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Veronika Part: divided opinions?

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Buddy recently posted a review that included a Link to James Wolcott's article in praise of Veronkia Part. I have not seen Part dance, but I've noticed that she is a dancer who seems to divide the experienced posters on Ballet Talk. Some seek out the performances in which she dances; others review performances in which she has appeared almost without mentioning her.

This divergence of opinion has puzzled me.

I was completely captivated by Wolcott's characterization of her as someone who "reminds us of the dangerous beauty of ballet when it tests and surprasses its own formal limits." I thought: whoa !!, this is someone I have to see!

Then I thought: This matter of testing/surprassing formal limits can mean many things. For Wolcott, Part obviously weaves magic. But I can also see how other viewers might be distressed or interpret thing differently.

I was wondering what others think of Part's dancing at ABT. What do you like? What not?

Then Veronika Part arrived on the nova express to remind us of the dangerous beauty of ballet when it tests and surpasses its own formal limits. [ ... ] Part snapped the eyes to attention the moment she appeared. She so refreshed and revitalized "Emeralds" that had I been Peter Martins I would have thrown myself into the Lincoln Center fountains from shame or, better yet, offered to trade three corps dancers and a pitcher to be named later to the Kirov to get her under contract.

NYCB's loss was American Ballet Theatre's gain as Part joined the company as a soloist in 2002. On July 4th, after a miserable long weekend that need not be recounted, I went to see her at the Met as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, and felt resurrected. I haven't been this knocked sideways at the ballet since Baryshnikov exploded from the cannon. Not that Part indulged in pyrotechnics. She isn't Sylvie Guillem showing off her leggy Rockettes kicks. It's that she has the super-alive sharp focus of an artist incapable of betraying her artistry with false moves and conditioned responses. She savors every moment on stage as if it were newly minted. She's shaved off a few pounds since I last saw her while managing to lose none of her plushness, perhaps because the loss of weight has added more regal confidence. No dancer alive uses her wrists and hands with more calligraphy than Part, their elegant air-tracings suddenly whipped into force when she swoops her arm away from a suitor in a tai chi semicircle--yin instantly tranformed into yang. In act two in an allegro passage, her swan arms beat as her toeshoes stabbed the floor with diagonal slashes. In act three as Odile, she was an imperial presence, her eyes in supreme command, and the fact that I even noticed her eyes was an astonishment--you almost never notice dancers' eyes, they're so doll-like and disciplined.

Here's the link to the complete article: http://jameswolcott.com/archives/2005/07/finally_a_reaso.php

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I am one who seeks out Veronika Part. Woolcott had a hard time trying to describe her artistry and I don't think I will do any better. Perhaps, it's her presence, her demeanor. For me, I prefer dancers who don't make me think of technique---it's comfortably there, but not uppermost. Part does this for me; Farrell had the same quality.

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I think she's fantastic and wish they used her more.

I saw her for the first time last year in Swan Lake--

I don't think I've ever been moved to tears in the first white swan PdD before, but she was just incredible.

There was less flash in her black swan than in Annaniashvili (who has been my favorite Odette/Odile for many years now), but she was just magnificent.

I also saw the Vishneva Giselle which was categorized as one of those performances that blow you away.

I have to say, it didn't for me, but Part's Swan Lake really did.

She's doing one Swan Lake again, a matinee on weds. I'd recommend going and seeing for yourself :)

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I am one who seeks out Veronika Part. Woolcott had a hard time trying to describe her artistry and I don't think I will do any better. Perhaps, it's her presence, her demeanor. For me, I prefer dancers who don't make me think of technique---it's comfortably there, but not uppermost. Part does this for me; Farrell had the same quality.

As Myrtha it definitely was her stage presence (for me). Her jumps were excellent.

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I have enjoyed Part every time I've seen her, but she would be better off if she were stronger. When I've seen her she's had the wobbles in promenades and her feet are prone to collapse off of pointe. She's unquestionably an artist, but still.

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I'm sorry but I saw Part in a small roll in ABT's Silvia in Orange County. I had never seen her before and was quite surprised that she is quite big for a soloist and found myself distracted by that while watching her dance.

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I'm sorry but I saw Part in a small roll in ABT's Silvia in Orange County. I had never seen her before and was quite surprised that she is quite big for a soloist and found myself distracted by that while watching her dance.

Do you mean she's fat by dancer standards?

I hardly think so. I would say she's probably smaller that Gillian Murphy, but if not she's not considerably larger.

She is tall and she moves large--when I saw her as Myrtha it was noticable the way she devoured the stage with her leaps.

If this:

http://www.abt.org/images/db_images/news/slpart1ro.jpg

or

http://www.for-ballet-lovers-only.com/Afb/Part4.jpg

or

http://www.ballet.co.uk/links/img/veronika_part.jpg

Is your idea of too large, then clearly you value different things in your dancers than I do.

Now if you said you were distracted by her 40s movie star beauty, well then you might have a point! ;)

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I clicked on the links, and I'm in love, and I haven't even seen her dance. But Part is my kind of dancer, with wide shoulders and long, muscular legs, what I'd call "juicy."; there aren't that many very thin dancers that I've liked, although there have been exceptions.

The topic is "divided opinions," and in a number of discussions of Part on this board, physique is one of the things on which opinions on Part are divided.

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I clicked on the links, and I'm in love, and I haven't even seen her dance. But Part is my kind of dancer, with wide shoulders and long, muscular legs, what I'd call "juicy."; there aren't that many very thin dancers that I've liked, although there have been exceptions.

The topic is "divided opinions," and in a number of discussions of Part on this board, physique is one of the things on which opinions on Part are divided.

It was her artistry in SL, more than her physique (though on the whole, I'd probably agree with you), that I found so compelling about her.

My feeling about body type is that, within reason, it's besides the point.

I've loved dancers of many different body types--and I still remember uncomfortably the criticism Tina LeBlanc (of Joffrey in the 90s) got for having *gasp* breasts.

Totally Off topic--but I see you are from Seattle--do you happen to know a tiny company based out of edmonds? Olympic Ballet Theater?

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The title of the Wolcott piece always cracks me up. I've seen Part as Terpsichore, Odette/Odile, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Zulma, Lady Capulet, and as the lead in Ballet Imperial, where she fought with her technique and the ballet and the audience won. She must be glorious in Emeralds. She's regal and womanly rather than girlish. She's altogether lovely, a dancer I'd go to see in a ballet I don't really care for. atm711, I hope you'll post after her upcoming Swan Lake!

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I'm sorry but I saw Part in a small roll in ABT's Silvia in Orange County. I had never seen her before and was quite surprised that she is quite big for a soloist and found myself distracted by that while watching her dance.

Clearly, size matters. However, I suspect that dancers of this body type may not do well in small parts which require the ability to fade away as soon as the solo turn is over. Maybe bigger dancers benefit from bigger parts.

The specific technical points described by Leigh raise another issue. So, I have a question for the dancers and/or teachers here: how possible is it, once problems like this have been identified, for the dancer to train them away?

I've never known whether those dancers who have technical blips over their entire careers continue to have them because (a) they don't know it, (b) they don't care much, © they've tried to remedy them but have been unable to do so.

When you have so much artistry, and are so close to a kind of perfection, it seems a shame not to go all the way.

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I am a huge fan of Veronika Part and I try to go see all of her performances but it is obvious that despite her greatness, she is working against certain handicaps. Her size is definitely an issue. A couple of years ago she had put on some weight, and if you saw her then you might have been taken aback by it. She has lost all the excess weight and is now quite svelte, but she’s still very tall and I can see how that can be a problem for some people in terms of their perception of a role ( for instance, some people could never accept Cynthia Gregory as Giselle – and I’m not sure I’d want to see Part as Giselle, either!).

For me, her height is only problematic in terms of partnering. It’s tough to find a partner for her, and even with her best partner (Gomes) the partnering can be kind of rough sometimes.

In terms of her dancing, much of Part’s brilliance is in her upper body – it’s so flexible and expressive. Yet so are her developees and arabesques – her line is awesome. Her technique is more than adequate but she does struggle sometimes with the most demanding footwork (she is not particularly an allegro dancer) and sometimes stamina has been a problem. One of the most impressive things about Part is how hard she works to remedy her technical shortcomings. She struggled some with Ballet Imperial and Mozartianna a couple of seasons ago, but as kfw said - she won and the audience was the better for it - she gave absolutely beautiful, magical performances

But, Part’s most impressive characteristics are the intangibles – I’m paraphrasing here - she has that ability to “draw you into a universe created out of her own imagination, a universe of which she is the center”.

If you love allegro dancers Part will not impress you. If you love adagio dancers she is a dream come true. If your preference in ballerinas tends to the delicate and small then Part is not your girl. She is a big, lush, beautiful woman.

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I've seen Part in many of the roles described above but also Raymonda with ABT and Maria in "The Fountain at Bakchisirai", "Emeralds", "Symphony in C" and the Lilac Fairy in "Sleeping Beauty" with the Kirov.

She is an old school dancer of a highly individualistic type that is out of sync with todays streamlined, fast and virtuosic ideal. Her upper body and arms weave spells. In "Raymonda" she seemed to be summoning Glazunov's gorgeous melodies out of the orchestra with her epaulement and port de bras. However, she also tipped off balance in multiple pirouettes and had trouble holding position when being lifted by Marcelo Gomes. It was not Gomes' fault. Quick changes in direction and allegro work can faze her and glitches will happen. I sometimes have suspected some weakness in the ankles. However, she also has very strong legs and is a good jumper. As the Queen of the Dryads in "Don Quixote" she had excellent Italian fouettes, strong developees and a huge leap.

She is a dancer who thrives on adagio and likes to stretch out the steps and elongate the line. She also slows down tempos. People think that this always makes things easier but it also requires strength to sustain the physical movements. She does sustain them and almost always seamlessly. As a dancer she is always interesting even when or especially when she is miscast. In "Ballet Imperial" her lush sad Russian presence turned a glittery showpiece into a tragic romance - Anna Karenina's last dance in the Imperial ballroom. Maybe she didn't do a few steps quick enough, blurred some transitions and slowed down the tempo but you never saw the ballet look like that before and it was gorgeous.

I don't know anything first hand or in print about her relationship with the ABT staff and coaches but her casting suggests that there may be areas where support is lacking. Kolpakova as a coach brings a Kirov sensibility to ABT and might have taken Veronika under her wing (she is a taskmaster) as she did with Susan Jaffe, who had weaknesses in her early ABT career and emerged stronger. That may not have happened between them. Part had a weight gain when she joined ABT but she is in fighting shape now. However she spent almost all of her first two years slinging herself around in blue jeans in the "Harrison Tribute" because someone didn't want to put her in tights and toe shoes. The Balanchine people seem to have a lot of faith in her because she is always used in Balanchine (Mozartiana, Apollo, Ballet Imperial) revivals at ABT even though she is not an obvious Balanchine dancer. Peter Quanz used her in "Kaleidoscope" which wasn't a big success but was a high profile premiere.

What is distressing is that she made big strides in the Spring and Fall 2005 seasons at ABT in casting. Nina Ananiashvili's absence opened up opportunities for her (Ballet Imperial, Raymonda) that she took on with striking results. The Fall season at City Center saw her used in premieres (Kaleidoscope) and important revivals (Apollo, Les Sylphides). However, after those advances she is now stuck with two Terpsichores, two Myrthas, one Wednesday matinee Odette/Odile and parts like Twig in "Cinderella"and the 3rd Odalisque in "Le Corsaire". There was talk that she would be Lescaut's mistress in "Manon" but that didn't happen.

She is 28 and should be working into her greatest period. ABT has to decide whether they are going to mold her into a star or let her go and become one elsewhere. But they have to have faith in her. I don't think she has let them down despite her flaws. I remember vividly Susan Jaffe stepping off pointe as a young ballerina and Julie Kent stumbling in turns as well. They were gorgeous dancers and the company gave them roles to grow on. Part deserves the same.

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The specific technical points described by Leigh raise another issue. So, I have a question for the dancers and/or teachers here: how possible is it, once problems like this have been identified, for the dancer to train them away?

bart, having watched V. Part as a student in St. Petersburg (final two years of school), a performer in St. Petersburg and in ABT, my opinion is that the "flaws" (the word of FauxPas, not mine) have been ever present, might be fixable with the right coach/teacher and the dedicated, believing mind of the dancer who wants to make the changes. Who knows what might have happened had she stayed in Russia? :tiphat:

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She is an old school dancer of a highly individualistic type that is out of sync with todays streamlined, fast and virtuosic ideal. Her upper body and arms weave spells. .....

She is a dancer who thrives on adagio and likes to stretch out the steps and elongate the line. She also slows down tempos. People think that this always makes things easier but it also requires strength to sustain the physical movements. She does sustain them and almost always seamlessly.

I agree completely. She's a very rate type -- a danseuse noble -- which is why she was so wonderful as Lilac in the Kirov's old/new "Beauty" and why she's so gorgeous in adagio. She's not built to do quick turns!

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"A danseuse noble". Alexandra, that's perfect, that's what Part is!

Her body, which has provided much food for thought, is, in its natural standing state, a different kind of body than one would expect to see on a ballet dancer. She is S-shaped, from the side. Her shoulder carriage is bent forward while her upper back curves back to make the top of the "S", her hips completing the shape by tilting first forward, then slightly back at the top of her leg. I was a bit astonished at this when she walked to the barre for class. [she was guesting for Nutcracker (as Snow Queen and lead in Waltz of the Flowers) with the Canadian Ballet Theatre and took class with the advanced students (as did Svetlana Lunkina). We have big windows to watch from.]

I wondered how she would straighten that strange shape when she began to work out. The transformation was at the first plié, of course, and everything pulled up and out, as it should. She was bone thin, but her bones themselves are larger than Lunkina's bones, for example. That is why she gives a larger appearance on stage, I guess. Her waist is actually quite small, her hips narrow, but the shoulders seem to be what focus the observer.

Her height was somewhat of a detriment on the small stage we saw her on at Toronto's Wintergarden Theatre. It's more of a boutique theatre, certainly not intended for ballet, and Part covered its expanse in two grand jetés, ending right by the wing from which she left the stage. She needs to be seen on a large stage that she can really use to be appreciated. The audience only gave her polite applause, except for me!, and I was disappointed that she was not seen for the great artist she is. Lunkina, in the main role, brought down the house.

As to her physical stature next to that of Gillian Murphy, she is taller and bigger-boned. Her curvaceousness also gives her more dimension in comparison to Murphy, for example, who is more flat-shaped, back and front, as well as in her leg and foot. (I've seen her take class, too.) Part has curves happening up and down her body. Her arms and hands do wondrous things with their ability to form shapes, her legs are ideally curved and toned -- she has the much desired "ballet leg" -- her feet are sensually curvy. There's nothing linear about her!

I, too, wish ABT gave the audience more of her as she clearly has an unofficial claque -- rather, "fan club"-- and, it better be soon, given her advancing years. :P

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I find Veronika Part a totally compelling and beautiful dancer. I'm glad this topic was started -- and it's funny, because I've sometimes considered posting something asking just that: can anyone put their finger on it and explain it, just what IS it about her that is so totally regal and beautiful? Someone said it was "intangible," and perhaps it is. I had mixed feelings about her when I first saw her perhaps two years ago, because I love technical razzle-dazzle, as in Gillian Murphy, and Part definitely cannot pull that off. I agree with the poster who said she seems weak in the ankles, and at times when she's turning, it's like those long legs just get away from her. She has definitely lost weight this season, however, and as someone said on the main ABT thread recently, she appears no taller or heavier than Michele Wiles. As I say, her technical shortcomings are evident, and yet, and yet... there is no ABT dancer I would rather see. I do wish very much she would get promoted and get plenty more opportunities to dance, and ABT, if you're out there reading this, I think you'll find she will sell tickets for you!

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Veronika Part will be performing Symphonie Concertante at tomorrow's Opening Night Gala (Oct.18, 6:30 PM) and also on Oct.21 (2 PM) and Oct.25 (7:30 PM).

She will be performing the Swan Lake Act. II pas de deux Oct. 28 (2 PM).

http://www.abt.org/performances/calendar_index1.asp

Anyone who sees any of these, I would love to hear your impressions.

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I don't know if this was mentioned on the BT, but there was a long article in the New Yorker and much of it was about Veronika Part.

I sent an email to Ms Part about the article and she emailed back inviting me to her performance on Wednesday. That came as a surprise!

I'll be there, but I am not a dance critic. Are opening Galas different than a regular performance.. other than the program seems to be "mixed"?

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Good for you, SanderO! How nice of Ms. Part!

ABT's whole fall season is mixed bills. Galas start earlier and have better dressed audience in the pricey seats.

Generally, the company makes an effort to allow each and all of its principals to appear on stage at some point in a gala.

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I don't know if this was mentioned on the BT, but there was a long article in the New Yorker and much of it was about Veronika Part.

I sent an email to Ms Part about the article and she emailed back inviting me to her performance on Wednesday. That came as a surprise!

I'll be there, but I am not a dance critic. Are opening Galas different than a regular performance.. other than the program seems to be "mixed"?

What addition of New Yorker? I can't seem to find it.

Have a great time Wednesday. Report back!!

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That article is from The New Criterion - about two years old.

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Just took a quick look. This seems to be about Maya Plisetskaya, with just one mention of Veronika Part.

Sorry.

[added by Buddy several minutes later. Okay, it's about Azari "Plisetsky" and I won't say another word until I finish reading it.]

[added hours later by Buddy. It's a very nice article anyway.]

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