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Tall vs. short ballerinas

57 posts in this topic

That's interesting--Asylmuratova has such long limbs and danced so often with her husband, Konstantin Zaklinsky, who seems extremely tall (maybe he isn't really?) that I suppose she just seemed taller than she really is.

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I adore watching taller dancers. Short ballerinas can be absolutely lovely, but sometimes if they are too short I find it utterly distracting - take for example, Leticia Oliveira of Houston Ballet. She's probably 5'1" or so - she's a wonderful technician, but it is *so distracting* because she is so short! I mean, I really don't think that I could see her as a leading dancer in much of classical repertoire, simply because she is so tiny! It wouldn't really seem like an adult was dancing, but rather, that a child was. Does that make sense?

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Not necessarily, I think it would depend on whether or not her partner was proportionate to her, it can work very well.

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Good point Mme. Hermine. Elizabeth Loscavio is barely over 5'1" and she had a rather large repertoire - classics and contemporary.

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I adore watching taller dancers. Short ballerinas can be absolutely lovely, but sometimes if they are too short I find it utterly distracting - take for example, Leticia Oliveira of Houston Ballet. She's probably 5'1" or so - she's a wonderful technician, but it is *so distracting* because she is so short! I mean, I really don't think that I could see her as a leading dancer in much of classical repertoire, simply because she is so tiny! It wouldn't really seem like an adult was dancing, but rather, that a child was. Does that make sense?
I saw Leticia Oliveira dance back in September (just over 5 months ago). I was not distracted at all -- didn't even think about her height -- rather, I was enchanted by her strong, lyrical performance. Of course I can be partial to shorter dancers, since my own daughter, who is a lovely dancer, is not quite 5'2", but I do acquire feelings for each dancer I view based on her merit as an artist, not on her physical stature. I have yet to be utterly distracted by a dancer because of her height, short or tall. There have been qualities in some dancers that have distracted me no end, but never their height, which is merely relative, after all.

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A lot of companies use the shorter dancers to do principle roles...especially in more classic ballets. There is nothing wrong with the principle character being smaller than the rest of the corps. In fact, it seems to usually be that way. Still, I doubt 5'1'' looks that short next to a 5'3'' corps de ballet dancer...unless the company is full of amazons or the 5'1'' dancer is overweight for her height. (Which is doubtful)

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Megan's about 5'2", and NYCB tends to cast tallish women for the Theme ensemble.

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Megan's about 5'2", and NYCB tends to cast tallish women for the Theme ensemble.
Do you mean Megan Fairchild? Her height is listed in her Discount Dance profile as 5'3½". The questionnaires that make up these profiles are answered by the dancers themselves.

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It just does not matter though.I have one daughter who dances with the Richmond Ballet.She is very good,very pretty and has the height.My youngest daughter is very pretty and just as good as the other,but just does not have the height.They take the girls with height,regardless of looks or talent.Very sad,but thats the way it is.

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Richmond Ballet kindly specifies that they want females of 5'4" to 5'7" for auditions. Funny, but as the mother of a 5'9" DD, I've always considered Richmond for short dancers! I agree with above posters...it's all in the proportions and fluidity. I describe it as the ability to "melt like butter". And yes, body proportions are important. Whether short or tall, I love long arms and long legs, long fingers that flow, and if I'm allowed to say it, big heads make me crazy. It seems to defy the physics, and disrupt the line. Expression and musicality are also so important. Technique means nothing without it.

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The two companies I see most that routinely have tall ballerinas on the roster are Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet Arizona. San Francisco Ballet has some tall women as well. Are the larger companies less heterogeneous in size?

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As has already been said, I think it depends on whether or not the ballerina is in proportion to her partner. I think a short dancer can dance Odette/Odile or Aurora just as well as a tall dancer. Gillian Murphy is just perfect in Swan Lake, and she's only about 5'5 or so. And the last two Auroras I saw - Alina Cojacaru and Tiler Peck are both on the small size, and they gave the two best performances of the title role in Sleeping Beauty I have ever seen. And Natalia Osipova is tiny - but she eats up the stage with her incredible technque and artistry. With regard to Giselle, I think Giselle should be on the short side (or at least very frail looking).

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Gillian Murphy is just perfect in Swan Lake, and she's only about 5'5 or so. And the last two Auroras I saw - Alina Cojacaru and Tiler Peck are both on the small size, ... And Natalia Osipova is tiny...

Just to get technical (sadly, I've been very aware of dancers' heights ever since my short (5'2") daughter became a professionally-minded, then professional ballet dancer - I wish I could stop because I believe it matters little!): Gillian Murphy is 5'6" and Tiler Peck is 5'5". I wouldn't call either dancer "short". Alina Cojacaru is 5'2". Natalia Osipova is not so tiny in height, either. She is 5'5", too.

Personally, I think of Aurora as a shorter dancer. I don't much like to see the role danced by Amazons. Same with Giselle - I agree with you, there! I also prefer a small to medium-sized Odette, although it's a role that works with any height. Some Latina Odettes are incredible and many of them are on the short side.

I would rephrase your sentence "I think a short dancer can dance Odette/Odile or Aurora just as well as a tall dancer" by reversing your words "short" and "tall"!

Chacun à son goût!

Rereading this thread, I saw my earlier posts from 5 years ago. I'm still singing the same tune! Even reused the word "Amazons"! :)

Edited by Marga

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Ballet West is also known for its tall dancers. Most of the Women are quite tall and the Men are mostly all well over 6 feet.

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Gillian Murphy is just perfect in Swan Lake, and she's only about 5'5 or so. And the last two Auroras I saw - Alina Cojacaru and Tiler Peck are both on the small size, ... And Natalia Osipova is tiny...

Just to get technical (sadly, I've been very aware of dancers' heights ever since my short (5'2") daughter became a professionally-minded, then professional ballet dancer - I wish I could stop because I believe it matters little!): Gillian Murphy is 5'6" and Tiler Peck is 5'5". I wouldn't call either dancer "short". Alina Cojacaru is 5'2". Natalia Osipova is not so tiny in height, either. She is 5'5", too.

Personally, I think of Aurora as a shorter dancer. I don't much like to see the role danced by Amazons. Same with Giselle - I agree with you, there! I also prefer a small to medium-sized Odette, although it's a role that works with any height. Some Latina Odettes are incredible and many of them are on the short side.

I would rephrase your sentence "I think a short dancer can dance Odette/Odile or Aurora just as well as a tall dancer" by reversing your words "short" and "tall"!

Chacun à son goût!

Rereading this thread, I saw my earlier posts from 5 years ago. I'm still singing the same tune! Even reused the word "Amazons"! :)

19th century Romantic and academic classical ballets were generally made for dancers around 4'10" to 5'2" in height.

Alina Cojocaru has a balanced physique in relation to length of back and legs which lends to her achievement of an extended line in both poses and lyrical movements.

For all her gifts, which are real, Osipova has by comparison a short back with restricts a longer lyrical line and she is in my opinion, shorter than 5'5" inches tall and on stage appears to be much shorter than Cojocaru.

Generally speaking I want to see leading dancers in Romantic ballets and Petipa ballets performed by dancers between 5'2" and 5'5" in height. However, I would not want to have lived my life without having seen Toni Lander in La Sylphide, who was seemingly taller than 5'5".

Other comparisons might be Dame Margot Fonteyn who was short in stature but achieved a great line and lyricism in her performances and the shorter Lucette Aldous, who had bundles of technique and often a thrilling dancer, but did not in my opinion, possess either a truly academic or true lyricism in her line.

Tall dancers can essay first soloist roles effectively and in the case of Deanne Bergsma for instance, more than effectively.

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I'm 5'10" myself. Last weekend, I found Anna Nikulina about 4" shorter than me, at least. Both Vasiliev and Osipova of comparable height to me, and taller than Tamara Rojo in 3" heels. Alexei Loparevitch (Don Quixote in DQ) looked 6' tall.

Osipova could have been wearing high heels (I did not look), and/or I could have been unconsciously bowing before her, of course. On stage she seemed a little bit shorter than Alexandrova, it should be said.

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I don't buy Ivan Vasiliev being 5'10". When I saw him in Le Corsaire it bothered me that he was the shortest pirate on stage and frankly I found the scene where he fights off the other pirates faintly absurd. Comparing him with the other dancers on stage I would guess he is around 5'6" or 5'7" (about the same as Baryshnikov) and Osipova about 5'3".

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Vasiliev is 5"6" he stated his height in a recent interview. In which he also joked about his beautiful long classical lines.

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:dunno:

Perhaps a question of shoes. I was wearing my lowest ones.

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Osipova ..... is in my opinion, shorter than 5'5" inches tall and on stage appears to be much shorter than Cojocaru.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/dance/article2027206.ece

Here is a quote from the above article (from 3 years ago):

At 5ft 5in, she is the same height as Maya Plisetskaya, the 81-year-old Bolshoi phenomenon still dancing (more or less) last year. In her heyday, Plisetskaya was considered a giantess. These days, Osipova is one of the shortest ballerinas.

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Osipova ..... is in my opinion, shorter than 5'5" inches tall and on stage appears to be much shorter than Cojocaru.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/dance/article2027206.ece

Here is a quote from the above article (from 3 years ago):

At 5ft 5in, she is the same height as Maya Plisetskaya, the 81-year-old Bolshoi phenomenon still dancing (more or less) last year. In her heyday, Plisetskaya was considered a giantess. These days, Osipova is one of the shortest ballerinas.

Having seen both Maya Plisetskaya and Natalia Osipova a number of times on stage and off, I am as certain as I can be, that Miss Osipova is not the same height as Madame Plisetskaya. There is something quite ridiculous in the suggestion that she is. After all it is only a statement in a newspaper article.

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At 3:21 in this clip from the Dancers Over 40 tribute to Agnes De Mille,

Christine Sarry tells how she was hired because ABT needed a dancer shorter than Lupe Serrano.

There are many treats in the Dancers Over 40 videos. :clapping:

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I find this discussion interesting because I am close to a number of tall dancers who face a lot of the same problems of trying to find a career as a shorter dancer would, so I think some of the responses are pretty illuminating. It seems to me, though, that a lot of people are trying to attribute height with certain qualities, so I suppose the best way to get to a rawly useful "perfect height" would be to try to strip height from things that [may or may not] be cursorily related to it but not necessarily perfected correlated.

For example, people seem to suggest that shorter dancers tend to have a 'lighter' quality about them and more fluid movement. While this may be true, suppose this isn't the case. Let's say we compose a perfect "Frankenballerina" here. She can have all the grace, weightlessness, and effortlessness of any ballerina that's ever lived. Then, given such, how tall do we make her? Assuming she retains the weightlessness quality of movement, do we simply extend her height indefinitely until we run into the problem of not being able to find suitable partners? Or is there another 'catchpoint' in preventing ballerinas from going taller?

I suppose what I'm trying to say is, how tall would the ideal ballerina be assuming that her height has no bearing upon her style of dance? Because, should we find an 'ideal height', then I suppose it is theoretically possible for someone at that height to dance with the qualities of both a much shorter and a much taller ballerina, no?

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Who cares how tall a dancer is?! It doesn't matter what they look like... what matters is their technique and behavior. If one is rude don't hire them. If one doesn't provide the technique you're looking for, tell them work on it, and to come back in the future. NO ONE should judge a dancer by how they look (height,weight, hair color, skin color, etc.)

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In my experience as a ballet-watcher, the height of a dancer can make the choreography look completely different. I think it is good to see dancers of all heights! Vive la difference!

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