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Kate Lennard

Balanchine Style Question

31 posts in this topic

Hands can be so expressive. If you would prefer that they not talk so much, you might ask that they hold a shape, say to display imaginary rings on the fingers... this would make them more of a shape element rather than a dramatic device... and holding that less natural shape in the fingers might lead to a certain tension that would tend to break at the wrist... whereas hands that were supposed to speak the heart might seem to be more attached through the wrists and arms to that organ. [though assumedly most corps work would also not want a lot of chatty hands]

... just a theory.

Was Gelsey Kirkland famous for broken wrists? She was a Balanchine product in her early days.

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leonid I am not sure what you actually mean when you say..."this side of the pond" Are you living in the US or refering to a different region of the world?. Through my training as an American, with "Balanchine" teachers in the 1960s through the mid 1980s, I was educated to believe that Balanchine was trained in the Vaganova program. There are many Americans of my generation who believe that to be true. When I began studying Vaganova pedagogy in St. Petersburg, Russia one of my most influencial American teachers asked me why I was "interupting" my teaching career with the "adventure" since my roots were based in Vaganova. Having already studied the syllabus in the US, as a teacher, I responded politely knowing that my previous teacher and I were about to part in ideology of teaching. It was a big step in my life as a teacher.

Please do not misunderstand me, I recognize the vast differences between the two programs of study, however there is a similar root as there is in all ballet styles.

LATER...

leonid, I have discovered you are in the UK! Now I understand. :wink:

Balanchine graduated the same year that Vaganova was established as senior pedagogue

and therefore influential teacher at the Leningrad State Choreographic School. His main teachers were two outstanding 'danseur noble' Pavel Gerdt and Samuil Andrianov. Both of these teachers taught in a manner of the 19th century established and developed in Russia from a long line of teachers whose direct influences are

to be found in 18th century France, and Italy. Other teachers would have probably been Alexander Shirayev and Nikolai Legat. In Russia, his choreographic influences as far as I can remember could only have been, Petipa, Fokine, Bourman, Lopukov and Leontiev. Chekrygin, Legat and Petroff. The so called Vaganova system which was developed over a number of years was influenced by her teachers who included Lev Ivanov, Yekaterina Vazem, Christian Johannson, Pavel Gerdt and perhaps most importantly by Olga Preobrajenskaya who had (reputedly) developed a method of teaching which was enlarged upon by Vaganova long after Balanchine left Russia and her first important graduating student was Semyonova in 1925.

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The subject of Balanchine and his style is still evolving. It is commonly believed that Balanchine studied the Vaganova program, which he did not. Vaganova entered Petrograd School, as a teacher, the year of his graduation. She did not become a director until 1934, when Balanchine was already working in the US. His style was definitely influenced by his Russian roots however what he learned in the US did influence his ballets.

Thank you leonid for the supporting historic facts regarding Balanchine's background in schooling in Petrograd. Although the dates of his graduation from Petrograd and entrance of Vaganova as a teacher at the Petrograd school (1921) have always been available, very few actually comprehend the difference between what is today known as the Vaganova Academy and the Petrograd School. The facts have always been clouded, in the US and perhaps elsewhere, maybe by the the marketing of Balanchine. The two schools did/do share the Rossi St. address however the system developed by Vaganova and others was in an infant stage in 1921 when Balanchine graduated. As for when the Petrograd school actually named the codified method of teaching Vaganova, is not known to me. I have not been able to find an actual date. Since the program has been and remains an evolving method, it is also unclear as to when the Soviet government proclaimed this remarkable system of teaching the method for the Soviet bloc nations. Any additional information you are able to provide will be greatly appreciated.

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The subject of Balanchine and his style is still evolving. It is commonly believed that Balanchine studied the Vaganova program, which he did not. Vaganova entered Petrograd School, as a teacher, the year of his graduation. She did not become a director until 1934, when Balanchine was already working in the US. His style was definitely influenced by his Russian roots however what he learned in the US did influence his ballets.

Thank you leonid for the supporting historic facts regarding Balanchine's background in schooling in Petrograd. Although the dates of his graduation from Petrograd and entrance of Vaganova as a teacher at the Petrograd school (1921) have always been available, very few actually comprehend the difference between what is today known as the Vaganova Academy and the Petrograd School. The facts have always been clouded, in the US and perhaps elsewhere, maybe by the the marketing of Balanchine. The two schools did/do share the Rossi St. address however the system developed by Vaganova and others was in an infant stage in 1921 when Balanchine graduated. As for when the Petrograd school actually named the codified method of teaching Vaganova, is not known to me. I have not been able to find an actual date. Since the program has been and remains an evolving method, it is also unclear as to when the Soviet government proclaimed this remarkable system of teaching the method for the Soviet bloc nations. Any additional information you are able to provide will be greatly appreciated.

It was named after Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova in 1957 six years after her death. The method was formally established and printed in 1935. Her best pupils were undoubtedly, Semyonova, Ulanova, Dudinskaya, Osipenko and Kolpakova each one complete artists in their own way. Other of her pupils became ballerina's and taught and coached and have seriously impaired the earlier tradition, by introducing or encouraging gymnastic effects in otherwise highly talented dancers, thus adding a vulgarity today comparable only to their performances I witnessed over 40 years ago.

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Just to add to this discussion, in the "Balanchine" documentary he said that his fondest memories were watching three MT ballerinas: Tamara Karsavina, Olga Spessivtseva, and Agrippina Vaganova. So while he might not have followed Vaganova's teaching method, it was clear that he was greatly influenced by the Imperial Ballet and their style of dancing.

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Certainly, Vaganova was seen by Balanchine. It would have been difficult to see a performance of ballet in Petersburg without seeing her. She wasn't known as the "Queen of Variations" for nothing. She also had a reputation of being a real iron dancer, kind of like Lou Gehrig in American baseball.

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