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Cynthia GregoryA deeply missed opportunity for me!!


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#16 canbelto

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 04:53 AM

I've seen Gregory on a few things on tape. I think she (like a lot of American ballerinas) have a strong vertical alignment. Russian-trained ballerinas seem to have a much more horizontal alignment. This makes them look very elevated in roles like Odette/Odile or Giselle. The issue today is that I think many American-trained ballerinas still have a very vertical alignment, but they're expected to be all arched back and curved arms and bent elevated legs. Exhibit A I think would be Gillian Murphy's recently televised Odette/Odile. She seems so naturally earth-bound (in a good way) but seemed to be reaching for the Russian look, with mixed results, I must say.

#17 nysusan

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 08:28 PM

I saw a lot of Cynthia Gregory with ABT circa 1968 -76, and I have always been a great admirer of hers. Her tenure overlapped with a few other formidable ballerinas, notably Fracci, van Hamel,Makarova & Kirkland. Gregory was a much more “in control” dancer than Makarova & Kirkland, who were my favorites. She was different, distinctly American (I know that Kirkland is also American but Gregory had a very “open” American quality, very straightforward technical strength plus that vertical alignment that canbelto mentioned). She was a tall, strong ballerina with wonderful timing, a beautiful, clean line and absolutely phenomenal balances.

I saw her in most of her roles at least once, and loved her Swan Lake. She was not a vulnerable Odette, but she was very dramatic & heartbreaking, and her Odile was stunning time after time. I don’t think she fared as well in Giselle or La Sylphide, she was too tall & too sturdy to be convincing in either of those roles. In the classical repertoire I also saw her in ABT’s Sleeping Beauty (act 3), Bayadere (Shades),Tales of Hoffman, Raymonda, and of course, Grand Pas Classique (but never with the cigarette). Of the classical & romantic roles, Swan Lake is the one that stands out in my memory. Her performance was almost the opposite of Makarova’s, but it was equally captivating.

After Swan Lake, I remember her best in modern & dramatic roles. Often I don’t remember a lot of details, just little snippets & impressions. I remember her smoldering with Bruhn in Miss Julie, I remember her Desdemona in the Moor’s Pavane. I saw her & Denard in Unfinished Symphony many times ( I loved her in this, and adored Denard), I remember her strength & sensuousness in the River, and how glorious she & van Hamel were in Tetley's Gemini (ok, I don’t remember the choreography but I remember the unitards).

There is a wonderful, out of print video from 1973 called ABT - A Close-Up in Time. It has some great footage of Gregory. First she does a pas de deux from Swan Lake (Black Swan, I think) then she does the Lake movement from the River. This film also features Christine Sarry, Terry Orr & Marcos Parades in Rodeo, Sallie Wilson in Pillar and Eleanor D’Antuono & Ivan Nagy in Etudes (you can rent it from the Lincoln Center branch of the NYPL).

A year or 2 ago the gallery at Lincoln Center had a show of her ballet drawings that coincided with ABT’s Met season. I kept going back to look at one of her Swan Lake drawings(Odette with Swirls) but couldn’t quite decide whether or not to buy it. After a week or two it was gone and I figured that I had missed my chance. Turns out that my husband bought it for me as an anniversary gift!

GeorgeB fan, thanks for starting this thread & bringing back all those wonderful memories for me!

#18 Giannina

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 06:07 AM

I had the privilege of seeing Gregory in Swan Lake and she was amazing, one of those performances during which you can't believe what you're seeing. She appeared in Sleeping Beauty on TV eons ago and again, she was wonderful and it's my favorite Beauty. She and Bujones had a great partnership; not only were they attuned to each other but they spurred each other on in a "contest" mode: "anything you can do I can do better". Great fun to watch. I read (or heard her say) that American ballerinas (Gregory) were overlooked during Makarova's tenure; I think she had a point.

Giannina

#19 bart

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 11:40 AM

After Swan Lake, I remember her best in modern & dramatic roles. Often I don’t remember  a lot of details, just little snippets & impressions. I remember her smoldering with Bruhn in Miss Julie, I remember her Desdemona in the Moor’s Pavane. I saw her & Denard in Unfinished Symphony many times ( I loved her in this, and adored Denard), I remember her strength & sensuousness in the River, and how glorious she & van Hamel were in Tetley's Gemini (ok, I don’t remember the choreography  but I remember the unitards). 

Thanks, nysusan. Your memories are a great resource. I definitely remember the Desdemona -- and thinking her's was a stronger and more passionate characterization (a victim whose fate was made worse by the fact that she was not one of nature's victims) than you tend to see in the play. I remember Bruhn in Miss Julie, so maybe I saw Gregory, too. It's good to know that ABT dancers excelled in both classical and contemporary work then, as they do now.

#20 drb

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 04:01 PM

...A year or 2 ago the gallery at Lincoln Center had a show of her ballet drawings that coincided with ABT’s Met season. I kept going back to look at one of her Swan Lake drawings(Odette with Swirls) but couldn’t quite decide whether or not to buy it. After a week or two it was gone and I figured that I had missed my chance. Turns out that my husband bought it for me as an anniversary gift!... 

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Thank YOU, NYSusan, for the memories! Regarding Ms. Gregory's show, I made the same mistake as you, but without the happy spousal denouement!
"Big Cyn" was my first American favourite, as my conversion from the Grateful Dead et al to ballet was beginning! Then I discovered vulnerablity, Natasha, Gelsey.... But there is something to say for the Larger-Than-Life stars like Gregory and Nureyev. By the way, I recall when sitting next to her at a performance at the Met, that she was (compared to "normals") a wisp of a woman, I doubt she was as large as, say, Michele W or Maria K. Rudy was pretty small too, surely many of ABT's current men are taller. But they both filled the Met's stage, making it seem as humanly hospitable as City Center's was for most other dancers. Who are today's Larger-Than-Lifers? Probably Sylvie Guillem, perhaps Carlos Acosta? La Sylve also seems to have some of this quality.

#21 Helene

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 07:48 PM

Who are today's Larger-Than-Lifers? 

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This is a great question, and I've opened a new thread for it here:

http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=20512

#22 lardian

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 07:31 PM

Does anybody know what Cynthia Gregory is doing now? Does anybody know where she is? Would love to write her a fan letter. Thanks to anybody whos helps

#23 Helene

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 11:15 PM

Sadly, Google isn't much help in determining a current location or affiliation. However, over the past couple of years:* She was guest faculty for Ballet Academy East's (NYC) Summer Intensive in 2004:
http://www.balletaca...tterMay2005.pdf
(photo on page 2)

* She staged two ballets for the Ohio Ballet in 2005.Raymond Variations (Feb):
http://www.coolcleve...n/INKRM02162005

Grand Pas Classique (May):
http://ohb.sitempowe...performance.cfm
* She was a coach for the 2005 New York International Ballet Competition (NYC):
http://www.festivalb...ews_040405.html
(scroll down)

* She was interviewed in the August/September Pointe Magazine in an article called “STEP IN TIME -- Cynthia Gregory, former ABT prima, talks about what it means to be a ballerina.” She also participated in the Pointe Magazine-sponsored Ballerina Symposium at Nutmeg this past August.

* She's an Honorary Chair for the upcoming (October 24) benefit for Career Transition for Dancers, "That's Entertainment," a gala that “will pay homage to dance as entertainment in our culture - a lively jubilee that highlights a variety of styles from Ballet to Broadway to Break Dance – with a side order of circus arts for fun.” (Big Apple Circus)
http://www.broadwayw....cfm?colid=4585
[/list]There's also a note on the University of Texas website, where ABT has held a summer intensive, that former ABT dancer Jolinda Menendez "is currently producing an art documentary series called 'A Perfect Balance' for PBS that will commence with a biography on ABT luminary Cynthia Gregory." A search for more info about the documentary is coming up blank, and I can't find anything on the PBS website about it.
http://www.utexas.ed...heatre/abt.html

#24 carbro

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 03:57 PM

Ms. Gregory also staged Chopiniana for SAB's 2003 Workshop.

Welcome to BalletTalk, lardian! I hope you'll take a moment to tell us a bit about yourself on our Welcome Page.

#25 lardian

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 08:43 AM

:D Thank you for the information. Looks like Cynthia is keeping busy

Does anybody know what Cynthia Gregory is doing now?  Does anybody know where she is?  Would love to write her a fan letter.  Thanks to anybody whos helps

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#26 lardian

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 08:45 AM

Thank you for the welcome.

Ms. Gregory also staged Chopiniana for SAB's 2003 Workshop.

Welcome to BalletTalk, lardian!  I hope you'll take a moment to tell us a bit about yourself on our Welcome Page.

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#27 Mary J

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 04:56 PM

Cynthia Gregory lives in Greenwich, CT, and I see her out and about in public from time to time. She is still striking, and very gracious when approached.

#28 lardian

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 07:33 PM

Cynthia Gregory lives in Greenwich, CT, and I see her out and about in public from time to time. She is still striking, and very gracious when approached.

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Thank you so much for the information. Cynthia and I danced together as children with various teachers including Carmelita Maracci, David Lichine and Pianieff. She was always gracious and enormously talented.

Thanks again

Dian

#29 4mrdncr

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 02:57 PM

Except for an ABT performance of "Swan Lake" in Tokyo when I was young--and for which unfortunately I have few specific dance-technique memories--I saw her dance live twice that I can recall clearly...

"Swan Lake" which, in comparison to Makarova, Van Hamel, Jaffe, et.al. that same season, I most noticed her almost continuous accent of bird-like flutters in her wrists and the liquidity of her elbows. I have never seen anyone else (including Plisetskaya once) do as many arm flutters as Gregory. At the time, I thought it rather excessive, but it was the first time I saw O-O truly as a swan, not a woman faking it. Consequently, she was also the only one to truly realize that Odile only wears black so the unknowing masses can tell good-girl from bad-girl--ie. Odile is supposed to be the image of Odette to better dupe Siegfried and so swan-like too. And yes, she was always a very strong commanding presence both technically and dramatically on stage; which worked very well for her in the performance of "Miss Julie" I also saw that season. What a perfect role for her that was! Cold, haughty, distraut at times, and using her technique like a weapon. Wow!

As for her partners, I agree Gudonov didn't quite work, but he had his problems then too which contributed. I think I also saw her once with Patrick Bissell. As always the problem was to find a partner who matched her virtuosic technique and had the height to accomodate her on pointe. I agree with the comment that the Bujones-Gregory partnership was more a gala-worthy bravura competitive excercize than a true melding of characters, but it was fun to see them both 'go for it' in performance.

And my latest memory was the one time I was returning from a performance at the Met rather late and simply passed her on the stairs in front of Lincoln Center. :-) At ABT's 2008 Opening Night Gala, I sat across the aisle from her, and spoke briefly with her as we were leaving.

#30 toeprints

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 05:55 PM

I am new to Ballet Talk and just read this forum about Cynthia Gregory. I realize it is a few years old, but I just wanted to share my memory of Cynthia.

I saw her dance Swan Lake in 1979 (April 27) with Rudolf Nureyev at the Met in NY. It was the most phenomenal performance I have ever seen! Rudi was 41 and Cynthia was in her mid-thirties, I guess. They did an encore of Act III - the audience cheered and whistled so much that they just had to do the encore. The encore was actually better than the original pas de deux! The applause was so thunderous, I expected the building to implode. After acknowledging the applause (the crowd expected a second encore), Rudi just wiped his brow and mimed "no more." The two of them were just thrilled, and it showed. Cynthia was a sensational Odile, so alluring and dramatic.

Even though she preferred dancing with tall danseurs, she and Rudi just melded together. Of course, he always stood tall on stage and danced tall. And he was so strong that he could support her very well. Her Odette just broke my heart because it was so heart-felt.

I remember this performance as if it were yesterday.


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