Dubious fan

As it is probably known by now, I'm not a big Russian ballet dancer fan.

It is not that I deny their superb training nor classical tradition.  What I dislike is their tendency to rest on those laurels.  Their training teaches certain basic style foibles that now look stale and chi chi.

Observe the just so placement of the head in these student dancers.  At one time it looked pretty.  Now it is cliche, stifling to the dancer's character and so ridiculously prim.  It is akin to raising your pinky finger as you drink tea.



Not only that, sometimes I wonder how physically healthy it is to incline the head in such an exaggerated fashion.  Do these dancers suffer more neck and shoulder pain because of these precious style demands?  The body as a whole should be telegraphing elegance and ease not just a tilt of the head.

After awhile most of the dancers just look the same with a preference for the overly thin, hyper extended wraith.  I wouldn't be complaining about this under any other circumstances if most of these overly stylized Russian dancers stayed in Russia.  But they aren't.  They are now in the West.  Many of them are just merely competent dancers taking away job opportunities from our own homegrown, superior dancers.  Simply because there is this erroneous notion that if the dancer is Russian they must be better.

The great majority of these dancers never develop further than what we see in the periodic videos put up on youtube of the big dance academies.  There is no thought about physical process.  The training already did the thinking for these dancers.  So in any ballet they appear in, everything is rote.

Here is a video of Makarova showing off her technique.  You can see that she has thrown off most of the affected, cutesy style of her early training.  Clearly she is thinking about how her whole body is conveying style, her style and how her particular body moves.  The majority of her articulation is in her legs with relaxed arms providing counterbalance.  Her torso, shoulders, neck and head are all aligned along the spinal column.



Here she is rehearsing Lopatkina.



Makarova repeatedly points to Lopatkina's spinal column but I'm not sure if she was getting her point across. You can't teach another dancer how to find the proper movement specifically tailored to his/her own anatomy.  Not without them being interested in discovering this as well.  It requires that a dancer be willing to relearn how to dance, to use what works from the training foundation and throw out what doesn't work.  That is a scary proposition for many especially since audiences are now so trained to equate inbred, codified style quirks as superior dancing.

I'm at a loss to solve this problem.  Obviously it would be wonderful if everyone had the strength of will and artistry to rebuild themselves from ground up like Makarova or even Kirkland.  Unfortunately it has to start in the dance academies.  All of them not just Russia.  Because the West has just as many stale joke style quirks that get in the way of the dancers.   If we had a legion of dancers who could work within their own bodies, without fear of body shame, and relatively pain free, I think we would see another popularity explosion in dance.

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