Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ballet is ?

As a comment on my last post balletfan asked if I thought that the famous George Balanchine quote "ballet is woman" was true. I did some looking around the internet and found what seems to be the full quote: "Ballet is Woman. In sports, it's Mickey Mantle. In politics, it's Eisenhower. In ballet, it's woman. Women are lighter, more flexible. They move more beautifully. He is not the King, but she's the Queen"

I think that to Balanchine this was completely true. But, he was an artist, and contrary to popular belief, he is not the end-all be-all of ballet (my friend are going to laugh so hard at this, I'm a die-hard Balanchine fan). There are many choreographers who don't agree with Balanchine's philosophy, most famously, Maurice Bejart. I actually think at one point, in response to Balanchine's "ballet is woman" comment, Bejart said "Ballet is Man." For him, the male physique was ideal for the type of ballets he wanted to create. I think it just depends on what the choreographer is most inspired by, and for Balanchine, that was women.

Also, a thought that just occurred to me: Balanchine was born in 1904, and it seems like growing up in Russia at that time there were probably some pretty strict gender roles in play. In the quote he says men are the epitome of politics and sports, and I can't help but wonder if the thought of women being ballerinas and men being politicians and sports players didn't somehow stem from being a child in the early 20th century.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. What do you all think?

Off to work now!



  1. I see where you are coming from when it comes to differing 'viewpointes' (sorry bad ballet joke) or frames of reference (is that another one?).

    Anyway back to being a bit serious... I am a viewer of ballet, and I would guess that makes me a patron?, and I see how the male and female dancer move and bend their bodies in such a way, that sometimes I see a structure to it. I have engineering way of thinking and when it comes to ballet I equate it to a bridge most of the time. Some bridges that come to mind that remind of ballet choreography are the Fremont, Ross Island, and St. Johns. Each have there unique architecture to them just as each dance has a unique choreography to them.

    In terms of who gender is better for ballet, it is my belief that both sexes have a roll to play in this practically synchronized performing art. Both Balanchine and Bejart have their reasons for their views, but mine stems from feeling that any artform should experienced by anyone with an open mind to begin with. I am thankful that ballet has been able not to be restricted to one gender being more than the other. Looking forward to seeing the Russian Program on opening night.

  2. What a great comment! I've thought of ballet from an architectural stand-point, but never specifically bridges.

    I, too, am very glad ballet hasn't been restricted to one gender (I'd have a 50/50 chance of being out of a job). My belief is we each have our role to play. Balanchine thought ballet was woman, but there were definitely men in his ballets. I guess the question really comes down to, who is more important, or who should be the main focus of a ballet. In most Balanchine ballets, the man's job is to show off the woman, but Bejart often choreographed to make the man the main focus. It's all person preference.

    I guess that's the great thing about creating art, it can be whatever you want it to be. :-).