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Natalia V. Sokovikova

The role of psychology in the understanding of a profession. The choreographer of classical ballet.

Sokovikova, Natalia: "The role of psychology in the understanding of a profession. The choreographer of classical ballet", 14th International Congress on Dance Research, Aridaia, Greece, 13-17/9, 2000.

1. History of psychology in dance

From the first steps at the end of the last century, psychology penetrated practically into all spheres of human life, establishing a direct communication with many sciences. It has caused the development of new independent psychological disciplines, including pedagogical psychology and psychology of art. One of most interesting directions in art became the psychology of movement. The first to define the principles of movement of a body and giving to each one of them a name, was François Delsarte (Mimique, physionomie et gestes. Méthode pratique d'après le système de F. Delsarte. Paris, 1895). For an infinite set of movements he had developed a system-scale, similar to the system of musical tones. He divided all movements into three categories: centrifugal, centripetal and neutral. Natural plastic of the body was the criterion of aesthetics and was defined according to force and speed of movements, and to their emotional contents.

Among his pupils was French composer Georges Bizet, who tested on himself the method of control of movement by the body. Also admirers of his ideas were the composer Léo Delibes and Jean Jacques-Dalcroze, who in 1888 was his pupil and desseminated these ideas to Russia, America and other countries. But the main populariser of the learnings of Jacques Dalcreuz in France was And. Girode. Follower of these ideas in theatrical art was also Jean-Paul Sartre ("Life and trifles"). And these ideas inspired Jean Cocteau, who began as the dancer in the ballet "The blue god" by Michail Fokine. For Jean Cocteaux, the personal experience in dance opened new borders for his enthusiasm for psychology in general and psychology of movement in particular, as he believed that "dance is the only language which does not require translation". In ballet the him followers-practical have appeared also Russian colleagues in art. Vaclav Nijinsky under his ideological influence has created such masterpiece, as "The afternoon of a Faun" (which was executed by Serge Lifar - anothe future co-author of Cocteau!).

But Nijinsky be not clear for the French critic Andre Levinson, which give be the name his ballet of "Games" Debussy: "by a Cold rhythmic formalism, in style Gaques-Dalcroze ". Probably, enthusiasm for the doctrine Gaques-Dalcroze for Nijinsky, as man with too weak mentality was premature, though on creativity of many other followers Gaques-Dalcroze he has rendered, undoubtedly, positive influence.

In Russia the idea of the psychologists François Delsarte and Jacques Dalcroze have served the development of professionalism in classical dance as that have involved attention in the psychology for movement of and for new analytical producing - in ballet and in drama - of such great theorists and practice, as Alexander Gorski, Konstantin Stanislavski, Tichomirrov, M. Tchechov, M. Fokin. Psychology in new producing, the selection of emotional and figurative music, techic performance - it was resulted in creation of such masterpieces as "Dying swan", "Schopiniana", "Firebird" and " Polovtchian dances". Through "Russian seasons" in Paris, these new statements, namely the psychology of dance, has rendered back motion for to influence on developing the school of French ballet.

In America, enthusiasm for the ideas of Delsarte was more widespread and stable. Not only practised by several generations of teachers of movement and dance, but also developed as scientific ideas of psychology of movement. His pupil S. Makkey became the founder of the theory of pantomime, and J. Stebbins was founder of a system of art gymnastics. But the basic meanings of the doctrine for modern dance, was developed by the choreographer F. Jaques-Dalcroze. The body-practical system of trial he developed (Method Jaques-Dalcroze. 1906), promoted for the absolute pitch, fast ability to training to music and plastic improvisation. The enthusiasm for the psychology of movement has resulted in the creation of dance therapy. In dance therapy there are no standard movements, standard forms or figures, everyone can convey his mood by means of improvisation. The brightest representative in this direction became the known psychologist Cueall Ruddestham, a member of the American Psychological Association and the AmericanAcademy of Psychotherapists. The psychoanalytical therapy has received development in the activity V. Reich (Reich 1942). He tried to decode language of a body and has described, how the mental voltage is in the physically expressed. A role of a body in emotional development and the ways release of a voltage through physical movements, namely through dancing movements, have helped to achieve positive results in treatment of the patients to his follower Alexander Louju. In the works Karl Gustav Yung emphasized therapeutic value of artistic experiences, which he has named „ as active imagination". He was convinced, that the artistic experiences expressed, for example in dance, can to block up the not realised inclinations and requirement, and as to cause catharsis, and thus to exempt from mental stress. (Jung. 1961).

2. Psychology in ballet

If all the movements of a body, even involuntary and arbitrary, are the result of natural muscular activity of the organism, adjusted by the natural nervous system, also the movements of classical dance (which in the external form is the arbitrary, but, as a matter of fact, comprises involuntary movements) consist of involuntary and arbitrary movements - as a result of the upbringing of nervous activity of the organism. But the role of mechanical movements in the classical exercise and physiological aspects of their co-ordination caused by emotional excitation of nervous system at creation of classical dance is meaningful only in reply to a musical rhythm and musical image. Only in such aspect the classical dance is the basic means of verbal dialogue "his role as the spectator", as figurative language of ballet performance becomes of full value.

Ballet, as highest in complexity between theatrical phenomena, has a complex three-dimensional psychological design, influencing the spectators by sound, color and dancing. The character and degree of influence first of all is emotional and intellectual, defined by musical drama, which is the successor of a genre of literary basis: tragedy, drama or farce. The musical dramatic art dictates to the choreographer the emotional-plastic figure of the images and their interactions. And this new system of drama dictated by the music, is embodied on the stage through plastic and dance. This complex of massive psychological design bases on others, small but important integral components of scenic action. Again the channels of communication with the consciousness of the spectators are divided into three basic lines. First: a musical number of performance determines a genre, tempo-rhythm and melodic figures of a composition of dances. Second: the colour and decor - is art set pictorial the decision for performance, and is the costume strengthening emotional perception. But dance is language and main expressive means, it is for the sense and emotions, and a declaration of an independent aesthetic values of the classical school.

The complexity and long duration of training of a classical dancer is connected with the necessity to co-ordinate, it would seem only mechanics, "motor" movements with musical dictatorship of the composer and plastic dictatorship of the choreographer. The same "arabesque" can serve as expression of the various attitudes to the partner: The heroine or magnetic to him, or is push out in a practically same "competent" posture of a body. The same "ranversée" can serve as expression of despair, pleasure or burning from love, depending on the poses in context with figures of the hands whan this movement is executed. But the psychology of one dancer, even in the execution of a genius ballerina, does not explain the success or failure of all ballet. To understand a masterpiece it is necessary to consider the psychology of the director-choreographer.

3. Psychology and the profession of choreographer

A musical performance is based on strict hierarchy. The director always goes after the composer and dictates his own the will for the painter and the actors. About the priority of music above visual images (priority of intuition above logic) have wrtten Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. It is clear that the success or not success of a ballet is based on the identical definition of the world by all its authors. Also, on the skill of the director-choreographer to create movements of the bodies around a uniform idea.

Analysing the theoretical heritage in the classics of choreography (ballet art) and the founders of classical dance, we have the complete right to speak about the psychology of classical dance - as stable and independent during centuries of an art system. The psychologist analyses subconscious's of all participants of the creative act on a chain "the composer-director-actor-spectator", their installation of criterion and mental categories in motivation of each event, together with mechanisms of direct emotional influence of music and dance on the spectator, and also consequence of this influence. Thus is a minimum three directions in the psychology, which deal with art of classical dance. One direction of psychology is in history of art, which analyses of reason of all creative processes influencing on philosophy, aesthetics and ethics of art product. The second - scientific is in medical, and fixes art how technological processes. Through understanding of the mechanics of movement, psychology and physiology of movement of a body, which coming to the at different stages, preparatory and of training work. The third - psychology in the pedagogic of a choreography. This is essentially new direction, which arises in walls of NovosibirskUniversity. Here investigate communication of processes of training of engineering of classical dance with process and cycles of growth of a body and consciousness of the schoolboys.

Creating a stage product, the choreographer takes a basis from the music, which has interested him either as program, or as form, or as successful combination of separate components. Analysing musical images, he develops the characters of the heroes, predicts and builds logic of their acts, examines their collisions. He builds a drawing of action so that to open psychology of music, created by the composer, which is a basis for the ballet performance, and later the director's ideas informs up to the spectator by language of classical dance through the actor-executor. Even if the choreographer is not the author literary basis, but only is by author of the libretto, without understanding of psychology of art as a whole, he can is not adequately musical scope, and unfit in reading literary dramatic art, that to become creator adequate choreographic scope for the dancers.

The task of classical dance - to cause positive the emotions, which from good the producing, through skilfully execution by the dancers, leads to catharsis not only skilled balletomanes but also casual spectators. An ideal ballet is beauty of body. Not simply bodies, not dead (as a sculpture) but alive - with a soul. You see, the feeling of beauty is a religious concept, and so for Europeans (where exists a phenomenon of classical dance) is based on Christianity: " in all descriptions of the divine world the sacred fathers always on the first place put definition of Beauty ", and only after that "the world" and "kindness". Wjicj means that beauty is the very first definition of God by man.

4. The creation of a masterpiece as conjunction of psychology and philosophy

Such vision of the concept of beauty was fatally unacceptable for of the Soviet ideology of materialism. But the communists could not find another ideal of life. This feebleness of their ideal has destroyed this ideological regime (rather than economic decline!) because there was no exact direction for the creative movement of a nation. The people did not trust in the invented models for imitation of heroes and has lost the guiding lines for ideas. The intellectual public during Soviet time loved to look only at classical art.

After the communist rule fell, Russian culture was aggravated by active antichristian attacks under the appearance of a "kind idea" of a "new synthetic cultural generality of all peoples of the world". But this "synthesis" is possible only aafter the complete disappearance of the concept of national religion. Russia now experiences a Christian renaissance. It is clear that in the near future our aesthetics (emotional) and ethical (logic) ideals will be connected to our the religious source. Russian theatre (ballet included) even after 70 years of official atheism, continues to be the leader of national-religious representations about an ideal of beauty for the people.

However, history informs us the facts of phenomenal universal influence of show, played on diverse a stage, on diverse the spectator of a society, on diverse the people and on a nation. A vivid example is the ballet P. I. Tchaikovskii " The swan lake ", which goes at different national theatres in different statements and with the most different executors, but his the emotional influence is stable. With one only by difference: good execution allows the spectator to go through high-grade catharsis, but weak is only to receive middling pleasure of positive emotions from familiar music.

That's why: Dance and profession of producer of performance in Europe up to time existed in parallel, not is of uniform system integrity. And, in spite of the fact that the first the ballet performance was put in Italy in 1545 and referred to as "Cirsea", classical (in concept of system of dance) he was not, and to us is interesting only - by the from these time all performances, in which danced, to call sounds - ballare, to name of Italian "Ballet". The French consider 1581 as date of birth of the French ballet, as in Paris in palace "Small Bourbon" was executed "Le ballet comique de la Reine " on motives of a myth a "Cirsea". But also this performance is not object of our interest, as we know, that only after 1661 the decree Ludwig XIV will open the Royal Academy of Dance and as director nominated Pier Baeuchen. He began work on the creation of a terminology and classification of "serious" dance, based on works of the Italian and Spanish teachers of the 15th to 16th centuries, which have prepared a cultural basis of the future of classical dance.

Let us now turn the pages of history till 1841 - creation of the ballet "Gisela" - a ballet which has been kept till now. This uniquelly long life period allows us to use it as an example for the analysis of the psychology in the art of ballet. Its founders, composer Adolphe Charles Adam (a contemporary of Delsarte - founder of the psychology of movement), librettist Teophile Gautier (the ideologist of "art for the sake of art"), choreographers Coralli and Perrot (founders of psychological dance), set designer P. Ciceri and costumes by P. Lormier.

"Giselle", writes S. Lifar, is the apotheosis of romantic ballet". To this time in Western Europe already ideas of the romanticism have become outdated, on standard by already has come Empire. But the romanticism suddenly has one's lit up by the psychological masterpiece, which has longer life than many choreographic products. "Giselle", as all romantic ballets, has two forms: the first act represents events of real life, the second act events in the irrational world. The history of the peasant-girl Giselle who believed the thoughtless coquetry of count Albert, which is to become in this deaf place of the hunt. Having learned about his deceit, the girl has to stand mad, is to die. And later has got to be in the world of vindictive Villiss - the pagan ghosts who live in a cemetery and show up in the night to catch and torment to death one's own offenders. The same fate waited Albert: having come for the tomb of Giselle, he has lingered over up to darkness and would be dead, if Giselle did not protect him by her force of sincere love - contrary to the pagan laws of vengeance.

Why? If Albert was protected after death by the love of Giselle, then here there is no logic of secular and ethical validity. Giselle, according to a legend, should become as spiteful as it is necessary to be Villis. This is the obvious balance between good and evil. And if the offender was protected by a victim, does that mean that the authors of the performance are materialists, denying the harmony in morals? Or is it absurd from lazy "not meditation"? But why then this performance became the classic of world culture? Here lies the secret - the truth forces to penitence - the moral is understandable not only by Christians….

Everyone can see that this performance has such high moral philosophical problem, such thin psychological moral conflict, could be born only by people with precise religious consciousness: the idea of a repentance and expiation from by torments via empathy is a basic idea of this ballet performance on the time of "a crest of romanticism " - a time of the last mystical auditing of the European Christian principles.

5. Bibliography

Berlioz, G.: Selected letters, 1853-1862. Leningrad, 1982

Block, L.: Occurrence and development of engineering of classical dance. Moscow,1987.

Fokin, Michail: Against the current. Leningrad, 1981.

Chudekov, S. N.: A history of dances. Vol. 2. Saint-Petersburg, 1913.

Goilezovskiy, K.: Life and creativity. Moscow, 1984.

Gvozdev, A. A. & M. Piotrovskiy: A history of the European theatre. 1931.

Hofman, E. M.: The knight Gluck.

Krasovskaia, V.: The West-European ballet theatre. Epoch of Noverre. Leningrad, 1981.

Krasovskaia, V.: Russian ballet theatre. Leningrad, 1971.

Lifar, Serge: Essay on choreography. Paris. 1952.

List, F.: F. Schopin. Moscow, 1956. Romanticism.

Lopuchov, F.: Choreographic franknesses. Leningrad, 1973.

Losev, A.F.: Sketches of antique symbolism and mythologies. Moscow, 1993.

Messerer, A.: Dance. An idea. Time. Moscow, 1990.

Mogulskiy, L.: A history of the West-European theatre. 2 t. Years 1936-1939.

Nitzsche, F. The birth of tragedy out the spirit of music. Moscow, 1998.

Noverre: Letters on dance. Moscow, 1963.

Pissaro, Camille: The foreman of art about art. Vol. 5. The collection. Moscow, 1969 (1898).

Stravinskiy, I.: Dialogues. Moscow, 1971.

Tarasov, N. I.: Classical dance. Moscow, 1973.

Zacharov, R. V.: Yhe art of the ballet-master. Moscow, 1954.

Ms. Natalia V. Sokovikova

 

 

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