Happy New Year everyone!
Before Linda and I get swamped again it’s time to get philosophical. Our year in dance was metaphorically bookended by two very different ballet movies; two opposites in mood: we started 2010 writing about Only When I Dance, a heartwarming documentary about two Brazilian favela dwellers overcoming obstacles to pursue a career in ballet. But towards December our gears had shifted to the slightly more pessimistic landscape of an art form excessively preoccupied with preserving its past traditions, not only via the launch of Jennifer Homans’ Apollo’s Angels but also thanks to Aronofsky’s Black Swan, a reminder of how bizarre the ballet world may seem to those looking in from the outside.
It didn’t help that autumn season in London had two Ashton works that are screaming for a makeover: the anachronistic Sylvia and his passé version of Cinderella. In the midst of all this questioning our encounter with Homans was a real milestone. She worries about the future of ballet and for us it’s clear that any art form needs to be constantly refreshing & revitalising itself, but what can be done when the concept of innovation is on a collision route with the current box office constraints of the world’s biggest ballet companies?
Not all hope is lost, there are plenty of young choreographers out there taking the art form in new directions and artists of high calibre that are capable of finding new nuances in roles and making them relevant for our times. We wouldn’t go as far as claiming there’s a buzz about ballet; we don’t see it yet. We’re more inclined to agree with Alastair Macaulay who wrote yesterday that ballet is merely undergoing a transition as it has done so many times before. You never know where the art form might take you, but we are still here for the ride. After all, ballet has come a long way.
So we had balletic highs and lows. On the plus side our reader numbers have been steadily going up (thanks to you!) and we’d like to think that we have worked hard towards our ballet myth busting objectives. We have collected dividends via being linked to or mentioned by conventional and new media publications we greatly admire (The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Slate, Time Out and those wonderful Fug Girls – thanks all!) and by being involved in this year’s Move It Show (as part of the “Ballet Rocks” segment), a project we’re really excited about. We don’t want to set ourselves formal resolutions, but in 2011 we hope to be able to continue discovering new work including contemporary dance; we hope to be more diverse. We feel that The Ballet Bag has evolved organically from an educational blog into a varied ballet webzine and that diversity is key to interesting content.
Of course most important for us have been the relationships we formed with you all: from dance professionals to colleague bloggers, from critics to dance audiences. We have met wonderful, very opinionated people via our love of ballet and by being active on social media. We continue to highly recommend Twitter and Facebook as two essential channels for anyone with an interest in following the evolution of dance around the web.
We would like to get to know you even better this year so please do take part in the short survey below. Your participation will help us steer this dance webzine in the right direction:
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Many thanks for your support.
Feel free to leave a comment with feedback and/or your suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover in 2011!