87Sigfried87

How important is it to be tall for a male dancer?

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How much is a good hand, Mel? Seriously, that is a measurement... but how are you using this?

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Among the horsy, a "hand" (handsbreadth) is standardized at 4 inches. I'm giving an approximate measurement here, as I'm 5'7".

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Fernando was about 5'10". I never measured him, but he was a good hand taller than I.

I agree Mel I think they have underestimated his height.

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Here is the official Orlando Ballet picture taken just a few months before Bujones died:

Orlando Ballet 2005-2006

On Fernando's right, with his arm around her waist, is Jessica Sibley, one of the tallest members of the company, at around 5'7". Of course, she is wearing 2 or 3 inch heels. On his left is Katia Garza, around 5'3". One can see that her shoes are about 2 inches high. Next to Katia, on her left, is her husband Israel Rodriguez, who is 5'8" - 5'8½". Draw your own conclusions. :off topic:

In any case, isn't it a great picture? You can see the affection Fernando Bujones had for his dancers, who loved him so much.

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It is a wonderful photo, Marga. Thank you for linking to it. I didn't see Bujones as much as I would have liked, but always thought of him as fairly slight. In other words, small without appearing to be short. His strength, elevation anad stage presence were all the more amazing to me because of that original visual impression.

So much seems of this height issue seems to involve illusions created on stage by the dancer and perpetuated in the viewer's memory. Helene's sharp eye even notes the effect of something so small as the proportion of the calves:

I saw a performance of "Apollo" with Wim Vanlessen in Gent. Because of his physical proportions, including high calf muscles that elongate his legs, I though he looked to be at least six feet tall on stage. He isn't.

What are some of the other factors -- physical, technical, or even maters of staging -- can make the audience think "This dancer is TALL?" and then store it away in the memory as fact rather than impression?

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And impressions are different for everyone, because when I saw Vanlessen at the same performance, I enjoyed his performance as much, but pegged him as short.

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It's funny, I always had the impression that Bujones was tall. Maybe because of his long lean musculature. In any case, he was one of my favorites and so sad that he's no longer with us. BTW, for those of you that mentioned it before - I can't seem to find the Black Swan nor Paquita You Tubes with him and Gregory. Any clues as to how to search for them? Thanks!

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And impressions are different for everyone, because when I saw Vanlessen at the same performance, I enjoyed his performance as much, but pegged him as short.

That's why I had no idea that he was the dancer to whom we were introduced during first intermission until you started to discuss his performance during second intermission :clapping:

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Speaking of the height of dancers.

Are female dancers shorter than the "average" female, the same or taller? How about males?

My sense is that ballet dancers might be shorter than the average person out there, but I have no reason why I think this. It's very hard to get a sense of "scale" on a stage for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the sets which are often distorted for visual effect.

The Kirov seems to stamp their corps out of a cookie cutter mold (almost)... does anyone know how tall they are?

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Speaking of the height of dancers.

Are female dancers shorter than the "average" female, the same or taller? How about males?

My sense is that ballet dancers might be shorter than the average person out there, but I have no reason why I think this. It's very hard to get a sense of "scale" on a stage for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the sets which are often distorted for visual effect.

The Kirov seems to stamp their corps out of a cookie cutter mold (almost)... does anyone know how tall they are?

It seems that 5'5" to 5'8" is the going height these days. However, if there is an amazing talent who is on the short side (male or female) the A.D. will usually hire a dancer of similar height so that they can be partners. Therefore the shorter dancers do not look totally out of place (Herman Corjeno and Xiomara Reyes of ABT, Joaquin de Luz and Megan Fairchild of NYCB).

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I ran into my neighbor when I returning walking my dogs. We got into the elevator and she asked me what I had seen at the ABT. It didn't occur to me that I was wearing my ABT cap, Why would anyone ask me such a question. Realizing that only ballet aware people would know what the initials stood for, I figured she attends ballet. Turns out she teaches ballet... and she has many friends at ABT. YIKES how cool. I knew there was something extra special about that neighbor and she does have the body of a dancer.

So we talked about ballet and she's tall, perhaps 5' 9" and added she was too tall really for ballet. I asked her about Veronika Part who is known as a tall dancer and recently made principal at ABT. To me 5' 9" would be a tall dancer and I assumed that Ms Part was at least 5' 9" for no other reason than that I think that is how tall a tall ballerina is. She said no way could she be a principal, she's have no one to partner with... well almost no one. Bolle is quite tall too.

So what is a short dancer - male and female?

What is an average height dancer - male and female?

And what is a tall dancer - male and female?

I made her a bet (without knowing if I would win... a bad approach) that Veronkia Part was at least 5' 9" tall.

How tall IS Veronika Part?

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Well, Baryshnikov and Edward Villella were considered short. Baryshnikov is about 5'8". I think anyone over 6' would be considered tall. For a woman I'm not as sure, but I recall reading that Julie Kent was one of ABT's tallest ballerinas at 5'7". I know ABT has at least one female corps member who is 5'9". Maybe a female dancer would be considered short at 5'2"?

This will vary somewhat from one company to another, as some prefer taller dancers, and others want shorter. It's a bit difficult to discuss exactly what is 'tall' and 'short' as dancers can appear taller or shorter than they really are due to many variables, including the way they dance, the size of their partners, proportions, &c.

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This will vary somewhat from one company to another, as some prefer taller dancers, and others want shorter. It's a bit difficult to discuss exactly what is 'tall' and 'short' as dancers can appear taller or shorter than they really are due to many variables, including the way they dance, the size of their partners, proportions, &c.

Right. (A few of these issues were discussed earlier in the thread.) A short dancer who has the long lines needed for ballet will seem taller than he really is, in my experience.

What sets them apart is their proportions and their artistry. No one who sees them ever says, "oy, are they short dancers!!!"

I must confess that when I saw Herman Cornejo in Berkeley, the first thing that entered my head was, “Wow, he really is short."

This will vary somewhat from one company to another, as some prefer taller dancers, and others want shorter.

I remember reading that Joffrey said he would have liked taller dancers but Balanchine had all the good ones.

Thank you for reviving this thread, SanderO. I'm not sure exactly how tall Part is and would be interested to hear from anyone who does know.

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Hans, this makes perfect sense. But I suppose my questions were meant as statistical average and in the case of Ms Part... who is referred to as a tall dancer, and appears tall, but how tall is she?

I would say that the entire height range for dancers is compressed compared to the general public.

for female dancers:

short 5' 3"

average 5' 5"

tall 5' 7"

For male dancers:

short 5' 6"

average 5' 9"

tall 5' 11"

Partnering requires the correct height relationship for aesthetic and technical reasons of course and this might mean that most who make it to principal dancer fall in an even narrower range of heights. Just a guess, here.

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Don't forget to add at least 2 inches to every female's height because of being on pointe. That makes a difference when placed next to a shorter partner.

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For Romantic and Petipa ballet female dancers in leading roles should be not much more than 5'.

I say this because Anna Pavlova at 5'2" was considered quite tall. To be any taller the choreographic line and shapes get distorted and tempi also may be affected.

Premier Danseurs should probably be no taller than 5'6. I would think that Serge Legat for instance was shorter than that.

In post Petipa ballets I suppose what ever the choreographer has stated is appropriate.

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:lol: Your height does not seem too short to me, most companies will make provision for a dancer who shows the qualities they seek for their performances. There must be female dancers who vary in height, who fit within the same criteria, who would match your physique.

So good luck, keep on with the auditions.

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For Romantic and Petipa ballet female dancers in leading roles should be not much more than 5'.

I say this because Anna Pavlova at 5'2" was considered quite tall. To be any taller the choreographic line and shapes get distorted and tempi also may be affected.

Premier Danseurs should probably be no taller than 5'6. I would think that Serge Legat for instance was shorter than that.

In post Petipa ballets I suppose what ever the choreographer has stated is appropriate.

Leonid, I think if you limit yourself to these rather rigid demands, you'd be missing out on a lot of great dancing. Nutrition back in the days of the Imperial Ballet was not what it is now -- children in many developed countries are simply taller.

As for the importance of height, I think many shorter dancers are able, through line, extensions, and proportios, to create the illusion of height, which might be more important than actual height. Many dancers that I've seen in person seem positively tiny offstage. Even Veronika Part, who onstage gives the impression of a towering marble statue, offstage looks like a slim, trim, above-average-in-height beauty. I didn't think "Wow how tall!"

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I think canbelto makes a good point. As observed earlier in the thread, people are getting taller over the decades (and centuries) and it's simply not possible or even desirable for companies to conform to such rigid standards. And although it may well distort the choreography as you say, leonid, it seems to that's inevitable to some extent - over the years bodies change, styles in attractiveness and physicality change, training changes. It's absolutely true that Pavlova was considered tall (and skinny) back in the day, but that only serves to highlight that things are very different today.

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I agree with Leonid about the lines and tempi being changed by the height and mass of the dancer--at some point physics does enter into the picture. Small birds have different dynamics than large ones, and smaller dancers, such as Joaquin de Luz and Antoinio Carmena are very effective in the fast movements of Symphony in C, darting in and out, in ways that might be less exciting with tall dancers.

But other things change the tempos and lines and overall look of the ballet. Dancers with sharp inner contours to their legs, along their thighs and heels (they always look like pinking shears to me) like Lindsay Fisher and Conrad Ludlow could look like the were doing more, or better beats, than other dancers.

Dancers built with arms that curve up at the elbow like Gonzalo Garcia and one of the Rubies dancers at SFB this year (?)--as if they were attached the wrong way, like cubist dolls--give good emphasis to the multiple planes of Symphony in C, Rubies and Apollo.

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I think canbelto makes a good point. As observed earlier in the thread, people are getting taller over the decades (and centuries) and it's simply not possible or even desirable for companies to conform to such rigid standards. And although it may well distort the choreography as you say, leonid, it seems to that's inevitable to some extent - over the years bodies change, styles in attractiveness and physicality change, training changes. It's absolutely true that Pavlova was considered tall (and skinny) back in the day, but that only serves to highlight that things are very different today.

Surely the answer could equally be, that you only train and employ dancers for Romantic and Petipa ballets with the correct emploi. Since when does the fact that people are taller today become either an artistic or aesthetic consideration. We do not transpose up or down operatic scores for singers because of limited or peculiar abilities. Today we find authenticity an accepted approach in the restoration and performance of opera and music. Counter tenors up until 40 years ago were almost de trop. Today they are di rigueur in many vocal works.

Either academic Romantic/Classical ballet is a high art or its an entertainment wherein we can choose to change rules willy nilly. Where are we all coming from?

Either its ok to bastardize an art form or its not and as you can plainly see, I think not.

I have absolute no problem with tall dancers in modern classical or neo- classical ballets as long as the line, shape and tempo are not interfered with.

Let us truly respect, Bournonville, Perrot, Saint-Leon, Petipa, Ivanov et al and lets hear it for shorter dancers.

PS

I have had fun writing the above

but I am also serious in my

contention. We live in what appears

to be a vulgar age. Lets try to go back,

not to the inequalities of those early ballet

eras, but to truly respecting the

choreographers most of us admire.

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I agree with Leonid about the lines and tempi being changed by the height and mass of the dancer--at some point physics does enter into the picture. Small birds have different dynamics than large ones, and smaller dancers, such as Joaquin de Luz and Antoinio Carmena are very effective in the fast movements of Symphony in C, darting in and out, in ways that might be less exciting with tall dancers.

Great! Join my crusade.

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Surely the answer could equally be, that you only train and employ dancers for Romantic and Petipa ballets with the correct emploi. Since when does the fact that people are taller today become either an artistic or aesthetic consideration. We do not transpose up or down operatic scores for singers because of limited or peculiar abilities. Today we find authenticity an accepted approach in the restoration and performance of opera and music. Counter tenors up until 40 years ago were almost de trop. Today they are di rigueur in many vocal works.

Either academic Romantic/Classical ballet is a high art or its an entertainment wherein we can choose to change rules willy nilly. Where are we all coming from?

Either its ok to bastardize an art form or its not and as you can plainly see, I think not.

Well first of all, let's think of the practical problems if you require all classical ballet dancers to be within your rather rigid confines. Suppose you were, say, Elisabeth Platel or Altynai Asylmuratova, who both run large ballet schools that are deeply steeped in tradition. They accept a certain number of students every year, and those students are generally around 9-10 in age. While they vigorously check out things like proportion and body shape, they CANNOT, in this day and age, predict that all the dancers they accept will be under 5'6" for boys and 5'2" for girls. In Petipa's age they could, because, as people have pointed out, people were shorter then. So suppose in the Vaganova school a talented girl gets accepted and grows up and only grows in talent and technique. But oops! She's 5'5"! As a teacher, what would you do? Tell the girl "Sorry, you will never dance anything by Petipa because you are too tall? So buh-bye?"

Let's not forget that the grand master Petipa himself was not always pleased with the casts he had for his ballets. He had to cast with the dancers he had.

I'm not saying to throw out things like emploi, and I agree with Quiggin that some choreography simply looks wrong on extremely tall dancers. That includes, for instance, the main duo in "Rubies" (by Balanchine, a neo-classical choreographer). It's been tradition to cast the ballet with two short dynamo allegro dancers. Uliana Lopatkina dancing "Rubies" would look terribly wrong, MUCH more distorted than, say, a medium height dancer dancing Aurora.

For me, I often think the *way* a dancer dances the choreography is much more important than how the dancer actually looks. Viktoria Tereshkina, for instance, is a rather tall, leggy dancer who is extremely talented at executing very fast allegro footwork that usually one associates with shorter dancers.

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While they vigorously check out things like proportion and body shape, they CANNOT, in this day and age, predict that all the dancers they accept will be under 5'6" for boys and 5'2" for girls. In Petipa's age they could, because, as people have pointed out, people were shorter then. So suppose in the Vaganova school a talented girl gets accepted and grows up and only grows in talent and technique. But oops! She's 5'5"! As a teacher, what would you do? Tell the girl "Sorry, you will never dance anything by Petipa because you are too tall? So buh-bye?"

Let's not forget that the grand master Petipa himself was not always pleased with the casts he had for his ballets. He had to cast with the dancers he had.

I'm not saying to throw out things like emploi, and I agree with Quiggin that some choreography simply looks wrong on extremely tall dancers. That includes, for instance, the main duo in "Rubies" (by Balanchine, a neo-classical choreographer). It's been tradition to cast the ballet with two short dynamo allegro dancers. Uliana Lopatkina dancing "Rubies" would look terribly wrong, MUCH more distorted than, say, a medium height dancer dancing Aurora.

It is a grave error to suppose that all people in Russia or England were shorter in the Petipa era. You only have to look the number of guards regiments with their height restrictions.

Even(forgive the expression) the peasant class produced tall off spring.

As short people have been always with us so have the tall.

The average height of American females age 20 plus is 5'3.8", the average height of White American female 20 plus is 5'4.9", in Russia the average height is 5'3", in the UK 5.4.3", in France at 20 plus is 5'4.3"

But to reach those averages, there must be a huge number around only 5' tall.

I think you will find today there are many classical dancers that exceed the above heights and I am not sure what the attraction is for very leggy dancers. Is it aesthetic?

Petipa, in general had excellent casts for his ballet and I am pretty sure that small dancers in 19th century ballet were chosen for very particular reasons.

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. Since when does the fact that people are taller today become either an artistic or aesthetic consideration. We do not transpose up or down operatic scores for singers because of limited or peculiar abilities.

.......

Today we find authenticity an accepted approach in the restoration and performance of opera and music. Counter tenors up until 40 years ago were almost de trop. Today they are di rigueur in many vocal works.

But transposition is relatively common on the operatic stage. Both for particular performers such as Sutherland, Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, and Villazon as well as certain sections of often performed works like La Boheme and Il trovatore. The last Met revival of Don Carlo included transposed sections.

Your counter tenor comment is puzzling. Certainly counter tenors are not an authentic solution to fill in the vacancy left by castrati. They are accepted today as a compromise, possibly the best one available, so that Baroque music can be performed. If we were to take a real , purist point of view we would say

that Rinaldo or Rodelinda could not be performed as there are no castrati available . After all, that's the voice type that Handel composed many of his roles for.

These are very complex problems, whether we are speaking of singer's voice categories or dancer's physical attributes. And there are no perfect solutions and compromise of some sort or another is usually employed ("emploi-d"???? :helpsmilie: )

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