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November 21, 2006

Stating the obvious: Blog hiatus

Hey folks -

Apologies for the silence; it's going to last a while longer. There are no crises, actually life's pretty good. I just need the half an hour or more daily it takes to make a substantive blog entry to do other things, like write articles. Meanwhile, I am writing, knitting and traveling. Heading to London today to see the MacGregor/Wheeldon/Balanchine Triple Bill and my brother/sister-in-law for Thanksgiving. She Who Must Be Petted will be visiting her favorite neighbors in the interim.

I'll be back when I've cleared some stuff off my plate.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 1, 2006

Latest Dance Articles - on doing interviews

White Nights in the Autumn, 2006 issue of Dance Now. The issue is not online, but worth seeking out - along with my article on the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, Debra Craine reports on the Mariinsky and Bolshoi in their London season and John Percival writes on both company's earliest London appearances. There's a lot more of interest as well, including Jane Simpson on narrative ballets (Great minds. We were seeing some of the same performances in London and it would certainly make one interested in the subject.)

[Alina] Somova has only been in the company since 2003 and is still a coryphée. She’s blond, and all limbs and wild lines – thin, pulled out and hyperflexible. Despite soulful white acts, she seemed to prefer Odile to Odette. She looked coached (at least, compared to ballerinas in many other companies) but she’s strange. She and Kolb ended the adagio in the Black Swan pas de deux four counts early and waited to strike a final pose. In the coda she did messy fouettés that the audience loved, but the audience of tourists in the top priced seats at the Mariinsky would probably have applauded wildly for dancing bears in tutus if Tchaikovsky were playing and the ticket said Swan Lake.

An interview with Yuri Possokhov in the Autumn 2006 issue of Dance View.

DanceView: Are you feeling yet like you know what your voice is?

Yuri Possokhov: I know what my nature is. Not voice, but nature I know. And I want to be as close as possible to my nature. It will be revelation; I don’t want to be artificial.

This interview taught me a ton, including some elemental lessons about conducting an interview on tape. It's not a conversation. It's an interview. If you have a conversation, when you transcribe it, it will have all the ellipses of a normal conversation where the thoughts were clearly understood by the participants, but the words never got spoken. What was perfectly comprehensible at the time reads as either boring or gibberish. I excised a few pieces of the interview where this happened. And even more practically in the same vein, no matter how awkward it feels for the flow of speaking, once you've asked a question, don't say anything - ANYTHING - until the other person has answered in a full and complete sentence. Wait for them to be done in order to avoid ellipses, or what happened more often in this tape: sections where we were both talking at once and it took several repeats to make out what was said.

Possokhov was conducting an interview in a second language for him, a brave feat for any one. A lot of editing needed to be done both for grammar and flow, but I think it's essential; the interview needs to accurately reflect as the person's thoughts and that's not always a verbatim transcript. There were enough changes that I did something unorthodox and let Possokhov read the piece before I submitted it. I wanted to be sure it represented his thoughts properly.

The difference isn't that large here, but as an example, this is the verbatim transcript of the quote above.

LAW: Are you feeling yet like you know what your voice is?

YP: I know what my nature. Not voices, but nature I know. And I want to be as close as possible to my nature. It will be revelation [two short words unintelligible] otherwise I don’t want to be artificial.

Another major change to make the article read better is to pare my questions down to the bare minimum. They were usually longer, with some preamble, chat and explanation done to try and draw Possokhov out - he's not shy, but he's thinking in Russian and answering in English. It's a lot of work. Most of that is cut out, except where illuminative, and Possokhov's answers are spliced together to keep me discreetly in the background. I'm not the subject of the interview.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack