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Subject: "Mime - Art of Telling a Story" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Anjuli_Bai

02-01-07, 07:42 PM (GMT (BST))
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"Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
 
   Somewhile ago in another thread there was some discussion of the worth and history of mime in classical ballet. Below is a list of mime that occurs in various ballets which I used to teach in my ballet classes. Thought it would be fun to share.


MIME

First things first...dictionary definition: "the art or technique of portraying a character, mood, idea, or narration by gestures and bodily movements; pantomime."

So, no props and no other dancer is physically manipulated in any way. I've name the ballet in which a particular mime can be seen - depending, of course, on a particular production.

Writing - finger writing on palm of other hand.

Prayer – palms together – fingers pointing toward torso – Romeo and Juliet

Sorrow – fists pounding chest –Romeo and Juliet

Anger – fists pounding toward another’s chest – Romeo and Juliet

Chatter – fingers of one hand opening and closing with opposing thumb

Goodbye – hands waving – Graduation Ball

Nobel female expecting to be greeted – hand held out to be kissed – Giselle

Direction – index finger indicates direction – Swan Lake

Size – one hand, palm down indicates height

Indicating female - hands making successive curves moving downward

A strong, heavy person – puffed out cheeks, hands held in fists, rounded at sides of body, puffed out chest

Hunger – hand pats stomach

Sleep – cheek laid on hands, palms together

Change of character presentation – one hand makes circle around face moving from top (fingers open) to bottom (fingers closed) - Baryshnikov in Vestris.

Reading – two palms face up side by side – Coppelia

Bad odor – fingers over nostrils – Romeo and Juliet

Blind – hand out, palm down, feeling around empty air – Don Quixote

Scheming – fingers moving down along sides of chin – Coppelia

Quiet – finger over lips – Coppelia

Go away – two hands palms pushing away – Romeo and Juliet

Begging – hands clasped and raised fingers – Romeo and Juliet

Please – palms together – pointed outward

Fear – arms over face

Headache – or not feeling well – back of hand to forehead – Romeo and Juliet

Flight – or bird – undulating arms – Graduation Ball, Swan Lake

Crying – face in both palms – Romeo and Juliet

Trembling – knocking knees – Graduation Ball

Cold – rubbing arms – Giselle

Getting ready to meet someone – straightening/brushing off clothes and smoothing hair – Romeo and Juliet, Giselle

Playing an instrument – strumming hands, or pretending to play a flute

Thinking – two fingers at temple – Coppelia

Idea – one finger taps forehead – Coppelia

Revenge – clenched fist comes from overhead to down in front of body – a strong sustained motion – La Bayadere

Death – hands over head – fists crossed at wrists, come down in front of body to waist level – a strong motion – Giselle

Life – hands rise at either side of body – to well over head, palms up.

Speak – side of hand to mouth – La Sylphide

Listen – side of hand to ear – Les Sylphides

Dance – hands circle each other overhead – Giselle

Kiss – fingers to lips – moving outward

Beauty – one hand circles face – Giselle

No – one or two hands moving away from body – palms out – Giselle

Now – finger points decisively downward, Giselle

You – gentle movement – one hand motioning away – palm opening facing upward.

Me – one or two hands – fingers moving to chest

Why – two hands, moving outward palms opening up, gentle motion – La Sylphide

Love – one or two hands on heart

Heartfelt emotion – left palm on heart – right fingers beating on back of left hand

Promise - vow – two fingers raised over head – Swan Lake

Marriage or engagement – right hand indicates left ring finger – Swan Lake, Giselle

See – finger indicates eye – Giselle

Another’s shame – wagging index finger

Go away – romantic style –palms outward, two hands moving from one side of the body to another – going away

Come – romantic – palms inward, two hands moving from one side of body to another – coming toward, palms up

Crown – side of one hand coming down toward top of head three times- slicing movement

Tears – palms toward face – moving downward – fingers gently moving

Secret – hand severely cupping side of mouth – Graduation Ball

Tired – fingers rubbing eyes

Happiness/joy – hands clasped under chin

Getting rid of a bad smell – hand waving under nose – Romeo and Juliet

Chilled – hands grasping opposing upper arms

Shout – both hands cupping mouth

Impatience/frustration – hands on hips – foot tapping

Maturation (female) hands under breasts – Romeo and Juliet

Craftsmen/artisans – gently hammer fist onto open palm of other hand

No money – motion as if pulling out empty pockets

Money – one hand making dropping motions into open palm of other hand

Children – indicate various heights – La Fille Mal Gardee

Pregnancy – indicate stomach bulge – La Fille Mal Gardee

Crazy – finger circling by ear


..............................................

Please feel free to add to the list with or without the names of the ballets in which it may (depending upon a particular production) occur.

But...remember, no props. So Giselle pulling the petals off an actual flower doesn't qualify. However, when she later mimes that action (no actual flower) in the Mad Scene - it would qualify!



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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story little voice 02-01-07 1
     RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story AlexP 02-01-07 2
         RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story AlexP 02-01-07 4
     RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story DaveM 02-01-07 3
  RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story DaveM 02-01-07 5
     RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story Anjuli_Bai 02-01-07 6
         RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story Paul N 03-01-07 7
             RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story Anjuli_Bai 03-01-07 8
                 RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story AlexP 03-01-07 10
             RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story pmeja 03-01-07 9

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little voice

02-01-07, 07:51 PM (GMT (BST))
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1. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks for this Anjuli!

When watching Giselle over christmas I had wondered what the hands circling each other overhead meant and presumed it was dance but wasn't sure. It seems to be used a lot in that particular ballet so it was really bugging me!


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AlexP

02-01-07, 08:39 PM (GMT (BST))
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2. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 02-01-07 AT 08:47 PM (GMT)
 
Wonderful Anjuli thanks! .... difficult to think of any more.

As Giselle was on TV this Xmas I'm trying to think of some more Giselle specific mimes - I don't have it to watch again and check but for the scene in Act I where Berthe mimes a warning to Giselle (and the assembled crowd) she describes first a forest and mimes a tall tree being blown in the wind by leaning her whole body slightly with arms crossing slowly over head. Then she describes two cross shaped grave stones at each side of the stage and then spirits (Wilis) rising from them (with a 'scooping up' motion). Wili are then identified in mime by the small wings shown with hands held at the base of the back. Next, after clearing the crowd to make more room she mimes a young man walking 'without a care' or 'thoughtless' with a gesture of right hand 'spiralling' away from head. It almost looks as if describing a long feather worn in a hat but I think I have the right meaning (someone correct me if not please!). Next is the encounter with the Wili (Queen of?). She mimes to him 'you must dance until you die'. Berthe then reverts to miming the man dancing in circles with face buried in bent raised arm (Anjuli has that as fear - I see it here more as tiring quickly but who knows!) before dying of a heart attack (grabs heart makes death sign).

Another sort of mime (Giselle, Swan Lake etc) is showing that you are looking at something moving far off in the distance by raising a hand and looking beyond it, pretty obvious really!

Coppelia and La Sylphide both have mimes of butterflies

Sleeping Beauty uses increasing height markers to mime growing up, and three vertical lines made by the hand touching above the forehead to indicate a crown and therefore a king - actually I think that's on the list.

I forget what day and night/evening are.....

EDIT: assorted typos and Giselle mime reordering.


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AlexP

02-01-07, 09:01 PM (GMT (BST))
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4. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #2
 
   Three more....

Hand raised to the distance and then motioned to cente stage 'is coming/ is due to arrive'. Also the foot stanping with raised fists indicating anger/violence/evil ?! - would that be about right?

Both from Carabosse's entrance in Prologue Sleeping Beauty.

Also, a variaton of the sleep mime to Anjuli's - arms opened wide and then forearms crossed slightly to one side as body leans, head laid on top of forearm. As per Lilac Fairy, same scene as above.


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DaveM

02-01-07, 08:59 PM (GMT (BST))
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3. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #1
 
   >Thanks for this Anjuli!
>
>When watching Giselle over christmas I had wondered what the
>hands circling each other overhead meant and presumed it was
>dance but wasn't sure. It seems to be used a lot in that
>particular ballet so it was really bugging me!


its used in Sleeping Beauty a lot too - when the queen asks the prologue fairies to dance for example


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DaveM

02-01-07, 09:14 PM (GMT (BST))
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5. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #0
 
   tapping the temple - remember (Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty)
making pulling motions from the mouth, with tongue showing - curse (sleeping Beauty)
the folding of arms, raised at an angle towards the head, and resting the head on them - to fall asleep (Beauty again)

What's the one where a dancer moves her hand down her opposite arm (on both sides) - does it mean 'grace' or 'shapely or something'? (again from SB)

And the two fingers raised outward above the head - that that meant 'for ever'


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Anjuli_Bai

02-01-07, 11:06 PM (GMT (BST))
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6. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #5
 
   <<<<And the two fingers raised outward above the head - that that meant 'for ever' >>>>

Yes, this one I have listed as "promise or vow" - but it surely could mean for ever - that's what a promise or vow are usually about!

It's interesting when you start to think about it how much mime there is in ballet. And how much we use our bodies and hands to come to "enhance" our regular communication. Many times the body language is much more sincere than our words. We are reading one another all the time.

Nutcracker - when the Prince describes how Clara has saved him is a famous mime scene.

If you watch young children, they do lots of mime.

One child sticking its tongue out at another is learned really well in kindergarten I seem to dimly remember seeing it in some ballet.

There are of course, variations on a theme, so my list is merely that - a starter - not the be all and end all - so feel free to add your own observations.


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Paul N

03-01-07, 01:39 PM (GMT (BST))
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7. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #6
 
   Anjuli and others,

Thanks very much for producing all of the above.

Personally, I was very impressed with the filming and editing of the RB Giselle shown here on Boxing Day. The editing between wide and close-up shots and from character to character really does help to emphasise the story-telling via acting and mime, IMO, especially bearing in mind that it's aimed at a wide audience, not just people who have seen Giselle many times. I find now that there are parts that I can virtually read just as if I'm reading a book, and in a way that I have not been able to do to the same extent when watching live.

One of my favourites is during the first group dance in Act 1. Giselle 'says' (mimes) to Loys, 'would you with me here dance?', to which he feigns 'but I don't know how', and she then shows him 'well you just put your left arm on your hip like that, and then take my hand high like this, and away we go!' And hey, he's not so bad after all, is he?!

And another little acting detail occurs when Bathilde wants a drink. The peasants set up the table and stool for Bathilde, Giselle holds the goblet and Berthe pours the water (or something stronger?). Before handing it to Bathilde, Giselle then dries the bottom of the goblet with her dress (she has already cleaned the stool for Bathilde to sit on, again using her dress). These are all great touches that set the scenes, define the relationships between characters and classes, and tell the story.


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Anjuli_Bai

03-01-07, 03:17 PM (GMT (BST))
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8. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #7
 
   <<<<<And hey, he's not so bad after all, is he?!>>>>


LOL - he's had a few ballet classes to help him out - but don't tell anyone!

One of my favorite mime scenes occurs also in Act 1, Giselle - but not in all productions.

The part where Albrecht gives his servant his cloak and sword. Then he rolls up his sleeves and goes about looking for Giselle. Then later when he hears the hunting party approach, he rolls his sleeves down and smoothes them out.

I thought about that sleeve business for a while until I read a book on dress through the centuries - about how buttons were made, zippers invented, how sleeves used to be attached to jackets (tied rather than sewn), sumptuarty laws, turned up toes on shoes, etc. - and the book mentioned that it was a sign of nobility to wear long sleeves rolled down. Peasants (and craftsmen, etc.) wore sleeves up so they could work. Therefore, sleeves down was a sign one didn't have to work for a living.

An interesting demarcation of the classes carried out in Giselle, to show Albrecht's dual presentation. (The vestigal apron which is (or used to be) traditional in Giselle is also a class marker.)

However, now that I think about it, according my own criteria, since sleeves can be considered a prop - it doesn't really qualify as mime does it? But perhaps still interesting to think about.

Of course a very famous "NO" occurs in Giselle, Act 11, when both Giselle and Albrecht walk/dance down the line of the corps de ballet pleading for Albrecht's life and one Wili after another mimes: "NO!"

There's no mistaking that negative wave off. More emphatic than any words could be.


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AlexP

03-01-07, 05:47 PM (GMT (BST))
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10. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #8
 
   There should definitely be a national 'ballet mime and mannerisms day' where everyone is encouraged to use very slow, clear and open ballet gestures throughout the normal working day. Or maybe one day a week, just for fun, like dress down Fridays. The rules would be simple: just keep all mundane activities as balletic as possible - shoulders down, chest open especially when reaching for something, having back/neck long at all times, plenty of bowing/courtseying, epaulement, standing in fourth etc keeping all actions visible to one side of the room at all times, drinking out of empty cups, any significant noise such as phone ringing requiring a head tilt and a hand to ear listening gesture, upon entering a room not acknowledging your work colleage/ boss / friend/ spouse immediately, instead, making sure your eyes stay off them while you walk around slowly searching all the areas of the room where they are not until you suddenly 'discover' them, either by finally turning their way and acting surprised to see them or perhaps by bumping into them while walking slowly backwards.... that sort of thing.


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pmeja

03-01-07, 05:21 PM (GMT (BST))
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9. "RE: Mime - Art of Telling a Story"
In response to message #7
 
   and albrecht's miming of swearing or vowing his love to giselle by raising two fingers to the sky; giselle is thrilled by it but at the same time afraid that he is tempting fate, which of course is why she pulls his arm down. siegfried does it when swearing his love to odette, but then dooms her when he breaks his promise when he is duped into repeating the vow to odile, which is then why odile and rothbart are so delighted and why odile, if your production has them, throws the flowers that he has given to her back at him and laughs before they leave the ballroom.


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