Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flamenco and ballet, same or different?

             I do realize that in my last post I explained that there are similarities between the roots of flamenco and ballet.  However, at the same time it is important to realize the vast differences between the two dances.  There are the obvious things such as the clothing, the music, and choreography, but these two paintings demonstrate the distinction between the mood and themes of the dances.  Look at the audience in the second painting; you can see that the crowd is held back by railings and sitting far from the stage.  After watching several ballet videos, it was obvious that traditional method of watching ballet does not involve the audience interacting very much with the dancers.  Usually the music is played off- stage from the dancers and the audience members sit even further away from the dancers.  This set up makes sense when you go back to the performances held in the royal presence of King Louis, which you can imagine must have been very proper and elegant. 
          Flamenco on the other hand, started on the streets with the clapping of the audience to hold the beat for the dancers.  From the beginning of flamenco history to today, dancers continue to perform on the side walks of Sevilla and are praised by shouts such as the notorious, "Ole" from audience members.  Even in professional performances it is natural for the audience to shout phrases of encouragement to the dancers.  Can you imagine someone in the audience of the Boston Ballet watching the Nut Cracker clapping along for the dancers and shouting during the middle of their performance?  It seems rude, right? But in flamenco, it's totally acceptable and encouraged.
           You will also notice in the painting that in the ballet picture, the musicians are no where to be seen.  But, in the flamenco painting the musicians are right near the dancers.  One thing I really enjoy about flamenco dancing is that you dance with the guitarist, opposed to performing separately.  I love ballet, but i don't like how the dancers very rarely interact with their musicians.  In flamenco, a dancer may look at her musician, dance around him/her, and most importantly play off of each others movements.  For instance if the guitar speeds up so does the dancer and if the dancer changes her movements the guitarist will play along and change his/her music.  Over all, I believe this makes flamenco a much more festive dance than ballet because it is custom for people watching to get excited and involved with the dance. 
* On another note, while looking for ballet and flamenco images I began looking at a lot of the beautiful art.  I believe it is really special how the art of dance is expressed through the art of painting, and I will be exploring that further in future posts, so keep reading!! :)



Lisa L. said...

i like how you explained the backrounds for why the audience for flamenco and ballet are different. There's quite a contrast between the court of King Louis and the Streets. From the backround information you provided, I can see how Flamenco performances seem more energetic and lively while ballet ones are more calm and quiet.

Elon said...

Can you imagine a Flamenco dancer dancing to recorded music? In ballet, you can get away with this; in Flamenco (I imagine), it would be unheard of. I think you're right about the influence of the historical backgrounds. I wonder if class background plays role here, too. Ballet seems more of an aristocratic art form (though it's clearly moved beyond that) where Flamenco seems more middle class to me--yes?