drb

Damian Woetzel

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Damian Woetzel will retire from the company after 23 years, June 18, 2008. While his greatness is centered on his beloved Robbins rep, "... Jerry was the deciding factor in my joining City Ballet," he also excelled in Balanchine. During most of his career he was the all-American virtuoso component of the company's male dance triumvirate of opposites, with classicist Peter Boal and super-partner Jock Soto.

Vanity Fair is honoring his retirement with a 14 photo spread:

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features...slideshow200806

The Spring issue of NYCB News includes a Q&A (by Joseph Guttridge) with Mr. Woetzel. A summary:

Q: [...]some of your earliest memories from when you started with the Company[...]?

A: My first Company class was very unusual, as it was the only time in all my experience that [NYCB Ballet Mistress] Rosemary Dunleavy taught class[...]. It was a great class!

I joined the Company the day after my [sAB] Workshop performance[...]. Jerry Robbins was making his new ballet, In Memory of... , and I ended up dancing one of the demi-soloist roles at the premiere, which was only a week after I joined the Company. It was a wonderful way to start.

Q: What have been some of your most memorable roles?

A: The roles I learned from Jerry were very special. He cared so much for every step of the process and invested so much energy in preparing his ballets. He made you feel a great amount of of responsibility. I remember learning the Boy in Brown in Dances at a Gathering--that was a very special experience. And watching Jerry demonstrate the part he created and danced himself in Fancy Free was amazing. That's the part I do, the rumba sailor. Of course it was daunting as well because even when he was older, he was uniquely effective at showing the character he was trying to create.

Q: Over the years, how has your dancing changed?

A: For me it's been about trying to keep progressing over the long term, while in the short term having as much impact and fun as I could with any one ballet. Being authentic to whichever part I am dancing has been the most important thing. It's never been enough for me just to be taught the steps and go out there and do it. I tend to study a ballet and its various versions and interpreters, and then work toward finding where I fit in and really discovering the ballet, in a sense. I have been engrossed with ballet my whole life, and even early on I couldn't get enough of the history. I needed to know everything. That's all been a part of me as a dancer and something I could draw on over the course of my career.

He was also asked why he selected Balanchine's Prodigal Son ("...a ballet I love both to watch and to dance. It is an endlessly fulfilling role.") and Robbins' Fancy Free ("... a uniquely American aspect to it that has always felt particularly right to me.") for his farewell program. On Mr. B: "The Balanchine repertory has been the mainstay of my career." On Mr. R: "Jerry was the deciding factor in my joining City Ballet--the chance to work with a genius." As to what he was looking forward to, "So many things, but I will just say 'The future...' "

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Peter Boal, Jock Soto and now Damian. It is truly the end of a special era.

drb,

Thanks for the posting and the link, I fully enjoyed it.

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I was just watching the local NBC station and on comes a five-minute feature on Damien Woetzel! Don't know if it was a re-run and this may have been posted elsewhere on BT (couldn't find it with search). He gives a ballet lesson, turns, discusses his Masters, etc. But it turns out that this started out at 9 and a half minutes. A ballet he choreographs about Uranium was cut, but his 10-or-so-tuple turn was included. NBC posted the whole, uncut video:

http://lxtv.com/1stlookny/video/7599

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Great stuff! Thanks, drb!

Woetzel, as one would expect, is intelligent and clever. Mo Rocca must have been taking some practice sessions. His feet, as Woetzel says, are good. He does a mean tendu. His battements are grand. He can spot. And he knows how to begin a pirouette! Is there an opening at NYCB now that Woetzel is leaving? :wacko:

By the way, does anyone have any thoughts about what Woetzel's next career step might -- or ought to -- be? His attitude, expressed in one of the quotes in drb's post, is rather promising:

I needed to know everything. That's all been a part of me as a dancer and something I could draw on over the course of my career.

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His feet, as Woetzel says, are good. He does a mean tendu. His battements are grand. He can spot. And he knows how to begin a pirouette! Is there an opening at NYCB now that Woetzel is leaving? :thumbsup:

Mo's gotta rethink his career choices -- Peter Sagal is never going to give him the opportunity to showcase those feet on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" :wacko:

I think he would have done even better in slippers rather than his socks ...

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...By the way, does anyone have any thoughts about what Woetzel's next career step might -- or ought to -- be? His attitude, expressed in one of the quotes in drb's post, is rather promising:
I needed to know everything. That's all been a part of me as a dancer and something I could draw on over the course of my career.

I just found the original telecast (5 minutes) on The Winger, posted at the beginning of August, so that probably dates the interview. Then, googled Damian Woetzel, using the "other" to "video" process and really found some surprises: There are an amazing number of YouTube vids for an American dancer, such as Sleeping Beauty ('84!), both White and Black Swans, with Miranda Weese, from '99, and much more.

But also lots that is not on YouTube. Perhaps to bart's question, for our interest in the intellectual side of the dancer, there is a public radio interview (on vid), on a program that runs well over an hour. Mr. Woetzel comes on around the 49 minute mark (it isn't hard to click ahead to it) and talks for 11 minutes about the MA, ballet, how he decided to dance ballet. This being the Vail Ideas Festival, he relates his MA to the current state of ballet, that it is "coasting on the 20th Century," the balancing of preservation and progress, and how it might go forward. For those not wishing to go through the google process to find it:

http://fora.tv/2007/07/07/A_Public_Radio_I...ational_Program

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Fantastic picture of Damian sharing the joy of dance (as he did so well as a dancer) with a young boy at this year's Vail Festival, on the Vail International Dance Festival's facebook page:

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