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Darcey Bussell,why so little "talk" about her on Ballet Talk


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#61 bart

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 03:12 PM

[ ... ] more or less the best thing I had seen at the State theater of that time since the retirement of Farrell--and the innocent-yet-erotic quality that invested her dancing was extraordinary.

At intermission we looked at each other and said "Farrell!" Not just for her beauty and dancing. Farrell is the most moving dancer I have ever seen, so for me Darcey is very moving.

This may explain my fascination with Bussell -- the impulse which got me to start this thread so long ago.

I can't speak to the matter of what they share technically. I'm thinking of the way their dancing suggests a rich inner existence being experienced as they they move through space -- a calmness (even in allegro) and deep pleasure in the act of dancing. Like the practioners of certain religions, they draw strength and meaning from within, though this has nothing in common with self-reliance or self-expression. It's also quite distinct, also, from the emotionalism or piety or various kinds of projecting outward that usually passes for "spiritual" in the vocabulary of dance journalists.

#62 4mrdncr

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 11:58 AM

News on books by Bussell:

  • The paperback edition of Pilates for Life is available for pre-order on amazon.com for release on 25 April 2007
  • Darcey Bussell's Dance Body Workout, published 2007 in paperback, is available from Dance Books Ltd.



I saw and perused both books, which were on sale at the ROH store, and in Borders, when I was in London last week. Interesting thing about the Pilates book, the warm-up was basic Pilates, however the latter half of the book was essentially a complete ballet barre done while lying supine with her feet pressed against the wall. Not quite Pilates, but still a good workout, though modified for aging bodies not classically trained?

Anyways, maybe Borders or amazon.uk will have them available sooner than the U.S. debut dates if you're interested.

#63 ami1436

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 12:05 PM

Interesting - her Pilates for Life video/dvd is different then! It is a good dvd - and an intense workout.

#64 innopac

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 01:30 AM

Quotes from the cover article, "Turning Point" by Valerie Lawson in the Good Weekend magazine of The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2008, Cover photo and pages 18-22.

In July, Bussell, with her husband, became a shareholder in a newly registered company, Daltina. That seems to signal a new business venture, perhaps involving their plan to market a number of BBC-TV films of her performances at the Royal Opera House.

* * *

She is also planning to update her autobiography published a decade ago, and next month HarperCollins will publish six of a planned 12 books for girls under eight, in which the heroine, a little dancer called Delphie, joins a curious old ballet school run by Madam Zarakova and enters a magical world called Enchantia.

HarperCollins in London came up with the concept, asked Bussell to lend her name as author, and enlisted an English ghost writer. Bussell gave advice on the ballet steps described in the books and checked the illustrations, objecting to the original depiction of Madam Zarakova "as skinny, tall, dressed all in grey with her hair straight back in a terrible bun. I said, 'I'm really sorry but I don't remember any of my teachers like that', so I described how I wanted her to be."



#65 Rebeccadb

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:38 AM

I have been lucky enough to see Darcey Bussell in practically every role she has danced for the Royal Ballet since 1992 & have no truck with the comments that say she never deepened her performances, interpretations or technique. Her Aurora was special & the way she phrased the choreography was unique that I have never seen anyone better it & her Odette/Odile certainly grew & matured over the years especially with her epaulement in her last show in 2005 which was so expressive & fluid as to be a revelation. There are no other RB dancers that come close to matching her use of epaulement in this role. I also saw her dance Prince of the Pagodas & Winter Dreams & can report that there was a reason MacMillan used her lovely arabesques as a leitmotif- they tell a story on their own & are quite simply beautiful tobehold.

She was also a gifted Balanchine interpreter with her Terpsichore in Apollo being particularly effective & her sexually charged Agon & 4 Temperaments. Her dancing in these ballets has often divided audiences who like to see her in the narrative ballets, but I believe one of her strengths was that her training enabled her to turn her hand & feet to any style & ballet she was cast in. She found drama in Balanchine & choreographers clearly loved working with her. Most of Wheeldon's ballets are hymns to her qualities.

She succeeded with R&J & Giselle when critics said she was too tall or not suited to these ballets & after the birth of her 2 girls she returned to the stage stronger than ever technically & with new dramatic insights. Anyone who witnessed her Requiem or Das Lied von Der Erde couldn't deny that her performances were empty or lacking feeling because they weren't.

I can understand why she retired when she did at her peak, but really we could have had one or 2 more seasons socking gorgeous performances to us across the footlights. Our loss is Australia's gain!!

#66 volcanohunter

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 09:04 PM

It was produced eleven years ago, but Classical TV has posted this BBC profile of Darcey Bussell. It's about an hour long and is divided into two parts. At the conclusion of the first part, you should get a station ID, followed by the second half of the program.

http://www.classical...ssell-a-profile

Apropos the BT discussion about the glamour ladies of ballet, the program brings up all sorts of issues about ballerina image.

#67 JMcN

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Posted 12 July 2009 - 03:46 AM

Darcy Bussell is going to be a guest judge on Strictly Come Dancing this Autumn.

http://www.bbc.co.uk..._strictly.shtml

http://www.telegraph...ancing-act.html

#68 leonid17

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 02:14 PM

I have been lucky enough to see Darcey Bussell in practically every role she has danced for the Royal Ballet since 1992 & have no truck with the comments that say she never deepened her performances, interpretations or technique. Her Aurora was special & the way she phrased the choreography was unique that I have never seen anyone better it & her Odette/Odile certainly grew & matured over the years especially with her epaulement in her last show in 2005 which was so expressive & fluid as to be a revelation. There are no other RB dancers that come close to matching her use of epaulement in this role. I also saw her dance Prince of the Pagodas & Winter Dreams & can report that there was a reason MacMillan used her lovely arabesques as a leitmotif- they tell a story on their own & are quite simply beautiful tobehold.

She was also a gifted Balanchine interpreter with her Terpsichore in Apollo being particularly effective & her sexually charged Agon & 4 Temperaments. Her dancing in these ballets has often divided audiences who like to see her in the narrative ballets, but I believe one of her strengths was that her training enabled her to turn her hand & feet to any style & ballet she was cast in. She found drama in Balanchine & choreographers clearly loved working with her. Most of Wheeldon's ballets are hymns to her qualities.

She succeeded with R&J & Giselle when critics said she was too tall or not suited to these ballets & after the birth of her 2 girls she returned to the stage stronger than ever technically & with new dramatic insights. Anyone who witnessed her Requiem or Das Lied von Der Erde couldn't deny that her performances were empty or lacking feeling because they weren't.

I can understand why she retired when she did at her peak, but really we could have had one or 2 more seasons socking gorgeous performances to us across the footlights. Our loss is Australia's gain!!

The problem for me and for others was that Miss Bussell never fulfilled the ballerina status in any sense of the word and I saw her dance every role she was given by the Royal Ballet. She was for me a marketed product that was not that well bought, by the regular knowledgeable paying audience.

She was not a Kolpakova or an Osipenko, nor a Komleva or Yevteyeva or a Bessmertnova, or a Maximova or Ananiashvilli nor a Asylmuratova, not even a Nerina and definitely not Sibley that alone a Wells and certainly not a Seymour, Beriosova, Samsova, Haydee or a Chauvire or Fonteyn. There are also a good few others to mention that were greater artists than Miss Bussell.

I give her full marks for trying as it is impossible not to give her full marks for trying. Sadly upon often viewing, that is what she became for me, trying.

#69 bart

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:45 PM

:) Simon G's reply to leonid was inadvertently deleted and cannot be retrieved. I pm'd you, Simon, explaining and apologizing. It would be wonderful if you could repost. Your approach to Bussell's career at the Royal raises issues that haven't appeared in this thread so far.

#70 leonid17

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:36 PM

At 3.00 am I was suddenly wide awake from a deep sleep and I immediately thought I would reply to Simon G and I penned something and then discovered I could not find his post to answer points he had raised.
As I was awake I ploughed on.

I can only write from the point of view of my own appreciation of individual dancers which has been formed by greater connoisseurs of the art than me and the dancers I have seen.

To become a ballerina, one expects a principal dancer to have much more than the technique or the ability to give a fully dramatic evocation of a role. They have to suspend their off-stage personality to achieve an envelopment of a role in a process that suspends the critical faculty of the audience, drawing them in to that highly achieved creative act of both the story telling choreographer and the significant composer.

Many dancers can exhibit the technique required for a role and many can add a layer of dramatic expression that catches an unsophisticated audience who become emotionally linked with a performance.
It is here, that the blurring of the lines between a dancer and a ballerina becomes difficult to ascertain. Has there been the appropriate technical expression or have we only seen perhaps, the outstanding technical ability of a particular dancer. Or, have we seen a brilliant dramatic theatrical expression that goes beyond the balletic expression.

There have been in my time a number of powerfully dramatic principal dancers whose metier, given they had a voice to match, seemed more appropriate to the legitimate theatre. The blurring of the lines is a difficult one for a ballet connoisseur when spectacular dramatic force of a performer is witnessed. If I particularise such dancers as Lynn Seymour, Marcia Haydee and Alexandra Ferri, two of these important dancers, despite their full-bloodied dramatic performances, never went beyond what was generally considered acceptable but one other, left the role behind and we witnessed a performer laying on layer after layer of dramatic expression which pleased an unknowledgeable audience.

It is in the becoming of the role in either a seemingly minor or major key, here one might example Beriosova and Seymour, that the dancers complete mastery of transforming story telling as a truly balletic art form, enables them to triumph.

A ballerina is a dancer who in performance selflessly commits herself to become a role at a level where you stop seeing the dancer as a person as they become one with the art of the choreographer and composer meeting them at an equivalent level of inspiration.

I have friends who always found Darcey Bussell to be the perennial school-girl even when the role was clearly that of a mature woman. I know what they mean, although I cannot absolutely concur with this opinion. I think it was something to do with the athleticism of Miss Bussellís build and her attack on the choreography, which lacked an organic expression.

Miss Bussell was a hardworking dancer of that there is no doubt and her physical attraction was undoubtedly recognisable to many in an audience. In London, it appeared to me that she had a strong female following. For me it was in the lack of her becoming a role and instead performing the role that always found me applauding her because her achievements were real, but I never cheered her. Darcey Bussell was a significant dancer, of that there is no doubt. Ballerina? Not for me.

Darcey Bussell in her last years with the Royal was in competition as a favourite dancer with Tamara Rojo and Alina Cojocaru. She retired aged 38 remaining a very English type of girl and woman and I think that was part of her attraction to a large section of the audience in London and perhaps elsewhere.

Alistair Macaulay gave her a valedictory review in the NYT for her last performance with the Royal Ballet. [url="http://www.nytimes.c...arc.html?_r=1"]

PS
Now that the sun is rising I am going back to bed.

#71 Alexandra

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:32 AM

Here is the inadvertently deleted post, bu SIMON G. (Note that originally it preceded Leonid's post above, and many thanks to our poster who forwarded us the text. It was in the email notification sent to those who'd subscribed to the thread.)

Here's Simon's post:

Leonid,

I think it's kind of unfair to lay so much blame on Bussell, I do agree
that she never became what she could have done, but she came to
prominence in that incredibly difficult period of Dowell's directorship
when he didn't have a clue what to do with a company which had been
bruised and battered by previous artisitic mis-management and sadly
Dowell himself seemed equally clueless as to developing talent.

All those Royal ballerinas you mention had one thing in common, Ninette
De Valois who had a genius of finding and nurturing ballerinas.

Bussell wasn't the only casualty of Dowell's regime and indeed she
faired considerably better than most; Dowell was in thrall to Guillem at
the expense of his own dancers, he never hot housed talent or pushed
them technically in any meaningful way, the quality of male dancing
deteriorated to rock bottom and he destroyed the Royals classical
heritage, or what was left of it by production designs of such egregious
excess for the classics - and I don't think it was intentional on his
part, he just didn't have the cujones or eye to lead the company
properly.

Bussell was a potential ballerina in a company led by a man who didn't
know what to do with ballerinas. Guillem got to do whatever she wanted
and indeed the success of her career with the Royal was down to her
micro-management - she didn't put up with any crap, whereas Bussell by
her own admission felt obliged to be a good girl and do whatever was
asked of her - her career was no less aimless than the company itself.
The only other ballerina of note promoted of Dowell Sarah Wildor had
been so neglected in terms of developing her technique she was unable to
dance the classics. ---Simon G

#72 leonid17

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 11:45 AM

Here is the inadvertently deleted post, bu SIMON G. (Note that originally it preceded Leonid's post above, and many thanks to our poster who forwarded us the text. It was in the email notification sent to those who'd subscribed to the thread.)

Here's Simon's post:

Leonid,

I think it's kind of unfair to lay so much blame on Bussell, ...


I re-read my post and I think I do not lay personal blame on Miss Bussell but merely comment that she did not for me become a real interpretative artist. I think in my later post I confirm her abilities but they were for me left wanting.

I agree with your analysis of the Dowell regime, but I would also say I feel there was a desperation in the camp to present a leading English dancer of the Royal Ballet as a proto ballerina. What you say about her lack of appropriate development by Dowell, may well have played a part in her not reaching greater heights. I personally never saw such a potential in Miss Bussell.

#73 FauxPas

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 06:31 AM

Darcey Bussell was like the other Darci, Darci Kistler, in that she was the final muse of a major choreographer - Darci for Balanchine and Darcey for Kenneth MacMillan. Though I am not sure that "Winter Dreams" and "The Prince of the Pagodas" are major ballets, I think that with his death she was left without a guiding artistic force. Also, Darcey seems to me to have at a certain point put a lot of energy into her personal life and family which many other ballerinas (many in Leonid's list) decided to forego to concentrate on their careers.

I don't know how much Darcey Bussell grew as an actress but I think that the Royal Ballet repertoire favors dance actresses. A pure technician isn't going to thrive there or shine in large parts of their repertoire. I think that after her baby, Bussell lost some of her technical ability and depended on personal charm.

#74 Mashinka

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 07:28 AM

I seem to remember that Prince of the Pagodas became a major ballet when Nina Ananiashvili danced the lead.

What struck me most about Bussell's career was that it was very media driven and that her time with the RB coincided with a big push to sell the company to the general public. If I remember rightly, pre-Bussell it was Bryony Brind a dancer with a lot more potential who was wheeled out for media attention, but there was far more attention focussed on Bussell than there ever was on Brind.

#75 Drew

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Posted 15 July 2009 - 08:00 AM

I don't think that for a ballet dancer the alternative need be dance actress versus pure technician. There is a kind of dancer who may not be a great "actress" in the manner of Haydee or Seymour, but whose movement has an interpretive power and grace, a richness of quality, beauty of line and shape, and/or responsiveness to music that the phrase "pure technician" does not really capture (though I think I understand what Faux Pas was getting at...). Farrell was not an "actress" but she immersed herself nonetheless within the roles she danced becoming a great interpreter of choreography and music. The way she lifted her leg could impact one viscerally in a way no "pure technician" could match. (Of course she did it most successfully in a particular repertory--what ballerina does not?)

For me, Bussell was a ballerina of this kind--not a dance actress but by no means a "pure technician." The "creamy" quality of her movement and the unstudied freshness she brought to her interpretations gave her dancing a special radiance. And in Agon, for example, she gave a unique and great interpretation that had nothing to do with being an actress OR a technician but everything to do with being a great dancer in service to great choreography.

In Prince of the Pagodas, too, she seems to have inspired Macmillan in the final pas de deux to a renewed neo-classicism--I was inspired just watching her in that pas de deux. In nineteenth-century classics, she also made an impression especially as Aurora in which her radiance and freshness was ideal. Not surprisingly she was similarly wonderful in Ashton's Cinderella, the tender sweetness of her farewell to the bumbling step sister being one of my most treasured ballet images. (Apologies for some repetition of what I have said above ...) At a performance of Bayadere I attended, she did not seem to me to be fully comfortable in the Shades scene, but brought lush lyrical sensuality and tenderness to her Act I and a more ghostly allure to Act III. I saw her in several other memorable performances (other Balanchine, Petipa-Ivanov, Ashton, and Wheeldon). In my eyes, she was definitely a ballerina.


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