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


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#16 kdubzz

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 03:31 AM

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.


I agree heartily with you re: Bussell, both in general, and particularly in her Agon pas de deux for the '93 Balanchine Celebration. While some of the US critics in particular may have been in agreement with me about Bussell in terms of her lack of acting ability and (per Kisselgoff) the tightness/lack of epaulement in her upper body technique, she seemed to receive almost universal praise when it came to her Balanchine interpretations. I think Mr. B would not have been so impressed by her Agon; this may seem nitpicky, but he would've disliked her use of hands and fingers in particular, I think - they lacked articulation and were what Mr. B might have called 'spoon hands.' In general I think that more worthy dancers at RB were overlooked during Bussell's reign, including Belinda Hatley.

Another dancer whose popularity mystifies me (much more than Bussell, actually) is Cuban prima Viengsay Valdes. While I understand that she's somewhat of a polarizing figure (some find her flashiness 'vulgar'), for me it comes down to her technique. While she can turn and balance incredibly well, these seem to be the only two tricks in her bag. Otherwise her technique seems caught in some past era and is not up to current standards for any ballet dancer, prima or otherwise -- sloppy footwork, lack of turnout, no looseness in the hips or legs, and unattractive (in my opinion) port de bras. And yet she's so beloved by the Cuban public and by a number of prominent critics worldwide. What am I missing, I wonder?

#17 Mashinka

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:06 AM

Lopatkina's chilly approach isn't for everyone, her injury coincided with her becoming a mother and one of her Kirov colleagues told me he thought that before the baby, ballet was her life, but since the baby it has taken second place. I think he is right; it is the spark of inspiration that I miss.

I've already noted that I never cared much for Gelsey Kirkland and I have sympathy with some of the things said about Makarova although I adored her in more modern works. I hate to speak ill of the dead, but the recently deceased Evdokimova never did it for me as I found her rather listless on stage and still remember acutely a disastrous Raymonda she danced in Zurich with Nureyev. Of those currently dancing although Zakharova gets some (but tellingly, not unanimous) acclaim from critics, personally I can't stand her.

David Wall was a dancer that although I didn't dislike him, I always felt his roles were better danced by other people, also he had a rather arrogant stage persona. Mukhamedov I enjoyed at the Bolshoi but found myself cringing when he danced with the RB: very much a fish out of water.

#18 Giannina

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 07:17 AM

I've learned so much from this thread. The best Swan Lake I ever saw (live), EVER, was with Makarova and Dowell. I eagerly bought the recording of Swan Lake with the two and wondered what the heck had happened ... where was the perfection? Live is definitely better, I can see that now. One of the many reasons may be that with live there's a sense of "danger"; something can go wrong, and the fact that the dancers avoid disaster only heightens the beauty. With recordings errors can be hidden.

Vipa, I'm holstering my gun.

As to the topic of the thread: Vishneva.

Giannina

#19 Helene

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 08:09 AM

Lopatkina's chilly approach isn't for everyone,

What frustrates me about her is that I generally love two kinds of dancers -- lush and chilly -- and I'd expect to love her in many things. It's actually why I liked her "Dying Swan" so much. For the same reason, and something I forgot to mention in the caveat, I loved the "Sheherezade" clip of her on YouTube.

#20 Drew

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 08:39 AM

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 recall Watts as one of the most widely criticized dancers in the history of NYCB -- I liked her in some roles not in others, but I would not remotely consider her a dancer "that everyone loved (including critics)."

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


Bart--You are a brave, brave man and for that I salute you. Certainly if we lived in an earlier era, I would have had to challenge you to a duel.

I feel compelled to add that I think that film and video are uniformly misleading. With dancers I hugely admired and saw a lot (such as Makarova) video has given me nothing...nothing to recall what I loved. And I rather suspect that it's even possible that when one admires a dancer on video, in real life, one might have seen problems or had issues.

I'm not saying it isn't a tool for historians and fans alike -- I could not be happier that the Kirkland Giselle Act I solo has become available -- and I sometimes comment on video myself, but I firmly believe one can only really assess a dancer one has seen live. (I don't think Dying Swan is a much of a gage either, by the by, for judging a dancer unless she is Anna Pavlova.)

A dancer that "everyone loved (including critics)" but that I didn't? Well, I don't know that quite everyone loved her, but on this board Miranda Weese was hugely admired and critics certainly liked her...I found her reliable, but was otherwise not enchanted. David Wall always received raves for his acting ability, but when I saw him as Romeo and Siegried I found him to be reliable (again, that word) in image and manner, but no remarkable dramatic artist.

But to match Bart's bravery (which I feel I must): the young, pre-injury Darci Kistler. Kistler! Whom I have seen give stunning ballerina performances in the later and much later parts of her careers did not have the same impact on me when I saw two of her earliest triumphs. The part of her career that "everyone" agrees on and admires I somehow missed even when I was looking straight at it. In Divertimento no. 15, the "eager" quality that others loved meant that she danced so far ahead of the music that it simply irritated me especially since it unbalanced her relation to other dancers on stage in what is, in crucial sections, an ensemble work and as Odette in the condensed Balanchine Swan Lake--I somehow just didn't see what others saw or, rather, the coltishness looked to me like just that, coltishness. I didn't dislike it but I wasn't swooning.

To be clear: I consider Kistler a ballerina and have hugely admired and loved her performances, but ironically not the performances that blew everyone away before she suffered injuries. I do think in this case the problem may have been me and not her.

#21 LiLing

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 08:41 AM

Oh, Makarova drove me up the wall with her crazy tempos. I once saw her finish a variation a whole measure after the music ended. At ABT the conductors were expected to follow her. However, I did see her give a glorious performance of Swan Lake with the RB in London, where she was one with the music. Apparently their conductors set the tempos and dancers ignore them at their peril.

Kyra Nichols was one dancer all the critics seemed to see more in than I did. I enjoyed her performances, but was never swept away and couldn't understand what they were raving about.

#22 canbelto

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:27 AM

Lopatkina's chilly approach isn't for everyone, her injury coincided with her becoming a mother and one of her Kirov colleagues told me he thought that before the baby, ballet was her life, but since the baby it has taken second place. I think he is right; it is the spark of inspiration that I miss.


Strangely I like Lopatkina when she's not dancing one of her "signature" roles (Dying Swan, Bayadere, Swan Lake). Those all leave me cold -- her chin doesn't move, her fingers are frozen, and it just doesn't seem like a living breathing performance. But the times I saw Lopatkina dance roles she dances less frequently (Raymonda, Scherherazade, etc.) she's more spontaneous and enjoyable to me anyway.

#23 stinger784

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 03:17 PM

Twyla Tharp! Now let me clarify. Her time in the 70s-80s fine. Today, outdated! But for some reason the audience eats up the boxing, martial arts and senseless running around of the choreography. Now when it comes to her Sinatra Suite I love it.

I also was never a fan of Ethan Stefiel. Something about the way he walked around the stage just always annoyed me. I don't think the movie Center Stage did any favors for him either in my book.

#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:18 PM

Twyla Tharp!

:tiphat:

#25 volcanohunter

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:18 PM

I suppose I have two separate categories in my mind: 'illustrious dancers who leave me cold' and 'illustrious dancers who drive me up a wall.' Most of the dancers in the latter group are divisive enough not to enjoy universal critical and popular acclaim in the first place, e.g. Svetlana Zakharova or Nikolai Tsiskaridze. Even though he seems to enjoy critical favour in the U.S., I'd have to add Ethan Stiefel to the list. Zoltan Solymosi and Rex Harrington had a similar effect on me, though they had nothing like Stiefel's technique. These are the dancers who make me squirm in my seat, as though my consciousness were desperate to tear itself away from my body and hightail it away from the theatre. I think it's a reaction to what comes across as extreme narcissism on their part.

The other group is made up of dancers whom I don't necessarily dislike, and who are often superb technicians, but who don't do much for me. They would include Darcey Bussell, Miyako Yoshida, Viviana Durante, Cynthia Gregory, Kyra Nichols, Uliana Lopatkina, Gillian Murphy, Aurélie Dupont, Emilie Cozette, Roberto Bolle and Carlos Acosta.

I am sympathetic to detractors of Makarova, though over time I learned to live with her eccentricities and came to see her as a net positive for ballet.

I also agree that Mukhamedov was ill-suited to the classical roles.

Agnès Letestu frustrates me about 50% of the time, though I have to acknowledge that her ballerina aura is very real.

#26 Quiggin

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 07:39 PM

Somehow I was moved by Darcey Bussell's Agon, which I saw at the 1993 Balanchine Celebration, thimbleful of vodka and all, because it was not othordox Balanchine but was done in a different idiom -- as was as if DB was thinking out loud these very unusual -- for her -- steps. I thought her Emeralds was a bit too willowy and big boned but her Symphony in C 2nd movement quite good.

I remember not much wanting to watch Heather Watts either, not enough freedom and abandonment or original personality.

Kyra Nichols mid-nineties Mozartiana was superb, every step and inflection was there. Nichols rethought the part completely, so I imagine it was a completely different experience than Farrell's performance was. Except for some unauthorized Cuban version, I can't think of anyone who could do Mozartiana again -- perhaps it's a lost ballet. Maybe Carbro has a current NYCB candidate for the role.

With Kistler I remember her timing being odd and off-putting but recently I saw a DVD of scenes from Le Valse, released by American Film Archives with Balanchine Foundation approval, with Tanaquil Le Clercq and Nicholas Magallanes. LeClercq's performance reminded me a bit of how Kistler would do it (which I must have seen).

Of the men I didn't like Peter Boal as much as everyone else did -- I wanted to -- but I found him a bit jittery and nervous and when he stopped, he disappeared -- whereas say when Peter Martins stopped and stood in place he still had a palpable presence, as if treading water, and Ib Andersen, standing still, still had a puckish curiosity about what was going on elsewhere.

#27 carbro

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:08 PM

Probably for reasons that bart named Bruhn, I was bored, bored, bored by Peter Martins. Did I appreciate his crystalline technique and superb technical partnering? Absolutely. But he never seemed to bring anything of himself to his dancing.

Cynthia Gregory was another one who left me cold. I didn't like the quality of her movement. However, someone recently linked me to her Rose Adagio, and she just took my breath away. I had to wonder whether this was just a superb example of her dancing, or if my judgment has changed.

Off-putting was her frequent partner, Fernando Bujones, who always seemed more than a little too pleased with himself. He was sometimes less than gallant when partnering what might be considered ABT's second-tier ballerinas (I'm thinking of Marianna Tcherkassky).

Somewhere in between was Kyra Nichols in mid career, when so much of her dancing was too obviously calculated to produce a desired effect. I didn't notice it in the young Kyra, and in the post-maternity-leave Kyra I was delighted to expect but not find it.

Nina Ananiashvili was similiar. In mid-career, she seemed to be jetting here, there, all over the place, and the result was rather mechanical readings of her roles. I loved her as a young ballerina and as a more mature ballerina, perhaps aware that she was past the midpoint of her career, she seemed more in-the-moment, less formulaic.

Zakharova has learned to bring more to her performances than just her 180-degree extensions, but for me she still lives in cringe-land. :)

I'm of two minds as far as Nureyev goes. I was as captivated as anyone by his magnetism, but I didn't like his dancing. He once said in an interview that he tried to make it look difficult, so that audiences would appreciate how hard he was working. At that, he succeeded brilliantly, but to me that is not what ballet is supposed to be.

Never having seen her in person but only on video, this may be unfair, but I don't see why Tamara Rojo is so popular. She's a pretty dancer, but a ballerina in a world-class company? Maybe others will explain why she deserves that status.

Kyra Nichols mid-nineties Mozartiana was superb, every step and inflection was there. Nichols rethought the part completely, so I imagine it was a completely different experience than Farrell's performance was. Except for some unauthorized Cuban version, I can't think of anyone who could do Mozartiana again -- perhaps it's a lost ballet. Maybe Carbro has a current NYCB candidate for the role.

We'll disagree on Kyra in Mozartiana. :) I infinitely preferred Kistler in the role -- when she could do it.

I'd love to see Mearns tackle the role. I'd also love to see Bouder in it (and everything else, btw :wink: ). Her Emeralds showed that she can project serenity without sacrificing her strong presence. Of course, as a shorter dancer, she'll probably never get it -- at least not in Martins' NYCB.

Presence is exactly what Maria Riccetto needs in ABT's production. When they last did it, she danced beautifully, with some of the loveliest phrasing I've seen. But it puttered out and rolled off the stage and into the orchestra pit.

#28 papeetepatrick

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:42 PM

I'm of two minds as far as Nureyev goes. I was as captivated as anyone by his magnetism, but I didn't like his dancing. He once said in an interview that he tried to make it look difficult, so that audiences would appreciate how hard he was working. At that, he succeeded brilliantly, but to me that is not what ballet is supposed to be.


After a certain point of getting familiar with ballet, I don't think any great dancer makes it look difficult or easy for me, just because one knows that it isn't, although paradoxically there is an ease once the euphoria hits, as Villella demonstrates in 'Man Who Dances' despite the even greater pain he was going through than most dancers even at their most strained. As for that remark, I think Nureyev would say anything, so I don't really take it too seriously. To me, he didn't seem to be working any harder than other dancers, just more fantastically. I've noticed over the few years I've been at BT that I don't find dancers profoundly articulate verbally, with Martha Graham being easily the most outstanding exception (she's often been thought to have been a 'lost writer', or whever the phrase was, although 'lost' only because there wasn't time.) We've a thread on this 'verbal articulateness', sure, there are some other exceptions, Melissa Hayden comes to mind, and Villella is as well (extremely), but I don't find many of them to be that striking when describing dance or themselves. It's well-known the many of these off-the-cuff, flip remarks Nureyev indulged in--harmless, but not really serious a lot of them, I think. But yes, you could see Nureyev sweat, I think that's fine for this kind of animal dancer he was. Most of them do sweat, it's surely not all delicate perfume up close.

I never saw Kyra Nichols's Mozartiana, but I realize I've never found her nearly as enchanting as most do. Somebody with a body and talent as unusual as Farrell's would probably be the only one I'd be interested to see, I suppose it could happen even though it hasn't yet. I think I have a harder time seeing someone else do Mozartiana than 'Diamonds', although I haven't ever seen anybody else do that either that excited me.

#29 papeetepatrick

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 07:34 AM

Carbro, thanks for the Cynthia Gregory clip--she's not quite 'young-girlish', (maybe a little too horsey and extroverted?) from what I can tell here, to be the Aurora I tend to envision, but it's superb dancing and very musical too. Those devilish balances not as exquisite and feminine as Sizova's, but otherwise, hardly a thing not to admire here.

#30 Nanarina

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 03:02 AM

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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.




:) I feel what you state about Margo is absolutely correct. What is more she matched Ruddi Nureyev's style because there was emotion between them, in life as well as on the stage. Also they were both trained in the Russian style . (Margot was taught by a famous teacher who her mother brought her to see from abroad where they were living. ) What they created on stage was very moving, she had the most expressive dark eyes, and held your attention with a simple gesture.
Sometimes on film you are unable to experience the atmosphere in the theatre. They were treated like Pop Stars with people calling them back for numerous curtain calls, and when they finally got away, the stage door would be surrounded with fans waiting to get a glimpse of them.


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