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canbelto

The Russian Back

Do you like the "Russian back"?   40 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you like the "Russian back"?

    • Yes, I think it looks beautiful, graceful, and sensuous.
      38
    • No, I think it looks kind of weird.
      2

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45 posts in this topic

Many of these photos have served to remind me of what the Russian back is not--perpetually bent into a pretzel. Canbelto's point, as I understand it, is not an extreme position, but a continuous curve that appears in even the slightest bend. For example:

Alla Sizova 1

Alla Sizova 2

Compare with:

Alicia Alonso

and

Maria Tallchief

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And here's another comparison. Somewhat same positions, but look at the back:

Alina Cojocaru

What a charming picture of Cojocaru, Canbelto! Are there any more pictures of her on that website? (Tried to find some, but couldn't even find the one you posted this link to)

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What a charming picture of Cojocaru, Canbelto! Are there any more pictures of her on that website? (Tried to find some, but couldn't even find the one you posted this link to)

Yes, there are. They are lovely.

:thanks:

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For backs, I would also include Anna Pavlova and Svetlana Beriosova.

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Wasn't Beriosova trained in England?

Svetlana Beriosova was born into a family of Lithuanian Dancers. Her father, an uncle and two aunts were professional dancers. As a small child she travelled with her father who was a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Cyril Swinson in his book about the artist wrote, "... she came into contact with many great dancers: Vera Nemchinova, Alexandra Danilova, Alicia Markova, Tamara Toumanova, Igor Youskevich, Andre Eglevsky and Leonid Massine. As a child she sat on Fokine's knee and Miassin allowed her to appear in 'Le Beau Danube as the child with a skipping rope." Her first ballet lessons were given to her by her father Nicholas Beriosov and when the family found a permanent home in New York, she went to study with the former Maryinsky dancers Ludmilla Schollar and Anatole Viltzak. According to Swinson, Beriosova made her debut in the corps de ballet of Marquis de Cuevas company when only fourteen. Other sources say it was with the Ottawa Ballet. Later with her father she joined the Metropolitan Ballet in London becoming its leading dancer by the age of 17. Her colleagues within this company included Erik Bruhn, Frank Schaufuss, Alexandre Kalioujny, Poul Gnatt and Leonid Massine. Beriosva left the Metropolitan ballet and joined the Sadlers Wells Ballet. Among the extraordinary qualities of her dancing were her beautiful line, high extensions, a regal carriage of the head and arms and a flow of movement which was the hallmark of the earlier Russian school. As to her back it had both strength and pliancy which led a control of flowing movement bringing a singing quality to her dancing. Was yearning ever so expressed through the use of the back as by Beriosova in her performances of Odette where the plastique of her arabesque matched the emotional and dramatic soaring qualities of Tchaikovsky’s music. Beriosova was a true ballerina by technique, theatrical expression and was a rare dancer of whom it could be said, that her dancing possessed a spiritual quality.

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For me, The Back was Asylmuratova's in "La Bayadere."

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Gorgeous of Bussell, but I can't access Guillem on the Italian site. Do you have to be registered? Can't find where to enter il informazione.

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And how about the men? I remember seeing some photos of a young Nureyev in a book once. I think it was by Alexander Bland. What an arch he had!!! You can also see it in his 1st solo in Les Sylphides on film

in the "Evening With The Royal Ballet" with Fonteyn. Wow!

When I first Carlos Acosta on film, one of the most enduring images I have ever seen happened at the end of his 1st solo in Diana & Acteon. He ends up in a kneeling position- but what a position!!!!! His back is arched backward so far, his head is back and down almost level to his buttocks!!!!

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You can also see it in his 1st solo in Les Sylphides on film

Yes he did! I think that's part of the reason why he and Fonteyn were so successful. He made her more Romantic, more pliant, and she made him more classical. They cross-pollenated each other, to great effect.

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When I first voted "yes" in this poll, I was responding to canbelto's list of ballerinas. When it comes to ballet, I am very much of the double standard school -- what's good for the gander is not necessarily good for the goose (or is it the other way around?). I think many men today show way too much flexibility, both in their legs and their backs. I loved Bart Cook's back -- flexible and masculine at once. But Farouk Ruzimatov, IMO, took it entirely too far. His back's default alignment is hyperextended to start. When he bends back to the max, . . . :) well, let's just call it another case of Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Must.

Editing to add: If you have ABT's subscription brochure, you might want to check the photo on pp. 14-15 -- Vishneva and Saveliev in Swan Lake.

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Adding to Han's reminder that the Back is not just a pretzel, but a continuom of placement that affects even the most minor movements, I have a few pictures:

Alina Cojocaru as Ondine

Cojocaru as Odette

In both pictures, she's not even especially stretching out her back, but you can just sort of see the natural curvature.

For comparisons, here are pictures of Tamara Rojo. Look at the plumb line:

Rojo as Aurora

More Rojo

carbro, I agree about Ruzimatov. In fact, the quality you mentioned is one reason I've never really warmed to Ruzimatov. From what I've seen, a lot of his dancing seems to be more 'showing off' than actually creating a character. Angel Corella had a bit of this when he was younger but he's matured into a serious artist, although he's technically as spectacular as ever.

And for those who want a picture of Rudolf Nureyev's uber-"Russian back", here are a few pictures that show that Rudi could sure arch his back:

Nureyev

For a beautiful picture that really shows how the Russian back is a continuom of arched placement:

Sizova and Nureyev

For a comparison, somewhat similar position, but look at how straight their backs are:

Bruhn and Nerina

Edited by canbelto

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Editing to add: If you have ABT's subscription brochure, you might want to check the photo on pp. 14-15 -- Vishneva and Saveliev in Swan Lake.

carbro, I'm curious. What about Bocca's back in the Manon shot on page 8?

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I don't see much curvature there, kfw. But the line is very expressive, and curving over wouldn't be appropriate.

Your take on it?

.

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carbro, I can't actually see curvature through Bocca's loose shirt, but his chest suggests it to me. Thanks for your response; I asked because I'm trying to sharpen my perceptions via more experenced viewers like yourself. I love Bart Cook's flexibility (in The Four Temperaments video) too.

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I think its 100% dependent on the role that is being danced. If you have a ballet, like Swan Lake, that requires a certain amount of vulnerability. I find it to be a great addition to the ballet to have an extreme arch of the back. It adds greatly to the intensity of the story that is occuring. On the other hand, I think that in ballets that require a more regal approach (like Sleeping Beauty) I think that the extreme arch distracts from the feel of the ballet. Because I find that the more upright a dancer is, the more regal they appear. So an extremely arched back in something like Sleeping Beauty would really ruin the ballet as a whole.

And then there are Balanchine's ballets, which I think require an in between approach. Definitely not the extreme arch, but they don't quite require that regal upright appearance. I find that his ballets are most flattered by extreme extensions, but not necessarily extreme backs. His choreography doesn't need it!

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