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Firestone Dances tape

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#1 Giannina


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Posted 13 April 2005 - 02:45 PM

I think there was a forum devoted to this tape but I can't find it. I recently bought the tape "Firestone Dances", filmed in 1962 and 1963, and it's very interesting. Of note is Kirsten Simone and Henning Kronstam dancing the pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty. Kronstam is very young; such a treat to see him. Also of great interest are Jacques d'Amboise and, particularly, Melissa Hayden dancing the "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux". I've seen snippets of Hayden but this tape shows her talent and speed. Her solos are wonderful; they are danced faster than I've ever seen them danced and Hayden is a whirling dervish. She does trip up briefly in the second solo but by that time you'll forgive her anything. At the end of the first part of the pas de deux there's a fish-dive-type of move/lift; d'Amboise and Hayden perform that move slooooooly, showing strength and beauty. Great stuff.


#2 Marga


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Posted 13 April 2005 - 03:33 PM

I was just re-watching that tape last week. It is quite extraordinary! I always forget how fast Hayden danced! And Tallchief, too.

I was quite in love with Jacques D'Amboise back then, and this video displays his youthful charm and power. He proved that every male principal doesn't have to have perfectly pointed feet to be a danseur noble. His footwork, indeed legwork, was so swift, his manner so elegant, his partnering so strong and attentive, his presence so commanding, his looks so handsome, that Balanchine had an incredible drawing card in him. Pairing him later with Suzanne Farrell was another coup in marketing a perfect partnership.

In "Makes Me Feel Like Dancin' ", made decades later, we are still witness to his tremendous energy and infectious passion for dance.

#3 bart


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Posted 13 April 2005 - 04:52 PM

Giannina, thanks for the reference to this video. I've seen bits and pieces -- everything BUT the d'Amboise-Hayden bit, apparently -- and will definitely seek it out for my collection. d'Amboise was, indeed, an "incredible drawing card" during the 50s and 60s. My favorite pairing in the early days was Hayden, and I can still see him in my visual memory. It's uplifting that both are still contributing so much to ballet.

I wonder why, despite his long career, great popularity, real stage presence, and impressive dancing, d'Amboise has not gotten more attention in memoirs of NYCB in that period. Edward Villella's memories are rather negative, as I recall. Farrell, on the other hand, credits him as a partner, teacher and coach. Do any writers try to capture and analyze the quality of his dancing?

Three sets of images come to mind right now: a very young d'Amboise in Faun; an Apollo with genuine feeling and drama (and with Farrell, too); and the man attending, supporting and adoring (when called for) a variety of great female dancers.

#4 Helene



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Posted 13 April 2005 - 05:00 PM

Farrell, on the other hand, credits him as a partner, teacher and coach. 


Merrill Ashley, in Dancing for Balanchine, also speaks about d'Amboise's influences on her career and development, first for including her in the demonstration/touring groups of young dancers that he arranged for a number of years, and second, by casting her in one of his ballets (IIRC Saltarelli?). Ashley said that Balanchine looked at her differently after she danced the lead in that ballet.

Ashley was roughly ten years behind Farrell at NYCB.

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