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Who was the Greatest Dying Swan?

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#1 Lukayev



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Posted 23 March 2001 - 12:24 AM

In your opinion, who portrayed that image of suffering, pain, and beauty all at once the best? For me, it's tied between Moiseyeva and Makarova. I haven't had the chance to view Plisetskaya's (though I've heard often that it was/is heralded as the greatest).

Sometimes, for me anyway, it's a little too easy to overact, and I'll not be able to manage those boneless arms. When I overexert my arm carriage, my shoulders may rise and the blades may stick out from my back. So for a young girl's sake (I'm to perform D. Swan at our Spring Concert, and if I can find a tape, I could learn) -- who never left the stage without a single dry eye in the audience?

"When I get onto stage, I think, I'm dancing on my grave."

[This message has been edited by Lukayev (edited March 23, 2001).]

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 06:46 AM

I recall a film of Ulanova dancing the work, which may be available on video. She looked to be the greatest of modern Dying Swans, but I asked Muriel Stuart just about this same question once. She said, "NO ONE can even touch Pavlova!" (But then, again, she worked for her)

#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 07:27 AM

mesentseva was very good.

#4 Manhattnik


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Posted 23 March 2001 - 09:10 AM

The documentary on Isabel Fokine, "Fighting over Fokine," (I think that's the name) which was recently shown several times on Bravo (and resurfaces from time to time) shows a performance by Alicia Markova from the fifties. Well worth a look, or several.

#5 Alina



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Posted 23 March 2001 - 08:32 PM

Surely not to be mentioned by anyone but me and maybe a few Bostonians is a ballerina named Elaine Bauer for her Dying Swan. Her interpretation was inspired by the greats mentioned but she then worked throughout her career to perfect and find her own moving portrayal. I've seen all the films and some performances by many great ballerinas but hers was certainly as credible and moving. I couldn't read this without thinking of her special performance.

#6 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 09:17 PM

I had the rare privilege of seeing Plisetskaya dance this role at the old Met in NY, on the first Bolshoi tour to this country (at least I think it was the first). It was an incredible and awesome experience, which was totally ruined by the fact that she ENCORED it! Even though I was very young and inexperienced at that time, I knew instantly that this kind of moment cannot be repeated, and should not be.

Many years later I saw the Dying Swan performed by a beautiful Cuban ballerina named Lydia Diaz-Cruz. She was the closest I have ever seen to Pliesetskaya.

This is, as you well know, Lukayev, a very special role. I have never seen it danced by someone of your age, and I really wonder if someone 14 should even be attempting roles such as this, or Odile (which you mentioned in another thread that you are doing), even just the variation. They are roles for a mature ballerina, and even those young dancers with as much intelligence and savy as you seem to have must be severely challenged by not only the technique, but the artistry and emotional maturity required for these two solos.

#7 Drew


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Posted 24 March 2001 - 01:20 AM

Lydia-Diaz Cruz was certainly the most memorable Dying Swan I have ever seen -- but mostly what I recall is that she had the boneless, squiggly arm thing going more than any ballerina I have ever seen. Her arms didn't just ripple, but shimmered and curved in great waves of movement. But I saw this many years ago, and the same performance today might well make me giggle rather than weep...Kirkland gave a surprizingly restrained and pure performance of the ballet at a Carnegie Hall gala. (This was during one of the more troubled periods of her career -- and of all things she had put on weight.) But, today, it is precisely restraint and purity that I would find moving in this role.

But this is one question about ballet history that allows of a dogmatic answer. Without question -- the greatest Dying Swan was Anna Pavlova.

#8 felursus


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Posted 26 March 2001 - 04:58 PM

I saw Plisetskaya perform the 'Dying Swan' many, many times. Yes, she did go rather over the top, but those arms were GORGEOUS. I heard a rumor that she perfected them because at one time in her life she was ill and unable to dance - so she danced with her arms.

Lukayev, if you are having trouble stabilizing your scapula, you need to do special exercises to strengthen the muscles responsible. One of the reasons the Russian arms look so wonderful is that they are taught from the beginning that arms do not start at the shoulder joint - they start with the scapula - and as muscles attach the scapula to the spine, you can say that the arms start at the spine. The muscles you particularly want to work on are the middle and lower trapezius. Go see a physical therapist. He/she can show you some simple exercises you can do to strengthen this area. Scapular stabilization is very important for achieving beautiful arms.

#9 Guest_CBAchick17_*

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Posted 05 April 2001 - 10:05 PM

i would have to say pavlova, from pictures i have seen from her performances she had so much expression and really felt the piece. plus she danced it beautifully. Posted Image

#10 Yvonne


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Posted 05 April 2001 - 11:18 PM

Did Cynthia Gregory ever dance the Dying Swan?

She certainly has "the squiggly arm thing" going in her performance of the Black Swan PDD on the ABT in San Francisco video! Even my husband (who was just passing through the room one day while I had the video on, noticed and commented on her arms - and he's not even a balletomane!) Posted Image




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Posted 07 April 2001 - 01:44 PM

I, too, have seen Plisetskaya dance Dying Swan several times. She was indeed gorgeous. However, I also have a tape of Pavlova dancing it, and the feeling she imparts is quite different. Her swan suffers a quieter death, in my opinion. Basheva

#12 Gamzatti


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Posted 08 February 2002 - 11:59 AM

For me, the little video that I've seen of Fonteyn in her dying moments is wonderful. She actually becomes a woman who's tormented by her love instead of a swan and that transformation is just amazing.

#13 Helena


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Posted 08 February 2002 - 12:40 PM

Fonteyn was very reluctant to dance it. She thought it was sort of sacred to Pavlova, the way we (well, I!) now think of Marguerite as being sacred to Fonteyn.

I saw Markova dance it. I watched her from the wings when I was a little girl. Naturally I thought she was perfect - I do think that she was probably the nearest to Pavlova that I could have seen. After all, they did meet, and Markova was billed (poor child) as "The Child Pavlova".

#14 rg


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Posted 08 February 2002 - 01:01 PM

the british-produced 'south bank' show did a two-part program on fokine pegged to isabelle fokine and the kirov. it was, i believe, called 'recreating fokine,' which i think is the BRAVO prog. mentioned here. the footage of markova's 'dying swan' is indeed fascinating, too bad it's not presented in one interrupted segment from beginning to end. regardless, the interwoven arrangement for the show's purposes still presents a historic film not widely available. i don't think that even the n.y.p.library of the perf. arts has a copy.

#15 aubri



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Posted 08 February 2002 - 11:36 PM

I would have to say , the person that created the role smile.gif

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