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Nikiya

Dancers From the Eighties

39 posts in this topic

I was wondering whatever happened to a lot of promising dancers in the 80's- people like Dierdre Carberry, Trinidad Sevillano, Cheryl Yeager, Cynthia Harvey, and others with ABT and Royal Ballet, ect. Are any still dancing?

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Cheryl Yeager and Cynthia Harvey became principal dancers at ABT and have since retired. (IMO, Yeager was more interesting in her promising stage than as a principal. I liked her Amor in Don Q and Throw Up Girl (in Rodeo) more than anything I saw of her later on.) The last I heard about Deirdre Carberry was that she was in Miami, but I don't know if she's still there (I liked her very much, too. She and Nancy Raffa were my favorite "baby ballerinas" in the early 1980s.) We had some news of Sevillano on this board a few weeks ago, but I forget the specifics -- sorry frown.gif She had disappeared for a few years -- disappeared from English or American ballet, that is; she'd gone from English National to Boston to a few performances with the Royal -- but I think she's starting to come back.

Anyone else with better info smile.gif ?

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Cynthia Harvey also danced as a principal with the Royal Ballet for a time. When Anthony Dowell danced w. ABT he partnered her occasionally, and after he took over as director of the Royal he invited her to appear with them. I'm pretty sure she danced in a revival of Ashton's Ondine. Yeager never became a truly distinguished principal -- just an opinion of course -- but the last time I saw her, which was also one of her last performances with ABT, she gave a very well-prepared and, I thought, very nice performance in La Sylphide. (Baryshnikov danced James.) Since I had never particularly admired her, I was quite pleased and am happy to have this as my final memory of her dancing.

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited August 30, 2000).]

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Cynthia Harvey was teaching in New York quite recently and I believe also recently had a child.

After leaving ABT Nancy Raffa went to Ballet de Nancy and from there to Miami City Ballet. I'm not sure what happened after that. I studied with her at the Darvash studio way back when. She had the most beautiful back (and a voice like a truckdriver!)

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Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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Nancy Raffa danced with the Ballet de Santiago (Chile) for a long time following her ABT stint. Ivan Nagy was director of the Chilean ballet at the time. Lost track of Raffa after Chile.

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Nancy Raffa is currently a teacher at the Miami City Ballet School. She lives in Miami with her husband, speaks spanish now, and sets Balanchine pieces for the school workshops. She is a wonderful teacher, so inspirational. She went through a lot of personal issues due to her young age when joining ABT. She has much valuable advice for her students.

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I remember Nancy Raffa's voice, and that's exactly how I used to describe it, Leigh. Great minds think alike, and all that....

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Thank you so much for your replies- keep them coming (any dancers from the eighties that disappeared)!

[This message has been edited by Nikiya (edited August 30, 2000).]

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I have taken class with Nancy Raffa and have found her to be one of the most educated and helpful teachers that I have ever had and I have trained at School of American Ballet, San Francicso Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Houston Ballet. She truly devotes her time to making her students wonderful in every way. She has a love for everyone one of them and she truly loves what she is doing! She is an inspiration to me and to all of her students. What great stories she has to tell. I am always telling her that she should write a book because it would be amazing literature for all people to read. In addition to her teaching at Miami City Ballet she is also getting a degree in psychology. She is a role model for all and I believe one of the best teachers today with such little recognition.

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I have never heard of Nancy Raffa; when did she join ABT and how old was she?

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Nancy won the Prix de Laussanne sometime in the early 80's and was taken into ABT by Baryshnikov shortly thereafter. Her career stagnated compared to other dancers there like Alessandra Ferri, who I *think* competed the same year, (do you know the correct information, Jeannie?)

Here's where I get controversial. Nancy was a beautiful dancer with a beautiful back as I said before, but I think her association with her teacher (Gabriella Darvash, with whom I also studied) was both a blessing and a curse to her. Nancy would never have gone as far as she did, nor won Laussanne without Darvash. She was strong and could do double saut de basques with the guys, but her dance style wasn't as feminine, her body wasn't as delicate, and her footwork was not as brilliant as the women who were being pushed ahead of her. She excelled at the wrong things for the time. And Darvash was always telling her she deserved better, which she did, but giving a dancer a resentful attitude is no way to endear them to management.

Also, her win at Laussanne was (I *think*) considered controversial, and though Darvash placed many dancers into ABT in the early 80s, there was a backlash against her pretty shortly thereafter. I think Nancy was also caught in that crossfire.

This story is close to 20 years old and is just what my point of view was at the time. If anyone saw it differently or can correct my facts, I welcome it! I'd rather not be accused of character assasination of a dancer I liked!

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Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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I don't think either Raffa or Carberry got the guidance at ABT that they needed. They were both a bit unusual -- the bodies didn't quite fit the mold. Raffa was an old-fashioned dancer, even when very young. I remember the first time I saw her, in the corps of Bayadere, and she was the only girl on the stage with a working upper body. Two older friends were ecstatic -- "She's a baby Danilova!!!!" "She must do Raymonda!!!" No chance. She was too short, too fat, too...interesting. She danced with Makarova's short-lived company. Makarova knew how to use her and how to coach, and there were quite a few people who thought she'd become a great ballerina.

This goes to several of our "care and feeding of dancers" topics. It's not just talent. It's being at the right place, and the right company, and catching the eye of the right people. She wasn't tall and lean and long.

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When you say "too short and too fat" exactly how short and fat were they? What was the highest rank that Carberry and Raffa every reached?

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Just a note about Mrs Raffa. She won the Prix de Lausanne and beat Alexandra Ferri all at the age of 15. Still 15, Baryshinkov called her and asked her to join the company. How excited! But, joining the company at such a young age did have its very negative parts.

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Nikiya, I don't think they were either too short or too fat, but the other young women who were pushed were taller and thinner. I don't know their heights and weights. They did not have the body line then in vogue (Susan Jaffe, Amanda McKerrow, etc.)

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As I recall, Carberry (also taken into ABT very young, I think at 14) was small and curvy. I don't recall Nancy being short, and she didn't have a weight problem, but she wasn't small-boned. Alexandra is right however in saying that neither of them had the stereotypical body being looked for at that time.

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Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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just for perspective, also, deirdre carberry won a medal at the very first jackson competition in 1979. but as she was only 13 at the time, she is now barely 34! and her dancing was wonderful. we didn't get to see her enough in nyc.

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Yep, Pfmeja - Carberry won the silver medal, junior division, at the 1979 Jackson IBC.

Alessandra Ferri, in fact, won the Gold Medal at the 1980 Prix de Lausanne at the age of 17. She was already a two-year 'veteran' of the Royal Ballet School when she competed. Ferri did not lose to Raffa...they competed in different years. Raffa won gold in Lausanne in 1981, at age 15. [That's the year when Washington Ballet's Amanda McKerrow won Gold at the Moscow IBC. smile.gif]

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If you can get your hands on a video copy of Twyla Tharp's "The Little Ballet" (broadcast on PBS in the 80's) you'll see what beautiful dancers they were (along with Elaine Kudo-who's just plain beautiful!!)

Fig

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Weren't Elaine Kudo and Cheryl Yeager featured in Dance Magazine article a long while back about dancers who've had babies??

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Jeannie:

I do not believe you have the facts right on the Prix de Lausanne competition. A documentary was made on the 1980 competition that Mrs Raffa and Mrs Ferri competeted in and Mrs Raffa was the winner of the overall competition while Mrs Ferri took the gold. It is quite an exciting documentary! This is also stated on the Prix de Lausanne website.

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Thanks, T. I appreciate your pointing this out. I stand corrected! smile.gif

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Thanks so much everybody for filling me in on those lost dancers! :-)

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