Great Cuban Ballerinas of the 60's,70's and 80's-( I)MISS JOSEFINA MENDEZ (AKA "YUYI". 1941-2007)
Posted 08 December 2008 - 06:07 PM
So, after this introduction, I will be presenting the dancers, one in each thread, linked with some old videos-(if i'm lucky to find what i want). The quality of those is usually really bad. Some of them look like they are way older, but at least an idea can be drown from them. The music is usually either recorded- (in bad recordings) or alive, which sometimes was even worse, being that the reason that we learned over there how to focus on the dancing completely, props and music becoming less and less an item. This is hard to understand, but it’s how it was- (and it still is). So done with the Intro. Here it goes my first pick, our beloved Miss Josefina Mendez- (RIP).
Josefina Mendez. (1941-2007). Bronze Medal Varna 1964, Silver Medal Varna 1965
Josefina Méndez was Prima ballerina of the Cuban National Ballet for almost 35 years and, after retiring from the stage in 1996, remained as its ballet mistress, teaching such young dancers as Carlos Acosta who has since been invited as a principal guest artist at the Royal Ballet. In recent years, she largely ran the company after her mentor, the ballet's founder and still director Alicia Alonso, became increasingly blind. Méndez, like Alonso before her, was praised by critics for her blend of classical technique, dramatic depth, freedom of expression and Latin passion, notably in the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (BNC)'s signature two-act Giselle, which she performed in productions worldwide, including as guest artist at the Paris Opera. On first seeing her perform in the mid-1960s, the dance critic Arnold Haskell described her as "the queen of tragedy" and dubbed her and her three contemporary prima ballerinas at the BNC as "the four jewels of Cuban ballet", a tag they retained ever after.
Dear “Yuyi”, we certainly miss you, your truly princess elegance, your total dedication and love to that public that would sleep all night long outside the theatre to get tickets to see your magical dancing. As somebody said, it’s true that you just were preparing to become an angel.
Ladies and gentlemen, here's Miss Josefina Mendez:
As Aurora with Jorge Esquivel, from “Sleeping Beauty”- Act III PDD
As Odette, Swan Lake Act II PDD and Odile, Act III
Posted 09 December 2008 - 07:57 AM
Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:51 AM
Same regal look that we all loved...
Coming up next, Miss Mirta Pla-(RIP)
Posted 20 September 2010 - 05:44 AM
Natallia, you are right. The facial similarities to Alonso are astounding, though Mendez is prettier. The long thin mouth. The bone structure. The aristocratic nose.
The clips from Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake show her in her mid-40s, when technical limitations are clearly getting in the way. But those early (too brief) snippets in Cristian's latest YouTube link are extraordinary. Based on just 2 or so seconds of Pillar of Fire, I wish deeply that I could have seen her in this role. Ditto Coppelia. Alonso was also well-known for both.
I've tended to admire the great Cuban ballerinas rather than respond to them emotionally. Mendez is the first since Alonso who affected me so strongly. I add her to my very small list of Dancers I SERIOUSLY Regret Never Having Seen Dance on Stage (Because I Know I Would Have Loved Them.).
Posted 20 September 2010 - 08:06 AM
I'm glad you like the clip, bart. There's a segment on an interview of her from the documentary "Four Jewels" where Mme. Mendez says mischievously that every time she went onstage she felt compelled to bring all sort of tricks, because she felt that by doing that she could contribute with a tiny bit of happiness "to all that marvelous audience who would struggle in long lines, sometimes all night long outside the theater to get tickets to see us..."
Yuyi was a beautiful woman and sensitive human being, the epitome of lady manners and elegance, on and offstage. She NEVER declined to sign a programme or pose for a pic with her fans, always with so much warm.... I miss those characters nowadays.
The next clips are from that documentary..."Four Jewels". Enjoy it!
Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:43 AM
Sleeping Beauty. Rose Adagio
Sleeping Beauty. Aurora's Solo
Sleeping Beauty. Vision Scene.
Sleeping Beauty. Grand PDD.
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