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Dancers that everyone loved (including critics) but that you didn'


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#1 Ballet fan

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 01:58 PM

Everyone has favorites for everything in life, and ballet is no exception. We have favorite choreographers, composers, and ballets, but the ones that give life to a work and make it or break it are the dancers themselves. So we all grow fond of certain dancers in certain roles. Critics and supposed experts are not immune to this either. However, I'm curious if anyone here has experienced thinking that a particular dancer is not necessarily marvelous, stunning, or deeply moving in a certain role or maybe even in general, despite critics and a wide array of people saying so and praising said dancer to no end. It can be a current dancer or it can be from the past. I've never really experienced this myself but I was simply curious if other people actually have.

#2 volcanohunter

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 03:32 PM

I can think of many examples. This is heresy for someone living in Canada because she has the status of national icon, but for me the most obvious case is Karen Kain, whose performances usually bored me to tears... until she began dancing the works of Glen Tetley, in which she was terrific. Unfortunately, it didn't do anything to loosen up her Odette-Odile.

#3 Helene

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:19 PM

Where do I start?

I love Patricia McBride, but wasn't overwhelmed by her "Who Cares?"

Except for "Dying Swan", while I can appreciate her authority, Uliana Lopatkina doesn't reach me in any other way.

I think Louise Nadeau was gorgeous in many, many roles, but I could not bear her acclaimed "Agon" or Aurora.

I heartily disliked Darcey Bussell's "Agon" in the Balanchine Celebration in 1993 (the one on VHS/DVD).

I like almost no film I saw of Nureyev or Fonteyn, and by the time I saw Nureyev live, I wish I didn't.

I found Baryshnikov disengaged in most of his classical roles.

#4 Ballet fan

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:29 PM

Where do I start?

I love Patricia McBride, but wasn't overwhelmed by her "Who Cares?"

Except for "Dying Swan", while I can appreciate her authority, Uliana Lopatkina doesn't reach me in any other way.

I think Louise Nadeau was gorgeous in many, many roles, but I could not bear her acclaimed "Agon" or Aurora.

I heartily disliked Darcey Bussell's "Agon" in the Balanchine Celebration in 1993 (the one on VHS/DVD).

I like almost no film I saw of Nureyev or Fonteyn, and by the time I saw Nureyev live, I wish I didn't.

I found Baryshnikov disengaged in most of his classical roles.



Interesting that you didn't like Nureyev and Fonteyn since they're hailed as two of the greatest dancers of the 20th century. I have Margot's Cinderella and I thought she was quite lovely. I also have her Sleeping Beauty and although she doesn't have high extensions or incredible elevation in her jump, she has such musicality, regal presence and lyricism that it makes her compelling in that role.

I'd love to hear your opinions on this.

#5 Helene

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:34 PM

I don't see much of the Fonteyn that critics and fans describe in either of the films. I've was once told by a close friend whose ballet-loving father had the same reaction, that you really had to see her in person to understand why she was so great, and that afterwords, you could see those qualities in film.

I'm not arguing that Fonteyn wasn't great. I don't see that greatness on film, and it has nothing to do with not appreciating older performances on film in general. There are many that I love.

#6 papeetepatrick

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:52 PM

I've never disliked Heather Watts, but never gave her much thought either way, although I saw her a lot. A critic friend talked about how she was 'the best at NYCB' in the 80s, something about 'in rehearsal more than performance', but that was pretty abstruse to me.

I don't know how highly considered Viviana Durante is, but I find her on the dull side.

To be honest, I know what a fine dancer Anthony Dowell, but I've never found him exciting even so.

I think I probably don't know what I'm talking about here, but I don't care for Plisetskaya's 'Swan Lake' on film, but this might go along with what Helene is saying about Fonteyn, although I do always like Fonteyn on film, even though I only saw her live in 'Poeme d'Ecstase', which isn't representative.

Have never cared for Ethan Steifel, too literal and unpoetic.

#7 Hans

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:55 PM

Should dancers we've only seen on film be considered in this? It doesn't seem entirely fair to me, as it is not a true representation of the performance.

#8 Helene

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:58 PM

I've loved many, many dancers that I've only seen on film. My absolute favorite is Irina Kolpakova in "Sleeping Beauty" and "Raymonda".

I think some dancers come across very well on film and fit the descriptions of critics and fans. Others, for me, not so much. I don't dismiss them because of that: I just don't see what everyone else saw.

#9 papeetepatrick

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:05 PM

Should dancers we've only seen on film be considered in this? It doesn't seem entirely fair to me, as it is not a true representation of the performance.


I don't see why not, Hans, because one of my favourite of all ballet performances--Sizova's Aurora--I only know from film. And in my affections, it ranks with anything I've seen live. Maybe we should include disclaimers as Helene and I have done, though. I also only know Lezhnina from film, etc., and most of what I've seen of Baryshnikov and Nureyev is on film, although I did see them in person as well, although I've loved all their work, or at least liked it a great deal.

#10 vipa

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:07 PM

Natalia Makarova is my answer to the question. Others loved her, critics praised her. I found her somewhat unmusical, technically lacking in many areas and a very self conscious & self important performer. I know people who would like to shoot me for this opinion

#11 bart

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:14 PM

I'm ashamed to admit this here. But .... here goes. Erik Bruhn.

This was at Ballet Theater in the latter part of his career. I had no ballet training, so I was not able to respond to his particular strengths, either technically or as a danseur noble. My reaction was more a matter of temperament. I remember feeling that he projected coldness and that he often seemed to be dancing in a different ballet from the others on the stage.

Even now, when watching him on video, I can admire ... but I do not enjoy.

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:18 PM

I finally bought the Makarova-Misha "Giselle"-(thanks rg! for the Ebay hint! :flowers: )-thinking that perhaps I had to watch an entire ballet so I could appreciate all the praising that Makarova has had. Sadly, I ended up on Vipa's side...I couldn't "see" her greatness...And then, it is not totally about technique. I own many, MANY Giselles, some of its ballerinas with a lesser level of technique at the time of the recording than Makarova...(e.g-Seymour)-and still, Lynn did it waaay more for me...
Ditto with the clips I've seen of Natasha in Swan Lake. They leave me cold... :crying:

#13 papeetepatrick

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:25 PM

Ditto with the clips I've seen of Natasha in Swan Lake. They leave me cold... :flowers:


That does prove Hans has a good point, though, that we should always point out whether we've seen something on film or live, both and/or only, etc.. I've never seen any Odette I loved more than Makarova's (except for adoring Melissa Hayden's in the Balanchine equally, but in a different way), and I did see it in person. I only saw the film of the Misha/Natasha 'Giselle', and I didn't particularly care for it either, although I've never seen Bruhn/Fracci live and I love them just on film in 'Giselle', despite all the well-known botchings in the film itself.

#14 canbelto

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 06:33 PM

For me, Uliana Lopatkina. It's not that I don't like her performances, it's just that every time I've seen her I could think of another ballerina, often in the same company, that I'd rather see in that role. I find her performances kind of stilted and overly calculated. But then again I've only seen her after her big injury/maternity leave/comeback. A few youtube clips here and there of her earlier days suggest a more exciting performer.

#15 Lidewij

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 01:24 AM

For me, Lopatkina as well. I've only seen her live in Dying Swan, though. When I see her, I think she dances very well, but she just can't interest me. I also have the impression her Dying Swan (on different videos, live) is almost exactly the same, every time. And I just don't really like her style..


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