idea kinda decreased the male participation in this type of dance. guys wouldn’t be caught dead doing those sort of moves in todays world my question is why? embarrassment ? being tough and macho? pride in being a guy? ruining a reputation? i don’t know what do you guys think?

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    1. I think that may because of the people seems willing to watch female to do the soft dance, and the male to do the strong dance. As the time change, the taste of people also change. When the taste of the audience is changing, so the performers need to change. And this kind of music is more like to show the story of the woman, mostly the woman is the protagonist, the man is the supporting role. And maybe the woman will express the feeling of the dance more accurate than man.

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  11. oh and by the way if any of you understood what was going on the third video please let me know thats another question i couldn’t quite make out the scene or what they whee tying to express in the third video it was like a story but i couldn’t figure out what it was meant to show if you know or have an idea please let me know

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    1. @delamusika I certainly agree with you. I wasn’t understand the plot line of the scene that I had to rewatch the video three times to get the sense of the story. However, to me it seem like the scene was taken place way back to those pioneer years and the main character which was the female, played as the mistress, was saying her farewell to her husband.

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  12. Should we keep following the traditional or find a new way out?
    That can let me think a lot. And for me, I think we should find a new way.
    if everyone will follow the traditional, the world will not be like this.We will drive the car or ride a ship to a far place if Wright brothers didn’t invent the plane; we will still using candle or kerosene lamp if Thomas Alva Edison didn’t invent electric light. Many evidence can show that new thing will change people life. Also, in ballet word. Maybe at first, not everyone will accept it, but as the time goes by, more and more people will find the good thing about it.
    Most of the people don’t like abstract painting when the first abstract painting comes out. But the abstract painting becomes more popular in this modern word. So a new way maybe is a moment to change the history.

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    1. I completely agree with you.. I never could understand why people are so fearful of change. Progress is in our human nature. We should be more eager to move beyond the status quo. Even the Beatles back then were revolutionary, and today they are considered legends and probably the most important band to ever exist. Elvis presley, Bob Dylan. At first , they shaped the history of music.

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      1. Thanks for your comment! Yes! If no one change, how does the world change, some people will afraid, but if they can see how good is the world change they will change. We need some moments to let us know what is the benefit to change.

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  13. Ballet, people usually dont think of dancing let alone ballet to be one of the most difficult professions to actually be a part of. I believe this is from the stereotype of it being “girly” and many people being arrogant to what ballet actually consists of. With ballet, comes many injures for example, tons of sprains, torn ligaments, fractures, “Snapping Hip Syndrome” and overall the complete destruction of the feet. In my past experience I have had a lot of respect for people that preform such a dance. One of my closest friends in high school used to preform Balanchine, which is an American style ballet. I would go to see the performances one in a while and the atmosphere was something that you don’t really see elsewhere. She had told me that achieving En Pointe was the most difficult and painful thing she has ever done but, with risk came the elegance.

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  14. Despite ballet being such a short-lived career choice I believe one would still aim to pursue it just because they feel a sense of elegance and grace while performing and since ballet is such a demanding art if delivered correctly it can actually be mutually beneficial to the performer and the viewers. It’s like a professional athlete, more specifically football, between the practices and the actual games it takes a lot out of you but once your at a certain age, you retire.

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  15. “Why does the past matter—or, why is the past interesting enough for three different groups of artists to attempt to tackle it with the medium ballet?” The past matters because it shows how the genre if medium ballet evolves over time. The past is more interesting because of how its sound compared to the modern ballet sound. Ballet as a whole is constantly evolving and to see which direction it is going is based on its past.

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  16. Ballet is similar to basketball, football etc. Ballet is a sport. Maybe not as aggressive as others. But they do have to work just as hard. People’s feet bleeds just by bending and tippy toeing so long. And being light on your feet gracefully leaping, hoping, jumping and dancing is not a walk in the park either. You have to pose in perfect angles like geometry. It takes so much hard work to look this good. So is everything else in life.

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    1. You said ballet is similar to basketball and football. I understand football but why basketball a lot of basketball players play throughout their 30s into their 40s do you think the time period on their careers is really similar?

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  17. I believe people who do ballet considers it more of a passion than a career. People who go through the intensive training of ballet I believe see it as an art. Even though the career of ballet has a short time period people who really care for the art wouldn’t mine. Another sport that is similar to ballet is boxing. Boxing has a short time period of a career because a boxer is always getting blows to the head and requires the same amount of tortured training that ballet has, to be the best.

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  18. In comparison between Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Copland’s Appalachian Spring I find that Sleeping Beauty was more traditional and elegant than the other two. Appalachian Spring was done well but it’s not what I’m used to seeing. Rite of Spring wasn’t really to my liking, I saw no grace in that performance. I respect those that practice ballet because of it’s physically cost. Ballet is an expression of emotion and thought through dance. Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty was done well, the dancers preformed perfectly to the music, they were in sync with each others dancing. It was a good performance.

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    1. Out of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Copland who do you think had the most talent and put the most time into their craft? I’m going to go with Tchaikovsky because he’s got The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty under his belt.

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      1. i strongly agree with you on Tchaikovsky because the past has came to the present as you said the “nutcracker” is know today and is popular enough as it was in the past.

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  19. Before I can discuss this topic, I want to stay that all of the three ballets were significantly well choreographed in their own unique way. Out of the three videos which I saw the most interesting performance for me, was by Pytor Ilyich Tchikovsky’s sleeping beauty. I was attracted to the female lead because how she managed to stand up on her toes, and also her flexibility how she moves. I think it’s a short lived career because of the injuries someone sustain during rehearsals, and also perhaps because since they’re many styles of dancing now leads people to learn other types of dance. I think gymnastics is another lived career, you have start a young age, and by the time they reach theirs 30’s, they retired, and become commentators.

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  20. I liked the background music of Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty (1890) and both dancers are really pro at it with the movements; I wonder how many times and how many hours will they needed to practice to be perfected? When both dancers performed in solo, that reminded me of the figure skating, specially when they spun around almost I felt I was watching an Olympic figure skating. One of my relative is a fan of figure skater Yuna Kim which Kim was the most well known in Korea (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgXKJvTVW9g). Here is some of a pair figure skating videos in this link (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pair+figure+skating).

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    1. I did’t not write “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” It appeared after I pressed post comment; I do not know how did that happen.

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  21. Clearly all the pieces of ballet are different and have different styles. Tchaikovsky has that classical style that most people think about when they here the word “ballet”. Tchaikovsky’s work also sounds like it uses classical music to match his classical style. In my opinion his work is the smoothest. Stravinsky’s work is much different compared to Tchaikovsky and Copland. His work is unorthodox, you wouldn’t even think its ballet. His work kind of looks like a horror musical with somewhat of a tribal vibe. Additionally the dancers in his work almost never dance en pointe and the music sounds like it used trumpets to give off a frightening feel. I know that he wanted to be different with his work but I think he also wanted to break barriers and in a way change the norm of what ballet was at the time and it seems that’s why his work received mixed reviews. Copland is much more similar to Tchaikovsky except his work fits in to the time period it was created. Copland’s work also looks like it belongs in a short film due to the costumes, the black and white film and how it seems like the people aren’t just dancing but acting as well. Copland was multi talented so I think he may have tried to infuse film with ballet.

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  22. I will like to add that , The history of ballet began in the Italian Renaissance courts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries . The creation of classical ballet as it is known today occurred under Louis XIV, who in his youth was an dancer and performed in ballets . Early ballets preceded the invention of the proscenium stage and were performed in large chambers with the audience seated on tiers or galleries on three sides of the dance floor. But however ballet has changed quite a bit ,In the 20th century, ballet had a strong influence on concert dances. For example, in the United States, choreographers developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet. This neoclassical developments include contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet. Also in the twentieth century, ballet took a turn dividing it from classical ballet to the introduction of modern dance, leading to modernist movement’s in both the United States and Germany.

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  23. I would like to address the question raised in the final thoughts area,”does art push society to change, or does a changing society lead artists to produce new art?”. I believe it’s neither. nor art pushes society or society leads art. They go hand in hand. Art grows as society grows, they will be some cases when some revolutionary artist comes up with something totally new, brusque, even irreverent, like Stravinsky did with his rite of spring.

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  24. Has the concept of ballet music is only of the aristocrats to enjoy changed or do we still unconsciously believe that ballet, opera, zarzuela, etc, are music and forms of art that are targeted to the upper classes of society ?

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    1. Yes and no, yes is if you don’t have money, you can’t see the real good show, no is if the wealthy people don’t like it, they will not watch it. Only the people really love it will see it.

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  25. It is evident that these pieces are quite different from each other. My perception of what ballet is or should be is clearly depicted in Sleeping Beauty. This piece fit all the expectations of what ballet looks like and is supposed to be. The music and choreography in Sleeping Beauty is graceful, elegant and precise; it was focused on the way they were dancing rather than the story of Sleeping Beauty. Contrastingly, Rite of Spring is far from graceful and elegant, it doesn’t display the kind of finesse that is expected of ballet dancers and it is quite a shock that this performance is categorized as ballet dancing. However, that is just my perception of ballet when truly it is an evolving art form that can be performed in many different ways to tell different stories. Appalachian Spring is also different from my expectations, it remind me of scene’s from old sitcom’s like I Love Lucy or Bewitched as if the actors were imagining a dance scene. Dancers and performers use different mediums to express/tell their stories and it’s interesting to see ballet being utilized in such contrasting ways. These performances tell stories and convey emotions that words could not suffice. As difficult of an art as ballet is it is my understanding that the satisfaction they get from performing is far greater than the pain it causes. Why does a fire fighter jump into burning buildings? It is a life threatening and difficult career path but it brings him greater satisfaction to save a life than to reload paper in the copier machine at his office job.

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    1. I agree with this statement. There are many different forms of art that can leave a big impact on peoples lives. Music and dance can be so powerful and influential, especially in this generation. Does anybody think artist rights to express freely will ever be challenged again?

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  26. In response to question number two, I absolutely agree with the fact that Ballet dancing and all forms of professional dancing in general are short lived careers and come at high physical cost. I believe someone would chose this career path because its a passion driven artistic career choice. Someone who is passionate about Ballet and dance will do everything possible to make it and be successful. Of course the same can be said about other career’s, but to put yourself through such high physical stress to express your passion for a short period of time is admirable. Another example of a career choice that puts a lot of physical stress on the body and is short lived would be a professional athlete.
    In response to question number four, the past is very important in shaping the future. What’s done in the past can have a positive or negative effect on the future. In regard to these ballets, when the Rite of Spring debuted in 1913, it had such negative reactions from the audience and critics. But its effects led to groups shedding light on the true artistic value of the production.

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    1. yes i agree with you, that ballet is definetly a career based on passion, due to the reason the dancers do it for so long, they wouldnt stop doing what they love, even if they would get hurt from it. they would rather take the risk then give up what they love.

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  27. I believe the past matter because it teaches you what might you have done differently and shows you how ballot becomes more modern. Also as it evolves, people look back to the past and compare ballot now from its beginning. This also teaches future ballerinas how hard it was to learn from the past and how easy it is now.

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  28. I strongly believe that political-social commentary are a fundamental tool in order to create awareness of issues that affect us. Of course, it has a controversial nature to it, because no everyone is going to agree but that is the brave aspect of it. That is how society develops and moves forward. As RIchard Bach said ” A tiny change today brings a dramatically different tomorrow.” Our society is in constant change , so pieces like Stravinsky, Rite of Spring (1913) a fine example of our need for continuous progress.
    We often listen to political and social commentary and we dont even realize it. Artists that come to my head are John lennon and Yoko ono, TUPAC. beyonce, J cole and even Broadway shows and plays such as Hamilton, In the heights, and books such as ”The great gatsby”. ”To Kill a mockingbird”
    Although , i think that it is very difficult for artist to make a political statement due to the fear of loosing an audience or deals.

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  29. have you ever heard the saying “if ballet was easy they call it football”. Its not saying football is easy by any means, its just ballet is a career that comes at physical and mental cost. For one ballet dancer train all their lives to get where they need to be on stage. From the moment they are little to when they are all grown up, they are practicing day and night. Ballet is also a style of dance which acquires lots of technique, which is learning all the different positions, and putting those positions into dance. Then having to dance in Pointe shoes, which are dance shoes with a wooden block on the tip, so it can have the dancer on their toes. It gives them affect that they are “floating” stage. However the affects afterwards really hurt a dancers, their feet become bruised and they can lose toenails, and break toes super easily if they dont do the dance or position correctly while in the pointe shoes. Its also a career which desires all their attention on it. most sport careers are just as intense as ballet dancers, for example gymnast pratice all their lives just like ballet dancer, however their career path usually ends around the age of 25-28. Ballet dancers can dance all they way up to their 30s. People would chose this as their career path because its something they have been doing since they were a kid, and they love it, even though the consquences can be severe. Its their passion for what they love that keeps them going.

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    1. I actually agree with what you’re saying when it came to the football/ballet comparison. They both put a serious toll on your body but at the same time, you’re doing something you love. Most people understand the consequences and still choose these career paths because they get to enjoy what they’re doing.

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  30. I believe People choose ballet as a career even though it is short lived because it is something they love. people who dance ballet are able to express how they are feeling through every move.

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    1. I agree with this statement, and is it exciting to observe the ballet dancer’s moves, especially since each dancer is unique in their own way. It is understandable why someone would pick this as their career, it looks like fun and something worth being passionate about.

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  31. although the risks are high while dancing ballet. you are able to do things most people cannot do and look so graceful doing it.

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  32. the past matters because it is the foundation for ballet now. people who dance ballet now still do the moves that were created in the past are timeless and everything doesn’t need to change.

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  33. I must say, the video of Stravinsky, Rite of Spring (1913) was giving me the goosebumps. As I was watching the first act, all of the dancers were stomping and playing fighting each other. The dance was more like a Modern dance rather than the traditional ballet. In the beginning of the act, the music started off quite dingy then the tempo was roaring- increasing the volume creating the sense to the music more rushed. The dancers were dressed tacky and so are their makeups which can bring the viewers like myself an uncomfortable situation. Unlike the other videos that I saw, Tchaikovsky, Sleeping Beauty (1890) and Copland, Appalachian Spring (1944) these dancers were dancing gracefully following the rhythm to the music. The view of these videos were simply calming. However Im still trying to get the sense as to why would this piece; Stravinsky, Rite of Spring (1913) would be consider as “ballet” music?

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    1. But will you bored if you know all kinds of ballet have the same feeling even they have the different story? Will you keep love to looking the ballet?

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    2. It is true, Rite of Spring was confusing to me in the beginning, but after a while it settles in, and completely tells you a good story. But honestly, Sleeping Beauty was the best one (1890).

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    1. Does your friend feel that music creates the dance or that dance creates music? Would Ballet performances still have the same emotion and interpretation if it was preformed with no accompaniment? How vital is the music to the performers?

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  34. Some people would choose ballet as a career path because it is very expressive, it teaches discipline and it gains confidence. Many people enjoy expressing themselves in different ways so those that enjoy ballet do it through the use of their bodies. Other forms of dances like the salsa and rumba are just as intense in their careers.

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  35. To answer question 3, I believe their is indeed ways to form art threw music that have a substance which is positive. Their are artist who produce music with mellow instrumentals, but with positive and powerful lyrics and dancers throughout the song/story, forming art that is exciting to observe. Listening to music while watching a dance is especially exciting and pleasant to watch, but if you take the time to observe the dance, instrumental, and even the lyrics, you’ll be shocked on how powerful the emotion affect and story will become.

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  36. Was I the only one fascinated? to find out in the reading, that these amazing individual artist who were considered a power-house line up, worked together on a project, With Pablo Picasso, Vaslav Nijinsky, Sergei Diaghilev.

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    1. I found that interesting too! I was surprised when i recognized Pablo Picasso as the set designer. His art was known for its attention to color detail and emotional expression. All these artist and their specialties contributed to the wonderful piece, that is still being preformed today.

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  37. I saw a comment reflecting about how important past is and it really left me thinking about a world without any kind of recorded history. How would it be? How people would be even able to evolve if there’s no reference to look for? Could humanity even communicate if there was no accumulation of knowledge?. That’s how important past is, it’s not just a memory. It is all the efforts, hopes, dreams and struggles the people before us went through, so we don’t have to suffer the same. History is the base of progress, the fuel of imagination and creativity and the root of any kind of identity you claim to have. Past means experience, means heritage and knowing who we are.

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  38. Reblogged this on jinfu9426 and commented:
    Ballet at the past time of began was for the aristocracy, in addition to showed how refined and cultured they were, I think of ballet as a celebration of the body, it showed gracefulness, beauty and power. Even though ballet dancing was a short-lived career and high physical cost, ballet not only a dance show on the theater, ballet dancer ability to tell an emotional story just using their bodies, ballet also has other critical uses outside of the theater, for example, ballet can helping children reach developmental milestones, and the body coordination, confidence, teamwork self-awareness, etc.…it also helping people with Parkinson’s.
    But the most interesting is that with the passage of time and the same thing happened in the history of music, the trajectory of dancing became a show.

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  39. I kinda disagree that a dancer once he crosses 30 years of age begins to loose her career and probably get out of business. This is because my mom (even as old as she is) and sisters still dance very strongly, maintaining the old body and leg movements.

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  40. In comparison to last week’s online discussion, I’ve realized that music and other art forms including ballet, have been overlooked and misinterpreted for centuries. This post allowed me to observe the differences between 3 compsers: Tchaikowvsky, Stravinsky and Copeland. Tachaikovsky created
    “Sleeping Beauty” in 1890 and Stravinsky composed “Rite of Spring” in 1913. Although both composers are from Russian decent, their styles in production were remarkably different and examplified social and economical evolution through the use of music and dance. For example, Tchaikowsky’s musical roots formed from chamber opera, concertos and lyrical melodies. He produced music that appealed to the auidence of the 19th century. His music expressed strong emotion and this central idea of an emotional “build-up”, carried onto his Ballet compositions. “Sleeping Beauty” is a prime example of style and grace audiences expected to witness during a preformance. Audience members were given a focus on time period through the use of costumes and makeup. Tchaikovsky’s dancers wore pale colors, with white makeup and dance so gracefully to the sounds of the piano. Each movement seemed to correspond to the notes played by the instruments. Tchaikovsky’s attention to detail provided audience members with a “classical” form of entertainment as they watched dancers “float” across the stage en pointe. Because Tchaikovsky’s music sought to convey emotion, when the music would intensify, so did the dancers. When the music slowed, arms extended slower and wider and the male and female dancer showed unification and coordination with one another and their bodies. Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” 1913, expressed and introduced an entirely new form of ballet. The use of the basson, and the dark makeup were only minor differences. Dancers jumped and moved swiftly and more agressively than witnessed in Tchaikovsky’s work. Audiences booed and thrw things at the musicans. They were not use to this new form and considered the work ahead of time. This created the line between modern and classical. Which helped me identify how music and dance have contributed to the changes in that of society.

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