Rolad Petit

Roland pettit and Groovy Guys by K.Sakurai
"Dance Seminer a nishiazabu" chapter 4 English Version

translated by Asako maruno

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 photographs --. 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 given body. 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

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