bart

Who are the most (verbally) articulate dancers?

66 posts in this topic

No, I haven't seen that one yet--I'll have to pick it up! Thank you for letting me know. :clapping:

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In Dancing for Mr. B, I think Kistler was trying to make a different point, and that was about acting or, as she specifically says, "mannerisms." She said that when she first danced Odette, Balanchine told her she was not in love with her partner, and her reaction was that this wasn't possible. She says that Balanchine knew she didn't have the experience to call upon as the basis of such an interpretation, and what he allowed her to be "was [her]self," something she repeats several times.

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As far as Balanchine and Kirkland's divergent approaches toward interpretation, I think that it depends on what type of ballet one is performing. A plotless ballet, or one with just the suggestion of a plot, seems to call for a less analytical approach on the part of the dancer, whereas with a specific plot one can go into much more detail.

Interesting. This is what Mr. Frederic Franklin has to say about acting, expression and M. Balanchine:

"Later in his career Mr. 'B' would say, "Don't bother about the acting. Just listen to the music and dance." All his steps came out of him through the music. The music was terribly important to him. He didn't want any expression. The dancing was enough. That was Balanchine."

Mr. Frederic Franklin

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Peter Boal of PNB and Christopher Stowell of Oregon Ballet Theatre come to mind. They both are very pro-active in getting the local community involved and interested in ballet by making ballet more accessible and understandable.

I would agree about the two of them, and add that most recent successful ADs have been able to talk with the general public about their field, as well as communicated with artists.

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Maia Wilkins of the Joffrey stood out recently at one of the company's yearly subscriber events. She was thoughtful, articulate, and analytic in a way that seldom happens at those events. Insted of just describing the action or the plot of a ballet, she was able to delve into more substance and emotion and motivation. Afterwards, when I asked her privately about differences between the 1994 film of Billboards shown recently on Ovation and current performances of Sometimes it Snows in April, she elucidated at some length the differences between dancing and the dancers, then and now.

That said ...she showed an entirely different kind of articulateness when she stood to give an impromptu demonstration as her frequent partner (and assistant ballet master) Willy Shives described Caroline's opening breath and arm movement in Jardin aux Lilas.

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She sounds wonderful, Treefrog. Not all companies have good spokespersons for this sort of presentation -- whether dancers or not. I always respond to those who can put into words what we will see (if we pay attention), where it comes from, how it is produced, what it feels like to learn and dance, etc.

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Maybe we should have an alternative topic: have there been dancers who combine the qualities of hyper-awareness and great expressivity in their dancing, but who seem to have little left over -- as the Wharton character, Darrow, would have it -- for verbal communication in "life"?

A number of years ago, this is exctly how I would have described Suzanne Farrell, even after her book was published.

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I am constantly impressed by Mark Morris but recall Nora Kaye being mesmerizing recalling the creation of Pillar of Fire.

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Moira Shearer. Authored two books (on Balanchine, and on the Victorian actress Ellen Terry; both well worth reading--especially the former)--and a series of book reviews and opinion pieces (a collection of which I'd very, VERY much like to see). She also commenced, at some juncture, upon an autobiography--but reportedly gave it up early on, thinking it would not be of much interest to the general public; a bloody pity, that!

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Thanks, jayeldee, for bumpong up this thread. Shearer, definitely, belongs on our list.

I started re-reading the earlier posts and found that a number of posters mentioned Violette Verdy. Coincidentally, I had just read her contribution to the I REMEMBER BALANCHINE compendium. It sparkles with life, energy and intelligence. Not unlike the way she danced.

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And thank YOU, bart, for acknowledging my post! Nice to know someone's listening! ... I'll have to look up Verdy, too: your description of her writing is very much akin to my impression of Miss Shearer: she "sparkled [good word, that] with life, energy and intelligence." (Unfortunately, my passion for ballet only came to fruition after the lady had passed. Else, I think I'd've moved heaven and earth to have somehow communicated my admiration to her. As it is, I have to settle for being haunted by her splendid spirit, all unbeknownst to her..... )

(Hmmm...I sound eerily smitten..... Well: I am.)

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jayeldee, have you had the chance to use the Search engine at the top of each page? If you look for "Shearer" in "Forums" you'll find many threads. Some of course just mention her name. But others talk about her extensively, and a few include photos from rg. Here's an example of a longish thread:

http://balletalert.i...__fromsearch__1

Here is an example of a thread with a couple of photos from rg's collection.

http://balletalert.i...__fromsearch__1

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Yes, bart--and thank you once again! It was Shearer that originally drove me here, a year or so ago--and I think I found most of the posts regarding her (and printed out a judicious selection thereof). But I'll have another look, in response to your very kind personal Alert. Everything's always worth a re-read, in any event.

But do you wish, as I do, that there were more of her, available on video? As it is, it seems we have to settle for the films in which she appeared--quite nearly all of which, by my estimation, are "redeemed" only by her presence (including "The Red Shoes", which I think is a generally dreadful movie, overall--especially in its theme, which is pessimistic and uninspiring in the extreme; which theme I take to be: "Art and Life are fundamentally incompatible." In point of fact, that "message" is the total opposite of the truth--and a horrid one to convey, especially via the medium of art!) ... I have, and have seen, everything with Moira that's available--including "The Man Who Loved Redheads" and "A Simple Man"--but where is footage of her in performance with the British ballet companies??? There's nothing, that I know of. (But then, too, I'm nowhere near the archives in New York--and what may exist there, I've no idea.) ... I also wish, as I previously mentioned, that some publisher would see fit to issue a collection of her newspaper writings.... Finally, and also in the Extreme Frustrations Department, there is a listing at both Amazon.com and Blackwell's Books, of a paperback number entitled "Moira Shearer", supposedly penned by her late husband, Ludovic Kennedy; it even has an ISBN--9780719561764, and a publisher (John Murray Ltd.), and a publication date (01 Jan 2011); but it (if it exists) remains unavailable, to date!! Figure that one out (and please let me know, if you do!). Sighhhhh....

Thank you again. And all the best to you.

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I'm rather surprised (unless if I have glossed over a post mentioning her) that Tamara Rojo hasn't been named in this thread. I have always found her to be remarkably intelligent and articulate. I have loved hearing about her passions for Kenneth MacMillan's choreography and why his ballets mean so much to her. She also had some rather blunt feelings toward the film Black Swan which she had no reservations in expressing!

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