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The Disappearance of Poetry and the Very, Very Good Idea

Vass, Freya (2021) The Disappearance of Poetry and the Very, Very Good Idea. In: Farrugia-Kriel, Kathrina and Nunes Jensen, Jill, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet. Oxford University Press, pp. 754-771. ISBN 978-0-19-087149-9. (KAR id:68484)

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Critics in the early 1990s noted a diminishing of ballet’s aesthetics in a number of choreographer William Forsythe’s works. This chapter approaches the apparent disappearance of the poetic by comparing three terms used to describe energetic qualities of performance. Tracking from the attack associated with bravura or impassioned performance to neoclassicism’s insouciant sprezzatura and finally to contemporary and queer aesthetics of fierceness, it shows how contemporary ballet has come to reveal not only the energy and effort regulated or hidden in earlier styles, but also the intense embodied experience of balletic practice. It then turns to Forsythe’s later choreographic and staging methods to describe how the ensemble’s continuing exploration of balletic principles shifted focus from the form’s external visual manifestation to the heightened attention and deep corporeal sensing inherent in the experience of dancing. In the process, Forsythe’s later choreographic research acknowledges and ratifies the skill, power, pleasure, and joy that balletic practice makes possible and that contemporary ballet more overtly displays.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Ballet, contemporary ballet, William Forsythe, performance, attention, perception, energy, queer
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation. Leisure > Dance
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Freya Vass
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2018 20:18 UTC
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2023 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Vass, Freya:
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