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Best "Balancing Acts" You've Seen??

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Two dancers who were constantly good with their balances have been: Cynthia Gregory and Meryl Ashley. :):) Any other choices????????????

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I'm not a balance freak, and while I can be impressed by a ballerina's ability to stay up for long periods, she has to maintain a sense of movement throughout. I have to see her breathe, at least. If she looks frozen and stiff, it stops the flow of movement and detracts from the performance.

One beautiful young balancer who seems able to stay on one pointe as long as she likes, but who always keeps the balance in keeping with her overall phrasing is ABT's Michele Wiles. During a recent lecture demonstration, her Rose Adagio impressed me, among other reasons, for her ability to change her gaze, so that she made eye contact anew with each successive suitor, avoiding that typical, awful, glazed-over look we usually see there. And she never looked the least bit unsteady!

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In 2002 at the City Center I saw Paloma Herrera in a 'Sylvia PDD' that can only be described as awesome---it wasn't just one balance---everytime she struck a pose she could have stayed perched forever, it seemed, and there were no visible swayings. :)

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I saw Darcey Bussell in "Cinderella" this Jan. and she balanced forever. Spine tingling.

Giannina

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I think it was Viengsay Vald├ęs from Ballet Nacional de Cuba that I saw when they were at City Center last year--in Don Quixote. The most crazy balancing in arabesque--into penchee I've ever seen. The technique of that company blows away anything I'd ever seen.

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I saw Viengsay Valdes in DQ in southern California do that same balance. She got a standing ovation right then and there. It was impressive even before she went into the penchee.

Hhmm...on second thought, maybe it was her fouetees that got the ovation. I just remember thinking, "did I just see what I thought I saw? How could it be possible to do that?"

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In the video ABT Now, Paloma Herrera's balance in the Don Q pas is amazing. At one point Angel Corella offers his hand, and instead of taking it she just allonges out of attitude to arabesque... and he just gets out of the way. My jaw hit the floor.

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Yes, TothePointe!

I recall Sonia Arova telling me that she had the record for the longest balance in DQ ......until she saw Paloma on that aired performance you are speaking of! Even Sonia could not believe it :lol:

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Margot Fonteyn, Jennifer Penney and Lesley Collier.

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I must add Altynai Asylmuratova to the list: she had a way of holding balances solidly, often amazingly, without interrupting the flow of the choreography and musicality. It was a very skilled, subtle way of including a technical embellishment that really added something to the performance without hitting the audience over the head with it. I really miss that sort of artistry, which I don't think one often sees anymore.

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Sorry I just got around to answering this. The best balancer (if that's a word) I've ever seen is Paloma Herrera, both in Sleeping Beauty and Don Q. And as good as Paloma's balancing was in the grand pas from Don Q (which was taped in 1997 I think) when I saw her dance Don Q in 2004 and Sleeping Beauty in 2007 her balances were rock solid. You never have to worry that Paloma's going to wobble.

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In the video ABT Now, Paloma Herrera's balance in the Don Q pas is amazing. At one point Angel Corella offers his hand, and instead of taking it she just allonges out of attitude to arabesque... and he just gets out of the way. My jaw hit the floor.

Appropos of that, I saw them do Swan Lake a few years ago, and during Black Swan pdd, she balanced so long, they were getting severely behind the music, so Angel had to poke her (v.subtly of course) to come off pointe and continue the dance.

My favorite memory of great balances was Jennifer Gelfand of Boston Ballet in Sleeping Beauty. She was also a prodigious turner.

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Although I will always love this quality in Cynthia Gregory, for the same reasons Hans speaks of in his post about Asylmuratova, I must say that Viengsay Valdes of Cuba is amazing in her ability to hold a balance. I have never seen her live, but there is evidence on YouTube that I have seen in addition to cubanmiamiboy's posting. Wow!

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I must say that Viengsay Valdes of Cuba is amazing in her ability to hold a balance. I have never seen her live, but there is evidence on YouTube that I have seen in addition to cubanmiamiboy's posting. Wow!

And now...thankfully, someone just posted her OUT OF THIS WORLD Rose Adagio..!! Have to be seen to be believed...(particularly the last set of balances... :jawdrop: )

Enjoy!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Llq-Ch19CwI

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More of the princes are involved in this than in any other version I've seen.

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Oh yes -- I really liked the 'kiss the hand' detail! And Valdes does indeed seem to have a very stable center of gravity here, which lets her make decisions about how long to stay somewhere and how to make a transition in and out of a position.

There are some things I miss from the versions of the RA that I'm most familiar with, though, and I'd be very interested in seeing what this dancer would do with them. I'm very fond of the series of port de bras that Aurora does downstage center while bourreeing in place, with the music roiling underneath her -- they have a lovely renverse quality that is echoed later in the dance with a true renverse -- in this version that is replaced with a series of lifts crossing the stage. They are quite pretty, and done very well, but I miss the other, simpler, sequence.

Changes like that one might connect to the conversation elsewhere on the website about virtuosity. I don't think anyone would argue that Valdes' use of balance here is not an act of virtuosity -- an impressive example of heightened physical ability used within an aesthetic framework. But there are places where that kind of heightened ability is misused, displayed for its own sake rather than to support the overall effect of the dancework.

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Oh yes -- I really liked the 'kiss the hand' detail! And Valdes does indeed seem to have a very stable center of gravity here, which lets her make decisions about how long to stay somewhere and how to make a transition in and out of a position.

Sandik, I agree about the hand-kissing. A very nice touch. Another smaller detail I liked: the grace with which she handled the flowers, making them a part of the choreography.

Thinking of other Auroras, I can't recall anything like the way Valdes handled that last set of balances. She really makes them a climax rather than just the end of a series of combinations. Each prince extends his hand as soon as he is next to her. This (it seemed to me) was rather assertive, even brusque, as in "I'll help you, lady.". Instead of taking the hand, she raises her arms in couronne for her extended balance. No weakness or submissiveness about THIS princess. She has grown in stature right before our eyes.

Thanks, Cristian, for this link. Ballerinas like Valdes need more exposure on BT. There appears to be a distinct "Cuban" combination of virtuosity and artistry that we need the chance to see more of. As sandik writes:

I don't think anyone would argue that Valdes' use of balance here is not an act of virtuosity -- an impressive example of heightened physical ability used within an aesthetic framework.

:thumbsup:

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I have such mixed feelings about the choreography and performance. I mostly dislike how the music is slowed to molasses to support the first set of balances. In many ways the changes to the choreography make it immodest, the big lifts in particular.

What I loved about the performance was how Valdes maintained a sense of modesty throughout the glitz and the big moves, with details like the one that bart describes of making the flowers part of the choreography, the way she took a longish look at her parents after putting down the flowers, and engaging with all of the princes. In terms of virtuosity, the height for me was the way she went quickly, without hesitation, with a quick step-step, into the first of the final attitude balances, and the first prince started to promenade her a beat after her supporting pointe hit the ground. That was fearless.

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I felt bad for the last prince-(particularly in the first set of balances...).The poor guy stayed there, looking at her with devotion and offering her hand full of love and expectation...and then Aurora decides not to take his offering...! :speechless-smiley-003: . Being one of the others, I would had been secretly celebrating the sign that he's out of the contest. But then, she decides to to THE SAME at the end, WITH A DIFFERENT PRINCE!! :speechless-smiley-003: . For me this is just as if she was announcing that there's nothing personal with the first rejected prince..."I'm just not into any of you, guys...so thank you but no thank you..." :P

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