juliajane

Gelsey Kirkland

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Is Gelsey Kirkland working with ABT again this season? If not, does anyone know what she's doing?

juliajane

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Her Sleeping Beauty is being performed in Miami in March by ABTand I believe also in Chicago at some point this winter. Perhaps she is around rehearsing, re-working and/or planning? :smilie_mondieu:

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Her Sleeping Beauty is being performed in Miami in March

I know!...i can't wait to see her Carabosse :smilie_mondieu: . For some reason, it seems to me that after "Dancing on my grave" came out, people mention her name-(if they do it at all) -with some sort of reserve, and sometimes even with some dislike...or is just my imagination...?

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I think the 1st book was very negative but her 2nd book 'The Shape of Love' was extremely inspiring.

I consider myself quite fortunate to have been living in NYC during her glory days. She was divine.

I also had the good fortune of being invited to her apt for breakfast to discuss GISELLE last April.

She seems to be in quite a good place. She was able to answer many of my questions very easily and clearly.

I really floated the rest of the day.

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I think the 1st book was very negative but her 2nd book 'The Shape of Love' was extremely inspiring.

I consider myself quite fortunate to have been living in NYC during her glory days. She was divine.

I also had the good fortune of being invited to her apt for breakfast to discuss GISELLE last April.

She seems to be in quite a good place. She was able to answer many of my questions very easily and clearly.

I really floated the rest of the day.

I'm happy to hear that glebb!. I also believe that the raw style of storytelling that she used on "Dancing..." has created an impact within the ballet community. Some people just like to close their eyes in total denial and lie to themselves about things that are factual and real regarding substance abuse and ballet. In my opinion, she was very brave to expose , without masking them, all the facts that sooner or later had to be uncovered and addressed by somebody like herself. She is, for sure, an inspiration for young dancers and i admire her for being sincere and outspoken about her own demons. :smilie_mondieu:

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In my opinion, she was very brave to expose , without masking them, all the facts that sooner or later had to be uncovered and addressed by somebody like herself. She is, for sure, an inspiration for young dancers and i admire her for being sincere and outspoken about her own demons.

I would agree! Her first book was very dark and depressing at times, but I liked it. I could not put it down. Her second book, The Shape of Love was much lighter, and inspirational; also an interesting read. I just find her fascinating!

I might go see ABT's "Beauty" in Chicago in April. Does anyone know the casting for those performances?

I would LOVE to see her perform, as I never have. :dry:

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.

I consider myself quite fortunate to have been living in NYC during her glory days. She was divine.

I also had the good fortune of being invited to her apt for breakfast to discuss GISELLE last April.

She seems to be in quite a good place. She was able to answer many of my questions very easily and clearly.

I really floated the rest of the day.

I too was a witness to her glory days. She was one of my favorites at the time, indeed one of the divine ones. I'm glad to hear she seems in a good place now.

As to her first book, I found it sad and in many ways immature. Being cast as Firebird as a teenager she hated the choreography, the costume and the music. I wonder if she's come to appreciate Stravinsky more with age!

I've read recent interviews in which she expresses regret for the people she hurt in the book.

Also interesting that she is very private about the break up of her first marriage (she certainly has a right to be) after the tell all of every detail of her early life. Maturity and perspective does wonders.

I saw her Caraboose last year -- it was terrific -- I wish her well.

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<<Being cast as Firebird as a teenager she hated the choreography, the costume and the music. I wonder if she's come to appreciate Stravinsky more with age!>>

Actually, disliking Firebird doesn't mean one doesn't love Stravinsky. I always thought the music was warmed-over Rimsky-Korsakov: sort of bland, a little pompous. I *LOVE* the Stravinsky of Le Sacre and his "atonal" stuff (Agon, Movements, etc). Firebird always seemed - to me atleast - to be a youthful indiscretion. :dry:

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One major aspect of Gelsey's first book "Dancing on My Grave" is its recklessly confessional tone, she doesn't care who she offends, great or small, but honesty does carry the day. However, she also blames others for her problems, all of them. Even discussing her father's alcoholism, she blames him for her early need for controlling father figures but doesn't connect the dots between her own genetically inherited substance abuse and addiction crises as an adult. In the second book she manages to find herself responsible for some of the bad things that happened to her.

The two good aspects that do connect the books are the excellent writing style and the devotion to exploring and creating truthful, emotionally layered dance in rehearsal, coaching sessions and with sympathetic partners onstage. Those bits where Gelsey describes how she created extra rehearsals and sought out expert coaches to help her realize her interpretations show real commitment and passion for art. They are some of the best parts of each book.

Quick question: is Gelsey doing Carabosse now in D.C. and is she doing it in the Spring at the ABT Met season?

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Kirkland is NOT performing Carabosse in DC. The only 'celebrity Carabosse' in this run is Van Hamel, who was terrific yet again last night!

My guess is that Kirkland is not doing Carabosse on tour (outside of NYC) but maybe she'll surprise Miami & Chicago. :dry:

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But Ms. Kirkland is in DC (well, at least she was yesterday), watching classes at the Kirov Academy. :speechless-smiley-003:

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There's a newly-posted video on YouTube of her and Anthony Dowell doing the balcony pas de deux from MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBbs3UzIQqY

She really lets go in this one, and of course it's breathtaking. I think this is from the mid-'80s, after she left ABT. It seems she left her demons behind in New York, as well as a lot of her self-consciousness.

By the way, I haven't read The Shape of Love.

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I saw the ABT version of The Sleeping Beauty she helped to stage last year, and though I might be relatively naive and inexperienced, I didn't think it was quite as terrible as so many people say it is. (And I also liked the Dowell version of The Sleeping Beauty from 1994, vertigo-inducing scenery and all! So there!)

Actually, I was there the night Kirkland, dancing the role of Carabosse, burned her hand on some pyrotechnics and didn't return for the remainder of the performance. Turns out the injury wasn't serious, and she was taken to the hospital as a precaution, as reported in The New York Times a few days afterward.

I'd read, as I'm sure many of you have, the Dance Magazine interview in which she said she was trying, through her coaching, to emphasize the importance of the upper body. Not only was Kirkland a sublime technician, she was also a consummate actress, exquisitely expressive. She's obviously a treasure trove of information and insight.

Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella were the leads that night, subbing in for Diana Vishneva and Vladimir Malakhov. I'd seen Herrera in Giselle and Sylvia, and yes, her feet and legs were great, but in The Sleeping Beauty, she was stronger in the upper body, and more cohesive, physically and expressively, than I'd ever seen her (and The Times' Alistair Macaulay agrees). I like to think Kirkland had a hand in this.

So, I hope Kirkland's coaching continues at ABT and elsewhere.

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Kirkland is NOT performing Carabosse in DC. The only 'celebrity Carabosse' in this run is Van Hamel, who was terrific yet again last night!

My guess is that Kirkland is not doing Carabosse on tour (outside of NYC) but maybe she'll surprise Miami & Chicago. :)

No, she did not perform it here either, and i was really looking forward to it...damn! :D

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Thank you many times over for the link to the R&J pas de deux--I had never seen this bit of video. On the whole, I think video of Kirkland (at least generally available video) does not remotely capture her, but in this little bit I I felt I saw a glimpse at least of what she was like -- that is, a glimpse of one of the most extraordinary and profound dance artists I ever had the joy and privilege of seeing. I never loved a dancer (and doubt I ever will) as I loved Kirkland.

I would almost say that when she danced, it was if she were dancing in an entirely different dimension from everyone else on stage, but part of her genius was that she often managed to bring the whole stage picture along with her, communicating her quality to everything around her. I do not mean that others danced better when she was dancing (though that may have happened and certainly I saw partners become inspired by her) but that she radiated a world around her, a world so seemingly real that everything became a part of it.

One thing I particularly like about the video of the R&J excerpt is that it gives a hint of the way she simultaneously was all liquid fluidity AND ultra clarity and all while creating a very real emotional portrait--just a hint, but what a pleasure to have it.

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You're welcome, Drew. I'm glad you enjoyed it. That clip is my favorite one I've ever seen of her, and I haven't seen too many, only The Nutcracker; the pas de deux from Don Q and Coppélia; and Theme and Variations. For better or for worse, she's dancing with Baryshnikov in all of these. While they're stunning, of course, but I suspect she was probably triply self-conscious because 1. she was dancing with him and 2. because she knew she was being filmed.

Drew, your comments on what Kirkland accomplished onstage are intriguing, and I only wish I could have seen her dance more. Unfortunately, I was only a small child when she was still performing.

I can say that the experience I had watching her as Carabosse was one of the highlights of my life. It sounds hyperbolic, but it's true. Watching her on stage, I was in a trance. It was like the scene in the gym in the film version of West Side Story, when Tony and Maria see one another for the first time, and everything in the background blurs. At first, I thought I'd better look at other things happening onstage, but then I thought, why?! She was indeed "dancing in an entirely different dimension from everyone else on stage."

She was so good, it was unreal. One aspect of her dancing that really stood out in that performance was the mime. Everything that she was expressing was just so crystal-clear. You can imagine my disappointment when the announcement came that she was injured and wouldn't be returning for the second half.

I don't think that experience spooked her from performing forever, do you, Drew? Does anyone? Maybe there will be more opportunities for her to dance additional character roles.

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the clip is from a 1986 gala televised for the queen's 60th birthday. it had different opera and ballet excerpts. that year she danced romeo and juliet and later sleeping beauty at covent garden.

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As with Drew, this clip yanked me back to the visceral experience of seeing Kirkland on stage, something which has tended to fade from my memory over the years.

Kirkland was indeed a magnetic performer in the right role and with the right partner. I love the unusual chemistry with Dowell. Although he is clearly older, Dowell -- in his 40s at this time -- seems to work very well for her. He was never one of those bursting-out-of-his-skin Romeos, even when spinning out those amazing tours.

Here, it's Kirkland who seems to yearn for and stretch out towards abandonment. I love the way she runs; I love the way she uses the beautiful, perfectly controlled wildness of her arms. Dowell is the mature and sober partner, seeming to want to protect her from everything including herself, and to keep her from going too far.

Thanks, nijinsky1979, for finding and posting this video.

I would almost say that when she danced, it was if she were dancing in an entirely different dimension from everyone else on stage, but part of her genius was that she often managed to bring the whole stage picture along with her, communicating her quality to everything around her. I do not mean that others danced better when she was dancing (though that may have happened and certainly I saw partners become inspired by her) but that she radiated a world around her, a world so seemingly real that everything became a part of it.

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I am truly sorry I somehow never saw Kirkland live. This bloody R & J YouTube keeps starting and stopping, although the 3 seconds I get do look exquisite, reminds me a bit of Alessandra Ferri, but I could only get so far with the stopping and starting. I may look up some of the others, but was distinctly not enraptured by her Coppelia Variation (although that YouTube worked fine). It hasn't any spark of happiness that I can see, and looks dispirited and with little energy. Much different from Cojocaru's clip which I watched just afterward. Although neither reminded me of what I remember Patricia McBride to have brought to this role. Did Balanchine make this ballet for McBride?

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Did Balanchine make this ballet for McBride?
Yes, although (according to Nancy Reynolds) McBride and Villella prepared part of it for a concert prior to Balanchine's involvement. At Balanchine's suggestion, they consulted Danilova on how to present it.

I found the Kirkland and Cojocaru Coppelia variations astonishingly different. Cojocaru has speed and sweetness. (McBride had the sweetness, but also something darker and deeper.) Kirkland's variation, with clear tempo variations, drew my eye to the parts rather than to a seamless and fairly homogenized whole. It was strange, but highly individual ... and mesmerising.

I especially love the passage where she repeatedly raises one foot to retire and then slides it down (rather seductively, it seems to me) to coup de pied. The music slows down for this, as it is not for Cojocaru's version. Cojjocaru makes the movement seem, somehow, perkier and less significant.

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The YouTube clip of Kirkland dancing Swanilda's variation is taken from the Baryshnikov at Wolf Trap, which was recorded when she was quite ill with anorexia. It misrepresents what she was capable of in better condition.

Patrick, try letting the video run through and clicking Replay. It should be better the second time through.

I am thrilled that I finally got to see this R&J segment. A friend and coworker was lent a vhs of the broadcast, and we went to run it through at work, but it jammed the vcr. I had to take the machine to a repair shop to disengage the cassette and I told the repairman that if it came down to ruining the tape or ruining the machine, to spare the tape :) . Fortunately, it didn't come to that.

PS: Of course, we didn't dare try to replay the tape on that vcr again.

Edited by carbro
Adding the PS.

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Oh, she's powerful. This time it ran better, only stopping about 8 times, but that left plenty of time to experience it anyway. There were two times I actually got tears in my eyes, and I just wanted to go outside by now :) and not watch anything at all. And this happened without my even trying to pay much attention. And part of it is their perfectly-matched bodies, not only their artistry but the look it gets because their limbs are so much alike that visually it is a very special thing. As much as I love Corella and Ferri, I love Corella a bit better as the ultimate Romeo, and perhaps admire the lyricism of Ferri's dancing. My favourite Juliet I've seen live is Susan Jaffe, but--I can't remember who the Romeo was... But Dowell and Kirkland are like the bodies a painter (can you think of some painters they remind you of? I think I can) might have chosen for a particular look--they are almost like twin brother and sister almost. Oh, this is just so beautiful.

And thanks for all that info, carbro, and also about the anorexia when she did the Swanilda. I knew there had to be something wrong even from just the little seconds I'd seen from the R & J this morning. It looks more like the kind of thing one associates with determination after retirement, you don't see much that we think of with someone known to be prodigious technically, as Kirkland so truly is.

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That brings up a question I've had about Kirkland's dancing for some time, as besides the R&J clip, I have only seen the Wolf Trap DVD--what was her jump like? She seems almost totally unable to get off the ground at Wolf Trap, although many other aspects of her technique are surprisingly good given her condition at the time.

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What was her jump like? Let me put it this way:

Among the amateurs in my class -- which was labeled "Adult Beginner-Intermediate" but attracted a lot of pros, as it started at 6:00 and was a block from Lincoln Center -- was a then recent member of Joffrey II who was herself a formidable jumper. One day, in the grands jetes combination she was momentarily puzzled by the hard thing that hit her shoulder at the apex of her jete*. Turns out, it was Gelsey's pointe shoe. No harm done, and Gelsey apologized once she realized what she'd done.

One of my indelible memories is of Gelsey's jetes across the stage in Act I of La Sylphide. She barely touched ground, almost seeming to shoot from one wing to the other in a full split.

Edited by carbro
To add the italicized and *ed insert

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She had that from the start.

Remember how Midsummer Night's Dream begins? At about 11, Gelsey was the first little bug that breaks out of the opening tableau doing pas de bourrées courrus and finishes with a pas de chat jeté. That was when I first noticed her. The jeté was that good, and that high even when she was a kid.

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