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leibling

Memorable first impressions

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OK- I was inspired by Steve Keeley's response about Riolama in the "who do you miss the most thread ?" ... quite an impression she left on him. Does anyone have similar stories of someone you noticed for the first time that you always returned to look for, and how did their career progress- or how does it continue to progress ?

[This message has been edited by leibling (edited February 24, 2001).]

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It was easy to be bowled over by Angel Corella at first sight, and I was.

Cheryl Yaeger impressed me when she was in ABT's corps and it was fun to watch her progress to principal dancer. Her career was too short and her repertoire somewhat limited.

Giannina

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Giannina Mooney's remark made me want to write about my first impression of Corella. This was several years ago (Corella's first season w. ABT). I had bought expensive (orchestra) seats at the Met. to see Herrera in Theme and Variations. I bought them the morning of the performance to be sure that she was really dancing...she was. This was my big treat to myself for the season. She had received rave reviews for earlier performances, and I was completely unfamiliar with the name of her scheduled partner, Corella. A few days before the performance someone did tell me that he was a Spanish dancer making his debut with the company and that there was a lot of interest in him...he had done x number of pirouettes in company class etc. So, sure, I was pleased to see the debut -- but, my real interest was in seeing Herrera. About twenty minutes before the performance, I arrived back at the Met. and as soon as I entered the theater I saw a sign saying that Herrera had canceled! Mckerrow was her replacement -- a fine dancer, but not one of my favorites...and I was stuck reminding myself that that's what happens when you treat yourself to a program where you really only want to see one ballet or one dancer...

Anyway, Corella made a simply wonderful and even, in a way, extraordinary debut. A young male virtuoso, he executed the choreography, meticulously -- beautiful turns and jumps -- height and brilliance -- clean, classical lines, clean, classical landings. He genuinely seemed flawless to me, though a more expert friend (also very impressed by Corella) told me there was a Balanchine detail missing at one point in the transition to his pirouettes. He danced, too, with presence and elan but without inappropriate showiness. He always maintained the ballet's elegance. Perhaps even more impressive, the pas de deux went wonderfully. He and Mckerrow danced together smoothly and even, I would say, with a kind of naturalness. He presented her, as if it was as important to him as, say, his double tours. Mckerrow, who (in my opinion) never projects adequately, about midway through the pas de deux actually looked at him and smiled and then turned to the audience and just glowed. As the curtain came down, I felt thrilled to to have seen this performance. And, of course, if I had known Herrera would cancel I would never have bought the ticket. The audience, as a whole, seemed very excited. I overheard the a man sitting behind me say to a friend, "a young Baryshnikov," -- hyperbole, of course, and not precisely my own opinion (though I am pleased with how Corella is developing), but it does show the kind of excitement that his appearance generated. And I DID share that excitement.

This is an interesting topic -- sometimes with great dancers it actually takes a few performances for me to "get" them even if I see them in big roles...other times I have noticed someone still in the corps who later developed into a ballerina...

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited February 24, 2001).]

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Yes, I have a TRULY memorable first impression by DIANA VISHNEVA of the KIROV BALLET. I saw her do her prize-winning performance of a variation from Carmen (which she won a gold medal at the 94 Prix de Lausanne) and she just astounded me. Some may have been blown away by her amazing flexibility, but I was blown away by her physical energy and dramatic character in her portrayal of Carmen. I couldn't believe she was ONLY 17 years old. Another WONDERFUL impression: Tan Yuan Yuan of the SFB, when she, too, was 17 years old. She did her "La Esmeralda" variation, which she often dances for many gala performances. Has anyone else seen her do this variation? She's absolutely FANTASTIQUE in it.

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Silja Schandorff last year in her guest performance in PM's Swan Lake at NYCB. From the moment I first saw her standing in the wings, awaiting her first entrance, backlit and silhouetted in blue light (I had a far foward partial view seat in the First Ring) she had this aura. It was that afternoon, after that performance, that I found Ballet Alert on the web, by typing Schandorff's name into a search engine.

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