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"The Great American Ballerina" (or.... what's in a name, anyway?)


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#16 Estelle

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 01:20 PM

I wish I had seen more of Jude too, I saw him only in the last few years of his POB career and he didn't dance often. Now he's leading a company in Bordeaux, and I think he still dances from time to time.

About Denard: haven't you seen the tape of "La Sylphide" filmed with Thesmar and Denard around 1971? (Paradoxially, it's unavailable in France, but I managed to get it thanks to a Japanese friend of mine). As far as I know, this is the only long video of him.

Why was it so difficult for Cynthia Gregory to find a suitable partner in her company? Was it just a question of height? (Denard was tall, but not exceptionally tall, I think).

#17 Natalia

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 01:26 PM

The artistry of Denard lives on in his videos/telecasts, including the complete "original" LA SYLPHIDE (Lacotte, after Taglioni - Schneitzhoffer music) and MARCO SPADA (Lacotte, after Mazilier - Auber music). In both cases, he partnered Ghislaine Thesmar, who appears to be a rather tall ballerina (long & thin, like Gregory). - Jeannie

#18 Natalia

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 01:32 PM

Estelle - I believe that you posted concurrently with me. The MARCO SPADA is a full, VERY long ballet. I'm not sure if it was commercially available in France but was telecast over the RAI network in Italy a number of times in the 1980s. Denard danced the "young romantic" male lead, Federico...but had the unenviable task of having to share the stage with Rudolf Nureyev in the title role of the "older father figure"! Somehow, "old papa" managed to dance the leading pas de deux with his "stage daughter" Thesmar! - Jeannie

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 01:39 PM

Estelle, yes, of course, I'd forgotten about *that* "La Syphide" Posted Image

I think Gregory really did need a tall partner. I saw her a few times offstage and she was model thin (rather looked like a fashion model, I thought) but on stage she was big, and she danced on a very grand scale. I don't mean that she was at all heavy, but she wasn't delicate, and if she was really six foot one on pointe (and I have no reason to doubt that) then she needed a man who was either six foot three (good luck) or at least had a very commanding presence.

I have never understood why some dancers look bigger or smaller on stage than they do off; I suppose it's partly body proportions and partly personal magetism or projection.

One of the magazine's fantasy pairings at that time was Gregory with Martins. In a way, it would have been wonderful -- all that power -- and in another, they were perhaps a bit too similar. I think they did dance together at galas or special occasions (perhaps only once; I don't recall the number).

#20 Yvonne

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 06:54 PM

How did Gregory look next to Godunov? I don't know how tall he was, but he looked over six feet in the photographs I've seen.

I don't know how well they danced together, or how long they were a "partnership", but he left ABT, didn't he? Or did Baryshnikov or the other "powers that be" give him his walking papers?

Did Gregory ever dance with Patrick Bissell (quite tall), or was that a little before his time?? Posted Image

#21 Manhattnik

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 07:28 PM

How interesting that I should find this thread after posting about Gregory on the "who do you miss" thread. And McBride! What a strong, appealing and versatile artist. I should've mentioned her in that thread, too. McBride certainly owns Swanilda for me -- I've never seen another dancer come close.

It was interesting to get so many takes on Gregory. I think she certainly did get lost in the shuffle of the Seventies and Eighties, as did Marianna Tcherkassky, another beautiful and gifted ABT ballerina.

I don't recall Gregory and Godunov together, but I did think he looked smashing with Martine van Hamel. While tidying up a closet, I found a program from an old gala at the Met which lists Gregory as dancing the Corsaire pas with Peter Martins. I must've been there, yet I remember nothing of it. Oh well.

Grizzled veterans of BA and aab will forgive me for bringing this up again, but since we're on the subject, I have to say I've never seen any other woman dance the killer solo from Grand Pas Classique while smoking a cigarette with quite the panache of Gregory.

#22 Drew

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Posted 08 March 2001 - 07:45 PM

Estelle -- when you started a thread on Thesmar and Denard some time ago, I posted something about seeing Denard and Gregory dance a contemporary ballet pas de deux, "Unfinished Symphony." I was very young -- so I can't vouch for my judgement -- but I thought they were very beautiful together. However, nothing came of that pairing...Denard did not, say, become a regular visiter with ABT.

Godunov was the right "height" for Gregory, and when he first appeared with ABT she gave interviews full of optimism about dancing with him. One rather gathered she was also looking forward to the attention dancing with one of the "defectors" would get as well. (N.B. I do NOT blame her for this.) However, they never became a special "partnership" though they did dance together. I saw them at one of the first performances (if not the very first) of Makarova's full length Bayadere. Gregory was dancing Gamzatti and in the sequences in which she and Godunov had to dance together they were entirely out of sync. At one point in the choreography Gamzatti and Solor are side by side facing the audience and then leap forward jointly towards the audience -- they did not once jump on the same beat. I'm pretty sure I saw them after that...I remember Gregory in Giselle and I remember Godunov in Giselle, so I'm guessing that I saw them dance it together. Certainly I never saw them dance together as awkwardly as that Bayadere which, to be fair, was their first pairing together.

Height was, of course, the main problem for Gregory in finding a partner -- but Gregory also didn't have what I would call a porous temperament onstage. That's what made me wonder occasionally (as mentioned above) if she was really open to the sheer "chemical" or "elective" affinity that seems part of what makes a great partnership.



[This message has been edited by Drew (edited March 08, 2001).]

#23 atm711

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 11:46 AM

Gregory always seemed to me to be "selling" herself to the audience in the worst possible way. She never gave the audience a chance to discover her on their own. She was always "in-your-face". To me, she seemed to be saying "Look at me! Here I am! Did you ever see anything this great!"

Gregory's complaint about being overlooked because of Makarova is nonsense. As young ballerinas Alicia Alonso and Nora Kaye managed to have a devoted audience (and Press!) despite the guest appearances of Toumanova and Alicia Markova.

#24 dirac

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Posted 15 March 2001 - 05:19 PM

"The Great American Ballerina"? I don't know how it was while she was dancing, but I would think in retrospect the title, if we have to award it, belongs to Maria Tallchief.

#25 Guest_jillana_*

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Posted 13 May 2001 - 11:04 PM

I would vote for Maria Tallchief, without a doubt! :)

#26 atm711

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Posted 15 May 2001 - 08:00 PM

I have always felt that Alonso was the "Great American Ballerina"-- probably because her early career was in the US--she performed in musicals, and eventually joined the newly formed Ballet Theatre as a soloist and received her greatest acclaim here in the States.

#27 BryMar1995

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Posted 20 May 2001 - 12:08 PM

Probably going out on a limb here.. In my opinion, Maria Talchief probably inspired the largest portion of Balanchine's finest and most enduring work.
Rick

#28 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 May 2001 - 03:12 PM

That's really an interesting statement. To me, I always thought it was fascinating that much as Farrell was Balanchine's muse, I don't think she caused him to produce his best work. Even when he made a great role for her (Diamonds, and I would conjecture Dulcinea) it wasn't in a great ballet.

It isn't hard to check who originated what;

Tallchief's big created roles were the Firebird, Eurydice, Scotch Symphony, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Pas de Dix, Allegro Brillante and Gounod Symphony. Definitely not a bad lot, but I might cast a vote for Tanaquil LeClerq (Choleric, 2nd mvt Symphony in C - Tallchief did the first, La Valse, Dewdrop, the Rondo in Western Symphony) except for the fact her career was cut short, or Diana Adams for Agon alone, but there's lot more. Her career is most fascinating because even if she never got the BIG STAR roles, she was in everything, and for a long time.

#29 Manhattnik

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Posted 20 May 2001 - 08:36 PM

Wasn't 2nd Mvt. Symphony in C made for Toumonova?

#30 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 May 2001 - 09:52 PM

My error! Yes, Le Palais de Cristal was originally done in Paris and then Le Clercq acquired the role when it became Symphony in C. One defining moment in it, the penchee where the ballerina touches her head to her knee was added by Farrell, I believe.


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