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Yvonne

Alessandra Ferri

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This is a "spin-off" question from the "Who are the GREAT stars" thread that is currently open.

CygneDanois, you are SO lucky to have seen Ferri in class! Now I'm very curious, because I've gotten the impression from comments on this board in the past, that she is mainly considered to be a "McMillan" type adagio dancer. Perhaps she is a lot stronger techincally than I thought. Has anyone ever seen her dance anything along the lines of Sleeping Beauty or Theme & Variations? If so, what did you think of her performance. I like Ferri very much in what little I've seen her in and would be happy to know that her range of roles is larger than I thought it was! smile.gif

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Yvonne - I truly admire Ferri in Giselle & the MacMillan works...so please don't 'flame me' for being honest. smile.gif I remember seeing Ferri as Nikiya in the "Shades Scene" from BAYADERE at Wolf Trap (near Wash, DC) sometime in the mid-1980s, shortly after she joined ABT. She was, to me, embarrassingly weak and had real problems performing the sequence of pirouettes while holding onto the long white scarf. I don't think that she danced many of the standard Petipa classics after that night but I may be wrong. Perhaps she dances them at La Scala? Ferri is truly special in the dramatic works, though. Her FALL RIVER LEGEND is phenomenal, IMHO. - Jeannie

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Yvonne -- I'm pretty sure there was a Ferri thread quite recently...many impressions of her career were aired at that time, so you might check.

Ferri may well look beautiful in class -- I envy Cygnedanois's opportunity to see her there! On stage very little classical ballet technique communicates. Even years ago, when she was stronger than she appears now, and even in Giselle, she seemed barely able to fill out the choreography, let alone take command of it. As I mentioned on the earlier thread, however, I don't think she's just an actress or even just a Macmillan specialist but actually a quite interesting dancer. At ABT she gave a very compelling performance in an abstract and even austere Tharp Quartet. It was not, however, a role that taxed her classical ballet technique. But, unless she has miraculously transformed herself in the past year, she is not able to take on the big Petipa/Ivanov roles and certainly not something like Theme and Variations. And, like Jeannie, I'm pretty sure she has stayed away from that type of repertory in recent years, at least with ABT...I also thought she was remarkable in Fall River Legend.

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited March 07, 2001).]

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Ferri was wonderful in Petit's ballets -- I'd say she's a dramatic ballerina, not an adagio dancer. He created a "breeches part" for her in his refashioning of "Le Diable Boiteux" and she was superb, I thought.

I also saw her Nikiya at Wolf Trap -- it was her first appearance with ABT, I think. Opinion was quite divided on her. I knew a few people who, like Jeannie, thought she was extremely weak and were disappointed. Several others, myself included, were charmged by her. I remember her being so beautifully polished -- head, arms, fingers, but also steps properly finished, no attempts to be flashy, very musical.

She was reportedly a very hard worker, giving herself over to Tchernicheva, and even leaving the company when Tchernicheva did so she could continue working with her. Ferri is not a killer technician, by any means, but she's not sloppy and lazy (not that anyone implied that, but it's often a supposition of the "dramatic" dancers).

I've often thought it ironic that Italy, so famous for its steel-toed ballerinas who dominated 19th century Russian ballet, and which seemed to churn out supertechnicians 100 years ago, should produce stars in the 20th century like Ferri and Carla Fracci (also dismissed by some; Croce called her a "performer rather than a dancer" and loved by others).

And, as Drew said, there have been other threads on Ferri and she's popped up a number of times on favorite dancer lists.

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I last saw Ferri dancing Giselle in New York with the ABT several years ago. Her technique wasn't the strongest, but she danced brilliantly the echappes sautes in the coda of the Act 2 pas de deux. Her portrayal was very moving. But my fondest memory of her was in her early days with the Royal Ballet after her discovery by MacMillan. Her Mary Vetsera in "Mayerling" with Wayne Eagling was stunning.

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Thanks everybody! (and Jeannie, I'm always glad when everyone is honest in their opinions - that's why I LOVE this board!) smile.gifsmile.gif

[This message has been edited by Yvonne (edited March 07, 2001).]

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It was quite an experience to watch her dance in class. I also remember watching her perform a very long series of rond de jambe en l'air saute sur la pointe on a diagonal across the room, finishing with a developpe a la seconde without coming off pointe. No way can you be completely weak technically to do that.

I admit that when her pirouettes are off, they are frightening, as hyperextended legs and feet do not make for a sturdy base on which to turn. When she is "on," though, her turns are breathtaking--she just floats around. In addition, I have to say that when she isn't turning, she seems to have fairly consistent good balance.

From what I've seen, she's strong in adagio, able to hold positions well without wobbling, etc. It's when she has to move quickly--she would not, IMO, be good at Balanchine--that she has problems. She also seems to have a hard time jumping, which adds to the effect of technical weakness.

I would agree with Alexandra that Ferri is a dramatic dancer. And she really does work hard. She's very scrupulous, technically. She has to contend, however, with an extremely flexible body that, while it allows her to take her time getting to a position and holding it, has problems pulling itself all together for allegro work. For example, she's fantastic in the Act II adagio of Giselle, but has trouble with the petite batterie in the coda.

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CygneDanois

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Thanks for that, CyngeDanois. I'd forgotten about the hyperextended legs (I remember Ferri in tulle smile.gif ) That would explain, as well, why some people are adamant that she's a very good turner -- some nights she is -- and others equally adamant that at the performances they saw, she was terrible.

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I think it is amazing she can even go up en pointe with those feet! It's a physical miracle to me!

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What's with her feet? They are flexible, with high arches. Here's a photo.

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CygneDanois

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According to the new ABT website, Ferri has danced not only Nikiya, but Princess Florina from The Sleeping Beauty while dancing with ABT. I don't suppose anyone saw it...?

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CygneDanois

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I never saw her Florine with the ABT, but I did see her do Florine when she was still with the Royal Ballet, with Bruce Sansom as Blue Bird. She was better dancing Red Riding Hood in Sleeping Beauty than Florine.

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I know what you mean about the feet, Cygnedanois. They are like Lynn Seymour's. Judging by the dancers he particularly liked, I think MacMillan was partial to highly-arched feet. (As some of you may recall, in a past life I was nanny to Seymour's older boys. One night while we were watching TV she was flexing and pointing her feet. I assure you that that was ALL I watched! eek.gif ) Anyway, there's a moment in the "bedroom pdd" in MacMillan's "Romeo and Juliet" where Juliet is in an arabesque on pointe(standing on rt leg) and supported under her arms. Romeo kneels back so Juliet goes over onto her instep. The Romeo stands up again, so Juliet is back on pointe. Seymour and Ferri are nearly the only two I have ever seen where the (beautiful) arch of the foot stayed the same whether on pointe or not. smile.gif

[This message has been edited by felursus (edited March 28, 2001).]

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Re Seymour's feet, since we've been tracing lines of development over in Ballet History, I can't resist mentioning that David Vaughan quotes Ashton as saying that Seymour's feet were the closest he'd ever seen to Pavlova's.

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