canbelto

Allegra Kent on Charlie Rose

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An interview with Allegra Kent can be found here. Enjoy!

I found this interview sad because I found myself questioning Kent's mental state. She seemed unable to articulate meaningful answers to Rose's questions, and showed a disturbing degree of self-involvement--as if she was telling stories to herself or, to use her words, "for no particular audience." I love the Symphony in C clip that Rose included, but wanted more.

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Self indulgence and self centeredness seems to be a common trait among those who choose careers on the stage. No?

She does identify how dancers who start so young and stay so focused on their work are "out of touch" with the world... socially and work wise and how they are often unequipped for what comes after they "retire". This is obviously more applicable to the principals who receive so much attention that they barely have time to venture out beyond the world of dance.

In light of that it may be a good thing for dancers to be married to non artists and have a taste of the reality that the rest of us know.

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Self indulgence and self centeredness seems to be a common trait among those who choose careers on the stage. No?

She does identify how dancers who start so young and stay so focused on their work are "out of touch" with the world... socially and work wise and how they are often unequipped for what comes after they "retire". This is obviously more applicable to the principals who receive so much attention that they barely have time to venture out beyond the world of dance.

In light of that it may be a good thing for dancers to be married to non artists and have a taste of the reality that the rest of us know.

I wouldn't class her among the merely self-indulgent, though--I felt that there was a real disconnect there b/t her inner monologue and the reality of the conversational context Rose was trying to establish (good thing he's such a flexible interlocutor). I guess I want more from her because, as you point out SanderO, she's very smart in many respects, more than many dancers.

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I just watched the clip and have a very different reaction.

I found Allegra to be authentic and genuine. Perhaps a bit flighty, but that's part of her charm it seemed to me. I don't get "self indulgent" at all. Overall I thought the interview very effective from both parties. I enjoyed it.

Perhaps living in certain parts of the world breeds a degree of cynicism in people's conversation about life that has gentle, unhearsed honesty appear disassociated with the "real" world. From my perch I found it refresehing.....so much so that I now plan to read her book.

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When I have guest taught at Steps in NY, she often took class. She is an extremely eccentric lady....

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When I have guest taught at Steps in NY, she often took class. She is an extremely eccentric lady....

And a wonderful ballerina. Creative people are often eccentric, as we know.

I just watched the clip and have a very different reaction.

I found Allegra to be authentic and genuine. Perhaps a bit flighty, but that's part of her charm it seemed to me. I don't get "self indulgent" at all. Overall I thought the interview very effective from both parties. I enjoyed it.

Thanks for your comments, Sandy. I had the same reaction, and I hope you'll tell us what you think of Kent's autobiography. If you've never seen Anne Belle's "Six Ballerina's," soon to be released on DVD, you might enjoy Kent's segment. She speaks holding a white iris.

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I just watched the clip and have a very different reaction.

I found Allegra to be authentic and genuine. Perhaps a bit flighty, but that's part of her charm it seemed to me. I don't get "self indulgent" at all. Overall I thought the interview very effective from both parties. I enjoyed it.

I thought it was marvelous, too. Thanks, canbelto! And yet I had thought her much less compelling and perhaps a bit flighty and even lightweight, in the '6 Balanchine Ballerinas' film from 8 years previous. Here she is sometimes eloquent, and handles Rose's questions with real skill, and she also does some of the difficult questions much better than some of the other ballerinas. On the other film, Melissa Hayden comes off more impressively to my mind. She also looked about 40, and that hardly ever happens at 60 (this was 1997), including with ballerinas. Not at all self-indulgent, rather self-possessed (which I hadn't thought nearly so strongly in the aforementioned film), confident, and--best of all--not at all in awe of any other ballerinas. This is a woman who knew who she was in more than one way, and she engaged totally with Balanchine when she did, but was not hypnotized by him. I was really impressed.

Perhaps living in certain parts of the world breeds a degree of cynicism in people's conversation about life that has gentle, unhearsed honesty appear disassociated with the "real" world.

No, no, no. I can't see what's more cynicism-breeding about Park Avenue and its suburbs than all that Microsoft... I mean--doesn't it just pervade Puget Sound? :)

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No, no, no. I can't see what's more cynicism-breeding about Park Avenue and its suburbs than all that Microsoft... I mean--doesn't it just pervade Puget Sound? :)

I once worked at Microsoft. In my experience, there certainly is a cynicism there -- not a "nothing measures up" kind of cynicism, but more a kind of "the vast majority will never understand" cynicism.

I wouldn't say Microsoft pervades the Puget Sound....altho the money they generate does. Seattle still holds onto its innocence (not necessarily a good thing), but the "savviness" of cynicism is steadily creeping in. Frankly, I'd say our limitiations here are from being too "nice-nice" rather than from being cynical, but in terms of responding to authenticity, the results of the 2 ways of being are pretty similar. Everything is just too PC around here.

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Thanks for that, Sandy. Even though we're :) , that does remind me of being at an airport line in 2002 and talking to a nice and also nice-nice lady from Seattle who must have been one of THE Bill and Melinda Ambassadors--and she made a hilarious point of contrasting their 'homeliness despite wealth' to the British Royal Family, of whom she did not approve! I was very amused.

I may revisit the 6 Balanchine Ballerinas to see Kent in that again, because I don't know whether it was I who changed in 2 years or she who changed in 8--but I hadn't been interested enough to even turn it on till the discussion got going. What had seemed rather vague and not quite decisive about her in the earlier film now seems very specific, sharp and certain. Writing the book would surely be part of what made her ability to focus and articulate so striking and crystal-clear.

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When I have guest taught at Steps in NY, she often took class. She is an extremely eccentric lady....

I used to live next door to her, and was in some dance classes with her (back in the day). She has always had a unique way of expressing herself verbally and as a dancer. She is an extremely intelligent person who never had the slightest interest in being conventional.

When you listen to her speak you have to let go of certain expectations and just go with it. She is special. I remember one time, many years ago, when she couldn't open her locker because the combination lock was stuck. After many people tried the numbers, she marched out (pointe shoes and all) to the local hardware and got a hammer and banged it off with great glee. Not conventional, but direct, strong and the people in the hardware store loved it!

I think of her with great affection and admiration, and enjoyed the interview very much because for me that is and always will be the unique Allegra.

On a separate note - I wonder what her kids are doing.

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I liked her in the "6 Balanchine Ballerinas" interview and in this interview because she's different. Many ballerinas in my observation in older age are as hard as pointe shoes. You can see it in their chins, their steely voices, their tales of the pain and monastic life of dance, their coldness when they are asked about a rival. Not that I blame them -- it's probably the way they have to be. But Allegra seems soft, dreamy, a bit kooky, but I find it endearing. She's somewhat melancholy, but not bitter. Grateful that Mr. B remained loyal to her personally even when he lost interest in her artistically.

And I always love to see the clips of her dancing. Even the brief clip on Charlie Rose showed why Mr. B kept her in the company year after year, after three pregnancies, disastrous plastic surgery, and injuries. She danced like a star.

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... and hasn't she always been? this way, I mean? She seems in wonderful shape to me!

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I first learned of Allegra from the book, Dance Is A Contact Sport, and having seen the small clip at the end of the Charlie Rose interview, she must have been indeed just so enthralling and enchanting. Her physical grace though, does not carry to intellectual fluidity. I found the quality of her comments, and even her demeanor, in that interview, as vapid, rather unpolished. Sad really. I wonder if it was the lack of social interaction with people outside NYCB/ballet world, or perhaps not having engaged in other meaningful pursuits besides ballet that might have limited her capacity to actively engage a serious conversation?

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Oh,you would be surprised how common this phenomenom is...dissapointing indeed. Two books that reflects your point of view are Kirkland's and Farrell's (both of them not even being able to get a high school diploma), so do the math...2 plus 2 is almost always 4.

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I have had the great pleasure and honor of having Allegra Kent coach me when I was dancing and I can assure you she is anything but inarticulate or vapid. I think it is often hard for a dancer such as she, that is so used to expressing herself through movement and music, to find the right words when asked difficult questions. I have read her book and find it to be one of the most honest and compelling ballet biographies written. Amongst dancers, she is known to be quite eccentric, often fragile in spirit, but also amazingly clear about many things in life. She is very generous and encouraging with young dancers. For me, being coached by her was one of the most valuable and memorable moments in my career. It was obvious by the way she guided me that her own dancing was inspired by the music and imagination, not at all self-indulgent. After that experience I could see why she had that amazing "other-world" quality to her dancing. I agree in the Charlie Rose interview she seemed to have a bit of trouble with his questions but I attribute that to her being somewhat out of her element. In my experience she has quite a lot to say and perhaps it wasn't so easy to answer his questions without really being able to delve into the true heart of each one.

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I first learned of Allegra from the book, Dance Is A Contact Sport, and having seen the small clip at the end of the Charlie Rose interview, she must have been indeed just so enthralling and enchanting. Her physical grace though, does not carry to intellectual fluidity. I found the quality of her comments, and even her demeanor, in that interview, as vapid, rather unpolished. Sad really. I wonder if it was the lack of social interaction with people outside NYCB/ballet world, or perhaps not having engaged in other meaningful pursuits besides ballet that might have limited her capacity to actively engage a serious conversation?
Oh,you would be surprised how common this phenomenom is...dissapointing indeed. Two books that reflects your point of view are Kirkland's and Farrell's (both of them not even being able to get a high school diploma), so do the math...2 plus 2 is almost always 4.

People, I think you are being very harsh in these comments. I, and most of the posters on this board, are highly intelligent and verbally articulate with multiple degrees and qualifications. What does that make me? It makes me an average person. Kent, Kirkland and Farrell, on the other hand, are artists of the highest degree who bring beauty and truth into this world. So what if they march to a different drummer? We are the ones who are rewarded.

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I first learned of Allegra from the book, Dance Is A Contact Sport, and having seen the small clip at the end of the Charlie Rose interview, she must have been indeed just so enthralling and enchanting. Her physical grace though, does not carry to intellectual fluidity. I found the quality of her comments, and even her demeanor, in that interview, as vapid, rather unpolished. Sad really. I wonder if it was the lack of social interaction with people outside NYCB/ballet world, or perhaps not having engaged in other meaningful pursuits besides ballet that might have limited her capacity to actively engage a serious conversation?
Oh,you would be surprised how common this phenomenom is...dissapointing indeed. Two books that reflects your point of view are Kirkland's and Farrell's (both of them not even being able to get a high school diploma), so do the math...2 plus 2 is almost always 4.

People, I think you are being very harsh in these comments. I, and most of the posters on this board, are highly intelligent and verbally articulate with multiple degrees and qualifications. What does that make me? It makes me an average person. Kent, Kirkland and Farrell, on the other hand, are artists of the highest degree who bring beauty and truth into this world. So what if they march to a different drummer? We are the ones who are rewarded.

GWTW, I don't disagree with you on a certain level. We make, perhaps, unreasonable demands in expecting these figures to perform as their own best witnesses. The problem is that I'm starting not to feel "rewarded" by what I identify, frankly, as borderline mental illness--or at the very least a profound lack of self-awareness (or awareness of the workings of one's own discipline) compounded by a very poor education. That may just be me being "harsh," sure (I was a bunhead, after all!), but I also see it as taking no pleasure in celebrating someone's "eccentricity" that manifests itself in self-debilitating ways. I felt rewarded when I saw Kent dance; now I just feel sad when I hear her trying to account for and articulate her amazing and rich life.

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I first learned of Allegra from the book, Dance Is A Contact Sport, and having seen the small clip at the end of the Charlie Rose interview, she must have been indeed just so enthralling and enchanting. Her physical grace though, does not carry to intellectual fluidity. I found the quality of her comments, and even her demeanor, in that interview, as vapid, rather unpolished. Sad really. I wonder if it was the lack of social interaction with people outside NYCB/ballet world, or perhaps not having engaged in other meaningful pursuits besides ballet that might have limited her capacity to actively engage a serious conversation?
Oh,you would be surprised how common this phenomenom is...dissapointing indeed. Two books that reflects your point of view are Kirkland's and Farrell's (both of them not even being able to get a high school diploma), so do the math...2 plus 2 is almost always 4.
GWTW, I don't disagree with you on a certain level. We make, perhaps, unreasonable demands in expecting these figures to perform as their own best witnesses. The problem is that I'm starting not to feel "rewarded" by what I identify, frankly, as borderline mental illness--or at the very least a profound lack of self-awareness (or awareness of the workings of one's own discipline) compounded by a very poor education. That may just be me being "harsh," sure (I was a bunhead, after all!), but I also see it as taking no pleasure in celebrating someone's "eccentricity" that manifests itself in self-debilitating ways. I felt rewarded when I saw Kent dance; now I just feel sad when I hear her trying to account for and articulate her amazing and rich life.

I don't care it people are harsh, I just don't think any of these judgments are accurate. She was fully in control and even knew how to shove Rose off when he got too pushy. As for not having a high school education, that's not a legitimate complaint when you've proved yourself elsewhere. I've got degrees and 'qualifications' just like GWTW (although nobody had better call ME average... :wink: ), but I simply cannot see that Allegra was not articulate, and if you think Allegra holding her own is displaying 'borderline mental illness', then I'd like to know where you get that, because, if anything, that seems to demonstrate a problem that is current: Identifying something that many of us see as quite normal as 'borderline mental illness', so that no wonder so many people run to get the medications. And what are the self-debilitating ways in which her eccentricity manifested itself? I've yet to see any evidence of it. If her 'amazing and rich life' is known, how is that known, if she is so abysmally inept at describing it?

People are referring to Allegra Kent as 'sad' or 'sad-making'? And how is she not 'aware of the workings of her discipline'? I even think Farrell and Kirkland are articulate in their own ways, they're not supposed to be intellectuals (and they're not.) But Kent, especially, seems to me very healthy on top of all of it--and that she is really the one who had the ideal relationship with Balanchine: He did not try to force her too hard, and let her make her own decisions. In different ways, neither Kirkland nor Farrell seem quite as obviously balanced (which is not a criticism, just an observation about Kent), and I'm not talking about the dancing of any of them, since they were all great dancers.

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I first learned of Allegra from the book, Dance Is A Contact Sport, and having seen the small clip at the end of the Charlie Rose interview, she must have been indeed just so enthralling and enchanting. Her physical grace though, does not carry to intellectual fluidity. I found the quality of her comments, and even her demeanor, in that interview, as vapid, rather unpolished. Sad really. I wonder if it was the lack of social interaction with people outside NYCB/ballet world, or perhaps not having engaged in other meaningful pursuits besides ballet that might have limited her capacity to actively engage a serious conversation?

I don't know... I think writing is a very different discipline from talking extemporaneously... I remember seeing some footage of Allegra Kent at a lecture demo when she was much much younger and thinking she was so ditzy, and then being stunned when I read her book at what all was going on in that mind. Not everyone thinks linearly in words and grammatical sentences... in fact, perhaps the kind of brain hard-wired for that sort of linear verbal thinking isn't particularly well suited to dancing which requires a multi-focused sensory consciousness? Not that they are mutually exclusive or that it's a valid stereotype... but I'm sure I'm not the first to notice a tendency among many dancers to not be adept at verbal communication, as if that enables their non-verbal communication. I think her mind is flitting across so many ideas that she barely has time verbally to hint at them before she's taken up with the next idea. When she writes, she has time to go back get it all out.

That said, there are still as many different personality types and intelligence types among dancers as there are in the general population.

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No one should be making an unqualified diagnosis of anyone's mental health, especially not based on a short tv interview.

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No one should be making an unqualified diagnosis of anyone's mental health, especially not based on a short TV interview.

Are we going to be back to the DSM-IV discussion ? (I'm in! :devil: )...Anyways, about being both articulated and a dancer is a dichotomy that has been discussed at large in this board before...and yes, there's a factual issue, like it or not...and no Amy Reusch, of course you're not the only one having that idea.

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No one should be making an unqualified diagnosis of anyone's mental health, especially not based on a short tv interview.

I'm not diagnosing and apologize for seeming to; I'm attempting to report my own impressions. I accept that there are different kinds of intelligences and multiple modes of expression, and perhaps Rose might have been more sensitive to Kent in this regard (he's not particularly well-versed on ballet specifics, either--but hey he tries more than most). But I stand by my opinion, completely subjective, that I'm more saddened--deeply, actually--than entertained by Kent's interview and, by extension, with many interviews with performers that reveal a lack of exposure, education, and reflection. Perhaps I idealize artists too much and expect too much.

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Amy and cubanmiamiboy, I hope I'm not beating a dead horse here, but I do think you are stereotyping dancers by implying that their physical prowess is achieved at the expense of their verbal and oral skills. Obviously most dancers, especially the ones of the caliber we're discussing, are better at dancing than talking. Otherwise, Barbara Walters would be out of a job. On the other hand, there are many dancers who do speak well: Peter Martins, Darcey Bussell (on youtube) and Alexandra Ansanelli (there is a long NPR interview with her from a year or two ago) to name a few who immediately jump to mind.

Perhaps I idealize artists too much and expect too much.

Ray, the current celebrity 'culture' has oddly enough pushed me to try and ignore an artist's private life in appreciating their artistic endeavours. There is such an overload of information - true, false and anything in between - that I began to find it difficult to watch movies and television without having a nagging voice telling me who the actors were dating, what they were rehabbing from, etc.

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Amy and cubanmiamiboy, I hope I'm not beating a dead horse here, but I do think you are stereotyping dancers by implying that their physical prowess is achieved at the expense of their verbal and oral skills.

Ok...the point gets close to your thinking, but not quite in a grand total. First, I'm not stereotyping dancers. I mentioned that Kirkland and Farrell decided to stop their studies before graduating from high school, and hence, their general education did have a dead end at some point-(I don't know, on the other side, if any of them decided to continue it afterward during the course of their life). Of course i did not mention several hundred dancers who decide to improve both their educational/intellectual and dancing skills at the same time, and even getting all kind of doctorates and the like. I think there is no way to justify a poverty of speech or communication skills on the lack of time because of ballet life. It would be a personal choice-(and an unfair one)- to blame the art for the quality and quantity of a dancer's education and/or informational level. On the other side, i'm still firm in my idea that this happens very frequently.

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