Posted 14 November 1998 - 10:59 PM
I'm not going to go first this time.
Posted 15 November 1998 - 03:27 AM
What it comes down to is whether or not the dancer communicated with me; did I just sit there and watch her move, or I did I feel something? The great ones are the ones who reach across the footlights and right into my heart.
I've noticed when writing about performances that I can more easily write about those I didn't like. I can go on at length about all the things that were wrong with it. But the more I liked a performance the harder it is to explain why. When I'm enjoying it, I don't pay attention to the details; I just let myself get carried along.
Posted 15 November 1998 - 07:48 AM
Posted 15 November 1998 - 11:43 AM
There's always the exception. For me it's Kirov's Olga Chenchikova, who has retired. She came to Los Angeles at the same time Asylmuratova came. Fans and critics were raving about Asylmuratova and I was going bananas over Chenchikova. She is a large woman (which turned those up-side-down lifts in "Swan Lake's" 2nd act to mere shoulder lifts) and she can't act. Her technique is something else again: rock solid. Even though I knew her performance lacked "soul" I was stunned by her technique and loved her. (The guy sitting next to me called her technique "levers and pullies"; he was right!)
Posted 15 November 1998 - 12:29 PM
My synthesis of all the qualities of a ballerina (or ballerino) is that there has to be enough technical ability so that the choreography can be seen clearly and the ballet is not damaged, but a star can often compensate with a damaged or waning technique through craft -- not only acting (where that is appropriate) but musicality (we can all have a good time defining that one some day!) and style, or polish, or whatever word one uses to connote attention to the details that are often referred to as "beyond technique," yet seldom defined.
I agree with Steve that it's harder to express why you really like a dancer than what's wrong with a performance. Curious, isn't it? Yes, one does get caught up in the performance -- and here, I realize that critics are different from normal people. If you go to the ballet for pleasure, you probably don't want to analyze everything you're seeing. Who asks, after every bite of an ice cream cone, "Is this vanilla as rich as the one I had last Sunday and what is that strange undertaste that I cannot quite identify?"
And, Giannina, I remember Chenchikova. (I think she's on the video of Swan Lake at Wolf Trap, but I haven't checked. I know she did their second night.) I thought the exact same thing. A size 12 Makarova (svelte, but big-boned and tall) and I have never seen anything turn like that and probably never will again.
Posted 15 November 1998 - 05:17 PM
[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited 11-15-98).]
Posted 17 November 1998 - 05:44 AM
But I also judge dancers by the type of ballet and rep I enjoy. For example, I grew up on and love the Balanchine style as shown at the New York City Ballet. For that reason, I've always prefered a Tallchief or Farrell to dramatic dancers that many love.
Posted 17 November 1998 - 11:05 AM
I also get REALLY sniffy if people shove unwarranted virtuoso technique into a classic and ruin the language of it all for me. But then, I am a pedant . . .
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