1 Roland Petit is...
Now we have gone through three different streams of dance
in 20th century by following the artists of the time in last three
chapters. Each artist might think him/herself as a part of the
mainstream, but these artists seem well worked out as being
anti each other (for example, modern dance is for meaning
something which is against the ballet kind of stuff) and they
have been established upon planned harmony. On the other
hand, Roland Petit seems very ambiguous in the mainstream.
Roland Petit is a ballet artist. According to the matrix, the
stream from Petipa to Balanchine that we followed in the
section A happened to be the mainstream of the 20th century.
But in this way, He could be seen as non-mainstream.
His position you can think of in general way will be
the B section. And this B section mostly holds the modern
dance. As you can see, he misfits there if you followed
the matrix order. And also, among the people in
"the Trade", that is small, conservative and oldfashion,
nobody has ever thought the way we have been defined.
The way ballet people to define is very simple.
The "classic ballet" = 19th century's. The "modern ballet"
= 20th century's. They usually define like this. More
sensible way is like this. Contrary to the "abstract ballet",
there is a story, the "story ballet". I don't know why the "story"
is against the "abstract", but they are defined this easy way.
Their basis are two. One of the basis is whether it is new or
not. The other important basis is whether it is a controversial
work or not. They think it is good when there is a good easy
understandable "categorizing" like profound of the theme,
biggness and difficulty of the theme, or concept for audience.
Petit debuted in 1944. And he was already a well known
choreographer world wide in 50s. Therefore it is likely that he
seems he is a person in the past generation. Also, people talk
about him that he is frivolous and thoughtless, and what he
does is just an entertainment. Or to put it the other way around,
people say that he is fashionable and has spirit and a flavor
of Paris, and it is enjoyable etc. etc. In the final analysis,
he will be settled as an experienced well made artist.
Certainly if you look at him along with the
ballet world discours , he has two different types of
tendencies. One is a "story ballet". Most of the story ballet
uses a well known literary work as a text. Although there are
not too many, the other one is an "abstract ballet" which has
no story, as well as many of "revue "dances.
Therefore an "abstract ballet" which has no story belongs to
the left side of the matrix, and the "story ballet" belong to
the opposite side of the matrix.
But if you look at it at the level (the level of the way we
have been watching through last three chapters) of
choreograph or the move as an "actual appearance",
Roland Petit's expression seems similar in any of his works,
which means there is only one. It will be even more clear
when you look at it without concern in a costume or decor.
To aim at a perfect accomplishment of a purpose with
an only meaning, that is to present the story and the theme
in a way that carries conviction, or to aim at a purification
of an abstract system, a dance then of course there will be
a need of selecting either the right or left side of the matrix
and a need of a focus on selecting. However, in that sense,
what Petit presents does not reduce to neither case.
For example, there is no story in the work which Petit
choreographed Vivaldi's violin concerto "The Four Seasons".
But if you look at it as one of those styles that visualize the
structure of a music like the ballet work which Balanchine
choreographed Bach's violin concerto, naturally there are
too many extra something that cannot reduce to the
geometrical lines. On the other hand, a work that is
throughly based on a story such as , it is not
made to follow every action, there are many ambiguous
moves you really cannot tell what they are doing.
Then "one move" to Roland Petit could be a combination of
an abstract "pas" and an expressive "action". In any case for
Petit, the abstract and the action cannot be separated in two.
They are there at the same time.
2 Petit's fascination in dance is in his "nuance of a body "
Like Roland Petit dance, the object (=body, dance) that
one (that is me) loves, is impossible to be divided into
segments. In other words, it cannot be divided into segments
by an analysis or a literal discription. Is not it "ecriture",
or in Roland Barthes's word? The "calligraphy"
of a calligraphy, could be considered as a letter, and also
as a picture. To put it shortly, "letter = picture".
Then, what is the nature of calligraphy that is a letter and
also a picture? It is not a "shape". (since it is a letter.)
It is not a "use". (since it is also a picture) It is
something shape and use, but at the same time it is
something neither shape nor use.
In Dance ,The "shape" is a "form" and "movement"
The "use" is a "meaning". His dance cannot be reduced to
these. Where is what cannot be reduced?
Certainly, . In other words, it is upon dance
in front of you. Though, if you tried to reduce to the level of
story or to the level of movement, would go away, or
would overflow. You cannot come at anature of Petit's dance
by "*"situation", *"in the move", or *"as it is".
According to Roland Barthes, it is *"something round",
difficult to come at" that is attached to an obvious signifie
correspond exactly tosignifiant like stories or movements .
Or *"something that cuts across the face of meaning",
that is a"Signifiance "which produces a meaning you cannot
get from "Signification", in Barthes's words.
It is *"the 'sense' in the limited name of sensually produced"
by getting running through audience's "look = desire".
(The Third Sense : In signs, there is (1) a level for transfer
of information and communication (denotation), and (2) a level of
an symbolic signification which is able to be understood among
people who share common culture (connotation). Roland Barthes
proposed such level that cannot get a sense as an usual sign, that is
a signifian which cannot settle what it means, as "the third sense".
It is Barthes's way of using Julia Christeva's "Signifiance ".
When I was a child, I liked a "Bontan Candy", just because I liked
the wafer wrapping the candy. Or the biggest reason I was attracted
by the northern paintings from Van Ike to Holbein was the luster on
the surface of a carefully varnished canvas. And it was the same
reason as I was attracted by a vulgar portrait which was hung on
the wall in principal's office at an elementary school.
Such "meaning exsting just for myself " will never appeared from
neither denotative object (that the portrait looks like the principal),
nor connotative effect (the dignified appearance it gets by drawn in
so called western portrait style). Moreover Barthes was keep
trying to catch "difficult to catch" by calling it around
"the grain of voice", "strike", "punktum ". )
Well then, what is "the Third Sense" for Petit dance?
Something that cannot reduce to a shape or a meaning?
I think that is an "expression" of a movement, and yet
"expression" of the body.
(As the things stand now, the meaning of this "expression"
is not " representing a motiom of emotion ", but is in the case of
just "expression of face ".
For example, "dimple ","Wrinkles round eys" that appear only the
moment of laughing. )
"Expression"is "the motion of a muscle that sticks exactly
to a face"."Expression"sticks exactly to a face. In that sense,
it appears on the "body". But it also is a movement. Well then,
it cannot be classified into either body or motion. In the matrix,
A and B are of motion. That motion produces "image".
But like ankoku butoh , C and D in the matrix are the dance
that produces not image but the "presence" of body.
If you think about wether body as an "expression" belongs to
the upper or the lower side in the matrix this, it belongs to the
both sides. Or it does not belong to either side. It is very ambiguous
state of thing. in the upper half of the matrix, kind of thing
is clearly reduced to motion.
On the other hand, in the lower half of the matrix, a material body
happened to be lying down or lost its movement like a dead body.
Is not something right in "between" the "motion" of an active body
and a materialistic "body" ?
And now, I would like to think in full datail not just a face but
the whole body, the way "expression "should be.
Here I list up what catches a look of mine in Roland Petit dance:
turning shoulder like cats, stuck out shoulder, light knocks on
floor by instep, and the leaped up calves when knocks.
And standing by heels not "sur Les Pointe". Or a duck walk.
And turn arms like a locomotive wheel, then the shoulder turns
at the same time. A spooling hands. Plie, bending and stretching
outward and inward by turns. Knocking forward the back of the hand.
Dragging feet light. Betwisted hip. Crooked and tangled legs,
walking with "sur Les Pointe" and stretch the heel of the leg up
in the air. Etc. etc...
I do not think all these have described perfectly anyhow.
It is most likely that key points are "shoulder", "wrist", "hip",
"inward leg", and "heel". As Barthes says, *"anything to bend short
here and there of the body should be called hit".
This "hit" is the Barthes's word means the same as "the third sense"
or "Signifiance ". "The third sense" or "Signifiance " are produced
when bending short here and there of the body. The body in the
situation called "hit body". Also I guess that such body "hit"
the audience, the body of the audience.
This kind of dance is an one set of the both "motion" and "body".
A dimple of "motion = body". Or wrinkles round eyes of
"body = motion". Are not they? It could be definite where
those dimples and wrinkles are, but there are numberless of
ambiguous something that cannot be definite.
"Signifiance " is abled to be seen as a shape of wrinkles,
projecting shape , as one of the accents". It means like that, right?
Although I have been saying that " A expression"
until now, here I would like to change it to more appropriate word.
It is something that can only be caught by "a look = desire",
moreover, this something is at a totally different level of looks
or figure that is something fixed.
When you consider it in dance, how should it be called?
What if I called it <gesture> (non-objective unconscious
action or move) classify from a movement, aciton, appearance.
So, let me call to <gesture> from now on.
To mention it once again to make sure, it should be ."it is body
so there is movement" as well as "it is a movement so there is
body". For instance, to segment the time of movement flow
into a moment to moment, (the same situation with looking at
still photographs does not mean anything upon dance), there is
always an "expression" that neglects the abstract reduce upon
bodyitself right there. In short, the body in the Petit dance is
not the wheel and axle or a silhouette. Cannot reduce to lines.
That is *"figure not forme ". That means "the body filled
with expression". -- though this time, I am thinking about
a pose more than a movement, a pose which I see on still
Now, there is one thing that looks exception at the first
glance upon Roland Petit dance. That might get objected as
that is not <gesture>. But it gets to me. It cannot be seen
in other artists but it could be seen in his work frequently.
That are the legs rise precipitously up in the air, or the
warped legs. It could be concerned as an opposite thing of
standing up on the ground by " sur Les Pointe ", which is very
important factor and an e ssential element of a classic ballet.
Is not it "a stiff phallus", or "a wanting body"? The phallus
as a <gesture>, An "expression" of the body which reached
the highest level.
You cannot have "phallus" purposely as well as dimple. (You
cannot make it stiff by trying to do so.) Only the body which
got run through by "desire = a look" could be "phallus".
That is an expression satisfied by "desire = a look". The life
Now, why this shape cannot reduce to a forme or meaning?
According to Racan, "phallus" is the "prototype". The
"prototype" is "the big letter signifiant " shaping the
"symbolic world" from out side of the symbol structure, .
That is why only the "phallus" has not been symbolize.
The "penis" which likely to be a symbol compare to "phallus",
could rather be a " sur Les Pointe" , the leg that sticks into
the floor. That sticks into the earth (=female) and likely to
be a sexual symbol like compasses, gimlets or knife, is the
"sur Les Pointe" of a classic ballet or George Balanchine.
Also, we often can see in Petit dance the dance of "object"
with an body expression that has given a life by desire.
For example, "Unbrella dance ", and "Chair dance". Dancing
with dolls, or make the feather accesories (that is
inseparable from revue dancer costume) dance reminds me
the Disney animation.
Animation is the living pictures. Comparing the "dance-tic"
that preponderate over Disney animation and something like
dead pictures of a man called Miyazaki. The object of Disney
is to animate. Animation itself. The other one is to tell a story.
Simply pictures are nothing else but instruments as having
the story and the meaning as an object. Are not they?
I feel that a gratuitous act can do an enormous thing.
3 Petit dance was developed by the 20th century pop culture
<gesture> is useless for forme , story, or meaning.
As Barthes says that it is* " the same kind of a thing with a
witticism, joke, or outgo of no use". And it is for sure.
It may relate to the Disney issue, but if the dance is not an
instrument to mean or mould for the artist, Roland Petit's
object is the dance itself. Not a "instrument" but an "object".
The object itself. The object of love. Then * "if something
would be communicable, it would be a desire, not the reason" Barthes
says. This desire is of the artist, but at the same time at the
same moment, it is the desire of ours who are taken by it.
In comparison with such way that it shoud be, those main dance
in the 20th century art that we have seen so far, are how
abstemious and fundamental. To call it logos centered might go too far,
but should not I say that how paradigmatic it is. In fact, can we say
that most of what it called dance, never called art, in other words
our publicly popular dance or a folk dance are formed with <gesture>?
Anthropology and ethnology tell what was its original meaning,
that it was religious pray, or incantation act by mimicry etc.
But Taking it all teleologically might reduce what appeared
preciously and wipe away a "desire". But again, if we follow the
reading at the level of what appears which the we have been doing,
we will be stuck at the point where something never can reduce.
The object is always clear since these dance happened to be
more danced than watched. It is "want to dance or not?",
and "dance is dance".
For instance, let us think about a "tap dance". Its "form",
the shape of tap dancers' bodies. Where the shape coming from?
Upon tap dancing the only part of the body that moves is the
"feet" that tap. But in case of the great dancers like Astaire or
Nicolas brothers, we watch not just their feet but movement of
the whole body. What their arms do, of course balancing.
The "figure" of tapping is the body itself in the complete meaning.
The body that got through by desire of dancing. The object and the
instrument are the same. Then the both form naturally beautiful.
Or the movement of a drummer drumming . The figure of Gene Krupa
drumming is very cool. I think it is "dancy".I guess this also is the
dance that has got an object and instrument as the same.
By the way, this scene is from "Ball of Fire " of Howard Hawks.
He is a groovy nice guy, who always include a scene that makes you
feel the joy of the body that musics or dances.
( For example in "To have and have not ", the band of
H. Karmichael and L. Bacall. Specially the site of Bacall's back,
shaking her hip at the last scene, when the band see Bacall off
as she leaves a hotel. Or in "Hatari",R. Butons's harmonica and dance ,
and a four-handed performance by he and E. Martineri etc.
In "Ball of Fire" also a parody of "Snow White", "Conga" which is
danced by "Sugar Puss=Snow White" and the "seven proffessors"
is so cute. In "A Song is born", the remake of"Ball of Fire" ,
B.Goodman who is playing a role of a music proffessor did
"jamming "groovy with jazzmen including Satchimo .)
By the way, what did form Roland Petit dance and his
desire for dance?
Starting from "Java" that was danced every night on the floor
of his father's restaurant, Josephine Baker's "Negro Dance",
Fred Astare's "Tap", "Ball Room Dance". And in the 40s,
his childhood, a "jitterbug", one of those "Les Zazou" who danced
crasily. And moreover,"gesture" of the Entertainers Maurice
Chevalier, Mistinaguet, Marx brothers( Please recall Graucho's
"walk",or "the finger dance" which Chiko playing piano with
her fingers streched.),etc. In other words, The pop dance and
The pop curture of this 20 century !!
to next page
cover page/profile/discographie/"dancin'all night !!/what's new ?
Link to …/Mail to Sakura House