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