Posted 28 January 2005 - 01:20 PM
What a good topic!
I second the nominations of Nicholas Magallanes, Jacques D'Amboise, and Conrad Ludlow, all of whom I often had the pleasure of seeing dance. From those eras, let me add Igor Youskevitch, Andre Eglevsky, Royes Fernandez, Erik Bruhn, John Kriza, and Edward Villella!
Some of today's great partners are Cyril Pierre (Bayerisches Staatsballett, Munich), Thomas Edur (English National Ballet), Jose Martinez (Paris Opera Ballet)and Maxim Beloserkovsky(American Ballet Theater). That they dance primarily with their wives is no doubt what makes them great. When I'm watching Lacarra, I have to remind myself to take my eyes off her in order to see what Cyril Pierre is doing! He gladly takes a back seat to her, which helps him to be her perfect partner -- he sees his job as making it look like her dancing is sheer, effortless perfection.
Thomas Edur adores his wife Agnes Oaks to the same extent. Their pas de deux are works of art. Edur has a way of presenting Oaks that is exquisite -- they are a single entity that moves as one. Yet, as the observer in the audience, my eyes are focused only on her. Oaks takes to the air around her with the facility of a gliding, soaring bird. It is her husband/partner who makes this possible.
Martinez, tall, thin, and elegant like his wife, Agnes Letestu, is one of the finest dancers in the world today, as is she. Together, they are a formidable partnership, unmatched in musicality, classicism, and line. Their coupled poetry is sharp and precise, contrasting with the Edur/Oaks soft, emotional lyricism, and the Pierre/Lacarra acrobatic and sometimes intensely personal partnership.
Maxim Beloserkovsy and his wife Irina Dvorovenko are the golden couple of married partners -- they are both physically gorgeous -- striking, stunning examples of human beauty. Superbly trained, they execute steps with impeccable mastery. They relate to each other as if they are in love, which, of course, they are. Maxim lets his wife get the glory while he works just as hard behind her. They exhibit such a well-honed harmony, gained in their many years of dancing together, without making it ever seem phoned-in. I get a sense, each time I watch them, that they are excited to be dancing and showing their joy of working together again -- every performance is so fresh!
It's to the credit of these husbands/partners that they dance as if they were the ones being watched -- giving each performance all of their technique and artistry -- all the while knowing it is their ballerina wives the audience is watching. If they were any less perfect in the execution of their roles, we would see them MORE, as we always notice when someone is not up to snuff and divert our attention to them to see if we can find more to criticize.
As with ballet in general, the trick is to make it look easy. When we have flawless male dancers and we still watch only their partners, that is one indication of their greatness as a partner.