Anatomy and Art Combined with History of Contemporary Ballet
Ashley Davidoff MD Copyright 2015
“Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for—for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.” ― George Balanchine
(Courtesy of RIA Novosti archive, image #32796 / Alexander Makarov / CC-BY-SA 3.0. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons )
Anatomy and Art of Contemporary Ballet uses emerging and emancipation of emotions to move us from neoclassical ballet (of Balanchine) to contemporary ballet. This blog is about controlled and uncontrolled harmony. It’s about the emotion of extreme control of classical ballet, which projects a fairytale-esque romance as it advances towards the pioneering efforts of early emotional emancipation in dance. We further explore this advancing emancipation in future blogs, with focus on the raw emotion exposed in the art of Hip Hop and related genres.
Apollo and the Muses of Balanchine and Stravinski
Apollo and the Muses was presented in 1928 in Paris and considered one of the most innovative and pioneering ballets. Balanchine combined classical ballet, Greek myth, and jazz . He described it as “the turning point in my life.”
In neoclassical ballet, the art form of ballet, and many classical ballet traditions, are maintained: classical positions, poise, muscle control and balance.
This art piece displays the progressive control required to create a mood of elegance and refinement in ballet. The shape and position of her arms, legs, and back are captured in progressive moments in time as the dancer maintains perfect balance. The technique requires the dancer to flex and extend infinite number of muscle fibers, controlled by an equally infinite number of nerve pulses, balancing one bone on the other. We cannot imagine the depth of complexity of biochemistry, physiology and anatomy involved.
The neoclassical movement in the arts retains the classical look of Greco-Roman traditions but frees the artist, architect, musician, and eventually the dancer from the constraints of classical tradition. The movement began in Rome in the 1700s and subsequently spread throughout Europe. The main neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th century Age of Reason (1620s to the 1780s). This movement emphasized individualism rather than submission to authority. Dance was late to adopt this new attitude and art form.
In classical and neoclassical ballet the art is about maintaining control, portraying a sophisticated elegance, and projecting an inner spirituality.
Contemporary dance forms focus more on expression and movement of freedom than technique.
This art piece expresses a spirit of cooperation and teamwork to create a beautiful dance, yet the group of dancers portray limited individuality. Homogeneous physical harmony is not displayed: the lines of the dancers are heterogeneous. The shape and position of their bodies is captured in a single moment of time of adagio. A sedateness of combined control persists in this neoclassical ballet .
This art piece emotes a quiet elegance. The lead dancer, holding great poise, is surrounded by her colleagues in silent support. Dance requires a creation of movement that expresses the dancer’s inner emotion, which touches something in the audience that resonates truth. The quiet elegance is the power both of this art piece and of neoclassical dance itself.
Lyrical dance advances the ongoing evolution of neoclassical dance with a fusion of ballet, contemporary, and jazz. The musical lyrics inspire the movement and enhance the strong emotive component.
“Hallelujah,” a lyrical dance, advances expression through the lyrics of the music. It allows connection with the music, freer movement, and greater individual outward expression. Philosophically the art reflects the importance of the individual in combination with the community.
…and individuality continues to surface and mood starts to elevate:
expresses a solo mood of abandon and of the joy of the solo dance . The shape and position of soloist with open arms and with creative confidence is captured in a single moment of time. Gone is the controlled discipline of classical ballet and some controlled raw emotion starts to surface.
Features two dancers in harmonious disharmony. As each turns her individual way they together create a blended duet. There is a mood of elegance and abandon. The shape and position of their bodies is captured in a single moment of time as they dance around each other.
And then as we dance and leave the ground we show chaotic harmony:
shows a range of athletic prowess expressed by women – dominated by beautiful leaps and turns in different directions within the dance. This movement co-opts the physical with higher levels of artistic expression and cohesion with the other dancers. The admiration of the human form and its infinite capabilities is expressed.
Now it is the turn for the boys. Athleticism dominates the movement in this piece; athleticism without profound outward expression of the soul:
A range of athletic prowess is seen in this art piece – running and jumping in all different directions within a dance. The blue color and impressionistic style, adds an artistic flare so that this piece has universal appeal.
The jumps of freedom in dance start a new era
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