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Great American Male Ballet Dancers?

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Yesterday, a friend of mine asked if I knew of any male ballet stars that had started in the US. For these purposes, the dancer would need to be recognized by people elsewhere in the world, not just at home. It seemed like most of the guys that are mentioned as ballet greats came from Russia. Any ideas?

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I know he wasn't a ballet dancer, but he was certainly American and arguably the greatest dancer (male or female) of all time: Fred Astaire.

Every time I see Astaire on TV in one of those wonderful old Hollywood black & white movies, I am moved almost to tears at his brilliance. I can't imagine that even Nijinsky could have been greater.

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Which male, or female ballet stars for that matter, have names that would be widely recognized throughout the world today, particularly by people who are not dyed in the wool fans? I'm not sure if it's just Americans who can't meet that test.

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Well known American dancers might include Edward Villella, Jacques D'Amboise, Arthur Mitchell, and, more recently, Ethan Stiefel. There have been a number of other very fine dancers, but I'm not sure they have the name recognition with the general public that these dancers do, just because of TV and movies.

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With regards to fame, I figure that there are probably dancers that people who casually follow ballet are aware of, and then of course the balletomanes could mention several more worth noting. It's the ones known to the casual observer that I was curious about.

Victoria, thanks for your input. I'll have to pass it along to my friends, since we've been renting a lot of ballet videotapes lately. I've been having a little crash course in 20th century ballet history. smile.gif

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Originally posted by Ann:

I know he wasn't a ballet dancer, but he was certainly American and arguably the greatest dancer (male or female) of all time: Fred Astaire.

Every time I see Astaire on TV in one of those wonderful old Hollywood black & white movies, I am moved almost to tears at his brilliance. I can't imagine that even Nijinsky could have been greater.

I never used to "get" Fred Astaire, until my toddler became a Fred Astaire addict. I don't have television, so videos from the library are our mainstay. Teletubbies, Blues Clues, Kipper, Pooh, all find their favor but the one constant for the past year has been "Fred Astairt/Top Hat and The Mommy Who Wakes Up!" (Beings who have recently learned to walk are fascinated by tap dance] A modern dance friend who didn't have even a VCR had given me her library of Fred Astaire tapes (Blockbuster Video had a sale of them for a $1.99 each and she just couldn't pass them up). The more I watch them, the more I like them. I guess it's the same for my daughter since she used to want us to fast forward until the dance sections, but now she's willing to sit through the dialogue as well. If I've watched them once in the last year, I've watched them two hundred times. It's fascinating what passed for "ballet" to that era of Hollywood. That ballet dancer in "Shall We Dance" with the contortionist cambre back on pointe is truly a bizarre reflection of ballet of the time. In some ways I seem some similarity in aesthetic between the Paris Opera dancers of "Ballerina". It takes a while to get past the differences in technique and style and see what they might have been offering... a very "soft" look predominates (to the point that straight lines must have been considered crude?)

[This message has been edited by Amy Reusch (edited March 31, 2001).]

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