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What Makes A Dancer A Great Partner (Male&Female)PARTNERING


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#1 fandeballet

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 08:18 AM

I got into ballet seeing life magazine pictures of nureyev's leaps. But over the years I have come to appreciate the work it takes to be a good, if not great partner. I know in ballroom dancing it is almost unforgivable for a male to allow his partner to hit the floor. He is expected to at least try and break her fall, using his own body. Carlos Acosta has said the thing he fears most is to drop his ballerina. So he has done thousands of pushups to strengthen himself.

I also realize that a ballerina can make things easier for her partner if she does certain things, like push off to help with a lift.

Who are great partners of the past or present? What made/makes them great? Does it depends on their early training and makeup? Marcelo Gomes, who I consider a great partner, said to me he really cares for and enjoys the partnering aspect of his dancing.

my other choices of great male partners are:

Ivan Nagy
Anthony Dowell
Carlos Acosta
Jose Manuel Carreno
Julio Bocca (esp. over the last 5 years)
Angel Corella
Kobberg
Richard Cragun(dancer with the stuggart ballet in the 1970's)

If anyone can enlighten me on the female side, please do!!! :wink: :wink:

Edited by Ari, 28 January 2005 - 10:55 AM.


#2 oberon

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 09:13 AM

The king of partnering now (but not for long) is Jock Soto. Peter Martins was a superb partner...tall, strong, big hands, reassuring.

As for females, it is less clear what makes a ballerina a great partner...I suppose being light-weight and flexible and having your own strength so that if the man falters slightly you are not in danger. And of course, trust...if the ballerina looks nervous or insecure, the man can get jittery or over-solicitous and spoil the flow of things. Also, if there is a minor glitch, the ballerina should never show by her facial expression that anything is amiss...she can slap the guy silly once they get offstage, but onstage she should look cool & serene all the time. On these terms, Wendy Whelan would be the ideal partner today.

One ballerina, now retired, was quite unrestrained in her expressions when the partner made small mistakes, or what she felt were mistakes. Ironically, at her farewell, she danced a signature role with a partner she had seldom (if ever) danced with and the harmony was amazing.

Lots of rehearsing and lots of working together build a great partnership, though even that is no guarantee that all will go well onstage. When you think about it, partnering glitches and people falling are far less frequent in this high-risk occupation than the percentages might indicate. And the art of covering up mistakes is part of what makes a dancer great.

#3 richard53dog

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 09:51 AM

 I also realize that a ballerina can make things easier for her partner if she does certain things, like push off to help with a lift.

            Who are great partners of the past or present?  If anyone can enlighten me on the female side, please do!!! :wink:  :wink:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I've read in long ago interviews with a couple of her partners that said that one ballerina that was not easy to partner was Markova. She was very reluctant to give that little "push off" keeping the illusion for herself of weighlessness.

I agree that Cragun, Nagy, Soto, Nureyev, and Bocca are some guys I've seen that have tremendous partnering skills

#4 richard53dog

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 09:56 AM

            I also realize that a ballerina can make things easier for her partner if she does certain things, like push off to help with a lift.

            Who are great partners of the past or present?   If anyone can enlighten me on the female side, please do!!! :wink:  :wink:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I've read in long ago interviews with a couple of her partners that said that one ballerina that was not easy to partner was Markova. She was very reluctant to give that little "push off" keeping the illusion for herself of weighlessness.

I agree that Cragun, Nagy, Soto, Nureyev, and Bocca are some guys I've seen that have tremendous partnering skills

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Oh, take it for what it's worth but Gelsey Kirkland, in Walking on My Grave, complains bitterly on partnering by Baryshnikov but has nothing but praise for D'Amboise, Nagy, and Dowell

Richard

#5 kfw

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 10:16 AM

Who are great partners of the past or present?  What made/makes  them great?


In a PBS program on American Ballet Theatre several years ago, Susan Jaffe praises her longtime partner Jose Carreno for his confidence and says that it helps her dance better. I can't remember her exact words, but she says something to the effect of "it makes a tremendous difference to me to have a partner who lacks nerves."

#6 richard53dog

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 10:34 AM

Who are great partners of the past or present?  What made/makes  them great? 


In a PBS program on American Ballet Theatre several years ago, Susan Jaffe praises her longtime partner Jose Carreno for his confidence and says that it helps her dance better. I can't remember her exact words, but she says something to the effect of "it makes a tremendous difference to me to have a partner who lacks nerves."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



On the same program, which has been released on DVD as ABT Variety and Virtuosity, Ferri says of Bocca, I need a partner that can look me straight in the eye. She says with Bocca, "we hardly have to talk, we hardly even have to rehearse..it's like when you find the love of your life" Bocca agrees and says "it's hard to explain"

#7 Ari

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 11:09 AM

Two qualities a male dancer needs to be a great partner are physical strength and attentiveness towards his partner. He has to be willing to divert his mind from his own performance and concentrate on making his partner's look better. Some of this can be taught, but it helps if the dancer really enjoys what he's doing.

Physical strength is, of course, something that can be built up. The young Peter Martins learned this the hard way, according to his autobiography, when his partner at the Royal Danish Ballet sniped at him until he started going to the gym.

One legendary partner of the past was NYCB principal Conrad Ludlow. Balanchine was able to make some of his most physically daring choreography for ballerinas (for instance, the second movement of Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet) because he had Ludlow there to protect them. He was in great demand by non-NYCB ballerinas on the concert circuit.

I never saw him, but I've never forgotten what Arlene Croce once wrote about Nicholas Magallanes: "He could show off a ballerina like black velvet under a diamond."

In a ballerina, I think the most important attribute of being a good partner is reliability. A dancer can't be 100% predictable, of course, since each performance comes out differently depending on the music and other circumstances, but there's nothing more dismaying for a man than to see his ballerina doing something he hadn't expected. Certain ballerinas have been notorious for this -- but that also helped make them exciting to watch.

#8 EvilNinjaX

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 11:32 AM

I got into ballet seeing life magazine pictures of nureyev's leaps.  But over the years I have come to appreciate the work it takes to be a good, if not great partner.  I know in ballroom dancing it is almost unforgivable for a male to allow his partner to hit the floor.  He is expected to at least try and break her fall, using his own body.  Carlos Acosta has said the thing he fears most is to drop his ballerina. So he has done thousands of pushups to strengthen himself.

            I also realize that a ballerina can make things easier for her partner if she does certain things, like push off to help with a lift.

            Who are great partners of the past or present?  What made/makes  them great?  Does it depends on their early training and makeup?  Marcelo Gomes, who I consider a great partner, said to me he really cares for and enjoys the partnering aspect of his dancing.
   
                my other choices of great male partners are:

              Ivan Nagy
              Anthony Dowell
              Carlos Acosta
              Jose Manuel Carreno
              Julio Bocca (esp. over the last 5 years)
              Angel Corella
              Kobberg
              Richard Cragun(dancer with the stuggart ballet in the 1970's)
           
  If anyone can enlighten me on the female side, please do!!! :wink:  :wink:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


http://www.kirov.com...ilezhnina1.html

interesting that Lezhnina points out that Farukh Ruzimatov was a poor partner.

-goro-

#9 Marga

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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.

#10 Helene

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 03:25 PM

Ludlow is the partner I wish I had seen live, from the way he partnered Allegra Kent in a recorded version of Symphony in C, Second Movement, presenting her like a jewel.

#11 Marga

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 03:44 PM

Helene,
Conrad Ludlow was a true noble cavalier. He was not a particularly gifted male soloist and would never be considered in the same category of technique or artistry as his contemporaries d'Amboise or Villella.
As a partner, however, he was unsurpassed at the time.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 03:57 PM

I think it's Joe Mazo who wrote that if you fell out of a third floor window, you'd be praying that Connie Ludlow was walking beneath, to catch you.

#13 Ari

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 04:20 PM

In Meredith Daneman's new biography of Margot Fonteyn, she says that towards the end of her life Fonteyn was asked by Ninette de Valois who, of all her partners, had been the best. She replied -- to de Valois's astonishment -- Robert Helpmann: "None of the others were ever like him." She said that while Nureyev brought her out, he wasn't so comfortable as a partner. de Valois then posed the same question to Alicia Markova (whose own partnership with Anton Dolin was legendary), who also replied, "Helpmann." So he was obviously a better partner than he's been given credit for.

#14 Old Fashioned

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 06:20 PM

In Meredith Daneman's new biography of Margot Fonteyn, she says that towards the end of her life Fonteyn was asked by Ninette de Valois who, of all her partners, had been the best.  She replied -- to de Valois's astonishment -- Robert Helpmann:  "None of the others were ever like him."  She said that while Nureyev brought her out, he wasn't so comfortable as a partner.  de Valois then posed the same question to Alicia Markova (whose own partnership with Anton Dolin was legendary), who also replied, "Helpmann."  So he was obviously a better partner than he's been given credit for.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


You beat me to it. :D

#15 Ostrich

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 10:40 PM

In her autobiography, Darcy Bussel praises Jonathan Cope very much as a partner. She points out that a partner has to be not only physically but also emotionally well suited to you, which Cope apparently was. She disliked working with partners who let their own nerves show and needed someone to reassure her, at least in her younger years. Maybe she feels differently now.

I think she makes a good point and I would imagine that dancers who are well matched in temparament are more likely to wok well together than those who are physically suitable to each other but not emotionally.


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