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Who are the most (verbally) articulate dancers?


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#46 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:26 AM

Maybe we should have an alternative topic: have there been dancers who combine the qualitis 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"?


that would be an excelent idea, bart!!... :clapping: Please, do so.

#47 carbro

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:52 AM

An interesting thought, cubanmiamiboy. I'm not sure I understand all of the implications of what Kirkland is saying. "To articulate something beyond the steps" can have a number of meanings. And I'm not sure that Balanchine ever meant, "Just the steps, m'am." Perhaps I'm wrong, but I always assumed that his appraoch was to warn of over-analysing, or of superimposing the dancer's personal interpretations on the in a way that went against waht was actually present in the choreography or music.

That's how I understand Balanchine. In the documentary "Six Balanchine Ballerinas," Kistler describes losing oneself in the dancing, and in those moments finding one's truest self. I think this is so, and it takes enormous trust and security to reach that point. I don't think Kirkland was able to risk losing herself. As far as their views of their art, I think she and Balanchine lived on different planets. Each disdained the other's approach to performance.

One of the tasks Gelsey set for herself in one of the books (I don't remember if it was DoMG or the second one), was to develop a language to pass on what she knew of the art, as she entered the teaching/coaching phase of her career. It was my very great privilege to be one of her early guinea pigs, and her images were very clear, very precise and the corrections she gave were amazingly (literally) effective.

#48 bart

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:00 PM

One of the tasks Gelsey set for herself in one of the books (I don't remember if it was DoMG or the second one), was to develop a language to pass on what she knew of the art, as she entered the teaching/coaching phase of her career. It was my very great privilege to be one of her early guinea pigs, and her images were very clear, very precise and the corrections she gave were amazingly (literally) effective.

Wow! What a wonderful opportunity. Is there anything that you can share with us about it? In my limited experience, some dancers use language as a simple tool to get things done in class and rehearsal. Others, however -- and you suggest that Kirkland is one of them -- go much further. I think many of us would love to hear more.

#49 Hans

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:40 PM

I'm not really sure exactly what Wharton thought regarding performers. Several of her books were adapted for the stage, and she translated a German play into English as a vehicle for a famous actress, but I don't know how closely she worked/socialized with the actors themselves.

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.

#50 bart

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 02:12 PM

I'm not really sure exactly what Wharton thought regarding performers. Several of her books were adapted for the stage, and she translated a German play into English as a vehicle for a famous actress, but I don't know how closely she worked/socialized with the actors themselves.

:clapping: Hans, have you seen Hermione Lee's relatively new biography of Wharton? Very richly detailed (and thick!!!). I regret that I just returned it to the library -- overdue and only half finshed -- so I can't answer that either.

#51 Hans

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 04:08 PM

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

#52 Helene

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:42 PM

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.

#53 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 10:20 AM

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:

[font="Arial Black"]"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."[/font]

[font="Arial Black"]Mr. Frederic Franklin[/font]

#54 sandik

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Posted 01 September 2007 - 12:17 PM

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.

#55 ltraiger

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 12:44 PM

I found Ratmansky to be highly articulate on a phone interview>

#56 Treefrog

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 06:30 AM

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.

#57 bart

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 07:28 AM

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.

#58 Ray

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 02:21 PM

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.

#59 ggobob

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 09:17 PM

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

#60 jayeldee

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 07:28 AM

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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