Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Get The Pointe - Part One

Get the Pointe - Part One
A Much More Important Debate (I'm a dancer I'm not into politics.)
by Noelle Rose Andressen (c) September 26, 2016 Excerpted & developed from/for my thesis.
Photo below: Alvaro Muniz (c) September 2016

For those assisting others with visual impairments or disabilities, please guide those you care for so they can listen to this on my online vlog: Noelle Rose Andressen Dancer on facebook
This article/transcription ends at approximately 10:17 on the video. Enjoy!

Real Life Ballerinas or Not?
Should producers, filmmakers use real ballerinas when they're making a film, a commercial, a promo, a public service announcement? My personal assessment: I think they should. It looks better but it depends what they're trying to get across. 

Some people just don't know or don't understand why it is important to us who practice the dance discipline of ballet. While no one "owns" dance, it is important to us to preserve the heritage and history of our art-form. Ballet has a form of its own culture and just as much as no one wants to purposefully skew anyone's culture from other countries and races, those of us who work decades at ballet can sometimes feel a similar way. When it is done in a lesser form (not speaking about those learning and trying to perfect the craft), it can come across as a mockery even if it's not intended to be.

Technique - Perfection
While I can get super critical about technique, because I'm still learning the craft, I do value those who've worked hard to perfect it. With ballet you never master it. We all chase after that and it becomes a form of an addiction in a sense that you always want to work harder and work for it more until you get it right. You can come very close, very few come very close. It's not easy, especially when you go en pointe, it's hard.

Look at some of my pictures. They're far from mastering the craft and sometimes I hate putting them out there into the world online because I know they're not perfect and if it's not perfect it's not good, but you do the best you can. If I always censored myself I would never have anything made public. I decided not to be a perfectionist, as it was something that I rebelled against as a young child, but I do understand the importance of perfecting this craft because if it doesn't look good, it looks bad. 

(The photo above is lovely and fairly decent. To me it falls short and I can pick at it. For one, I'd like my chest lifted higher. My right hand's fingers are curled downward. This will always challenge me because of the lupus symptoms and a couple of my knuckles are damaged. I have to learn to accept this about myself and not call it crap. Being hard on one's self is a typical dancer thing.)

One thing to remember: We shouldn't get so hyper critical that we start tearing people (or ourselves) apart because we all have battles that we're fighting.

However, I'm a dancer, I "get" the technique issue because it pains me when I don't do something right. I'll watch a video or see a photo and I see that I'm not (my foot) over the box enough or the pointe isn't good because I didn't break in my shoes long enough, it's not arched well, the foot isn't "winged" out enough, or the shoe is not fitting and that's just with the feet. There's so much we can be critical about, such is the nature of the art. 

I was never a professional ballerina and I won't be because of my age, but I do teach ballet. Being a ballerina just wasn't the way I was supposed to go, so I do modern and contemporary but I still do practice ballet and every once in a while I do a pointe piece if I think I can nail it. As I said, if it doesn't look good, it looks bad. There's no room for error, you have to get it so precise. That's why it's so hard.

Should We Say Something....
With that said, I see bashing of all these people, not only Kendall Jenner, beautiful young lady, obviously. I do think that Vogue was just trying to portray a "girl-hood" child hood dream of: "Wouldn't it be great to be a ballerina." and she was just being a free, lovely spirit doing her form of dance. It was like she was being a child in an adult's body. Obviously, it doesn't even look like she's ever had any training, but why bash someone? However, just as much as you don't want to make fun of anyone's religion, ballet can be a religion to some people and you don't want to make fun of it. I don't think that's what Vogue was doing. 

Vogue Italia
Allison DeBona did a video and it's very sexy and racy. I'm very comfortable with my body so I'm fine with it. As for Allison's piece, just on the aesthetic level she had technique. Both women doing the same type of promotion for Vogue - beautiful. One's very child-like, fun and free and as long as you can appreciate it for that, that's where you need to leave that one. The one with Allison doing hers, she definitely has technique, come on guys. It's beautiful and I personally don't have a problem with but you also have to understand the other side of it. Ballet was never meant to be portrayed like that. 

I get things thrown at me like that too because when I do pointe pieces it can be erotic, not sex, but it can be very sensual. I like to do things a little differently sometimes. Yet I still have that part inside of me that says, "Pay Respect". I don't do classical pointe. Now who is to say that we can't deviate from tradition? I totally get the initial intention. 

I do like the Vogue Italia one. I am a little biased because I am Italian. I thought it was mind blowing and really beautiful. Why can't ballet look like that? Who's to say it can't? Why can't we break the mold?

Contemporary Ballet Broke the Mold or Maybe Expanded It
Let's take a look at contemporary ballet. All of those wonderful choreographers, they changed it up a little bit. They still used pointe and the foundation but they took it a little further. Is it disrespectful? It acceptable? I am torn because I have classical training, I have that discipline, I have that in my up-bringing so there's a part of me that says it's disrespectful but then again, times are changing and it's going to change whether I like it or not. I would like to have the classical form of ballet and pointe be preserved. 

As long as it's preserved and we allow room for it to develop and grow. It really wasn't meant to, just so you know. Classical pointe ballet was meant to be as such. Some say it's a dying art form. You have all these contemporary voices chiming in saying it can be this way or this way. Truly, nobody "owns" dance. There are some who think they might own it but they don't. It belongs to all of these gifted, talented and artistic people and we are allowed to contribute our perspective and our voices. 

This is a legitimate argument on all sides of the fence. I see more than just two sides of it because there are so many different voices chiming in. Why be cruel to people? You can have your opinion but you don't have to be mean.   

Then there's the respect concern. You put on those pointe shoes for the first time and for a ballet dancer that's like a graduation. That position and moment in time was earned with blood, sweat and tears. Yes, all of it happens especially once you put those pointe shoes on, your feet will never be the same. They will bleed, they will hurt, they will get damaged. Somehow this is all worth it. I love it personally.

For me the biggest thing was getting back en pointe after having cancer. I was a disaster. I didn't say, "I used to do this so I can just get back up en pointe." You just don't do that and normally you can't go back to it after being away from it for so many years because usually you age and age works against you. I happen to be one of those rare oddities. 

Am I good enough to be a prima ballerina, no way, but I do like to use it to strengthen my body, it gives me that discipline, but we all use it for different things. Sometimes I can do a piece well enough for the stage and sometimes not. I do photo-shoots still and as you know, I continue to perform modern and contemporary dance all over the world.

Please stay plugged-in for Part Two of this series.

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