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Girls and Women


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#1 liebs

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Posted 06 May 2001 - 09:57 PM

I've been thinking recently about how some female dancers seem girlish even when they are mature. But others seem womanly, more sensual and perhaps darker even when they are young.

In the first category, exemplifying a girlish quality I would put Gelsey Kirkland, Larissa Lezhina (sp?) and Darci Kistler. Perhaps, that's why Kistler is still successful in roles like the Girl is La Valse and can be partnered with the much younger Jared Angle.

Dancers such as Makarova, Suzanne Farrell, Kyra Nichols, Martine Van HAmel, Susan Jaffe and Monica Mason seem(ed) womanly to me even when they were young. From what I've seen on video, Farrell even when young had a sensual, womanly quality. I never found Nichols to be very convincing in Afternoon of a Faun. She's too adult and self-aware to play the self-centered girl in that ballet.

Some dancers like Patricia McBride or Jennifer Ringer are chameleons, youthful and girlish in The Four Seasons but very womanly and mature in the "quarreling lovers" ppd from Robbins' In the Night. Fonteyn could also be either girl or women and was sometimes both as in Sleeping Beauty where we saw her progression to maturity. I think Amanda McKerrow also fits into this category, youthful in the first act of Giselle but womanly in The Leaves are Fading.

There are dancers who make the transition as they mature like Lynne Seymour. She was famous for her wild, child-like quality in her youth but by the time of A Month in the Country, she was able to convey the passion of a mature, even world weary woman.

I like dancers in both categories and it is interesting to speculate about some of the younger dancers we are watching now.

#2 Manhattnik

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 04:46 AM

I think this is a case of "in ballet, as in life." There are lots of girlish women and womanly girls in real life, not just the ballet. I do think that there is something about ballet that tends to reward women for acting "girlish," rather than mature.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 09:18 AM

Interesting topic, liebs. I think the same thing could be said about boys and men, and perhaps for the reason Manhattnik mentioned: that today, dancers are rewarded for remaining "boys and girls." Maturity, in any sense, is seldom rewarded. It's interesting to look at photos of companies 50 years ago, when there was a much wider range of ages -- some people in their 40s, a lot in their mid-30s. The young dancers are trying as hard as possible to look 30 (I think it was the same in movies).

I would put Makarova in the "girl" category, but otherwise my list would be very similar to liebs.

#4 BalletNut

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 06:45 PM

I couldn't help noticing how the distinctions seem to ride on physique: many of the "girlish" dancers, like Kirkland, Makarova, and Larisa Lezhnina [for the record, I think La Lacarra belongs here too ;)] , possess a very tiny, almost prepubescent build, as well as what might be referred to as a "baby face," which might explain the not-so-tiny Kistler's girlishness. Likewise, many of the womanly ballerinas have figures that are, well, womanly, especially Suzanne Farrell, Martine Van Hamel, and, I think, Margot Fonteyn, at least from what I've seen of her [2 dated videos, to be exact].

#5 Juliet

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Posted 08 May 2001 - 10:57 AM

Unless we have seen two different dancers with the same name, Lucia Lacarra does not have a tiny, prepubescent build.....

I think that trying to capture some of the lithe, vital aspects of youth is laudable, but I tend to prefer dancing with some of the maturity of character that one occasionally gains with age, or a variety of repertory. Especially in the case of men, I find a dancer who is not continually 17 vastly more interesting....

I find dancers' changing and developing portrayal of a role fascinating to watch....Julie Kent dancing Odette is vastly more interesting to watch now, as compared to ten years ago... Makarova did a passionate Juliet toward the end of her dancing career that was so much more moving simply because of the breadth and depth of experience she has gained in her life....

Fonteyn, of course, is a perfect example--her career was long and varied and is a grand illustration of development of roles, because she was able to dance for such a long time.

I wish there weren't such a huge gap for the men--from Bluebird to Prince to Dr. Coppelius seems rather unfair.....

#6 LMCtech

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Posted 10 May 2001 - 12:41 PM

You must be thinking of someone else. Lucia Lacarra has a VERY pre-pubescent figure.

#7 Juliet

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Posted 10 May 2001 - 08:42 PM

Perhaps I am mistaken. I have only seen her under a dozen times.......but I never associated her with girlishness. Of course, I don't think of Makarova that way, either.

For me, it is not so much to do with body type, actually.....Of course there are dancers like Mukhamedov, who never, ever looked boyish, even when very young.

#8 Diana

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Posted 12 May 2001 - 03:51 AM

For me, there are sometimes when they are both. For instance, Lucette Aldous as Kitri, in Nureyev's staging of Don Q. Tiny in build, but like a fireball of energy on stage - during first act, she is energetic and happy, but in tavern at Basil's fake death, she is like motherly figure weeping over beloved. Maybe my thinking is a little different?

What are today's dancers? Girl, women.. in Kirkland's time, they were so skinny, like girl.. now, dancers have athletic figure and women can almost do anything men can. Maybe they do.

I think very girly like dancer was Larissa Lezhnina. Seemed like perfect Princess Aurora, sweet, innocent, megawatt smile. But strangely, her smile is sometimes like Kolpakova, but they are very different, to me.

Sorry if dancers I say are not current!!


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