Dance Day # 7: Explosions

It seems like we’re finally getting the spring we’ve been waiting for! At last we can go for a drink during the evening and sit outside without nearly freezing to death. We’ve got this square in front of the building where we’ve got most of our classes, so every hour we are free, we go and sit there. Sometimes with French fries. That’s a very good life, believe me. That’s what spring should be like. And then I’d just want to dance around like Natalia Osipova, explosively, cheerfully, just really happy with everything and jumping like gravity is a joke. She’s a stunning dancer who can make it seem as if she’s made out of energy, and she can totally bring a smile to your face.

No next time I’m sitting on the square in the sun, I’ll seriously consider getting up and dancing around. Until I decide that just lying down with closed eyes is fun as well, that is ;).

 

The quality isn’t the best, but it’s so powerful and the tune stays in your head forever. I want that tambourine as well, and then I’d totally be going los. *tinkle jingle jangle*

 

And o, that fancy dress… Perhaps it has secret wings nailed onto it or something. She jumps higher than a real eighties mohawk. But that’s something for another post.

What does the sun makes you want to do? Lay back with a cocktail or jumping around because finally-it-has-come-omg-omg?

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Dance Day 6 : What has changed in ballet?

Since a lot of people seem to search for information about what’s changed in ballet, I decided to do a better post about it than I did here. Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional dancer nor an expert. It’s but humble me, okay? Okay.

What’s changed? Well, the most important thing I guess, is the technique. Dancers have seriously improved their technique. For example, 32 fouettés are sort of obligatory in Swan Lake now, while some dancers (Maya Plisteskaya) used to do piqués as well. Ballet has, just like any other artform, imposed greater requirements. Lots of people on YouTube claim it’s a pity all dancers have become robots instead of charismatic actors. Watching dancers from let’s say 1940 you can indeed tell their technique would no longer suffice today. Are they really better actors? Are they really more charicmatic?
Who are we to judge that? I mean, stage presence was probably more important than it is now. Our view on ballet has changed – we want to see the 32 fouettés – so we expect a good technique. But nowadays, there are still dancers who are good at acting as well. Marianela Nunez as Odile is what I consider to be a good example of that. Not all dancers are good actors, agreed, but remember as well that there used to be lots of dancers, and not all of them were recorded. These days it’s easy to record a performance, you throw it on the Internet and everyone deems. But that didn’t use to be the case. Maybe only the best dancers were recorded. If you’d only record the best dancers of these years, you’d get a totally different view of the ways ballet has changed…

But yes, technique has become the most important aspect of ballet today I believe. Those who do not meet the physical requirements will not get a job. Stage presence will not get you there. But it’s definitely a pro if you’ve got it. I believe so at least. All of us deem these days. YouTube is full of people who claim to have the right to judhe and the knowlegde to do so. Ballet is no longer for an elite, it’s become something everyone can watch. But it’s not really a part of our culture anymore I think. At least here, in Belgium, people rarely go to the ballet. Especially now with all the crisis stuff, this cultural associations if I may say so, have a lot to suffer. Maybe wev’e changed ourselves, maybe we care less about this now. Has ballet become old-fashioned, Perhaps a bit. The stories are old, the music is very different from today’s music, etc. For me that’s charming, I like that a lot. But once, this was contemporary, and that’s no longer how it is. Okay, there’s this ‘neo-classical’ stuff as well, but I’m talking about Swan Lake, La Bayadere and other diamonds of ballet. Perhaps this world has become too different from our current world to really appeal to all people.

Still, there’s a lot going on in this world, it’s definitely not dead. It has changed, but change is normal and so is criticism. Have I answered your question?

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Marianela Nunez as Odile in Swan Lake

Dance Day # 5: One Thousand and One Nights

Every two years, our dance school has a show. This show is always divided into two parts: one part for the ever beautiful modern pieces, and one part with a story. Then every group has a different role. I’ve got quite an animal-thing going on with that, so far I’ve been a butterfly, a jellyfish (whole lotta fun!) and a vulture. The only exception was the guard. (Before that, I danced somewhere else, otherwise I’d have been a mouse as well.) It’s still a guess what we’ll be this year, it could be snakes, or tigers, or something like that… Anything that fits in the theme: One Thousand and One Nights! I’m really looking forward to it, it will be beautiful… I imagine myself running over the stage as Scheherazade already, all covered in pink and orange (the only time I’ll tolerate those…).
(If you’re unfamiliar with Scheherazade and 1001 Nights, look here.)

Scheherazade, tell me a story…

We’re all blogging, so which one of us doesn’t enjoy telling a story? Who wouldn’t enjoy crossing a stage with a feather on your head, being chased by the Golden Slave. I mean, it’s not just a random slave, but a Golden Slave. He chases you because you’re beautifully sensual, desirable. (Or because of strategic reasons?) Who would dislike that?
But the whole Golden Slave story is in fact the ballet version of Scheherazade. In this piece, the sultan’s wife has a great time with the Golden Slave, but they are caught… It’s most tragic and beaufitul. The music is equally as great as the clothing. It’s nice to watch, it’d surely recommend it. I mean, the violin in the beginning is so heart breaking, the dancers are so talented, and everything is like a fairytale. O, and watch those people at the end who are killed, watch them breathing heavily. How real :). And the mustache and everything… Lovely.

You’re all invited to come. Tickets costs 5 euros (prize to get in Belgium not included).

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Dance Day # 4: El Tango de Roxanne

Sometimes you watch a movie when suddenly, there is a scene that won’t let you go, a scene that gives you goosebumps and takes away your ability to talk for a short while. We’re lucky enough to have YouTube these days, so there aren’t many scenes we can’t watch over and over, but some scenes just won’t be ruined, not even when having watched them a thousand times.

For me, El Tango de Roxanne (Moulin Rouge) is such a scene. It’s a great example of a perfect combination between dance, music, light and everything. It’s this combination that struck me when I saw it for the first time. The more you watch it, the more shots you will discover. If you only watch this once, you’ll miss a lot of things. The great amount of shots is what makes this scene so dynamic and powerful. But there are other things too. For those interested, here’s a more technical approach to this scene.

A More Technical Approach

First of all, there are three storylines in this piece: there’s the Argentinian guy who tells the story of ‘a prostitute, and a man who falls in love’. He picks out one of the girls of the Moulin Rouge as the prostitute, Nini. She’s the cheeky one, but as soon as the AG (Argentinian Guy) picks her out, she changes and plays her role.

So, AG tells this story, that is really similar to Christian’s story. He’s a writer who has fallen in love  with Moulin Rouge’s greatest star, Satine.

Last but not least, the third storyline is Satine. She is having dinner with the Duke, who has fallen in love with her. He’s important because of his money, and Satine is forced to do whatever he wants to. But of course, he’s a total asshole, and she is in love with Christian as well.

Our dear AG starts to tell his story and Nini and he dance, so this story isn’t only told by words. The Music also plays a big role: Ag starts singing Roxanne by The Police, but in a slightly adapted version. At 1:20, you can see how Nini’s eyes are illuminated, a great use of light. Many moves during their dance are repeated later on by the group. The kicking leg, the arms spread, this kind of moves. At 1:43, AG has gripped Nini’s wrist (watch her face after he let her go! the cheeky prostitute is replaced by a real actress). At 3:05, the group has a more or less similar move: the men hold the girls by their wrists. Watch their eyes, it’s almost like they’ve been crying. It adds a dramatic feel to this scene, especially combined with that vulnerable move. At 5:22, the Duke has taken Satine by her wrists.

At that moment, Satine and the Duke have seen Christian passing by, and the Duke realises Satine doesn’t love him. He goes mad. Really mad. (He’s freaky guy after all…) The music was gone for a little while, but at 5:22, the violin starts playing again, an Arabic sounding voice appears, and tension’s built up. Then there’s a sort of explosion: all three storylines have come to a point of brutal action, all together. Watch the group at the end of their dance: it’s almost as if they are fighting, just like Satine and the Duke. At the end of the scene, everyone’s shouting and you feel that this can go but in one direction: the end.

During this scene, there are also small moments where the feeling of intimacy is nicely built up. 3:30, 4:12, 4:40 to name a few: moments where we see people of the group as if they don’t know we see them. Vulnerable, intimate moments.

This scene is by far one of the most dynamic, powerful and touching scenes I’ve ever seen. Here’s the best video I could find on YouTube so you can see it again, or for the first time. Enjoy!

 

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Dance Day # 3: Every four years, sadness

The Games are over, we all sob and cry because of this loss. Suddenly there’s too much time to do other stuff. Something is not right – where’s the Aquatic Centre gone? Why can’t we see rhythmic gymnastics anymore? Where’s the hymns?
We all feel how it hurts, how clueless life has become. Fortunately, there are ways to get over your grief. Try to make a painting that shows your grief, talk with a psychologist, or dance around the house or street randomly. Nothing can cure wounds as much as random dancing. Trust me. Have you ever got the feeling you should dance to this or that song? Never resist that urge. Never ever just sit down while actually you want to move like a fool.

There’s one song that always makes me jump up and go insane. You might remember this group playing at the opening ceremony of our deplored Games. They didn’t play this song, and that’s just a shame.

Need an example to see what random dancing can be like? Here you go – Lykke Li dancing around a restaurant to fight off sadness. Her dress is amazing by the way. I don’t love this song in particular, but I like the video. It’s really artistic and beautiful.

Dance the pain away, people. You’ll see it works.

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Dance Day # 2: I don’t always repost…

…but when I do, it’s because I think the post got less views than it deserves. It is the first post you’ll find on this blog, so barely anyone has seen it. It really fits here and thats why I thought ‘let’s give it another chance’.

Do you know Swan Lake? Probably. Have you seen Black Swan (the movie)? Possibly. The movie tells us that the black swan should be sensual and edgy, a bit dangerous. But let me tell you the story: a prince, Siegfried, falls in love with Odette. She is cursed by an evil magician, Von Rothbart, and now she’s a swan during the day and a girl at night. But the curse can be broken if Siegfried keeps his promise and will be loyal to her forever. But Siegfried’s parents are having a ball and Von Rothbart and his daughter Odile come too. Odile resembles Odette so hard that Siegfried thinks she’s his love and they dance together.  Then Siegfrieds announces that they will marry. At that point Odette arrives at the ball and discovers that Siegfries has broken his promise, and they both know she will be a swan forever now.
There are different endings: sometimes it’s a happy ending, sometimes the two lovers commit suicide, sometimes it’s something else.
But now you see that Odile can’t be that different from Odette, because the prince thinks she is Odette. Someone on Youtube said that Odile should be sensual, seductive and even more perfect than Odette. But that means that they can’t be real opposites.
Altough, I have liked the movie and of course the dual personalities are way better for the movie.

My favourite short black swan variation is the one of Elena Nikolaeva. Watch how she flows just like the music… Ahhh, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.


The version I like less, is this one. I don’t really like the beginning. And it seems less fluent and powerful than the other version.

But they are both great dancers.

Dance Day # 1

Okay, it’s the worst title I could have come up with for this post, but let’s say that it says exactly what it has to say.

I’m starting a new series of posts here. And it will be about… dance! How strange. Guess you’d never have guessed it. So, I’m starting with this series because Internet is full of awesome videos and I want to spread them. It won’t just be about ballet only, if that takes your fear away. To start with, I’ve got a nice little video of Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly, two great dancers of another time, in Singing in the Rain. Enjoy!