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Allegra Kent on Charlie Rose


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#31 carbro

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 03:36 PM

Unless I'm misremembering, Kent graduated from a selective private high school at 15. No matter how you gauge intelligence, I think that fact confirms that Kent has it.

Whenever I am presented with the opportunity to speak into a microphone, whether it is for an audience of 100 relatively familiar people or broadcast tv, I am at my unmistakable far-from-best. I am nervous, hesitant, almost paralytically self-conscious, editing as I speak. I've never been a guest on a tv talk show, and now you know why. :devil: Most people may not get as rattled as I do, but I'm guessing that most who are not regular broadcast subjects have trouble being natural.

#32 DeborahB

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 04:11 PM

As someone who has worked as a publicist for decades(and with major national media), I can tell you that Ms. Kent did just fine. Charlie Rose's show is taped, and does not have an audience.
Ms. Kent and/or her publicist, were given an idea of what the questions would be beforehand. In fact, Ms. Kent was probably asked if she wanted to cover anything in particular. It is also likely that a pre-interview (by phone) was conducted well in advance of the taping.
However, Mr. Rose, like all good interviewers, may veer off the written questions/outline as the conversations dictates.
That said, he and his producers are especially thorough, professional, and courteous.
Being interviewed on tv -- whether live or taped -- is very difficult. Even when you think you are prepared, you may not be.
I have seen the most articulate people crumble when the red light on the camera suddenly appears (most distressing when it's a live interview).

#33 bart

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 05:05 PM

Many thanks for those insights, DeborahB. You helps put those brief 15 minutes in context. :thumbsup:

#34 Amy Reusch

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 08:17 PM

To get back to what she talked about, I'm putting a rough paraphrasing down here... [is this more or less what you heard her communicating?] Totally paraphrased by me, nothing is a direct quote..THIS IS NOT A TRANSCRIPT!!! ... one of you others can give it an exact transcript if you like... [Secretary? I think she looks beautiful, she's not 23 after all]

This is what I "understood" her to answer to Charlie Rose's questions:

Was it hard to write with such candor?
I originally wrote it just to write it down, not for it to be published... so candor wasn't any more difficult than writing into a diary.. When it turned out it was going to be published, .. I became a little more nervous.

Tell me about your relationship with George Balanchine…
He was interested in my talent, and you know, he usually married the women whose talent he was interested in... but he was already married at the time, so things were complicated... He created for me... but it didn't always follow that he was romantically involved with his muses; with the dancers he was grooming... but of course, there was that work The Seven Deadly Sins, he that he did for me... I did the sinning in that.

Was there a type you were cast as? Passive, for instance?
I don't feel I was that passive, despite what people said. There was that role where I never touched the floor. I was inaccessible, a fifth man tried to reach for me. I was elusive.

Why was Balanchine such a Master?
Well, he was genius. He understood music as a composer does, but he understood dancers better than they did themselves. He could see what a dancer was capable of before they had even attempted it. He was intuitive about how your personality might lead your ability.

Here is what others said about the two of you: #1-You dared to take time off to have babies.
Balanchine didn't like that. He didn't want his ballerinas to get married, but I did. I was too young to marry; unfortunately I followed my mother's advice and did. I had a strange childhood. My father had lost all his money, so my mother improvised to get us by. She figured out that we could live cheaply if we lived in Miami Beach or Los Angeles.

#2-You would "disobey" Balanchine...

I had three children...

He wanted you to work harder than you worked
I worked very very hard!

But he wanted you to be devoted to dance.
Totally. I wanted that. Dancing takes you 24/7, and I wanted that… but at other times I wanted to be a traditional woman and have a baby, to be a mother, so I did. But he allowed me to do this.

Unlike others...
Well, everyone has their own story… but he was very generous to me.

Why?
He liked my dancing.

Was there anything more?
Well, he didn't understand why I wanted a third child, but he did let me come back.

What are your regrets about that time?
Well, at the time of the babies, I had no regrets... you see, early on I established a pattern of leaving and returning, ["being there and leaving, being there and leaving"] and I just followed that pattern... but later on, I said had too much on my plate to take on Liebslieder Waltzer and I'm sorry I ever said "no" to anything he asked me to do.

Anything he "asked you to do"?
Well, anything dance-wise.

Was he in love with you?

I think so, but he was married. My mother wanted me married and out of the playing field. Maybe she was afraid it wasn’t in my cards, but she might have waited a little longer to see what might happen.

Tell me about your first husband.
We were incompatible. [etc., not interesting to me the emotional pain her husband’s activities put her through] ... I took certain rules very literally, but somehow not Balanchine's rules!

Yes, you took your mother's & others rules seriously, but not Balanchines..
Yes, I know...

But Balanchine protected you, and you stayed at the company until just before he died even though you weren't dancing...
Yes, he did. He was very generous helping me through that very difficult transition out of dancing into the next career, while I found my way... keeping me in the company even though I only danced once a year.

How did Susanne Farrell's arrival affect your relationship with Balanchine?
His interested shifted to her, but not totally. At times I was upset, as the other ballerineas were… but at other times, I just danced and when I danced well, life was rewarding... but it still meant most when Balanchine came back and said something about how I danced and those times became few and far between when Farrell was on the scene. I missed the feedback.

Is it hard for a ballerina to realize she can't dance well any more, as it is for an athlete?
Yes! But those women runners, they keep surprising us by winning even in their forties! The body changes. My muscles are almost 60, but they feel younger than that; however I don’t have the flexibility I used to have.

What was the hardest thing to write about?
About the difficult times with my first husband and my children... when I was frightened at finding myself responsible for bringing up three kids on only a ballerina's income, and wishing I had handled myself differently... I was so upset, I was ill with mono, so starting up was difficult... but people called me up with offers of work... Jerry Robbins called and encouraged me to come to back to work... and so I did. Work really helped me through the rough times.

What is the happiest moment in this book?
Every time my life picked up again. I hit bottom and started up again again more than once. And I was happy to dance again at 50! Also, I managed to overcome stage fright…

Charlie Rose wraps up and leaves us off with a clip from Dancing for Mr. B, where Allegra Kent dances a seemingly precariously balanced/partnered bit from Symphony in C with Conrad Ludlow... not that Conrad Ludlow is not doing a good job, after all she trusts him deeply in those fall backs, but rather that after the interview it's a bit of a metaphor for her

I offered the above in case anyone wanted to discuss the gist of the content rather than the performance of the interview... AGAIN, THIS WAS NOT A TRANSCRIPT

#35 papeetepatrick

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 08:36 PM

Brava, Amy! And what I notice more than ever reading this is the way she was able to be fully involved with Balanchine and then completely non-involved with him when she was totally involved with her family life:

It's this one where I think she managed to verbalize it perfectly. It doesn't seem like fireworks, but it is! Because she really did somehow manage to do both, and he must surely have allowed her to do this not only because of his generosity, but also because she could do this. Not that it would have always been seamless and smooth, but in just a few words she describes the near-impossible thing she did. I guess I keep thinking it proves her extraordinary independence and gifts, and it gives her her own singular profile among the Balanchine muses. I do agree with the person (vipa) who said 'she is special' and also with you that she does look beautiful. Anyway, this part of the interview, simple as it is, is the part where you see this amazing revolving-door life that somehow works while sounding impossible:

But he wanted you to be devoted to dance.
Totally. I wanted that. Dancing takes you 24/7, and I wanted that… but at other times I wanted to be a normal woman and have a baby, to be a mother, so I did. But he allowed me to do this


which is immediatly followed by this:

Unlike others...
Well, everyone has their own story… but he was very generous to me.


And that was the response to his prodding that I thought showed such skill and verbal elan.

#36 perky

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 05:04 AM

Thank you for taking the time to post this Amy! Allegra has mannerisms when she speaks that I suppose some people could call eccentric. I call them charming. She's the sort of dancer where her personality is as alluring and exciting as her dancing. In my opinion she has a tremendous inner core of strength while at times appearing almost fragile. What a interesting combination!

#37 popularlibrary

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 12:13 PM

I've watched this interview, and mostly thought Charlie Rose showed, as he has in other interviews, that he doesn't know a great deal about dance or dancers; it would also help if he managed to resist his love of his own voice a little better. Still, I thought, for all that it was two people talking somewhat at cross-purposes, Allegra did pretty well.

But that's neither here nor there. In reading the discussion here, and over at the Suzanne Farrell Holding onto the Air thread, some strands in both reminded me irresistably of a long ago colleague - a man of great charm, and, in fact as well as in his own estimation, a person of high culture, and fine intellect. I remember once, when I was reading the jacobean playwrights and commented that I found John Fletcher's plays amusing and fun, my colleague was horrified at my appalling taste and spent days patiently and not-so-patiently explaining why Fletcher was a dreadful writer in whom no intellegent person should indulge. He believed in studying painting by looking at black and white photos of sections so he could study brush strokes without color getting in the way of analysis, and he chose his opera performances by conductor because, as he explained, singers were empty vessels of doubtful understanding who needed a master intellect to guide them. He had little use for dancing because one could not waste analytical effort on an art so lacking in intelligence.

In short, he took his own highly specific definition of intelligence and used it to elevate intellectual snobbery to an art. He saw nothing ridiculous or limited in this and would probably have dismissed Thurber's warning about leaning over so far backwards you fall on your face as frivolous.

#38 SandyMcKean

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 01:37 PM

As someone who has worked as a publicist for decades.........

I second the thanks Deborah.

I've always wondered how these things go. Just to what extent they are spontaneous vs scripted; just how much leeway each party has. You've given us real live insight. I'll watch/hear interviews from a different perspective now........and so many interviews: John Stewart, Colbert, even Sunday news shows, often seem driven by the interviewee's need (contractual obligations I presume) to market a book.

#39 oyoyoyoyoy

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 02:35 PM

No one mentions that this interview is from 1997. As Allegra states, she wrote the book for herself and then it was published so at the time of this interview she had not done a lot of public speaking. I think you would find her much more polished today. But who cares?!

Allegra is Allegra; there is no one like her. I think she is a national treasure. Stunningly beautiful, gracious, and very, very intelligent.

#40 bart

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 06:54 AM

Allegra is Allegra; there is no one like her. I think she is a national treasure. Stunningly beautiful, gracious, and very, very intelligent.

And original. Since this thread began, I've been inundated with memories and visual images of Kent in the late fifties and through the 60s. She was such an original dancer, quite pure, beautiful and willing to risk, and always creating (in me at least) a little bit of tension as to how she would handle the role. Her independence in her career and her originality in her dancing are, for me, part of the same phenomenon.

No one at NYCB was anything like her. (I never got to see Le Clercq.) No one could fall into an arabesque penchee the way she did -- naturally, tension-free. She responded to music so directly, pliantly and spontaneously that she made you listen to familiar scores with new ears. (Her Swan Lake Act II struck me this way.) You could feel viscerally the qualities that Balanchine must have seen in her. This was more true on stage, I think, than on video.

Here's a Kent story from Edward Gorey's Ascending Peculiarity. I've broken it up into smaller paragraphs for easier reading on line.

I know a lot of ballet dancers, but I did not know Allegra Kent. She's always been one of my favorites but I'd never met her.

One day my phone rang and this chirpy little voice came over the phone, "Hello, is this Edward Gorey?" I said, "Yes." She said. "This is Allegra Kent." And I thought, "Oh, sure, honey. Now tell me something new." Anyway it was very ambiguous what she said. She said, "I've done this book on water exercises, and I want to send it to you."

I thought she was sending me manuscripts because she wanted me to illustrate them or whatever. So I was sort of startled by this, because I always worshipped at her shrine. Then I thought, "This is the kind of joke that people usually pull on people."

I was talking to somebody a day or so later and said, "Oh, listen, I had the goofiest phone call a couple of days ago." I told them about it. They said, "Oh, that was Allegra. That's very Allegra."

Indeed, about a week later the book arrived. Then she started sending me notes and things. She does things like write a note and then stitch it up inside a paper bag and mail it. I was just crazed, but it was very amusing.

Gorey attended the book party. He writes about the Kent water-exercise system:

You put on these little, tiny water wings, which you clamp to your wrists and your ankles, and you overcome gravsity. She gave us a demonstration in the pool. The pool was filled with camellias stapled to water-lily petals. Oh dear.

The English treasure eccentricity and whimsy in their artists. If she'd been with Royal, she'd probably be a Dame by now.

#41 carbro

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 09:36 AM

The English treasure eccentricity and whimsy in their artists. If she'd been with Royal, she'd probably be a Dame by now.

Undoubtedly.

Thanks so much for that delicious passage from Gorey's book. I've been doing a bit of time traveling lately, and that gave me another brief trip back a few decades. A visit to NYCB wasn't complete without at least a glimpse of Gorey holding his intermission court near the southern staircase on the promenade.

#42 bart

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:16 AM

A visit to NYCB wasn't complete without at least a glimpse of Gorey holding his intermission court near the southern staircase on the promenade.

Indeed. And Balanchine/Farrell having coffee and (what? a burger?) at that Greek coffee shop just a bit north of Lincoln Center. And Jacques d'Amboise at the West Side Y. And ... and ... and .. a lot else as well. Wonderful days. I wish that someone would put together a complilation of fan memories from this period.

#43 kfw

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:32 AM

A visit to NYCB wasn't complete without at least a glimpse of Gorey holding his intermission court near the southern staircase on the promenade.

Indeed. And Balanchine/Farrell having coffee and (what? a burger?) at that Greek coffee shop just a bit north of Lincoln Center. And Jacques d'Amboise at the West Side Y. And ... and ... and .. a lot else as well. Wonderful days. I wish that someone would put together a complilation of fan memories from this period.

And then figure out a way to upload them all to YouTube. :) What would D'Amboise be doing at the Y?

#44 bart

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:38 AM

What would D'Amboise be doing at the Y?

Working out, I assume. Lots of male dancers from NYCB and elsewhere worked out at the Y as well, as I recall. I always assumed that a certain amount of weight training would be useful when it came to hoisting ballerinas up into the air and carrying them abouny. This was in the 70s. Personal trainers and elite studios were not so common then, and I don't think that NYCB, ABT, or the Joffrey had facilities or programs of their own.

Generally, the West Side was like an extended village. (Possibly it still is.) Performer-sightings were so common that usually they didn't register as anything special. You always left these people alone. It was quite nice, actually.

#45 dirac

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:58 AM

I offered the above in case anyone wanted to discuss the gist of the content rather than the performance of the interview... AGAIN, THIS WAS NOT A TRANSCRIPT


Indeed, it is not a transcript. I would definitely recommend listening to the broadcast.

I thought Kent was just fine, and I suspect the occasional ditziness is more a kind of protective coloration than anything else. She's obviously a clever woman.

Rose isn't perfect, but we all owe him a vote of thanks for hosting dancers regularly on his program. Thanks for posting this, canbelto, I missed this interview the first time around.


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