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Ballet Choreography
Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 855, member since Mon Jan 23, 2012
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 04:45 AM

I could use some inspiration. :) The Irish dance group/company that I'm in is undergoing some changes with choreography,etc., and one of the things they have expressed an interest in is having me do some sort of ballet piece. It should be related to the fact that it's in an Irish dance show. The show doesn't have a storyline, so I don't have to take that into consideration.

I assume I will have to choreograph this, since I know that there aren't really any ballets with Irish culture in them, and La Sylphide is Scottish, so I doubt anything from that would work. I've seen ballet-Irish fusion pieces before (can't find them now, for some reason), and there have also been pieces in popular Irish dance shows, like Riverdance, that incorporate modern-Irish or ballet-Irish fusion, but not many at all.

Have you come across choreography like this? Willing to share and help me out? :) I'm open to both pointe and non-pointe pieces right now.

Thanks!! :)

(I also posted this on the Irish forum, fyi. :) )

8 Replies to Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?

re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By greenpumpkinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2214, member since Thu Dec 20, 2007
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 08:05 AM
Edited by greenpumpkin (189572) on 2013-10-20 08:06:44
Ballet has incorporated traditional kinds of dancing for a long time. But it's never the REAL THING, almost always the "folk" dances in ballet are really ballet at the core with a bit of reworking to look like the folk dance it's imitating. Nobody would mistake the Trepak dance in the Nutcracker for a real Trepak (nor would anyone mistake a real Trepak for ballet).

So first thing, I would recommend you look at a lot of the folk/character dancing in traditional ballets, and look at the folk dancing they were based on, and learn how folk dance styles typically get translated into a ballet context.

Next, consider the content of the dance itself --- which can be anything. Content is more important than style or even execution, IMHO. Nobody really cares whether your dance is ballet or Irish dancing or something else: they WILL care whether you engaged them in a meaningful, coherent fashion.

There are many ways choreographers go about constructing content, and I am most familiar with only a small number of ways. Remember that whenever you have more than one person on the stage, you have drama. What is each person's "thing?" What do they want from each other? How are they going about getting it? What is the point of conflict or contention? Why are the characters there on stage? Are they playing to the audience or to each other (with the audience just happening to look in)? You don't have to make a step-by-step libretto with pantomime; that is rather old fashioned. But still, answers to these questions about dramatic intent can help guide you in making compelling choreography.
re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 855, member since Mon Jan 23, 2012
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 09:19 AM
Green Pumpkin, I love you. You always have something to say when I need help. :)

I know about the character pieces not being accurate, but I didn't ever actually stop to think about HOW inaccurate they are until, actually, today. I looked at the "Scottish dance" from La Sylphide, just as a reference point, and was blown away.

I've found the two pieces from before, and am wondering if there's any more stuff like this out there.

www.youtube.com . . .

www.youtube.com . . .
re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 09:50 AM
^ Are those clips the 'ballet-Irish fusion pieces' you referred to in the OP? As the first one is just ballet and the second is ballet to music from an Irish dance show, I can't see any Irish moves at all in there. So I'm confused as to what you're looking for - are you going to do a piece that combines the two disciplines, or are you just looking to perform ballet to Irish music?
re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By greenpumpkinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2214, member since Thu Dec 20, 2007
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:14 AM
Edited by greenpumpkin (189572) on 2013-10-20 11:29:26
Cultural values evolve over time, there are many answers one could come up with to questions like "what is Irish?" Is U2's music Irish? The world is full of folk art, which preserves old traditions. But it's also full of contemporary artists endlessly reinterpreting them. In contemporary society, we have the freedom, as artists, to put our personal stamp on whatever we do.

In your dance, you could include music, movements, costumes, sets, props or themes the audience might identify as Irish --- or not.

Here is some information about a dance that is both traditional and contemporary all in one (and I would say, one of the best dance shows I've seen in 2013):

www.hatchfund.org . . .

dancetabs.com . . .

We once put on a show called the "Cuban Condition." What made it Cuban? All the music was by Cuban composers, and the directory/choreographer is Cuban-American. The music was incredibly diverse in time and style, but there were always certain elements that could be recognized as Cuban. Probably the best music in the show was by Leo Brouwer, and sounded something like the following:

www.youtube.com . . .

The ballet explored what it means to live and love within a totalitarian society built upon mutual suspicion.

Of course, the audience came in with preconceptions of what "Cuban dance" is all about. And we did not disappoint either. We did a ballet to traditional Cuban music like the following:

www.youtube.com . . .

And the ballet did evoke an evening of Mojitos on a patio by the seashore, dancing together into the night. But it was NOT the same as "real" Salsa or Danzones dancing. It was ballet, of course. The Danzones was the only adaptation of folk dancing for the entire "Cuban Condition" show. All the other dances were just as Cuban, but made no attempt to refer to traditional notions of "Cuban dance."






re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 855, member since Mon Jan 23, 2012
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:14 PM
Louise--Well, that's the thing. I can't find any *actual* fusion pieces; this is as close as I've found. I intend to do a full-on, proper fusion piece. I know that mine can't be the first in the world. There are too many people who do both styles of dance for that to be the case.

Green Pumpkin--I'll read yours after I finish listening to my song. ;)
re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:23 PM
Edited by Louise (29559) on 2013-10-20 12:25:49
The only piece of that kind that I think I've ever seen was on So You Think You Can Dance. I think her name was Mary-Kate or something like that - I'll try YouTube.

Edit, found it www.youtube.com . . .
re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 855, member since Mon Jan 23, 2012
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:46 PM
Edited by JigEnPointe (245523) on 2013-10-20 12:48:49 :)
Okay. Also, the first piece that I linked to is ballet, done to a medley of traditional Irish songs.

Green Pumpkin--yeah, pretty much, but we're staying mostly with traditional--and some modern, but very obviously Irish--dancing. We do have one tap dancer who does a few pieces with us, and they wanted me to do *something* with ballet; I'm the one who said it should be a fusion piece. Really, I think that's the only way to make it work properly with the rest of the show, you know?

Not that this is fusion, either, but this is the first time I ever saw anything close to the concept (the choreography itself has since changed, but the overall feel of the dance is the same):

www.youtube.com . . .

No, there's no actual Irish in it at all, but it's what planted the seed for a real fusion piece.
re: Inspiration for choreographing a ballet-Irish fusion piece?
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 855, member since Mon Jan 23, 2012
On Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:52 PM
Louise--Now, THAT is more like it! Thank you sooo much!! :)

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