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Success in the arts. A recorded program produced by the Chicago undergraduate division of the University of Illinois under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today success in the art of choreography. Our participants are George Balanchine artistic director of The New York City Ballet and distinguished choreographer and bars our dance critic of the Chicago American Donna Claypool teacher of the dance University of Illinois undergraduate division a major for the series as Studs Terkel well-known radio and television commentator. Here is Mr. Terkel to open the discussion of success and the art of choreography was to Balanchine's HBO's we start with you. What are the talents what calends there are prospective choreographers listening like Highlands. I need to be a successful
choreographer. Talons are certainly needed. I mean these I mean that you have to have a talent I don't know what talent means but it's ability the ability you know and before any ability comes out you have to have certain training and a few things you have to do to become clear all that there is to learn how to dance and learn to dance better than the person that danced for you. You would think that I'm you know so that I think of myself you might as a you know Ilena but I must say I done very well. You know when I was young and I graduated there well
I didn't get care that it is in Russia. And I could do almost anything that people do now. I would say technically I could do anything. And now I. Cannot produce anything like that beautifully but I was. I know in my head that it's possible. First you have to be a good dancer yourself and it won't be you. I was the dancer that would cut it off for they won't have any respect for it. Yeah I just gave you an AS PER reminisce for a moment some years ago you did ballet called reminiscences for the first American Ballet and just proved for you that you have to dance call hey come on have a fabulous technician great elevation was dancing a role and you ask them to air
currents in a hook but she couldn't do anything and he said it can't be done. You got up and you did it and then he just gritted his teeth and he did their thing which proves your point. Do you recall that. Well I you know maybe it will tell you what I don't remember not oh yeah good ventures of course can be good choreographers. So what else is needed. That's the beginning this is the same thing of it would say what you need to become a writer. You say first of all even know how to write me that you have to learn how to spell how to put words together comas and everything like that. And when you learn all these things and then you have to have ability to thing maybe you have to see the thing you have to read and that's as he did with people to be interested in lots of things and that would maybe come to bring you some ideas.
You had to have ideas lowers experience that sucked that experience off the stage experience off the stage as a requisite. All the stage on stage in any art or for OK or for very important to every indication of somehow to learn music. I don't say that you will have to be a brilliant pianist but you have to know music. Any instrument you can play or you can if you read theory or if you learn the music that you can read and analyze music. Buy yourself a loan without asking somebody else to explain your being a musician is another requisite to at least if you have a good choreographer. Yes you have to learn music enough to understand was that if you are using your music if you do ballet without the music then you don't have to be musician but as long as everybody thinks a piece of music and
finally is they have trouble to find out what it's all above you see and they have opinions playing and they are these peonies what hold should be done or how music should be played and so forth and it's a biggie and has the ability or as in you taste you could spend that mostly is anybody that can read music is played place for a while it's easy and you couldn't depend on an opinion of ordinary pianos that played for you so you have to really have some knowledge. So another choreographer has to be a combination here that has to be wedded to several layers. Mr. Parsons critic What do you look for in choreography. The first thing I look at is the dancing because the material of choreography is dancing. If a further idea beyond the
dance is the purpose of the choreographer is it should certainly come out. He hasn't expressed it in dance however it isn't successful and a surprise story in itself is not a ballet because once the point has been given the ballet isn't produced to give just once. Very often it has just a clever twist. Once is all you want to see it. The reason you ever go again and again is like hearing a piece of music again and again because intrinsically the material of it is interesting therefore it is the dancing you look at and I think one of the prerequisites for a choreographer is inventiveness and imagination. He certainly has had his material but he must know how to use it well. But the originality imagination I think is one of the biggest requirements of every artist in every field. Which is quite cool as as a teacher. Choreography unless you teach choreography as such. I'm sure if you followed in your work what you try
to instill in your students. Of course the student is the most important. And as they are taught an art form but not as per say this is modern dance as you judge modern day each modern dance at university and the hundreds of students that we get in just one course in elementary rhythms. We are still concerned that they will learn an art form and then through participating in group choreography. Then some of them later learning choreography. They learn what is a total composition and in this art form then there must be a relationship into their own life so that we are aiming toward a character development for that individual unless a teacher aims toward character development. She's not an educator and as such we help the student to find a correlation between say the basic rhythm in music and establishing a basic rhythm in their own living.
When they see a total composition they can see the harmony they can see a climax. They can see the rhythm pattern which has been created either through music or through use of color or through emotion. That too is directly related to their life so they can see how to integrate their whole life into a composition that then they are helping themselves toward developing character. Since you brought up the modern dance I suppose the logical question is what effect has the modern day Mr Bollen sheaves bars and what effect does a modern dance today had on classical ballet securely in the choreography in the choreography. Mr destruction is going to try you you see. I don't know it's him but you know it's by like develops its own new methods and forms. If you say that to somebody all of us
borrow the idea of mother and contemporary modern dancers. So this would be almost like the dance that that mother and dancer would dance will be the same thing but it is not a question of who influences whom you see it's of necessity of development of certain gestures that first of all technique brings its a certain choreography certain thing that we invent. Make people the day's classes in the schools. More countries all
giving certain type of lessons to develop a certain technique because if you compare with the new or the old time and know it's a completely different and maybe it's faster it's bored with that. We jump to hire I mean there's a form known and it's been also a combatives we introduced long ago and been a abandonment and so I personally started to do Bali when I was very young. One of about 15 before I graduated and I was the influence I must say by somehow German. Dancing Mostly I mean it was some kind of a company that came to Russia in your mind you know not let us know. It was completely from the way you know they would dance to in a restaurant.
It was come by dancers and it was Sydney come already think Sydney last week and something like that and whatever it is. So I like them and I decided to do something like that. So I did a couple of things for myself that I roll on the floor and there's certain things and that's how I started actually I started I mean I changed backwards and into classes isn't another where you started you were inspired by a group dancing at a cabaret and I thought you just wanted from the president into a glorious past. Well see I was trained as a classical dancer anyhow and I tossed a log. Even in school he would before you graduate you have to teach him to responsible for some small children boys that you know about two years of school so I had a group of children and I had to teach and
prepare them for examinations so I already had the training of teaching him. So I abandoned that not a man but this is absolutely. It was not difficult for me to be with the classical dancing was I will never forget that because that's where the training that already rests with you. But I was trying to do something else. So later on I went back closer to what I was originally started with you know and did my own training and because I decided there was a lot to do in that field mostly in Europe. Bali was I must say neglected in that in Paris and in it the lead became almost like the
glamorous club you know beautiful girls and all that like you know it was just sort of frontally it was a glamour but there was no real life. Well yes it somehow it was it was always art supposed to be is a frozen moment that it's a you know we stem a lot more like a big flower garden you know. Wouldn't it be interesting to know if in the present day choreography that you were doing. Do you like your dancers to have had training in other than classical ballet technique. Oh yeah you know although there are interesting weather fact here in our school we have mild but there are things plastique with modern done with modern dance of the thought that it's very important to have your body move in different direction and also neither wise people to go to
take some gymnastics you know like a lattice with a wonderful man and your very old German you know trainer used to train the police in German police you know you so you have a police trainer you suggested that lay down an idea of the body being the instrument for anything that the that the choreographer can be invented in just any way because as you know instrument the clay with which he's going to use has been so molded that they can do anything. The more supple good dancers the more free is the choreography and that is what they know. Imagine that you were inspired to grotesqueries your extreme youth is that because of the climate the mental climate the psychological kind of Europe at the time. Or is it the young choreographers are always trying to be different. That's well less than that. Second the younger you are the first our young generation the young people want to be I want I thought I was Byron.
I dressed myself and I had long hair and some and I talk to phrases I used to read and something memorize some you think you're in front of beautiful girl has a few words and leave and the thing that they think that I am a great poet is you something I mean everybody the girls do in any generation the young girl with the right to look beautiful and think that and they always have a little sentimentality thing you know. And poor thing. So and because we had some I would study german get their influence our theater like for instance even in drama like must go out together at the second studio of one of you know in with a euro and when the matter was that I'm talking about the Soviet times when it was the day of the seal and they were. All I'm actually this type of
drama so the work I mean you were born in Germany. It's the supreme season some I only call them conservative even something like that and then you brought some game to him. Rice truck division Yeah. And sack of meal and all the hype of that and we all went to see things like that and the distortion of gall the inspector general and it was completely different. My mare all this and some people yes you know so why would you approach it in a theater that inspire you to new approaches and I almost knew you and mother in time people and were trying to do something else. What about a question comes up often is bouncin ladies what about the importance of the story in advance there is a story told not just how important is the story to a choreographer. Mother as a person who looks at me I say this there are some choreographers
are presenting a story now if it's a story that can be told in words write it but there are some stories to begin where words leave off. That also is a realm in which the mind Marcel Marceau words he doesn't make a gesture in place of the words where there is no longer a word then go on one like that story like that certainly bears a choreographic interest. There is another than the more pure type of choreography shall we call it which is concerned with dancing itself it's a dance about dance of will to a man like a choreographer like the most about energy. Q Which is what it's the dance that is the man on being technical here I mean being a mechanical means but it means dance. Yes. As managed a movement I mean we call dance anything that moves broadening. If you can convince audience with your
dancing you can do anything you want you can do in any complicated story and if you convince me I will. What will you see. But I never saw anything yet. A dancer. Unless you have a small story. I mean very short subject. I would say in not complicated psychologically. You see it and then you probably can make something out of it. I'm not against the stories of course but I'm against a complicated story. I mean I'm against stories where you have to guess that this person that is dancing now is a. Daughter of a peasant woman that are there you know and she has a sister you know and sister is not. It's rather dark because like an Indian
because you know the second father second is sort of the husband and mother was an Indian you see so she has its second season. I mean you can do that all the writing down. But when you come down who goes up and you paid to be 60 or you'll see YOU LONG want to read the book you want to see ballet you want to see people dance or perform story. So what do you see. You see two women into two little or with long skirts or maybe when Kate came on the stage one would be into girl and the money would be Cheney's You know and you would say their sister in law. What do you want to know now. Why do you know the relation between these two girls.
You couldn't make an evolution where it says on the stage you know you could take guns you know and you can have any kind of violence on the stage people will understand that this is men killing this man or you or you can put Granholm in your hand and people think that it's a queen. So when things are established that if you have a problem with this is it me I want to see the queen dance. That's true I mean if she becomes a queen and states all that kind of music he is not good but if the wind dances well it's fine for her daughter with Down's. Well you know I mean that one thing is that you have to accept you know if you have a. Taller woman and shorter younger girl and she takes her by the hand who would say that some relation maybe a Caesar. The other sister doesn't matter who she is but if you say it's a sleeping princess sleeping beauty you know the story actually you know and it's a
very mild story because you know in the beginning that is credible and you know she was born and then always and we are told that by the way that comes in and the next attack you suppose that it's a grownup that you know out of something that you saw in Prolog you know and then she falls down and she dies. I mean suppose as she's sleeps for a hundred years you don't know when she beast she sleeps around it you know not here but certainly you will know that because at the end of the valley brings comes and kisses her and she arrives. But by looking at the casts you use know that it was read prayers you know like musketeer people dressed and all sunny have a look at or there was a lady you know with the wigs and so it's also one of their difference but to present the tours It is 13 14 you may say 200 a couple and you know isn't that an issue. The thing is you know korean it's probably true that the story could be a soap bar for a story for
that matter if still the band should have a tag on which to hang a jag and that's to have you know so many of the classical ballets ended a wedding because you see they dance at the wedding and every company that says it's a good finale at least one billed as wedding over Origin wedding. Raymone does wedding. Yes it will be well with the same as far away apply as a chance to. There must be a story that ends in a wedding and they all come and dance at the wedding. There is your typical almost by the something you brought up a moment ago and I'm sure that you wonder was the bomb and she was just people who go to town on this. You mention to the French mind Marcel Marceau what he said is a point you've made too in the past and that is you have to. Can you Laurie in ballet in the theater. A writer an actor can lie because they use words they speak and they can make things up but in ballet and in my name. Can you tell a lie without the audience knowing it I mean you have to speak the truth and badly at times with truth about yourself. Yes that is the ballet particularly brooks no amateurism you have
to do a thing. Honestly if you can't honestly do a pirouette with children that officiality ballet with Mr. Balanchine his brother at one time which it is has nothing to do with the intrinsic honesty of movement. Meanwhile the audience will the audience understand if you do something that isn't true. In other words because there were no words are spoken yet as a result of thought is immediately seen just the same as a broken pillar will not support a roof. However we do explain to us the art you see that in ballet there is artificiality to which degree what were you mean when you spoke of that for you. It's not natural for a body. I say of a citizen to act that way you see it is all completely different. You know when people say relax at home or whatever it is or relax you will say don't realise it's you
I mean your knees when you walk or you relax your knees are forward. We are turning them out. We have to have. And open joins us with enough time to talk about that now. Do certain foods compete limit off of the possibility of joining a well however you teach this motor skill in the techniques. Then when you actually are doing the choreography it's not artificial when you are expressing a certain idea within your story that whole I don't say or do fish because that needs to be true than singing dancing that's what it is I mean you can do anything else. I mean what we're showing is or what I thing what I like and buy I must say is a very personal is certain way to perform.
And I teach them that way. And some schools and something that is of some nationalities have a different approach to buy their own. See whether they seek answer for and I am little different than they are because I like more strength and more. Somehow the more the people the entertainment line in the dancing in other words if we follow Mr. Bunch even when he says that artificial he doesn't mean it isn't true it means not realistic means our to take the artifice to make it his characters B-list that's right there I am not just a pavement realist but still true misperceived as a choreographer your material and dance is often dear to the feminine. What is your reason for that. As in the choreographing for women
dancers. First of all. Because we have more women than men in this country and besides it's somehow when you want to feel the stage with I mean to show that you have lots of people and stage some how women feel is they more than men. If you have 20 min on the stage it will look skimpy then 20 women 20 women it's absolutely feel safe completely so that the effect of big company depends on with the old woman. Somehow I don't know what I'd really like then I in the Yugoslavia folk ballet you had your group of about 15 to 20 men and I think let me ask you know what I mean is that in your art dance you create some of your most beautiful ballets specifically for women damage is minimal to
support but is your personal reason for that. Well Mindy in Maine always was Kenyan The woman you know it's only one time in the world in our lie when a woman is more important than a man for Mr. Valentino I think we've come to the very end of our interview here and it's a perfect way to do it a blow to male supremacy right there. On this note success as a choreographer involves a knowledge of that too. And that's the bottom Jean thank you very much Mr. Claypool and myself. This has been a discussion of success in the art of choreography appearing on today's program where the choreographer and artistic director of The New York City Ballet George Balanchine a dance critic of the Chicago American man bars L.. The teacher Donna Claypool of the University of Illinois undergraduate division. The moderator for the series of Studs
Success in the arts
Producing Organization
University of Illinois
WILL Illinois Public Media
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program's panel includes George Balanchine, choreographer of the New York City Ballet; Ann Barzel, dance critic of the Chicago American; and Donna Claypoole, dance instructor, University of Illinois Chicago.
This series presents panel discussions that focus on various aspects of the arts, including the skills needed to excel. The series is moderated by Studs Terkel and produced by Alfred E. Partridge.
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Moderator: Terkel, Studs, 1912-2008
Panelist: Balanchine, George
Panelist: Barzel, Ann
Panelist: Claypoole, Donna
Producing Organization: University of Illinois
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
Speaker: Partridge, Alfred E.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-19-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:27
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Chicago: “Success in the arts; Choreography,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 16, 2021,
MLA: “Success in the arts; Choreography.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 16, 2021. <>.
APA: Success in the arts; Choreography. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from