Thursday, August 5, 2010

Michel Fokine -- Letter,"The Times", 6th July 1914

The Five Principles [of the New Ballet]

Not to form combinations of ready-made and established dance-steps, but to create in each case a new form corresponding to the subject, the most expressive form possible for the representation of the period and the character of the nation represented -- that is the first rule of the new ballet.

The second rule is that dancing and mimetic gesture have no meaning in a ballet unless they serve as an expression of its dramatic action, and they must not be used as a mere divertissement or entertainment, having no connection with the scheme of the whole ballet.

The third rule is that the new ballet admits the use of conventional gesture only where it is required by the style of the ballet, and in all other cases endeavours to replace gestures of the hands by memetic of the whole body.  Man can be and should be expressive from head to foot.

The fourth rule is the expressiveness of groups and of ensemble dancing.  In the older ballet the dancers were ranged in groups only for the purpose of ornament, and the ballet-master was not concerned with the expression of any sentiment in groups of characters or in ensemble dances.  The new ballet, on the other hand, in developing the principle of expressiveness, advances from the expressiveness of the face to the expressiveness of the whole body, and from the expressiveness of the individual body to the expressiveness of a group of bodies and the expressiveness of the combined dancing of a crowd.

The fifth rule is the alliance of dancing with other arts.  The new ballet, refusing to be the slave either of music or of scenic decoration, and recognizing the alliance of the arts only on the condition of complete equality, allows perfect freedom both to the scenic artist and to the musician.  In contradistinction to the older ballet it does not demand "ballet music" of the composer as an accompaniment to dancing; it accepts music of every kind, provided only that it is good and expressive.  It does not demand of the scenic artist that he should array the ballerinas in short skirts and pink slippers.  It does not impose any specific "ballet" conditions on the composer or the decorative artist, but gives complete liberty to their creative powers.

These are the chief rules of the new ballet.

Michel Fokine and his ballets by Cyril W. Beaumont. 1953. Pages 146-7.

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