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Who are (or were) the glamour ladies of ballet?


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#76 dirac

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 11:14 AM

Many dancers today don't do well in interviews. If the voice is high-pitched, chirpy, or erratically paced .. if diction is sloppy ... if "perky" is the goal .... then "glamour" probably will not be the result.


I have the impression that many dancers do have voices that tend to be on the high pitched side, although it doesn’t seem to be a contemporary development. (Of course, some opera stars don’t have wonderful speaking voices, either.)

Younger dancers tend not to be the most enlightening interviews anyway, although I still enjoy reading/seeing them, because they’re still developing as people and artists. I don’t think they’re necessarily aiming at a ‘perky’ effect, it’s just that they’re, well, young and perky. :clapping:

#77 carbro

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 12:51 PM

I don't see the techniques for ballet and classical (opera) singing as incompatible, but perhaps musical theatre vocal technique is different.

Possibly, but since pretty much everyone is miked in musical theater these days :clapping: , this genre of singing doesn't require as well developed breathing technique as it once did.

As ballet is a silent art, it is only natural that few professional ballet dancers would have vocal training.

Voices start to become mature at about the same time that dance students decide to commit themselves to ballet. I wonder how many children who have enjoyed performing in general, find at the onset of adolescence that they don't have the vocal equipment, turn their focus to ballet. Just a guess. :dunno:

#78 papeetepatrick

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 01:32 PM

I'm sure that Margot Fonteyn would be one of the great exceptions to this, although I can't for certain remember interviews. But in several films, and the old PBS special 'The Magic of Dance', she is simply entrancing to hear. No one else comes to mind to anywhere near that degree, although Allegra Kent is charming on the Charlie Rose segment we discussed a few months back; Farrell is pleasant and charming in the 'Elusive Muse' and Susan Jaffe equally so when she was hosting 'Dance in NY' (or whatever it's called), but they've none had the cultivated speech of Fonteyn. I'm sure someone can remember an interview--although it really can be no different from these television shows, since her speech was always so elegant.

#79 kfw

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 01:56 PM

I'm sure that Margot Fonteyn would be one of the great exceptions to this

Violette Verdy too. High but lovely.

#80 papeetepatrick

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 02:11 PM

[Violette Verdy too. High but lovely.


Oh yes, she's like champagne for the ear.

#81 Hans

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 03:35 PM

Alicia Markova is another ballerina who was quite composed and articulate.

#82 dirac

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 04:04 PM

I liked Melissa Hayden’s interview style. Cogent, articulate, without affectation of any kind, and a splendid husky tone.

#83 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 04:23 PM

I see we're flirting with that other thread of well articulated dancers...So for what I've read we're tending to associate the word with composure, verbal properness, elegance, beauty, class and the like. But then... I would like to ask if the lack of, let's say, class-(or well...on the contrary, the presence of even a tiny bit of vulgarity)-would, on your eyes, disqualify a candidate to opt for the glamorous position.
Just curious...

#84 papeetepatrick

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 04:46 PM

I liked Melissa Hayden’s interview style. Cogent, articulate, without affectation of any kind, and a splendid husky tone.


Definitely, she's just so great, period.

#85 bart

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:32 PM

I would like to ask if the lack of, let's say, class-(or well...on the contrary, the presence of even a tiny bit of vulgarity)-would, on your eyes, disqualify a candidate to opt for the glamorous position.

Good question. I think we've already mentioned Ava Gardner. "The Barefoot Contessa" comes to mind.

And, please, let's not forget that other element of the Feijoo interview video: the use of stylish port de bras and epaulement. I would think that was necessary, too. Just think of all the "glamour" people in the old days could get out of smoking a cigarette -- or lighting one. Feijoo's use of her hands reminds us that she is a ballerina and that this doesn't stop just because she is off stage.

#86 papeetepatrick

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 05:57 PM

I would like to ask if the lack of, let's say, class-(or well...on the contrary, the presence of even a tiny bit of vulgarity)-would, on your eyes, disqualify a candidate to opt for the glamorous position.

Good question. I think we've already mentioned Ava Gardner. "The Barefoot Contessa" comes to mind.


I don't see Ava Gardner as vulgar at all, despite her love of obscene language. She is, rather, I think, earthy, but very classy by nature, very intelligent; and as long as this thread is replete with hair-splitting about all these terms, I shall join in with it as well, as we prove all of the terms relative. Lana, definitely vulgar, an unfit mother and all the rest, an absolute slut with men--nevertheless, thoroughly glamorous and dazzling. Joan Crawford is often thought to be glamorous, although I'm allergic, but she's definitely vulgar, if that's the combination you're looking for. And yes, Mae West, mentioned before, made a living on 'talkin' Brooklyn' and being vulgar, but it was always conscious, which is different from effortless vulgarity, which is how I perceive Joan Crawford. So there are these raffinements and cross-pollinations of these qualities.

#87 FauxPas

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 01:51 PM

To speak of the convergence of Russian glamor girls, I attended "Lucia di Lammermoor" at the Met with Anna Netrebko and Irina Dvorovenko was in attendance. This was the February 3rd performance.

Glamor, beauty and charm can work together or separately. Alexandra Danilova was not really a classic beauty in any sense but she had great charm and personality and style and thus radiated glamor. Some ballerinas are glamorous onstage but not off. Ballerinas of Danilova's era in the thirties and forties were expected to be glamorous onstage and off. Danilova complained about this in interviews about ballet girls going around looking like sloppy waifs in the rehearsal studio. I think ballerinas follow Hollywood actresses. You could never imagine Joan Crawford going anywhere in public without full make-up and dressed to kill. Now you have grungies who look like homeless people or heroin addicts when they aren't dolled up for the Oscars. However, there can be a real discrepancy between how dancers present themselves in private, how they present themselves in public and how they present themselves on stage.

For example, Alla Osipenko seems to be glamorous onstage but not off. Ditto for Ekaterina Maximova who is bubbly and girlish onstage and rather reserved and serious offstage. The direct opposite of this is Wendy Whelan. Wendy onstage is angular with a large bone structure that looks square and boxy. Offstage, I have passed Wendy on the street and she is strikingly attractive with wide set eyes, strong features that are evenly proportioned in her face, high cheekbones and long lovely hair. So offstage Wendy is glamorous but onstage she is not glamorous at all. (I won't go into who is ugly onstage and off).

#88 dirac

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:51 PM

Alexandra Danilova was not really a classic beauty in any sense but she had great charm and personality and style and thus radiated glamor. Some ballerinas are glamorous onstage but not off. Ballerinas of Danilova's era in the thirties and forties were expected to be glamorous onstage and off. Danilova complained about this in interviews about ballet girls going around looking like sloppy waifs in the rehearsal studio. I think ballerinas follow Hollywood actresses. You could never imagine Joan Crawford going anywhere in public without full make-up and dressed to kill. Now you have grungies who look like homeless people or heroin addicts when they aren't dolled up for the Oscars.


Excellent points, FauxPas. Styles in personal style do change. (It used to be, for example, that people dressed up for plane trips, when flying still had glamor to it; anyone who flies regularly nowadays knows that it's very different now.) Now there's a kind of fashion in deliberately dressing down.

#89 sandik

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:45 PM

(It used to be, for example, that people dressed up for plane trips, when flying still had glamor to it; anyone who flies regularly nowadays knows that it's very different now.)


This made me giggle -- my mother used to dress up to fly in a two-piece wool knit suit, very chic. She also used to order a Bloody Mary the minute the flight attendant brought the drinks cart around, no matter the time of day. Flying with children was pretty stressful.

Currently, when I think about what I'm going to wear on the plane, it has more to do with knowing I'll be sitting in uncomfortable seats and standing in long lines. It's like self defense!

#90 bart

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 12:08 PM

Currently, when I think about what I'm going to wear on the plane, it has more to do with knowing I'll be sitting in uncomfortable seats and standing in long lines. It's like self defense!

Thanks for putting this into words, sandik!

:off topic: Regarding plane travel in the olden days. It could even carry over to seeing people OFF on a plane.

I have a photo of my family taken at Idlewild (now Kennedy) Airport in the late 40s. My grandfather was leaving to begin his retirement in Italy -- a serious trip at that time. The entire immediate family was there at the airport. My mother and aunt wear dark, dressy suits, hats, and fur stoles. My father and uncle wear business suits and ties. Ditto, my grandfather. Ditto, my cousin and I -- two little boys dressed just like adult men, except for the short pants.

I remember being greatly impressed that the plane was a Pan Am Clipper and that the seats somehow, miraculously and unimaginably, turned into Pullman beds at night. :o

Except for our smiles, you would think we were attending a funeral. The photographer, who had a huge camera on a tripod, apparently earned his living taking similar pictures every day.

It never occurred to any of us, I am sure, that someday people might look at the photo and find anything suggesting GLAMOUR. :dunno:


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