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cargill

Discoveries

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I know one of the enjoyable aspects of seeing lots of ballet is watching the corps for interesting dancers. City Ballet has just cast two of my favorite corps dancers (Rachel Rutherford and Janie Taylor) as the leads in La Valse, and I was wondering about other people's stories of dancers they noticed as unknowns who developed into well-known dancers. The two I can remember are Alessandra Ferri, who I saw do a stunning Little Red Riding Hood years ago with the Royal Ballet in The Sleeping Beauty. I remember being really struck the way she made that tiny little part come alive. And years ago in Robbins tedious (to my mind) In Memory of..., I noticed Damian Woetzel in the corps doing the most beautiful plie in second position I have ever seen as part of a small dance for three boys. So what other memories do people have?

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I picked Cheryl Yeager. OK, she's not a household name, but she did become a principle with ABT. She had a very distinctive look about her which did not lend itself as much to "Swan Lake" as it did to "Don Q". She had a strong technique, good feet (me? feet?), and I was cheering her from her days in the corps. She retired after the birth of her baby; I wonder her far she would have gone had she continued? I fear she might have "Coppelia"-ed herself to death.

Giannina

[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited 01-30-99).]

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Thanks for such a good idea, Mary. I'd forgotten that Ferri did Red Riding Hood, but I do remember that performance. She alternated with another dancer I thought very promising, Rosalyn Whitten. Both were adorable, Ferri obviously the more talented. Whitten was pushed for awhile, then disappeared.

Unfortunately, most of the dancers I loved in the corps disappeared -- or came to a bad end. I remember Deirdre Carberry at 15, and Nancy Raffa, both in the corps of ABT, both seemed to have great potential. And Roma Sosenko at City Ballet. And remember Marguerite Porter when she was so delicious as the chambermaid in A Month in the Country, and everyone thought she was the Next Thing -- and she was, but not the way it was supposed to be.

Giannina, I remember liking Yeager very much when she was in the corps. She always danced as though she loved whatever role she was doing -- and not as though she was trying to get out of the corps, as so many others do. Her path to stardom began with Amor in Don Q, and she was wonderful. Then she did "The Throw Up Girl" in Rodeo. And then, instead of bringing her along slowly and carefully and in the appropriate roles, they did what ABT, no matter who the director was, did: decided she was a ballerina and plopped her down in just about everything except Swan Lake -- Sylphide, Sleeping Beauty, Don Q.

More discoveries, please.

Alexandra

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Mary -- Keep an eye on Saskia Beskow and Ellen Bar. I saw Ellen Bar do the Grand Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker with Jared Angle at BAM during the Vaganova Symposium. She danced on such a large scale, even with just a piano instead of an orchestra. Janie Taylor was also there, doing a very perky solo from Divertimento #15. Both Bar and Beskow dance the parts in the "Three Fates" opening in La Valse.

I like to go to the SAB performances and tab ballerinas of the future. Somehow, when they get into the company I find that I have a stake in their future.

Dale

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Yeah! I'm glad somebody noticed Saskia Beskow. She's from the Royal Danish Ballet and was considered ballerina material when she was an aspirant -- but that was before everything got turned upside down there.

Alexandra

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There is a young dancer in ABT, Elizabeth Gaither, who I have watched from childhood (no, she was not one of my students smile.gif ), and have always thought she had enormous potential. She danced in Houston Ballet, then was out for a long time with a serious injury. Since joining ABT she has not had a lot of opportunity to be noticed, but I still think she is quite special. I'm also not convinced that she is in the right place to be developed, unfortunately, and so wish that were not the case. She danced principal roles in Memphis for one season after recovering from the injury, and perhaps she would be better off in a company with fewer dancers and more opportunities. I don't know, and this is, of course, a very personal decision. As a former ABT dancer, I know very well what it means to dance with that company!

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