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Best "Balancing Acts" You've Seen??

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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.

I had real mixed feelings viewing this clip; some were issues with the version used and other with Valdes' uneven execution of them. Overall the tempo is very slow and this drains the scene of some of the energy it should have. I miss very much, like Sandik, the sequence where Aurora bourres with the port de bras (the lifts put in their place are sort of cheesey and NOT very classical) and I miss the other sequence where Aurora does a series of penchees along a diagonal line of kneeling pages. Some versions have Aurora putting her hand on the pages shoulder and others have her keeping her hand in place instead but I prefer either to how the sequence is done here with the princes.

It's very true that Valdes has outstanding balances and I liked the second sequence with the promenades better than the first but at the end she leaves the world of viruosity and crossed the line into the are of showing off for showing off's sake. She simply omits the fourth promenade. With regards to consistency and sense of musicality and line she's weak, the sequence where she collects the last set of roses has her taking each rose the a prince , doing a developpe and continuing to the next prince , something very traditional to me. But the first two developpes have her raising her leg to about 90 degrees but the last two have showgirl type kicks up to about 165 degrees. Shouldn't they be consistent?

And throughout, Valdes does not have a very striking sense of basic movement. She's a true virtuoso but not much of a classical ballerina.

Virtuoso can also exist in more subtle forms such as infusing the steps with energy and radiance. Also real excitement can be created but taking all the sequence and connecting them into a seamless whole. A very different type of virtuosity is shown in the clip I'm posting, there are no long balances (although I've seen Fonteyn do some very impressive ones in this scene, most notably in her very last Aurora in NYC around 1973-74) but there is a tremendous energy and sweep, an exhilarating rush that build up to a terrific climax. And throughout her sense of line and musicality remains a touchpoint for me.

Unfortunately the clip only has the second part of the scene starting with the bourres but I really prefer this version to Fonteyn's other filmed RAs. And notice how far the princes are from her in the final promenades, this is deliberate, Fonteyn

wanted to increase the audience's perception of of the risks she took.

Virtuosity can take many forms, indeed!

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Watching Fonteyn's performance reminded me of one thing missing from Valdes': I didn't for a second feel that she was dependent on what the prince did in promenade, and thus I wasn't anxious for a second that she might have trouble with the balances. As soon as the big music came on for the final prominades in the Fonteyn clip, my focus went straight to the wrestling with the princes' supporting hands, and that plus the music had the standard effect on me: a gripping anxiety and wish to close my eyes. Fonteyn's balances were beautiful, but the I found the whole process distracting.

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The Fonteyn clip certainly is an eye-opener. I had not realized just how slow the tempo was in the Cuban performance until I saw the Royal's. (Thanks Helene and Ray for calling attention to that.)

Comparing the two, Valdes' version does seem tailored to highlight her special talent for balancing, making that the focus of the performance.

Fonteyn's performance has much more in the way of visual dynamics. There's an arc that seems to build in intensity through the final balances and towards the final supported pirouettes (and then the lovely curtsy).

Valdes' music, on the other hand, seems to slow down for the awesome final balances. The final pirouettes came across (for me at least) as rather anticlimactic.

It's amazing how tempo can completely change the energy level and visual focus of a performance.

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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 dance work.

I mostly dislike how the music is slowed to molasses to support the first set of balances.

It's very true that Valdes has outstanding balances ...but at the end she leaves the world of virtuosity and crossed the line into the are of showing off for showing off's sake. She's a true virtuoso but not much of a classical ballerina.

Comparing the two, Valdes' version does seem tailored to highlight her special talent for balancing, making that the focus of the performance.

Agree, agree. agree and agree. This is precisely why I posted Valdes clip under this "Best balancing act" thread...

Now, about the "Best interpretation of the Rose Adagio's pathos, either musically or balletic", no doubt that many other versions and interpreters can come across as better choices.

:flowers:

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I remember a performace of "Stars and Strips" at the New York City Ballet in where Alexandra Ansanelli and Damian Woetzel danced the central pas de deux. Towards the beginning Ansanelli does an arabesque in which she pause for a moment before placing her hand to a kneeing Damian who is waiting to balance her. Well when Alexandra went into that arabesque she froze and just stood there on point on one leg and stood there...and stood there...and stood there...and literally looked about the audience smiling at us. Finally she looked down at Damian and gave off a smiling expression as if saying, "Oh I forgot about you!" and only then did she give her hand to him. We in the audience went crazy!! It was so effortless, so unexpected - and I think not just for us but for her as well; she wasn't trying to be tricky it just happened - it was amazing to watch. Mainly because she did it in such a matter-of-fact skill. It was wonderul. If fact that was last performance of her's I witness before she left the company and eventually joined the Royal Ballet.

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Thank you, cubanmiamiboy, for posting Viengsay Valdes's Rose Adagio. Her balances were amazing...the best I have ever seen...wow! Even though the choreography is a bit different in some places, it didn't go so far as to spoil the dance and the scene, for me, anyway...She was very sweet and charming in her demeanor, which is just so vital for this famous adagio. She was Aurora...not just a technical whiz. I love her!

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Thank you, cubanmiamiboy, for posting Viengsay Valdes's Rose Adagio. Her balances were amazing...the best I have ever seen...wow! Even though the choreography is a bit different in some places, it didn't go so far as to spoil the dance and the scene, for me, anyway...She was very sweet and charming in her demeanor, which is just so vital for this famous adagio. She was Aurora...not just a technical whiz. I love her!

My pleasure Gina.

And then, here are two examples of just what certainly should NOT happen in the RA.

No, no... :pinch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAbrbbZZOcg

NO,NO,NO!!! :wallbash:

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I have seen Viengsay Valdes in a complete "Beauty" for the Cuban Ballet. The production is an antique in style and choreography that is not always in sync with the score. This production may have looked good on Alonso who was a master of "Lithograph style" poses,but not on Valdes. She is too earthy and real for that artificial dust sprinkling. Also, the adorned LouisXIV wigs in the grand pas' are for me outdated. Let Viengsay be Viengsay, the beautiful, exotic, tropical beauty and princess she is, not an old lithograph collecting dust through the decades. Her balances have no equal in the world today. I'm sure she would agree that another production is needed...Shhhhhh.... Don't let Alonso hear that. Danny

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Thank you, cubanmiamiboy, for posting Viengsay Valdes's Rose Adagio. Her balances were amazing...the best I have ever seen...wow! Even though the choreography is a bit different in some places, it didn't go so far as to spoil the dance and the scene, for me, anyway...She was very sweet and charming in her demeanor, which is just so vital for this famous adagio. She was Aurora...not just a technical whiz. I love her!

My pleasure Gina.

And then, here are two examples of just what certainly should NOT happen in the RA.

No, no... :pinch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAbrbbZZOcg

NO,NO,NO!!! :wallbash:

OMG, Somova's hyperextensions are so vulgar! :icon8:

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Christian,

You're going to hate me for saying this, but... I don't think Valdes is much of a ballerina. She is a phenomenal powerhouse, her core strength is probably the best in the world, her ability to turn is superhuman, as are her balances, but Obraztsova just knocks her out of the ballpark in terms of dance quality, musicality, and dance.

I agree that Valdes is just totally enthralling to watch her pull of her cunning stunts, it's the moments between those stunts, when dance should happen that are lacking for me.

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Christian,

You're going to hate me for saying this, but... I don't think Valdes is much of a ballerina. She is a phenomenal powerhouse, her core strength is probably the best in the world, her ability to turn is superhuman, as are her balances, but Obraztsova just knocks her out of the ballpark in terms of dance quality, musicality, and dance.

I agree that Valdes is just totally enthralling to watch her pull of her cunning stunts, it's the moments between those stunts, when dance should happen that are lacking for me.

Of course I won't hate you, Simon...far from that... :flowers: . But my problem is a simple one. When a RA is about to start, I'm already in the expectation of well executed, nailed balances...(and for some reason I suspect everyone else too). Now, if right away I come across with something like those Obraztsova's unfortunate stumbling moments...well, then the magic of what Petipa intended with the step is gone. Those are things that one can let pass if watching an icon, a veteran ballerina who still performs, for which one will be looking at other details-(usually in the artistry area)- that will certainly make up for the lack of technique-(that happened to me recently with Kent's Giselle). Here is another example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rxcWA6wFAk

But for a young starlet...? Not acceptable.

Same with Kitri's 32 fouettes, for example.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV7nnbS4O2s

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I think the problem is a great deal of the time cultural. The Russians seem to omit the au couronne frequently, or always (I'm sure someone can correct me if I'm wrong) even sterling technicians like Vishneva do so.

Also that video of Kirkland really has to be seen as a curiosity not indicative of her technique, she was extremely weak and sick at Wolftrap when that was filmed, gripped by anorexia. Her lack of strength is palpable. For a much better snippet of what she was about the minute of Giselle on Youtube is pretty sensational, not least for how she comes out of the arabesque penchee while still on point.

Kolpakova was another of those Russians who really should have given up the great classical roles a great deal earlier than she did, she kept dancing another decade after that film was taken, but then again in Communist Russia there really wasn't the repertory to choose from to age gracefully in.

The au couronne balances are a funny one, often seen as being the benchmark of a ballerina, but like fouettes have little to do with artistry and can be pulled off by a technically able student while tormenting brilliant ballerinas with their failure to pull them out of the bag. Fonteyn, who was by no means a technical genius like Valdes has the best balances in the world in Rose Adagio, yet balance and turning which often goes hand in hand didn't with her. Her fouettes were famously capricious.

Actually if you want a pleasent surprise look out for the videos of Somova on Youtube taken this past year, she's really really toned down her extremities and done a great deal of work, she's almost a completely changed dancer. I mean, I'll never think she's a ballerina, but she has improved radically.

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I totally agree with all your above statements: Kirkland's technical decline due to illness, Kolpakova's passed her prime, Fonteyn inability to nail perfect 32 fouettes and even Somova's improvement-(which I observed in her Giselle's solo a while ago). Now, that's exactly my point. Valdes excels in ALL THAT, and even if I admit that she's not the best actress or the most refined ballerina, I don't think she's in the very back of the line either. On top of everything, she's someone that can assure you a very EXCITING night at the ballet, backed by a SOLID TECHNIQUE, and not merely on little stunts like Somova's extensions. Now, just as you pointed at other directions on Somova, I want to invite you to watch Valdes in another tour de force. Giselle. I don't think she does it too bad... :thumbsup:

Spessivtseva's solo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIex1jCpGTk&feature=related

Madness scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OATx9qmtiKs

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I think the problem is a great deal of the time cultural. The Russians seem to omit the au couronne frequently, or always (I'm sure someone can correct me if I'm wrong) even sterling technicians like Vishneva do so.

I've noticed too that a lot of versions done by Russian dancers don't do the au couronne either.

What may explain that was something I read many, many years ago. This is sort of unsubstantiated, and I apologize for that, but the gist of the article was that Fonteyn more or less introduced the au couronne to the Rose Adagio when Sadler's Wells first staged Sleeping Beauty back in the 1930s. And that production introduced and defined the ballet for much of the West. On the other hand, the Russians had a performance tradition that went back to an earlier day and certainly wouldn't feel obliged to add something that originated elsewhere (although they freely added anachronistic details of their own from time to time)

I'm not sure this explains this particular detail it does make for a showier touch.

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Wouldn't Fonteyn have learned au couronne from Volkova, though?

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Wouldn't Fonteyn have learned au couronne from Volkova, though?

The article I described really only mentioned the Fonteyn and the au couronne in the RA in a fleeting way. And I don't remember much about the source of the article , which is why I mentioned it sort of cautiously. All I've retained is the comment of "Fonteyn being the first one to make a crown in the Rose Adagio balances" or something like that.

But I agree she would have learned it or coached it from someone and your suggestion of Volkova is likely. She may not have actually been the first ballerina to do it, there's really nothing new under the sun anyway. But it may be fairer to claim she made the combination widely known and fixed in Western ballet goers idea of what the RA should look like.

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one of my favorite clips ever, if only because the beauty of Gregory as Aurora was so unexpected to me. She is such a mature adult dancer that her triumph as a 16 year old princess was priceless. Also, the balances!

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Ah...just as Spessivtseva with the set of fish dives in the Adagio, added for her when she danced the role in Diaghilev's production...(at least according to Danilova's memoirs...). Well...isn't that also something we all expect nowadays...? I've also noticed the Russians omit them too in their productions... :(

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Yay!!! Thank you, Mme. Hermine, for posting Cynthia Gregory's Rose Adagio. I almost did the other day! One of my favorite dancers of all time! She is the complete package in this clip...So charming, technically gorgeous without tutus flopping onto the back of her head with an unattractively high arabesque and an a la seconde develope so high that it looks bizarre with a classical tutu (Somova). Cynthia...a class act, so to speak! In total agreement, aurora...:)

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Thank you so much, Mme. Hermine, for the Gregory clip.

one of my favorite clips ever, if only because the beauty of Gregory as Aurora was so unexpected to me. She is such a mature adult dancer that her triumph as a 16 year old princess was priceless. Also, the balances!

Aurora, Gina: I'm with you on this. "Unexpected" is a key word. I had completely forgotten that Gregory could project such joyous abandon (while maintaining her technique).

Gregory's performance reminded me that there is an element of "balance" in arabesque which several of the other dances on this thread have either underplayed or fudged -- a clearly articulated descent from pointe. Gregory's are gorgeous.

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Ah...just as Spessivtseva with the set of fish dives in the Adagio, added for her when she danced the role in Diaghilev's production...(at least according to Danilova's memoirs...). Well...isn't that also something we all expect nowadays...? I've also noticed the Russians omit them too in their productions... :(

Yes, I think the two additions had a lot of similarities. Both caught on and you almost always see both the au courrone as well as the fish dives in

Western productions. And the Russians seem to feel the need to mostly ignore both.

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One of the things that I loved about Cynthia Gregory was the way she used balances for musical phrasing throughout her dancing (not just in Rose A, but in general). She didn't just balance in just the big "ta da" moments but really used her ability to balance. For me she showed what pointe work was all about. But that's another topic. Thanks for posting her Rose Adagio.

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OMG! Yes, thank you for posting Cynthia Gregory's "Rose Adagio". I've seen a lot of RAs but this was perfection to me: technique, phrasing, grace, strength, and the ability to convey both the exuberance of youth with an awareness of the 'royalty' (shy dignity, politeness, knowledge of protocol?) of a princess'. I'm sorry I never saw her do it live, but luckily I have many memories of Ms. Gregory in other performances. I don't think I ever found fault with any of them. She was a beautiful dancer, with such strong technique; but she never allowed it to overshadow her artistry. Thanks again for this view.

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