Jump to content


Gelsey Kirkland - NYCB


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Yvonne

Yvonne

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts

Posted 20 February 2001 - 10:27 PM

Can anyone who was around during Kirkland's years at NYCB, give their opinion as to what some of her best roles were? In her book (other than complaining about Balanchine's classes), she does not go into a lot of detail about the ballets she danced while at NYCB (at least not enough for me!)

Did she ever dance Polyhimnia? If so, what did you think??

Was she still at NYCB during the time Balanchine was working on Who Cares?

When Farrell left, did Kirkland pick up any of her roles, or was that still a little before Kirkland's time??

Just curious...... Posted Image

#2 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 20 February 2001 - 11:01 PM

Yvonne -

I believe Kirkland left NYCB around 1974, which places her departure after Who Cares (choreographed in '70) I don't know if she ever danced it.

The only role that I know overlapped for Kirkland and Farrell is Concerto Barocco (Croce mentions both as giving definitive performances).

Kirkland was very young and in the corps when Farrell left, Merrill Ashley writes of people's surprise when she was given the lead in the revival of Theme and Variations. I'm sure there are people who will have much more complete knowledge than I on this.

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#3 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,246 posts

Posted 20 February 2001 - 11:35 PM

I didn't see Kirkland with NYCB, but she and Farrell were physically so different, I can't imagine that Balanchine would have put them in the same roles--not, as Leigh said, when Kirkland was so young. When Kirkland did "Firebird," several people called her a "hummingbird." She was -- in contention for? rehearsing? understudying? -- the role of Swanhilda in "Coppelia" when she left the company.

#4 Yvonne

Yvonne

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts

Posted 21 February 2001 - 12:54 AM

Was Kirkland physically built similar to Kay Mazzo? Mazzo seems tiny from looking at her pictures (I know that she took many of Farrell's roles, not always with success).

Kirkland states in her book that while she was in rehersals (for Coppeila), she had made a pact to herself that she would leave the company before dancing in that production. Said she had "had enough of glorified triviality"....hmmm?? (McBride certainly had a success with it!) Posted Image



[This message has been edited by Yvonne (edited February 21, 2001).]

#5 liebs

liebs

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 494 posts

Posted 21 February 2001 - 08:20 AM

Ironic, isn't it that Kirkland then danced Swanhilda in the much, IMO, inferior production at ABT.

Did Balanchine choreograph any major roles for her, other than the two revivals mentioned?

#6 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 21 February 2001 - 10:49 AM

I just did a scan through Repertory in Review. It seems he didn't. Robbins used her a few times, most notably in the first section of The Goldberg Variations and the subsidiary choreographers (John Taras et al, most particularly John Clifford, who had a close relationship with both Kirkland sisters) used her. From what I can tell, some other major works she danced were 2nd movement Symphony in C, Valse Fantaisie, La Source, the Rubies section of Jewels and the Novice in Robbins' The Cage. I assume she did Sugar Plum as well, but there are too many casts of that for Rep in Review to mention.

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#7 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,234 posts

Posted 21 February 2001 - 12:55 PM

I'm quite sure that I have read a description of Kirkland as the Sugar Plum Fairy and it is fixed in my memory that I saw her as the girl in pink in Dances at a Gathering. (And yet? I don't entirely trust my memory here...)

By the by, I don't begrudge Kirkland her rage, but fans should remember that she never danced anything (including the silliest nonsense) as if it were "triviality" glorified or not, and I believe the "dancer" Kirkland ultimately has more to "say" on the subject than the "writer"...

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited February 21, 2001).]

#8 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,246 posts

Posted 21 February 2001 - 01:41 PM

Among the many deep, non-trivial roles Kirkland got to dance at ABT was one in "Great Galloping Gottschalk" -- the "Lost my partner, skip to my Lou" section, if memory serves.

Reading dancers on roles brings Rupert Brooke's "Who decries the love, decries the lover, yet what man lauds the thing he throws away?" to mind Posted Image

Yvonne, the other NYCB dancer I thought closest to Kirkland (video comparison only) was Allegra Kent. There's a brief moment of her in Symphony in C, second movement, in the Balanchine biography, and when I first saw it, I thought, "That's Kirkland, well, almost, except she wasn't born then." Posted Image

Mazzo was also very dissimilar to Farrell physically, but was more an adagio dancer than Kirkland, who was very allegro, at that time. That may be one reason Balanchine put Mazzo into "Diamonds" -- it was also an in-between generations period at NYCB, and both Mazzo and Sara Leland were cast in roles which, I've read, many think they would not have gotten during other periods.

Kirkland was very, very young when Farrell left -- 15, I think -- so she wouldn't have been cast in all the leading roles. Balanchine was "bringing her along," as they say.

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited February 21, 2001).]

#9 Yvonne

Yvonne

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts

Posted 21 February 2001 - 05:24 PM

Thanks for all the info everybody. Posted Image Alexandra, I can't EVEN imagine Kirkland in "Great Galloping Gottschalk" since she refused to take part in "Push Comes to Shove"! Those two ballets are cut from the same cloth (IMHO).

#10 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,234 posts

Posted 24 February 2001 - 04:50 PM

[Note, I deleted the two posts from this thread that Drew is rebutting in her answer. I'm posting this note so that the thread makes some sense.]


BalletDanzer--did you ever see Kirkland dance live? For a fact: those of us who did will never forget her technique or her artistry -- including a wonderful classical line THROUGH her feet, delicate and fluid articulation of those feet as she simply walked across the stage in, say, the vision scene of Don Quixote, and even extraordinary balances on pointe in many of her earliest ABT performances. (John Percival compared her "run" across the stage in Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet to Ulanova's. Kirkland was fluid in every inch of her body.)

I don't doubt she did a lot of things to hurt herself, and I would definitely encourage other dancers to avoid such things, but she was a great, great ballerina...History just isn't as tidy as we would like -- the dancing, even when it only lives in memory, is almost always what's most important about a dancer AS a dancer...not the gossip (factual or not) and not even the stories she tells about herself.

Final thought: I know Kirkland also has fans who only know her dancing through the very inadequate video record. (I'm referring to what's available outside of specialized libraries.) But I wouldn't be surprised if someone was not won over by this or that bit on video. In the theater, though, I took friends to see Kirkland who had no interest in ballet at all, and after the performance they would ask me how soon they could see her dance again! Many of us who went to the ballet all the time felt the same way only more so.

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited February 28, 2001).]

#11 Nikiya

Nikiya

    Member

  • New Member
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 24 February 2001 - 05:30 PM

Right On Drew!!!!

#12 Yvonne

Yvonne

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts

Posted 24 February 2001 - 09:01 PM

Drew, I couldn't agree with you more - thanks! I'm one of those individuals (unfortunatly), who has only had the chance to see her on video - and she definately won me over! Posted Image Even on video (and perhaps when she was not even at her best), she STILL comes across SO beautifully with the phrasing of each step and her attention to detail.

No matter what she's done in her personal life, I have never seen another dancer (IMO)that even comes close to her artistry and beauty on stage.

#13 Nikiya

Nikiya

    Member

  • New Member
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 24 February 2001 - 10:19 PM

I think that none of the famous dancers today (at least the ones I've seen) pay as much attention to characterization as they should. At least it doesn't seem like that onstage. The dancers of the seventies and early eighties I think were the best when it came to characterization. Today it seems like all technique. I am sure I could have been more fair in my judgement if I had seen more performances of both generations of dancers, though. Posted Image

[This message has been edited by Nikiya (edited February 24, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Nikiya (edited February 24, 2001).]

#14 Nadezhda

Nadezhda

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 33 posts

Posted 28 February 2001 - 01:47 PM

Originally posted by BalletDanzer:
So Yvonne, do u actually like Gelsey k? I know 4 a fact that she ruined her feet in a practice where the dancers attach elastic to their flats and sit with their feet out to improve their turnout. Anyone who doesthat - Watch centerstage. /.../


This is nmot really in the context, but could someone please explain, what did Ms. Kirkland do to hurt her feet. From BalletDanzer's description it does not really make sense to me.

And Nikiya, I couldn't agree more with you! I think 70's/80's were the time, when majority of dancers turned to characterization of their roles rather than techical perfection (which doesn't mean, they were in general less technically perfect Posted Image ).

N.


------------------
You think you could do anything and you can't. There are always limits, even for very gifted people. It's very hard to accept but there is always an invisible ceiling above you and you should be very careful not to go above it. You should jump into the water but not without knowing how strong the current is.
-Mikhail Baryshnikov

#15 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,246 posts

Posted 28 February 2001 - 02:06 PM

Nadezhda, sorry. I should have deleted that post. I deleted several others from this very young poster, but missed this one. I don't think it's something we have to take seriously.

I'm going to leave your post for a day or two, to make sure you see this answer, and then delete your quote of the post, so we have a clear record and don't leave any questions lingering about Ms. K.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):