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The Emotional Content Of Dance

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In watching the movements of the ballerina Galina Ulanova with her partner Vladimir Preobrazhensky in The Waltz in C# from Les Sylphides, the movement is delicate, yet precise. (Galina) I knew that every move was rehearsed and that every strained muscle in her body was responding as she commanded, yet her movement seemed effortless as if from a core thought that she was creating at the moment. The emotional development was so subtle and surgical that the effect is to find it breathless and cerebral without being athletic. However, intensity of training in ballet makes it extremely athletic - and this is such a surprise.

I was led to watch Mikhail Baryshnikov Marianna Tcherkassky perform the same piece and very different emotions were experienced. (Mikhail) I cannot begin to fully describe how they were different, but it was a very different performance. As is the way of YouTube, after watching the two performances from Les Sylphides, I watched a clip from the movie White Nights as Mikhail Baryshnikov does eleven pirouettes, and I was amazed at the ease athletic prowess - only to be led to the next video.

(White) I watched as a young girl does thirty-six pirouettes. The physical training, intense focus, and commitment of ballet is overwhelmingly surprising once a bit of it is studied. (36 Pirouettes) As I moved from Les Sylphides to the performance of Sylvie Guillem and Jonathan Cope in Swan Lake, I would find that, not only was I amazed and stunned by the seemingly effortless yet physically powerful and precise work of Silvie Guillem’ s legs, I was genuinely moved the power of the emotionally rich performance.

I believed she was a swan. As modern dance is explored, possibilities open doors of fusion styles that can interpret life in exuberant and surprising ways. To watch the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is to see combinations of styles, including ballet and African movement, in order to express a wide range of emotion. In Love Stories, the movement is clearly expressing the range of feelings one might experience in love.

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