bart, on Aug 3 2009, 07:23 PM, said:
This is fascinating. Earlier, leonid wrote:
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?
This expands the question of height into a question about the dancer's proportions.
The illusion of long legs is usually enhanced by having a short torso. So is the current favored body type short torso/ long legs?
Let's say that you have two female ballet dancers, each 5'8" or 5'9 -- "tall" by most standards even today. One dancer has a short torso and very long legs and arms. The other has proportions more typical of the dancers on whom Petipa set his dances. How would these differences be reflected in how well (and how musically) they can dance the Petipa ballerina roles?
Regarding what you ask about the current favoured body type. How would you categorise, Ananiashvilli, Vishneva, Cojocaru, Nunez, Osipova or Rojo? I don't think of them as particularly short torso/long legged on stage,
All I have proposed is that the fairly unified proportion of dancers in a company is to me more pleasing and that Petipa and the ballet choreographers of the 19th century deliberately chose only short dancers with a balanced figure. I know Taglioni was apparently of an elongated physique, but there has only been one Taglioni.
I can confess that the very tall Deanne Bergsma as the Lilac Fairy remains after Zubkovskaya my favourite in this role due to the expansive yet embracing quality of her performance and of course her superb mimetic ability. So yes, tall dancers can be successful in some Petipa roles if they are artist enough and the have balanced proportions. The Royal Ballet is yet to produce another Bergsma.
You have asked quite a wide question in asking me to compare and contrast two body types when there are other considerations to be taken into account not mentioned. I think, it would depend on the strength of their technique in allegro passages which may be a problem for a long legged dancer as can virtuoso steps. When I see a tall or long legged dancer perform a gargouillade, I shudder. It just look plain wrong, like spiders legs.
Where there is the inequality in the proportions you describe in your first type, balanced Petipa shapes cannot in my opinion be achieved. Musicality is always a problem when you consider those dancers that perform steps precisely to the music and those that inhabit or become the music and body shape then, does not enter the reckoning.
I think having possibly grown up with the RB, Festival Ballet and the Kirov of 1961, a preference and a rightness of proportions seemed established for me and later historical study reinforced that.
Supreme artists overcome any of the short comings of torso or leg length, like Ulanova, but they are in my opinion quite rare and if not of the first rank, spoil for me the inherent perfection of balance, of the experience of Petipa's choreography.