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Alexandra

Great Ballerinas #2

28 posts in this topic

This, I hope, will be a continuation of the Who Are the Great Ballerinas Today? question that had outgrown its first home.

To review the bidding, the following ballerinas have been nominated. (These are not just good dancers, are promising dancers, but dancers who are worthy of sitting at the head table in the Great Ballet Hall of Fame.)

Altynai Asylmuratova, Elisabeth Platel, Sylvie Guillem, Isabelle Guerin, Kyra Nichols, Nina Ananiashvili, Evelyn Hart, Darcey Bussell, Viviane Durante, and Anna Polikarpova. Monique Loudieres was nominated as well, but I believe she is retired, and so does not meet the criterion of actively performing; if she's still dancing -- Estelle, Margot? -- then she's in.

This is not a bad list. Maybe things are better than we sometimes think. It's just that these women are spread out among several different companies (all to the good, I'd say) and we don't get to see them all day, all the time, two blocks from where we live. But not a bad list.

Please continue nominating, congratulating, or quibbling over these ballerinas, or others.

alexandra

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Monique Loudières had to retire officially from POB on July 13th, 1996. Shortly afterwards I read an article where she stated she wanted to keep on dancing for at least two years and there was a mention of a group of dancers, led by Manuel Legris, with which she had plans to perform. I am sure she guested for POB in Sylvia in July 1997.

Please Estelle, help me keep Monique Loudières on this list! Can you tell us that she is still dancing?

Margot

[This message has been edited by Margot (edited 12-03-98).]

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Hi Margot and Alexandra,

yes, Monique Loudieres actually premiered Neumeier's "Sylvia" in july 1997. She also

was listed in the POB schedules last season

(for MacMillan's "Manon" in june), but I don't know if she actually danced it (the casts announced by the POB are subject to change). In july, she was supposed to dance in a gala in Nimes (it was a charity gala

about AIDS, with also Legris, Martinez, Letestu, A. Dupont...), but finally cancelled

because she was injured. I haven't heard about her since then.

Since some POB dancers often dance in Japan,

I'll ask a Japanese friend of mine about it.

[This message has been edited by Estelle (edited 12-04-98).]

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Please Alexandra, tell me that with the information Estelle added, you will allow Monique Loudières'nomination... biggrin.gif

Margot

[This message has been edited by Margot (edited 12-04-98).]

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Alexandra, you mentioned seeing Isabelle Guérin on tape in "Giselle", and Estelle talks about "La Bayadère" and "Apollo".

Well, there is also a tape of Guérin in "Notre-Dame de Paris", with Nicolas Le Riche as Quasimodo, Laurent Hilaire as Frollo and Manuel Legris as Phoebus. Her Esméralda was very passionate with Phoebus (who quite clearly returned it!), revolted by Frollo and quite tender with Quasimodo in that beautiful pas de deux with that magic moment where he gently rocks her to sleep. I think it was filmed on the night I was in the theater (October 1996) because there were cameras and I was wondering if it going to show on european television and then I would miss it... sniff (Hi Gianinna!... smile.gif). That pas de deux is most special to me because I saw... Monique Loudières teach it (with Cyrill Atanassoff as her partner) to a couple of young dancers of POB in a two hours session. I planned my whole trip around that rehearsal and it was worth it.

However I had problems getting that tape transfered into north american VHS and for those of you interested on that matter I shall post about it under the Videos thread.

Margot

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Thanks for mentioning that video of "Notre-Dame de Paris", Margot. It was shown

on the French TV, but unfortunately I couldn't see it nor record it, and haven't bought the tape yet. It also is an oportunity to see Legris, Hilaire and Le Riche.

Guerin also was filmed in "L'Arlesienne" with Legris (it was shown on TV but I missed it, and as far as I know there's no commercially available tape).

It's a pity the POB doesn't make more tapes...

By the way, the fans of Loudieres might be interested in knowing that she appears in the "Paris Dances Diaghilev" tape, as the Doll in Fokine's "Petrushka" (with T.Mongne as Petrushka and Jean Guizerix as the Moor);

in the same tape Elisabeth Platel dances the

bride of "Les Noces" (with also Belarbi

as the bridegroom and Lormeau and Legree).

And Guerin and Loudieres dance the roles of the nasty sisters in the video of Nureyev's "Cinderella" (with Jude and Guillem in the main roles).

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Hello Estelle,

If we are going to talk videos (and I am about to...) why don't we go on the Videos forum.

I'll be waiting for you under "Favorite Videos" smile.gif

Margot

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Alexandra,

I have the Paris Opera Ballet program in front of me and... Monique Loudières is scheduled to dance Don Quichotte with Manuel Legris at the Palais Garnier on saturday december 26th and.. on thursday december 31st for the Gala Evening with supper and Ball afterwards. Who's coming with me?... (I wish...)

But this definitely keeps her in our Great Ballerinas category.

Margot

[This message has been edited by Margot (edited 12-06-98).]

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Yup. She's in. Love to go -- actually, high on my "To Do" list for this site is to put a link to Air France on the Paris Opera page! I have a lovely postcard photo of Loudieres in Arabesque in that same Don Q. A model of the Parisian arabesque. That will go up too, some day.

alexandra

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Hi Alexandra,

I know the postcard you're talking about, because I have exactly the same, ... only mine was sent to me by Monique Loudières...and she autographed it...

This is a beautiful story but it's quite long and I have to get up early tomorrow morning so I shall tell you all about it some other day.

I think to tell that story I will have to start a new thread and I would call it "Fairy Tales"...

Margot

[This message has been edited by Margot (edited 12-06-98).]

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Thanks for the information about Loudieres in "Don Quichotte"!

Actually I didn't have that POB program: for some unknown reason,

I didn't receive the november/december programs by

mail, and couldn't get it at the Opera Garnier.

(Actually the Paris Opera is very bad at informing its fans,

one almost has to kneel and shout and cry and beg and threaten to

climb on the Apollo statue at the top of the Opera and to throw oneself in the air

to get their monthly and yearly flyers...)

Is Kitri considered as technically difficult? Pity she didn't also come back for Ek's "Giselle"!

I'd like to go to the special gala on Dec 31st, but I'm afraid I'll have to make a hold-up in a bank before to pay the tickets... ;-)

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Thanks for your replies on coming with me to Paris for the New Year's Gala. I hope everyone understood it was intended as a joke, because I don't have the money either!!!

I have never seen Mats Ek's Giselle and I am curious about it though I love so much the "real" Giselle, I'm not sure I would like it so much. All I know is that it is contemporary and takes place in an asylum. Can you tell me more?

Margot

[This message has been edited by Margot (edited 12-07-98).]

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Hi Margot,

I posted a "review" in alt.arts.ballet about Mats Ek's "Giselle" (which I saw in october with Pietragalla, Martinez

and Le Riche), perhaps you could find it with Dejanews.

In the documentary about her which was done recently, Monique Loudieres said that it was one of the most difficult roles she ever danced. Coming

from someone who danced so many "Bayadere", "Swan Lake", and so on, it means it really isn't easy...

It uses the same music as the "classical" version, but the plot is a bit different: here Giselle is a somewhat mentally retarded girl who lives

in a small village (the costumes look like Scandinavia at the beginning of this century), and Albrecht is a kind of fancy "dandy" with a large white jacket. The second act takes place in an asylum: the Wilis are the crazy girls of the hospital, and Myrtha is their nurse (danced by the same

dancer as Bathilde in the first act). It's not a parody of the classical version (which wouldn't be very interesting), it's a very different ballet (and I find it very moving).

There's a video of it, filmed in the late 80s with the Ballet Cullberg (with Ana Laguna as Giselle and Yvan Auzely as Hilarion); but I don't know if it

exists as a NTSC video. A last comment: Yvette Chauvire, the epitome of the French Giselle, said she liked this version a lot!

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Evelyn Hart is my nomination! I've seen her in The Nutcracker, Swan lake and many more. She's a wonderful dancer, and I'm proud to say in my opinion that she's one of the best dancers at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Grace smile.gif

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My vote would have to be for one/both of the Modrono twins. Maribel and Mabel are tearing up the Marley in every character they are given. They just recently came to Pittsburgh Ballet, after years of gracing Miami City Ballet's stage. Pittsburgh is fortunate to have these lovely, gracious, and oh, so talented ladies. They are a joy to watch.

[This message has been edited by Barb (edited 12-09-98).]

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I would also nominate Iliana Lopez from Miami City Ballet. She's a beauty!

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Grace, when did you actually see Evelyn perform, and in which city ?

I agree with you, she is a wonderful artist...I had the pleasure to dance with her quite a bit, and feel very fortunate about it !

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All the times that I've seen her perform were in Winnipeg, where I live. I've been very fortunate and now I'm dancing at the RWB and it's incredibly neat to think that all the professionals are dancing over head on the next level. When I was 7 years old our class got to go up to the third floor to dance, I was just dazzled because I remembered my mom telling me that, that`s where the professionals dance.

Grace smile.gif

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"The Great Ballerinas of our time". Can somebody tell me on what grounds Anna Polikarpova was selected?

I would rather nominate Yulia Makhalina of the Kirov Ballet, or why not Uliana Lopatkina ?

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Well, everybody is entitled to their own choice but I wouldn't pick Lopitkina just yet, she's too young and does not have a "body of work" behind her.

While I enjoy watching Yulia Makhalina she just doesn't change my world when I do. Not only doesn't she have longevity (yet) but in sporting terms, she hasn't led her team to the world championship. If the Kirov is considered better than it was five to 10 years ago, I believe it is because of their younger principles: Lopatikina, Vishneva, Sakahrova etc... That said, I've only seen her in a handful of performances, maybe I'd have to watch her over a whole season to make a really just decision.

Dale

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I agree with Dale. I loved Makhalina when I first saw her -- Lilac Fairy and Medora in Le Corsaire. She was so lush and rosy; an absolutely perfect Lilac Fairy.

Then something seemed to go wrong. Next time, she danced Tchaikovsky pas de deux in what looked like a Naughty Nighty from Victoria's Secret; as did her Dying Swan costume. Her dancing seemed less disciplined, too.

When I saw the Kirov ten years ago, they had that wonderful crop of young women: Makhalina, Ayupova, Ivanova, Pankova, Lezhnina, (forgive my spelling; I'm not looking any of these up) with Asylmuratova, slightly older, at the fore. I remember we all breathed a sigh of relief. "Ah, Russia. It won't die out. Look at them. They still produce squads of ballerinas." And within a few years, most of them were gone to other companies, and the ones who remained -- well, to me, they did not fulfill their early promise.

Hope with the new management the current generation will do better.

As for your question, Marc, of how did soandso get chosen, I doubt that any of us would agree with many of the names posted here. As Dale said, people just put up their favorites. That's why I put up the other thread, "Favorites." I was trying to make the distinction between "Great" and "Favorites" but I realized that that's something that concerns critics much more than fans, and it was probably a silly thing to try.

alexandra

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Well, Alexandra, I still have to see a performance where any of the newest generation of Kirov dancers will do a better job than Makhalina, Asylmuratova, or indeed any of the dancers you named (you might have added Irina Shapchits, always forgotten). Lopatkina, and Dumchenko in a lesser degree, are the only ones of the newest generation who can stand the "test" by watching their performances back to back with those of older dancers like Asylmuratova, Makhalina, Nioradze, or Ayupova. But not Vishneva, Zakharova, Amosova, Gumerova. Not in a million years.

The trouble with the young dancers at the Kirov Ballet nowadays is that they are much too soon in their careers confronted with too many roles. Before they are even twenty they already danced all the major roles in the repertoire, without ever getting the time to absorb. The result is often a complete lack of identification with the role, blandness, and boring performances that all look the same, whether it is Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, or Symphony in C.

And yes, Dale, Makhalina is a great ballerina. If you have the chance watch her in Raymonda, Paquita, Anna Karenina, or La Bayadère, those will give you a better understanding of her than some Swan Lake or Giselle pas de deux taken out of its context. Or try to watch her in rehearsal. You might be in for a fascinating experience, I'll tell you. Indeed, Makhalina used to take liberties with the text, especially in classical parts (though that too has been exaggerated by a certain tendency in mainly the British press), but anybody who saw her these last years will admit that there is a profound understanding in everything she does. Everything comes from the heart. And that seems to become something of a rarity too.

Honestly, I don't know if the Kirov is better than it was 5 or 10 years ago, but if it is, than I seriously doubt it is because of the youngest principals.

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Ah! Marc mentioned Irina Shapchits. I would love to hear more about this dancer. All I know of her is her Swanilda in the video of Vinogradov's "Coppelia" (a version I seem seem to be alone in having enjoyed). I thought she was lovely and charming, and I looked forward to hearing more of her, but never have.

Please fill me in!

~Steve

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Irina Shapchits is living in Belgium now. She and her husband Mikhail Zavialov dance with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. They both left the Kirov Ballet in 1995, have been dancing for two years in Germany, and finally arrived in Belgium. Irina hasn't lost anything of her magic, but I'm afraid if you want to see her Steve, you will have to come over to Belgium... For your information Steve, there is an interview with her on the internet (Check the site http://www.kirov.com)

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Marc, I think you've mentioned the central problem of classical ballet today (even greater than the lack of choreographers, in my opinion), and that's the way young dancers are developed -- or not developed. Throwing them into all the big roles without adequate coaching, having everyone dance everything -- the All Purpose Principal principle. It's very sad that it's happening at the Kirov, too. I had hoped that that was the last place where "employ" was still respected.

The Stanislavsky Ballet was in Washington recently and, although it's hardly a great company, it had great balletmastering. The Princes were Princes and the Jesters were Jesters, so there. The company also paid great attention to style. Their "Chopiniana" was gorgeous -- and never looked, for a moment, like the second act of "Swan Lake." Alas, if they had a ballerina, they left her at home.

alexandra

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