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Alexandra

Who do you miss the most?

42 posts in this topic

I was just talking about Jeffrey Edwards to someone (in relation to Melancholic, which he still, in my opinion, mainly owns), and they said he was teaching at Brown. He was such a loss to NYCB, an absolutely beautiful dancer. I remember his talking at an NYCB guild event a number of years ago (featuring the then young promising male dancers, like Boal and Woetzel), and him saying that the role he would really like to dance was Albrecht, and the others in the group all made faces (in fun.) He would have been just wonderful with the right Giselle.

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I am thinking also of the many wonderful dancers from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Someone already mentioned Karsavina...to be able to go back in time to see Vestris, Bournonville; to see either of them teaching...to pop in on a rehearsal of the Ballet Russe...this is a game we used to play: what would you give to go back in time just for a day?

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I wish I could have seen Rudolph Nureyev! His sex appeal is so intense in still photographs and videos...I can only imagine what it must have been like to see him dance in person, at his peak.

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i saw jeffrey edwards' graduation (is that what they are called?) performance at the SAB workshop, i think it was in 1983. i believe i remember he danced 'sleeping beauty' with margaret tracey. i only saw the workshop once, and if i recall it was the night mr. balanchine passed away, and kirstein, robbins and martins all came on the stage before the performance. i recall that he impressed me a great deal. (sorry to be so vague but it's been a little while). does this sound correct?

befuddled (a/k/a Mme. Hermine)

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I saw Kathleen Moore once and she soon retired after. She was someone who just wow-ed me.

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I was just thinking about it today - how much I miss Sean Lavery. Actually to be really accurate I miss Sean Lavery and Merrill Ashley. That was another career very sadly cut short by illness. They had a marvelous partnership, one where the whole was even better than the sum of the parts.

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Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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Lavery was a very special dancer, wasn't he?

I'll add a dancer who wasn't one of my favorites at the time -- Cynthia Gregory. I remember enjoying her technical strengths and almost pugnacious attitude, while thinking she was perhaps wanting in subtlety. Then a year or so ago I saw a fuzzy video of her dancing Aurora in ABT's Sleeping Beauty from the late Seventies (I think I never actually bothered to see her dance Aurora at the time), and I was absolutely blown away. She was great, probably the greatest Aurora I've seen, and with not a six o'clock penchee in sight. What had been thinking back then?

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It seems rather awkward for me, a girl of barely fourteen years, to be posting on the same thread as balletomanes who were lucky enough to see the some of the greatest dancers of all time live, on stage. However, I'll proceed with full gusto and express my regrets on being born several decades too late to see..

Altynai Asylmuratova, when she was younger, such as in this video I managed to purchase. She is in Le Corsaire, as I believe, Medora with Yevgeny Neff as Conrad. Her catlike elegance and impeccable fleetfooted technique is matched by her stellar grace and natural beauty. A Kirov prima in her own right, it saddened me to see on an Internet newsletter that someone had said it was time for the veterans of Asylmuratova's generation to move on and make room for younger virtuosos, such as Vishneva and Lopatkina.

I don't know about you, but I think that veterans like Asylmuratova and even Makhalina and Ruzimatov are vital to a company's success. From a younger dancer's standpoint, having a ballet mistress or a much more experienced performer teaching you a role is like some sacred ritual. It's like handing down a story from one generation to the next. A collection of variations from 19th century ballets being taught to younger students is like passing on stories of the Bible, at least to me.

So, to recap what I managed to draw out and make painful, I am truly jealous and most regretful that I had been born too late to see the dancers x - the household-known names, the balletomane's muse, the stars of the Golden Age.

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"When I get onto stage, I think, I'm dancing on my grave."

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A wonderful post, Lukayev, as was your post regarding Angel Corella on another thread. You have much to say and you say it well; post often!

Giannina

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I agree with Gianninna: Lukayev, welcome, and thanks for your post! I think that there are many, many people on this site who agree with you about the fact that "veterans" like Assylmuratova are vital for their companies.

Sometimes I think too that I was born too late to see so many great dancers- but every ballet fan probably thought that at least once, the people who saw Nijinsky and Pavlova perhaps regretted not having seen Grisi and Taglioni, those who saw Grisi and Taglioni regretted not seeing Vestris, etc.

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Personally, I don't spend a lot of time regretting the dancers who were before my time. I regret the dancers I won't live to see.

~Steve

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Good point, Steve! biggrin.gif As an "old lady", I'll confess to having seen nearly everyone mentioned - except Pavlova and her generation. I EVEN have seen Markova (I don't remember what I thought, I only know I did because I have the program.) I think there is something to regret in not having seen those who "went before", because the aesthetic of ballet is changing so much. I once went to a perf of the NYCB, and a bunch of senior students from SAB were sitting behind me. They were oohing and ahhing over Wendy Whelan's "perfect" body. Now I happen to dislike her body shape intensely. I think it's fine for some of Balanchine's more 'athletic' ballets, but I don't find it pleasing in the more romantic ballets at all. Please give me - anyone of a very long list instead. But I'm afraid that that is what people are striving towards. It's natural for Wendy, but not for all the other imitators. Anyway, I digressed. Badly. Yes, I think there is more emphasis on technique today, but I think the aesthetic suffers from it. Jeannie said elsewhere that she would love to see the Kirov's Sleeping Beauty done in the original dancing style. The only dancer that tried to "tone down" the modern technique was Assylmuratova. And the "toning down" WAS necessary to make the production make sense. I noticed tutus flopping over peoples heads in penche arabesques - something that CLEARLY wouldn't have happened 100 years ago, as no one had a split penchee arabesque in those days. In fact, (to refer to things a bit more recent), neither did Margot Fonteyn. What she lacked in 180 degree extensions, she made up for in artistry - IMHO! smile.gif So who would I have liked to see - see more of? Well, Svetlana Beriosova, because she was so gorgeous; Gelsey, because I was in London when she was at her peak with NYCB and ABT (I only saw whatever she did in London), Ulanova in Romeo and Juliet (I only saw her do it once - they hadn't announced the cast, but we figured that because it was May Day...); Sizova and Soloviev; Kolpakova when she was young; Makarova in Giselle; Erik Bruhn, Erik Bruhn, Erik Bruhn!!!!!

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Originally posted by Estelle:

I agree with Gianninna: Lukayev, welcome, and thanks for your post! I think that there are many, many people on this site who agree with you about the fact that "veterans" like Assylmuratova are vital for their companies.

If only there would be as many people in the Kirov who agree with this as on this board...

As for the regrets: Shelest, Sizova and above all Soloviev.

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I miss Maria Calegari, the beautiful NYCB redhead. As for partnerships--what about Farrell and Martins? Lately I find myself missing dancers even while I am watching them, but that's another story.

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Nanatchka -- very glad you mentioned Calegari. A beautiful dancer and one whose career seemed to end prematurely...

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i too miss maria calegari. i had the great opportunity to be one of her students for a year while she and bart cook were guest teaching at my school. she performed in our nutcracker as well as our fall repertory. i also got a chance to see a video of her as the lead character in A Midsummer Night's Dream on one of the PBS Dance America's programs with NYCB. she was a beautiful dancer and a great teacher!

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Dancers I wish I could have seen in person:

Yuri Soloviev - Not a great performer, but an unmatched technician.

Mikhail Lavrovsky - I've seen him in a tape of Giselle, Spartacus and dancing the variation from Don Quixote, and I think he's just amazing. He creates long phrases in his dancing like no one else I've seen.

Alla Sizova - Her Aurora from the 1965 Kirov Sleeping Beauty (mentioned earlier on this thread) is one of my favorite performances in any video. As I understand it, she injured her back when she was in her late 20's and was never quite the same. An magical dancer.

Carla Fracci - Every time I see videos of her (Giselle, La Syphide) it's hard to imagine anyone better in those roles.

One dancer I did see later on in her career (in the mid-seventies) was Maya Plisetskaya. Let's face it, you see Maya dance something, and every other performer attempting that role might as well get a job at MacDonalds. I really wish someone would come out with a video of her complete Don Quixote, she is an unmatchable Kitri. The fragments I've seen of it make Harvey, Gregory and Kirland look like pale imitators. What I especially love about Plisetskaya is that someone with her body (not thin, short legs, long torso) would have a hard time getting noticed with most companies today, but her stage presence and explosive technique was such that she made the Bolshoi stage look small. I've never seen a sexier performance than her as Carmen when she was already over 50. Every prospective dancer, please watch the video "Plisetskaya Dances" and watch how it's really done.

To continue the discussion of Cynthia Gregory, who I saw live a half-dozen times, I think she was a powerful technical dancer, had beautiful line, but little expressiveness. She always held back on stage, and struck me as being very insecure (how's that for pop psychology). I saw her in Swan Lake and Don Q and didn't think she had a great classical style, even though she could balance and turn with the best of them. I'm glad I saw her, but I never felt her performances were really etched into my memory or especially moved me.

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cheers,

Ralph

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