Commentary: Blurring the lines between 'popular' and 'fine art' genres

Julie Robinson,, 9/26/11

Theatre has become polarised into two main schisms - 'real' theatre and 'shows'. Many will define 'real' theatre as a night at the opera or seeing a Pinter play; a delicacy appealing to the elite palate of the 'arty, the intelligent and the upper/middle class'. The 'show' of a West End musical in comparison, is rather more 'populist' and 'downstream', as someone suggested to me. [However,] the barrier seems to be coming down [with] institutions such as the National Theatre bridging the gap with accessible plays and cheap ticket prices, allowing audiences to cross over into a world they may never have experienced before. New audiences could also be partly attributed to the live cinema screenings of certain productions that have been shown recently. It's not just the NT that has employed this tactic. A number of opera have been shown through cinema. Using popular icons of modern society as fodder for an opera is [another] method that has proved successful in bringing more people to the world of opera - [for example,] Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole. It isn't just about bringing musical theatre fans to opera and plays; it goes both ways. People such as Stephen Fry are changing [perceptions]. Cross-over performers also help to bring the two together. Tenor Alfie Boe has moved from opera into musical theatre as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, bringing many of his fans with him and introducing his new ones to a bit of opera as well. The comments he made on a radio show in which he was rather dismissive of opera, in that it wasn't something he enjoyed as a leisurely activity outside of work, may not have been particularly helpful to this cause, but the fact remains that a performer who has experienced both worlds can be a useful commodity in uniting the genres of theatre. There are many genres of film: action; romance; horror; etc. - a movie-buff doesn't have to limit themselves to just one. The same is true of theatre. There doesn't have to be one audience for this and another for that. Theatre really is for everyone.


Commentary: The lines between ballet and modern dance have blurred

Culture Vulture Victoria [Canada] website, 9/27/11

In the last decade, the lines of dance have blurred. Old rivals ballet and modern are now partners. "Every well-known modern company like Marie Chouinard, Toronto Dance Theatre and Alvin Ailey are full of ballet dancers," explains Paul Destrooper, Artistic Director of Ballet Victoria. "The training now is more contemporary... you'll see massive jumps and physicality, so you get a great combination of earth-bound and grounded moves with extremely light and extended shapes. The modern companies love the exact lines that ballet trained-dancers can offer. And it's easier to mold ballet to different styles than it is to mold other styles into ballet."


Commentary: Have the dividing lines among musical genres disappeared?

Richard Kessler, ArtsJournal blog Dewey 21C, 9/27/11

I have had many a conversation about how the dividing lines between musical genres (and other arts disciplines) were "breaking down or blurring." So, as I was watching this video about a really swell festival taking place next month, "Sonic: Sounds of a New Century" by The American Composers Orchestra, I was quite struck by John Schaefer talking about the group of young composers (and I would add performers) for whom the dividing lines have simply disappeared. A very cool musical app [for the iPad] will be featured prominently in the festival. Now, here's one more really interesting piece to listen to, from Studio 360. It's an interview with composer/performer Gabriel Kahane, primarily on how he surfs the genres, and by the way, he does it quite well.


"I am proud to think I may be blurring the lines between musical genres"

San Francisco Examiner, 8/30/11

Born in 1938, Pedro Soler witnessed and played a key part in the 'Golden Age' of flamenco. He is one of the most celebrated flamenco guitarists in the world today. Despite a strong attachment to his roots, Pedro never turns down an opportunity to interact with instruments from other walks of musical life. [Likewise, his son Gaspar Claus, a cellist] became involved with a wide variety of musical scenes, such as the avant-garde and improvised scenes in Japan, France and New York but also in electronic music, traditional music and a host of other genres. Several years ago, his father's path and his own crossed. "I almost immediately felt a musical kinship as if he were, albeit by different means, gaining access to the same musical landscape. This is where we found a common ground between my desire for archaic purity and Gaspar's raw, uninhibited and fundamental approach," Pedro said. This reunion later led to the recording of a Take Away Show. "Flamenco is, in its essence, a melting pot of influences: from its prehistory in India, taking root in Andalusia and subsequent forays into the rest of the world," Gaspar says. "I belong to a generation that has seen distances rapidly shrink, and different cultures merge to form a new musical landscape. I do not feel that i belong exclusively to any specific tradition, rather I am proud to think that I may be participating in blurring the lines between musical genres."

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