cubanmiamiboy

Nasty falls onstage during performances...

25 posts in this topic

I was recently watching a video of Lorna Feijoo dancing "Ballo de la Regina" -(in an unlicensed production in Havana)- back when she was still a principal with BNC. This is an interesting video, because as it was filmed by a friend with a hidden camera right at the performance, shows in detail the moment when Feijoo , in a middle of a simple bourees sequence, took a clatter nasty fall. She seemed dazed for a fraction of a second, but made a fast recovery in the middle of the audience's massive applause, and finished her sequence more brilliant than ever. This performance, in its official version, had this part cut off and edited, so those who weren't there will never know that it happened.

I'm sure the experienced BT's have witnessed similar situations with well know dancers. I'm curious to know about it: who was involved ?, during which ballet ?, what was the the ballerina/dancer/ audience's reaction ?...

Please, some stories! :angel_not:

Share this post


Link to post

I did write about Tony Blum dropping Maria Tallchief during Scotch Symphony on the thread for Gorey's Lavender Leotard, but I think my favorite disaster happened during the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux around 1970 or so at the NYCB. The scheduled cast was McBride and Villella, but Villella, who was having a lot of physical problems in those days, was injured and couldn't dance. Jean-Pierre Bonnefous (as he was listed then) had just joined the company and in the grand tradition of let's throw them to the wolves, was told to go on sans rehearsal, with fiancee McBride. While somewhat awkward, they got though it until the final catches. Then McBride launched herself through the air, Bonnefous reached out to catch her - and she went right through his circled arms and landed upside down on her hands and dangled there while he grabbed frantically at her feet. I think we all just did the usual o-o-o-o-w!! that accompanies such disasters while she got herself upright, refrained from socking him, and they managed to finish the ballet. Talk about baptism by fire! However, the engagement remained unbroken and they even danced together again, pretty well, too.

Share this post


Link to post

I know we had an older thread somewhere on this subject, but I can't find it now. If I come across it, I'll link to it.

Balanchine had the reputation of liking falls, because they showed that the dancer was going full out. In one of the Balanchine Celebration DVD's, there is a mini-interview with Melinda Roy, who described that in a rehearsal, Balanchine asked her to repeat a jump -- and she was a jumper -- a big assemble if I remember correctly. She went back, did it again, and still, he asked her to repeat, with "More!" She said she was getting aggrevated at that point, went back to the corner and did a giant assemble, fell, landed at his feet, looked up, and asked him if that was what he wanted. He told her that was it, what he wanted.

Share this post


Link to post
Balanchine had the reputation of liking falls, because they showed that the dancer was going full out.
I understand the point, but this has always been one of my least favorite aspects of Balanchine lore.

An element of risk adds excitement, but there's always the threat of serious injury. The choreographer's career moves on; the dancer's career comes to an end.

Cristian's question made me realize that I haven't really seen any memorable falls. Knock wood! I'm looking forward to more descriptions.

Share this post


Link to post

While I have seen many little ka-booms followed by quick, professional recoveries, in the last 10, 15 years at NYCB the record for most frequent falls and best recoveries I hope goes to Ashley Bouder, and I think this was discussed in another subforum a while back here. One such example is on the Balanchine Centennial "Live from Lincoln Center." I think she was still in the corps and already a favorite. She usually just keeps ticking, but she was out for a year or so at one point.

I recall that Alex Proia dropped Suzanne Farrell in an early performance of Robbins' "In Memory of..." which may have added injury to injuries.

Merrill Ashley came down hard in Martins' weak copy of Paul Taylor, "Barber Violin Concerto" after she came back from a very long injury (two long seasons at least, I think) and brought down the curtain.

Nikolaj Hubbe had a wretched on-stage injury, which I did not see. It was heartbreaking.....

Cubanmiamiboy, you are bringing up some sad memories, and now I'm agreeing with Mme. Hermine!

Share this post


Link to post

I do recall ca. 1967 and "Donizetti Variations" with the Joffrey. Rebecca Wright was one of the soloists, who weave in and out of ensembles, when suddenly, down center, her feet came straight out from under her, and down she went into full prattfall. She looked amazed and horrified, like Anita Garvin in a Laurel and Hardy pie fight who sits down on a pie, then did a sort of gymnast's double kick to a standing position, right into an arabesque relevé. What a trouper!

Share this post


Link to post

In one of the recent Q&A's, Peter Boal described the mechanics of the part of the Pas de Deux in Prodigal Son where the Prodigal is sitting with his knees bent, and the Siren slides down his shins to the floor. It had always looked to me like he pushed is feet forward to an outstretched position, but he actually pushes backwards to extend his, by then, sweaty legs. He said that during rehearsal, one of the Sirens had slipped and fallen on one of the Prodigals, and he mentioned that Merrill Ashley had once fallen back on him. He didn't say whether during performance or rehearsal, but "ouch." It reminds be of how the men on pairs teams are trained to let the woman fall on them if there is a problem with a lift, assuming they are still moving at the same speed.

Share this post


Link to post

I think the best recovery I've ever seen happened in a 1970 performance of Who Cares? Jacques d'Amboise meant to finish his solo with an air turn to one knee, only to land off balance and tumble over on his side with one hand groping for the floor to audience gasps. He promptly flung himself flat out on his back with a noisy sigh of cheerful exhaustion, then bounded up grinning while the audience went nuts. Of course, you couldn't pull this in Ballet Imperial or Swan Lake - or could you? D'Amboise was something of a law unto himself.

Share this post


Link to post

This is not quite as spectacular, but in one performance in a tutu ballet, Merrill Ashley was supposed to finish on one knee. It looked like she came down hard on her knee, couldn't retain her balance or break momentum, swung around and ended on her other knee, the mirror image of her intended landing.

Share this post


Link to post

There is a clip on Youtube of a younger Maria Allash as Gamzatti in Bayadere: it contains what must be one of the more spectacular falls caught on film. Of course there is other stuff on Youtube floating around, the most dangerous of which is a Black Swan pd2 in which the man tips over backwards attempting a presage lift.... :wub:

Share this post


Link to post

Tonight Jeanette Delgado took a fall during Coppelia's Act III PDD. She was suddenly on the floor, and everyone gasped, but by grace of the muse of dancing, she ended up seated on her bottom in a very gracious, dignified posture...if someone took a pic of the moment it wouldn't look as an accident. She just stood there, smiling and got up right away...to which she kept dancing better than before..!

Now I can say I've seen two of my favorite ballerinas taking a fall. Lorna Feijoo in Ballo de la Regina and now Jeannette Delgado in Coppelia.

Share this post


Link to post

To return to Ballo della Regina, the worst fall I ever saw (probably chronicled in other threads here) was Ricky Weiss in that ballet while performing the brises voles that come near the end of the ballet: he snapped his Achilles and had to crawl off stage (I think of the moment every time I hear that music). Merrill continued, looking freaked out (as did the corps women), but did the steps to their fullest without a partner (something to see!). A hair-rasing performance.

Share this post


Link to post

It wasn't in a professional performance, but when I danced in Les Patineurs many (many!) years ago in a regional ballet performance that had been set by Enrique Martinez of ABT, I was dancing the duet (the Red Girls), and fell on my behind right in the middle of it. Amazing to me, I had the presence of mind to get up and theatrically "dust myself off" as if it was intentional (that happens elsewhere in the ballet) and keep on going! And no, I don't recall it being difficult to figure out where I was in the dance--the music tells you.

Share this post


Link to post

Good improvisation, Stage Right. Falling in a seated position seems very suitable for a skating ballet. A great opportunity for demonstrating aplomb. (I speak from my own experiences on the (real) ice, also many years ago.)

Share this post


Link to post

Tonight poor Osipova took the NASTIEST fall I have ever seen...and then, after limping a bit she did one of the GRANDEST grand jetes I have ever seen. Divina !! I really hope she is ok.

Share this post


Link to post

Tonight poor Osipova took the NASTIEST fall I have ever seen...and then, after limping a bit she did one of the GRANDEST grand jetes I have ever seen. Divina !! I really hope she is ok.

Oh no. During what section? It sounds like she's ok.

Share this post


Link to post

It was right after Albrecht collapses, when she commands him to get up. Still, she managed to get up, and even barely able to walk, she came flying in her final diagonal of jetes toward upstage right, doing a huge one at the end.

Share this post


Link to post

It was right after Albrecht collapses, when she commands him to get up. Still, she managed to get up, and even barely able to walk, she came flying in her final diagonal of jetes toward upstage right, doing a huge one at the end.

Hope she doesn't wind up regretting the jetes.

Share this post


Link to post

Hope she doesn't wind up regretting the jetes.

I would have been dazzled and cheering for her in the theater, but I fear that's my thought too. Heroics after any sort of injury may make that injury a lot worse. We don't know that she is injured, but...

Share this post


Link to post

I would have been dazzled and cheering for her in the theater, but I fear that's my thought too. Heroics after any sort of injury may make that injury a lot worse. We don't know that she is injured, but...

Oh, I know -- we're all suckers for the 'get up and make the winning goal' story, but I worry about what happens after the curtain goes down (mixing her metaphors...)

Share this post


Link to post

Oh, I know -- we're all suckers for the 'get up and make the winning goal' story, but I worry about what happens after the curtain goes down (mixing her metaphors...)

If she was injured, I would have brought the curtain down immediately. Rather than risk further injury. I know "the show must go on", but in this case it really doesn't need to. It was almost at the end and it might have been better not to keep going. Let's hope the injury is not serious and she will be back soon.

Share this post


Link to post

I understand the point, but this has always been one of my least favorite aspects of Balanchine lore.

An element of risk adds excitement, but there's always the threat of serious injury. The choreographer's career moves on; the dancer's career comes to an end.

Totally agree!!!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead