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Who are the great male dancers of the day?


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#16 Guest_Old Board_*

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Posted 02 December 1998 - 09:58 PM

This has been posted for Margot, moved from the old site:

Dear Estelle,<br> <br>I am so glad you joined us. About two years ago I went to a "café internet" in Montréal where you pay by the hour to go on the internet. My first research was "Ballet" and just like Alexandra, your site was the first one I found and I thought they were all like that... Now I know better!<br>Thank you for your input!<br>

Margot

#17 Guest_Angela_*

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Posted 27 December 1998 - 10:33 AM

Dear Alexandra,
about the young dancer you found in an old magazine: I suppose you mean Kyrill Melnikov, who is not dancing in Berlin, but in Munich at the Bavarian State Ballet and who is not that young any more. In fact I joined this Bulletin Board to tell you he is one of the most dull dancers I have ever seen on a stage - with a good technique (but far from brilliant), and with absolutely no stage presence at all. The top male dancer in Berlin, and surely one of the best partners in the world, is Oliver Matz, who would be my favourite for the greatest male dancer, if not for his tendency to exaggerate constantly in his acting. But his turns are definitely the most elegant, the most breathtaking you can find in Europe.

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 27 December 1998 - 11:30 AM

Thanks, Angela -

Melnikov wasn't at all dull when he was with the Kirov -- he was very classical, i.e., he didn't throw his hair around, or grin, or make faces to show he was feeling the music. I saw him nearly ten years ago, so I suppose he would be in his early thirties now? And, of course, he could have changed.

alexandra

#19 Guest_Angela_*

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Posted 27 December 1998 - 07:27 PM

I'm sorry, Alexandra – I guess my harsh remarks about Melnikov must have sounded quite offending to you. But I just couldn't believe it that anybody who had seen Legris, Baryshnikov or Ruzimatov would count Kyrill Melnikov among the best dancers of today! Still, when I read the reviews about the recent tour of the Stuttgart Ballet to New York, Anna Kisselgoff also remembered him in quite positive words (she saw him in New York with the Munich Ballet in 1993) – well, I suppose there must have been a time when he was quite good. In my eyes he is the typical example of a dancer who just stopped learning and developping at a certain point in his career, who just stood still.

The problem may also be that you have quite different standards of judging good dance than we have in Europe, or better: here in Germany (I can't speak for the rest of Europe...). Whenever I saw a dancer who came here from the US and continued to dance the way he danced there, he was never very successful. He would be admired, yes, but he was not loved. Perfect technique and an elegant line is mostly not enough for the audiences here, who want to see personality, who want to see heart and absolute dedication to a role. So what makes a real "great" dancer - the technique or the dedication?

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 27 December 1998 - 09:31 PM

Oh, no, Angela, I wasn't at all offended. Sorry to have given that impression.

You pose an interesting question, and one that will probably pop up here often. For me, the short answer is both: both technique and dedication -- and artistry.

Personally, I don't prefer technicians over artists, and if Melnikov has stopped developing, that's a shame, because he danced beautifully in Sleeping Beauty and Esmeralda when I saw him.

I do think that it's difficult to judge dedication of a dancer from performance. I've seen dancers who look as though they could care less when they're on stage, and then seen them in class and they're the hardest workers there. (And I don't mean that dedication backstage is an excuse for poor performance onstage, just that it's hard to tell.)

I agree that there are often differences between what American and European audiences appreciate, but, like everything else, it's not across the board, and it depends on the sophistication (I wish I could think of a more neutral word) of the audience/audience member. The general American audience (and maybe those elsewhere as well) like dancers who grin and have obvious "personality" and find dancers who don't "jump into the lap of the audience," as Violette Verdy once said in an interview, to be cold and unfeeling. It's often the quiet Prince who's upstaged by the bounding Jester, and I usually prefer the Princes.

alexandra

#21 Dale

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Posted 28 December 1998 - 02:36 AM

I hate that kind of dancer, who grins and flirts shamelessly with the audience. If a smile is the result of the joy they feel, that's fine, but if it's plastered on their face regardless of what they're performing, it's very annoying.

About dancers growing: Just because a classisist doesn't turn into a dancer who throws himself around emoting, doesn't mean he hasn't grown. He might be growing by refining his technique, going deeper in his roles.

#22 Paul W

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Posted 28 December 1998 - 07:58 AM

I guess my German side controls my ballet watching, agreeing with Angela, that dancers should emote and express personal feeling. I may be responding more like an "American audience" as Alexandra says, but I DON'T wish to see a constant grin on every dancer's face.

As someone trying to understand WHAT is considered "classical" in the way that dancers perform, I have to admit I am a bit confused. In the ballets labeled as "classical" that I have seen I recall most all the dancers expressing themselves through their facial emotion. The dancers I most immediately connect with are those who seem to sense the audience.

My tendency is to want to see a connection between the dancer and the audience, a contact that shows emotion in the face (I'm not saying eye contact, but something saying the dancer is HERE with us). I think a dancer must look happy in dancing a happy role, must NOT be smiling when dancing a sad role, etc. In the few modern dance programs I've seen (what I would describe as abstract) the dancers often gave me a sense of remoteness if their expressions were not related to the emotion the movement seemed to be portraying. If classical ballet is also supposed to be danced in this way I confess I may never really understand what good classical ballet is supposed to look like.

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 28 December 1998 - 01:51 PM

Paul,
I sympathize. I don't think there is very much first-rate classical dancing around these days, and what there is, well, it depends on where one lives! Since you're into videos, I'd recommend watching some Kirov Sleeping Beauties, or the Paris Opera in classical ballets.

As for the smiling, it's not that they're supposed to look grim, but they're not supposed to look like they're in a musical comedy, either. There's a story I got in Denmark about Ashton, when he was setting Romeo and Juliet in 1956. At that time, the Danes had been through a 30-year demicaractere period, where grinning was encouraged. Ashton did not want this for Romeo and told them, "Smile with your eyes, because when you do that, your whole face lifts -- but don't give me any grin."

I think the idea for a classical or neoclassical ballet is to have a pleasant, relaxed look about the face, show emotion where appropriate, but, as in acting, do not overemote. As absurd as it sounds, since classical dancing is as artificial as one can get, a dancer is supposed to look natural.

Make any sense?

alexandra

#24 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 16 January 1999 - 05:57 PM

Alexandra, a while ago you asked for some new men from the Kirov Ballet. Well, here goes.
Somebody to look out for is Andrei Batalov. He is a phenomenal technician, has a huge jump and an incredible ballon, but... he is also quite small, which is unfortunate in a company dominated by tall girls. Still, try to see him now.
Promising is also young Andrian Fadeyev. Blond, with boyish good looks, more prince-like than Batalov, clear footwork, a good jump, and a nice legato-quality in his dancing. Might develop in a first-rate artist.
Quite a spectacular dancer is Vyacheslav Samodurov. He is about the opposite of Fadeyev. Where everything with Fadeyev is crystal clear and well-structured, with Samodurov it looks like improvised and even sometimes chaotic. Samodurov is also rather small and doesn't have the presence of a true danseur noble.
An interesting new face in the Kirov Ballet is Ilya Kuznetsov. He is tall, powerful and convinces as prince or nobleman. The Kirov hasn't been giving him a lot of opportunities so far, still Kuznetsov is better than many others.
I also like to mention Islom Baimuradov, who is mainly a spectacular character dancer (Espada in Don Quixote, Nurali in the Fountain of Bakhchisarai).
Finally, there is Yevgeni Ivanchenko, one of the dullest faces you ever come to see on a stage, yet loved by the ballerinas for his reliability as a partner. Very tall, strong, but unable to show any emotion in front of an audience. But, yes, he is still very young.

#25 Guest_AnjainPoland_*

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Posted 17 January 1999 - 12:14 PM

My interest for ballet is based on fascination and passion, not on professional knowledge, but still I feel I have to add my opinion to the Board.
I discovered ballet just a couple of months ago when I moved to Warsaw from Sweden. Out of curiosity I went to see the Swan Lake - I was amazed and have seen almost every ballet performance given here ever since. I love it. Well, since the only dancers I've seen live are the Polish ones, I cannot say who's the best ballerino of today - but maybe somebody of you have seen those guys and can affirm I'm right when i nominate my three Polish favourites.
The first Siegfried I saw was Aleksander Rulkiewicz, and I fell in love with him at first sight. First of all, he's incredibly good-looking, and makes a gorgeous prince, but he's also a great dancer. What almost drove me crazy that first time, is the way that he dances with a girl. For me, a great pair-dancer is the one that makes you wish you were there on stage dancing with him. He may not be the best solo-dancer, but I would still like to nominate him because of his devotion, passion, and presence on stage with a girl.
However, the no doubt most impressive dancer of the Polish National Ballet, is Marek Andrzej Stasiewicz. The guy is technical to the very maximum (those 15-turn pivots makes me want to scream) and is additionally as much of an actor as a ballerino. This guy is born to dance the Joker.
The third nominate is maybe the most promising one - the young Maksim Wojtiul is in some way feminine in his dancing - he is enormously graceful and jumps like a true ballerina. It's mainly because of his leaps(or is it "jumps" in english?) that he is awarded the nomination, cause I've never seen a guy jump like that - he's airborne.

If anyone knows anything about Polish ballet and dancers I'd be happy to learn about it.

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 17 January 1999 - 03:58 PM

Welcome, Anjain,

Unfortunately, I don't know a thing about ballet today in Poland. One of the hangovers of the old Cold War, perhaps, but Warsaw Pact companies never toured here, and so we didn't get to see the great companies of Poland or Hungary. Thanks very much for the information.

Please write us what the repertory is, and tell us what you're seeing.

Glad you've discovered ballet!

alexandra

#27 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 02 February 1999 - 01:59 AM

Being a self-interested choreographer, I'll note that my judgments about great dancers are essentially a function of the repertory they dance. I don't mind if a dancer is great in only a slice of the repertory, they're still great. And to be heretical, I'll say that the three-act classics are in my book, only a slice of the repertory!

With that in mind, I'm going to stick up for Damien Woetzel as a great dancer, and in a wide swath of repertory. Unlike Boal, he isn't a poet, but he fakes a prince awfully well. His technique is so natural that he has to guard against becoming bored by it, and he does the extroverted repertory that is uncongenial to Boal. This is no slight to Boal, whom I have always admired, and I'm with you on including him in a list of great dancers.

One dancer whom I'd like to mention as a "could have been" was Jeffrey Edwards at NYCB. Like Boal, he was a Poet - but started to lose roles to Ethan Steifel when Steifel was rising in NYCB, and then Edwards left the company. Which was a shame because Edwards was less technical than Steifel, but had tremendous artistic depth. I'm sure we can all remember with a small twinge the "could have beens" There are many.

#28 cargill

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Posted 02 February 1999 - 02:51 PM

I would just like to second what Leigh said about Jeffrey Edwards. I still run my mental tape of him doing Melancholic whenever I hear that music. And his third movement of Brahms-Schoenberg was so haunting--like a soldier going off to war, knowing he wasn't going to come back. He was a real loss to the company

#29 innopac

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 06:06 PM

Somebody to look out for is Andrei Batalov. He is a phenomenal technician, has a huge jump and an incredible ballon, but... he is also quite small, which is unfortunate in a company dominated by tall girls. Still, try to see him now.


The Earliest Filmed Full Length Ballet that Starred Andrei Batalov Diana Vishneva Don Quixote

"As you will see, this video is primarily about Andrei Batalov. On July 21, 2011, almost 8 weeks ago, Batalov danced his last performance for the Mariinsky Ballet. He will coach Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky Ballet. Hopefully, Batalov will do some dancing at the Mikhailovsky, but only time will answer that question." russianballetvideo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYZWU8sVjY&feature=feedu

#30 Simon G

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 05:18 AM

The Earliest Filmed Full Length Ballet that Starred Andrei Batalov Diana Vishneva Don Quixote

"As you will see, this video is primarily about Andrei Batalov. On July 21, 2011, almost 8 weeks ago, Batalov danced his last performance for the Mariinsky Ballet. He will coach Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky Ballet. Hopefully, Batalov will do some dancing at the Mikhailovsky, but only time will answer that question." russianballetvideo

Batalov was pretty phenomenal, he's kind of the Emmanuel Thibault of Russian ballet, an incredible talent hamstrung by a vindictive, incompetent director, but given that Vaziev is the man behind the inexorable rise of Somova it's unsurprising if depressing that such a talent as Batalov suffered under his direction.

You do wonder why Batalov didn't just take himself to another company where his talents would have been fully utilised and appreciated.


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