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Important Women in Ballet


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#46 kfw

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 08:26 AM

Please don't forget the many excellent female critics and dance historians. A few of my favorites (along with those already mentioned): Arlene Croce, Anna Kisselgoff, Selma Jeanne Cohen. And several female philosophers are publishing important work on dance (e.g., Barbara Montero at CUNY, Anna Pakes at Roehampton in the UK). Anna Hutchinson Guest (theory and notation) should also be noted.

 

That's a great point. Liebling already mentioned 

 

Nancy Reynolds- for her Balanchine Foundation projects- which gives some dancers a chance to work with the closest direct links to Balanchine, and then preserves the rehearsals for generations to come.

 

Of course she also wrote everyone's favorite Balanchine Bible, Repertory in Review. And then there is Nancy Goldner, who has written two wonderful volumes of Balanchine criticism and description, Balanchine Variations and More Balanchine Variations.

 

I'd love to read more about Montero, Pakes and Guest on the Writings About Ballet forum.



#47 bart

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 09:13 AM

It's been fun rereading this thread, which asked us to to "list as many influential women we could think of who have had a profound impact on ballet in the 20th century."  Inevitably, a topic like this leads to accumulation, as posters think of more and more figures who have had importance in the field.  So far we have done a commendable job of reminding ourselves about just how many significant women in ballet there have been. 

 

Now, leonid suggests a re-focusing or narrowing down of the topic..

 

I would like to refer back to the first post and tighten the title to a somewhat more detached view in the following.

 

Internationally speaking I would only include most significantly of all Anna Pavlova, Lucia Chase(Co-Founder of American Ballet Theatre), Ninette de Valois and the Russian Agrippina Vaganova as having had a truly wide world affect upon the 21st  century performances of Academic Classical Ballet. 

 

This is quite a challenge.  The new criteria are that the person have a "truly wide world affect" on ballet as we know it in the 21st century.  In other words:  an influence that is international, transformational, enduring.

 

About Pavlova, I can't see any doubt.  She was ballet to most of the world for a long time.

 

But Vaganova, Valois, and Chase?  I find myself wondering.  Much of this is my own ignorance, especially as it relates to the influence of the Vaganova method in international ballet training today.  I also tend to see, possibly erroneously, Valois and especially Chase as figures of national rather than world influence. 

 

But I'm willing to be persuaded (or dissuaded).wink1.gif



#48 vrsfanatic

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 12:27 PM

Bart your courage is amazing! flowers.gif As my late husband (an acclaimed ballet master who was trained in East Germany and in Russia as well as made his USA career in a highly recognized American ballet company) would say, "oh Vikula, you really do not want to open that can of worms". Somehow I always did want to open that can so I could learn more. I will take a crack at the Vaganova question. Of course, you knew I would!

 

Prior to Vaganova, there was no written/codified method of teaching ballet from the beginning to the development of a professional dancer. Cecchetti and the Danes had a written/codified method however, it was for professional dancers only. It was only after Vaganova, with help of many others who are not given the distinguished recognition Vaganova is given, wrote/codified the methodology that others began to put down in ink how to do this and that from the beginning. The French to this day do not have a written program of study that details how to do this and how to do that.

 

As the Russians began to perform through cultural exchange programs as well as defect, the world was able to see the work that had been going on behind that large curtain. It was astounding not only mechanically but also artistically. Artists and audiences alike opened their eyes with eagerness for more. Ballet professionals wanted to know the hows and whys of what they were seeing. Not only did the Russians study ballet from the age of 10 in special schools that functioned as grammar, middle and high school, as we American students were unable to do, they also were trained methodically in music, character, duet (partnering), men's work, pointe, variations and repertoire. In short, they were far more educated in the art of classical dance than we. Europe also opened its' eyes to a higher level of technique and artistry. The Europeans had the educational system in place, but they did not have a program of study that had produced continuously dancers of a high caliber as consistently as the Russians. In the early 1980's through 1995, my husband (who defected in 1974) was asked to help to develop the teaching level of not only the Royal Ballet School in London but also the Australian Ballet School, ballet schools in Japan and the Philippines. The Russians had been quite busy setting up methodology clinics influencing the teaching in China, Cuba and many South American nations. The Russians had also been accepting international teachers to their methodology programs at GITIS (Moscow) and The Vaganova Academy ( St. Petersburg). Many of the teachers trained in Vaganova schooling as teachers were now out and about spreading the word, so to speak. In the 1980's and 1990's, the ballet teaching world was abuzz, discussing what the heck was it that Vaganova schooling was doing. Everyone has their opinions of what they like to see in students, so generally people were not in agreement about what they saw, liked nor understood, however people were talking and opening their eyes and minds to Vaganova schooling. Various small teachers courses began to pop up here and there. Some were qualified to pass along the information they learned in school but only those who had done additional studies as a teacher had the full program at their fingertips. My late husband alone was employed to train teachers in the Vaganova methodology on 3 continents. If this is not worldwide impact, I do not really know what is.

 

The influence of Vaganova and "her" methodology continues to shine through the dancers who continue to delight audiences worldwide. One will find the influence of Vaganova schooling in all of Europe, China, Asia, South America and in the USA. I know of someone setting up the teaching program for the national School in Guatamala!  One might add Central America to the list. While not everyone likes what they see nor agrees on the topic of the schooling, every professional ballet person knows a well trained Vaganova dancer when they see one. Unfortunately I must also say, they also know a poorly trained one as well. There continue to be many people hiding behind the name Vaganova.

 

Please keep Vaganova on the list of most influential women in ballet in the 20th and 21st centuries. toot.gif

.



#49 bart

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 02:11 PM

vrsfanatic, I was sort of hoping that my post would lure you into speaking up in defense of Vaganova.  One aspect of the Vaganova story that I had forgotten while writing to leonid was the simple fact that ...

 

The Europeans had the educational system in place, but they did not have a program of study that had produced continuously dancers of a high caliber as consistently as the Russians.

 

Vaganova provided a template for what was missing outside Russia, and this was especially important in the years when the Soviet Union was more or less isolated from the larger world culture. 

 

You convince me!  Let me add my own sincere  toot.gif   for Vaganova and all the teachers who keep it alive.



#50 leonid17

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 06:03 AM

But Vaganova, Valois, and Chase?  I find myself wondering.  Much of this is my own ignorance, especially as it relates to the influence of the Vaganova method in international ballet training today.  I also tend to see, possibly erroneously, Valois and especially Chase as figures of national rather than world influence. 

 

But I'm willing to be persuaded (or dissuaded).wink1.gif

I leave the Lucia Chase recommendation as to being an " Important Women in Ballet" with ABT;s record of productions, let alone their visits to at least 42 countries.

 

Her American recommendations can be found as follows.

 

http://www.nytimes.c...eward=relbias:r

 

Lucia Chase - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

http://www.danceheri....org/chase.html

 

http://www.huffingto...l_b_386658.html

 

http://www.nytimes.c...er-is-dead.html

 

http://www.broadwayw...-20140512-page2

 

http://query.nytimes...9679C946890D6CF

 

http://www.nytimes.c...eward=relbias:r

 

http://123movies.tv/...hy/Chase,_Lucia

 

PS You will have to wait for me to get round to de Valois and Vaganova.



#51 California

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 06:18 AM

I'd love to read more about Montero, Pakes and Guest on the Writings About Ballet forum.

This overlaps forum topics. Let me just add links to their bios here:

 

Anna Pakes (Roehampton): http://www.roehampto...aff/Anna-Pakes/

 

Barbara Montero (CUNY): http://www.gc.cuny.e...ra-Gail-Montero

 

Ann Hutchinson Guest (Language of Dance Centre): http://www.lodc.org/...nson-guest.html



#52 Nanarina

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 08:51 AM

Merle Park head of The Royal Ballet School, Alytinai  Aslmuratova  now head of the Vaganova  School, Dame Monica Mason, Mona Inglesby  in Australia , Madame Legat  in the UK 



#53 vrsfanatic

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 09:06 AM

Nanarina, A. Asylmuratova has not been the Director of Vaganova Academy since October of 2013.



#54 leonid17

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 09:38 AM

Merle Park head of The Royal Ballet School, Alytinai  Aslmuratova  now head of the Vaganova  School, Dame Monica Mason, Mona Inglesby  in Australia , Madame Legat  in the UK 

I don't believe you can equate the list you have given to the life blood that Lucia Chase gave as much as I fully admire Altynai Asylmuratova.

 

I am not sure how many people believe Merle Park was succesful at The Royal Ballet School and God Bless her, Dame Monica Mason did not get everything right in what was a difficult tenue but in some areas, she remains entirely admirable. In fact the revival of "Sylvia" with Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle was one of the most spectacular events of a decade.

 

Mona Inglesby despite having the assistance of Nicholas Sergeyev with his significant notations of the Mariinsky repetoire and some money behind her from her father, regrettably attracted an English snobbism when it was the dancing that counted. Despite the fact that Miss Inglesby was exceptionally talented technically the story of her " false toe" drew attentions that other dancers would not have experienced.



#55 leonid17

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 10:31 AM

I include Agrippina Vaganova on the following basis.

 

Agrippina Vaganova was accepted into the Imperial Ballet School in 1888 at the usual age of ten graduating from the Classe de Perfection of Eugeniia Sokolova and later worked with, Ekaterina Vazem, Christian Johansson, Lev Ivanov, Nikolai Legat and Pavel Gerdt.  Dedicated in the extreme to achieving a perfected technique though not suitable to many leading roles, she found success as the Goddess Niriti on “The Talisman” winning promotion to that of Prima.

 

Without any great beauty of face or figure Petipa rather dismissed her due to her lack of emploi.

 

However what Vaganova lacked in fluid expression she made up with an extensive technical abilty gaining the accolade of, “the Queen of Variations” due to her extensive virtuosity.

 

Regrettably Petipa abhorred her yet she would achieve success in in Legat's 1915 revival of his “The Talisman.” That year she decided to retire and concentrate on teaching and became and possible remains the most outstanding teacher of the 20th century having graduated from Eugenia Sokolova's .

 

Significantly in 1934 she published her famous book Fundamentals of Classical Dance and this same year Vaganova (along with Boris Shavrov) initiated the establishing at the Leningrad Conservatory of pedagogic department for training of future ballet teachers which she began to manage.

 

Among Vaganova's dance alumnus were the distinguished Soviet ballerinas Marina Semenova, Olga Jordan, Galina Ulanova, Tatiana Vecheslova, Feya Balabina, Natalia Dudinskaya, Alla Shelest, Alla Ossipenko and Irina Kolpakova among many others. Her teaching combined the elegant, refined style of the old French School which Vaganova had been taught by Christian Johansson,

 

At their best, the present day Mariinsky Ballet remain the supreme classicists with a corps de ballet second to none then add a few exceptional ballerinas and thus through Vaganova's achievements she becomes a true example of  "Important Women in Ballet."

 

PS

I will try to conclude tomorrow with Irish born Edris Stannus more readily known as Dame Ninette de Valois.



#56 Helene

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 05:33 PM

Aside from her contribution as a teacher in codifying a teaching method and updating it based on contemporary technical demands, Vaganova was also responsible for updating the Petipa/Ivanov classics for the audiences of the '30's, which included stripping them of mime.  Not only does company style derive from her method, but aside from the reconstructions, many versions performed today stem from that aesthetic.

 

Without Pavlova, deValois's influence wouldn't have been as great, because without Pavlova's tours, there wouldn't have been Ashton.  Independently, the Ballets Russes tours established ballet across many continents, and ballet wouldn't have taken root without many of the female pioneers who established companies and schools in the Commonwealth and the US, on their own and as offshoots and cousins of Balanchine:  without them, ballet would just have been something that passed through once a season, akin to the circus. To those I'd add Celia Franca (National Ballet of Canada) and Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally (Royal Winnipeg Ballet).  Beginning in the 30's, the latter two brought Canadian-themed ballets to the public. 



#57 sandik

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 06:49 PM

Without Pavlova, deValois's influence wouldn't have been as great, because without Pavlova's tours, there wouldn't have been Ashton. 

 

What an interesting idea -- I've been enjoying the reviews of the ABT Cinderella and thinking about the Ashton influence on certain aspects of American ballet.  I didn't make the connection back through to deValois and Pavlova!



#58 Quiggin

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 09:41 PM

Re Agrippina Vaganova, I'm always a bit skeptical when a single person codifies the teachings of a whole school and wonder what was left out, what she or he might have been impatient with.

 

For example, with the Bauhaus School you could have a Josef Albers or Paul Klee codification of the foundation course and they would be quite different things. And likewise there must be other versions of Balanchine technique than the one Suki Schorer teaches (who should perhaps should be on this list of influential teachers).

 

At the Soviet Theater School in 1921 Vaganova replaced Olga Preobrazhenskaya who according to Elizabeth Kendall says taught precision in her own softer way and notes the contrast to Vaganova's "penetrating gaze and steely standards."

 

And Valery Panov, taking a fresh look his own Vaganova schooling once he had left the Soviet Union, says that "Vaganova had favored Cecchetti's Italian method of getting up onto pointe by way of a little spring rather than the old French method of rolling up and down… and in large part the lack of graceful feet may be laid squarely at Vaganova's door." And then he cites Nureyev saying that the ideal would be "a dancer with Russian arms and French feet."

 

After she left Russia and settled in Paris, Olga Preobrazhenskaya, according to Horst Koegler "formed several generations of Europe's best dancers." I wonder how much her version of Russian ballet varied from that of Agrippina Vaganova. Anyway she could be noted as important here.



#59 Helene

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 10:26 PM

It was Vaganova's method based on her own experience as a teacher and modified when the technical demands of the company needed it to be.  (Up to a point:  according to Catherine Pawlick's book, "Vaganova Today," at a certain point she did think it was crossing the line into gymnastics.)

 

Anytime something is codified, it already has a point of view, whether by fiat or committee, and, by definition,different things are diminished or lost, while others are emphasized more strongly.  There wasn't just one path from the Imperial School:  Vaganova developed one that is the basis for many schools and has supported a major company with continuity over the decades and many other companies as well throughout Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, as well as a few Western offshoots.

 

Vaganova wasn't the only one, but she's one whose teachings have been institutionalized, have had continuity across generations, and haven't dissipated in the same way that many other great teachers' have.



#60 vrsfanatic

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 02:11 AM

Vaganova did not codify what is known today as the Vaganova Method by herself. Instead, she lead a team or panel of people who sat down and together discussed how, when and why to teach the movements of classical ballet. The esteemed, Nikolai Tarasov, another Soviet pedagogue, trained in St. Petersburg, who eventually continued his teaching career at the Bolshoi and at GITIS, was one of the panelists. I wish I had paid better attention to my late husband's stories, handed down directly from N. Tarasov about the development of the "Vaganova" method of teaching. Unfortunately, I thought he would have more time than he did. This panel was compiled by the Soviet government. It broke up eventually, if I recall correctly, as many panels do, because of disharmony amongst the panel. Eventually Vaganova gathered her players, Kostrovitskaya, Bazarova, Mae and Pisarev. The method continues to be examined and modified to suit the needs of the choreography. There has always been and continues to be a methodology cabinet that oversees the needs of the method to ensure that it stays current and serves the needs of the repertoire.  The Soviet government re-named the school, The Academy of Russian Ballet, named for Agrippina Vaganova. The name of the program of study is not the Vaganova method, rather, it is simply the method of teaching classical dance. The world has re-named it the Vaganova Method.




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