Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Best "Balancing Acts" You've Seen??


  • Please log in to reply
48 replies to this topic

#16 Colleen Boresta

Colleen Boresta

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 351 posts

Posted 06 June 2010 - 04:17 AM

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.

#17 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,758 posts

Posted 06 June 2010 - 05:02 AM

Elisabeta Terabust!

#18 4mrdncr

4mrdncr

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 670 posts

Posted 06 June 2010 - 02:03 PM

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.

#19 Gina Ness

Gina Ness

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 255 posts

Posted 06 June 2010 - 11:59 PM

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!

#20 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 18 August 2010 - 11:38 AM

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!!



#21 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,332 posts

Posted 18 August 2010 - 12:06 PM

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

#22 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,646 posts

Posted 18 August 2010 - 06:20 PM

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.

#23 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:09 AM

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:

#24 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,332 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:47 AM

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.

#25 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 09:05 AM

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

#26 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 09:44 AM

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!



#27 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,332 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:10 AM

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.

#28 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 07:14 PM

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.

#29 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 08:01 PM

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:

#30 GeorgeB fan

GeorgeB fan

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 252 posts

Posted 19 August 2010 - 09:11 PM

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.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):