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


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#46 MakarovaFan

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:16 AM

I don't understand the appeal of Sylvie Guillem. Yes, she has outstanding technique, but she's got an icy personality and an ego that fills the stage. She also has no acting ability. Whether it's Grand Pas Classique or Don Quixote, she always dancing as herself.

Darci Kistler is another ballerina I don't get. A poor actress and she always has a smile on her face regardless of the role.
Karin von Arnoldingen -- why is she considered a distinguished Balanchine ballerina? I watch her on video and don't understand.

Viviana Durante somehow always left me unmoved, same for Lopatkina who was way too cautious and deliberate in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto # 2.
Yulia Makhalina also does nothing for me.

#47 Hans

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:46 AM

MakarovaFan, I've noticed the same thing about Kistler--in fact, I recall one performance (toward what we all thought was the end of her career, about ten years ago) in which she smiled her way through Bugaku.

#48 papeetepatrick

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 09:26 AM

Karin von Arnoldingen -- why is she considered a distinguished Balanchine ballerina? I watch her on video and don't understand.


It's something about HER, I think. I've always loved her, she's warm, exquisitely beautiful, dances beautifully (if not on the very highest level), and she's the thing in 'Davidsbundlertanze' in terms of the greatest depths. But I remember her wonderful in many things, 'Ballet Imperial', the siren in 'Prodigal Son', I even like her in 'Emeralds'. Croce writes about the years Balanchine tried to make her a substitute for Farrell in her absence in the early 70s, but later you'd see the two of them on the stage at the same time, and there was not any sense of competition (I'm not talking about their different gifts, but rather the way they interacted with each other, however slightly). She had a maturity and beauty which made up for not being the most stellar of dancers IMO. Balanchine loved her, of course. She was bright and self-possessed, she knew she wasn't Farrell, and never really tried to be.

#49 bart

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 10:06 AM

She had a maturity and beauty which made up for not being the most stellar of dancers IMO.

I agree with Patrick on this. Aroldingen -- only one "n" in the name -- danced a great many roles and was possibly closer to the style and physical appearance of dancers in Balanchine's Ballets Russes days or the early NYCB when no one expected a single, canonical Balanchine look. Watching her perform, one tended to focus on what she WAS (an appealing dancer of Balanchine) rather than on what she was not (a "Balanchine dancer.")

#50 dirac

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 11:04 AM

Karin von Aroldingen -- why is she considered a distinguished Balanchine ballerina? I watch her on video and don't understand.


She was Balanchine's closest friend in the company in his last years, which didn't hurt. Her body was athletic, with un-ballerina like chunky muscles from her early training, and she probably would have a hard time getting hired today. She was shown to best advantage in the roles Balanchine custom made for her (I think the tally was one new role a year all through the seventies until Balanchine took sick, a remarkable run) and without her experiments like Variations pour une porte et un soupir probably wouldn't have happened. On video she looks good in Stravinsky Violin Concerto, a role in which Balanchine exploits her unusual qualities brilliantly, and very beautiful as one half of the principal couple in Robert Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze, I think. The Emeralds is bad, though. She was resented by some observers because she took over a lot of Farrell roles during the latter's exile and the consensus, which is probably correct, was that she wasn't much of a replacement, although she worked very hard.

She was bright and self-possessed, she knew she wasn't Farrell, and never really tried to be.


I remember with amusement von Aroldingen telling Robert Tracy that their styles weren't very similar. "I had more elevation. She never had elevation."

#51 Farrell Fan

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 02:16 PM

On one of my subscriptions way back then, I used to sit next to a man who, upon arrival, would check his program and if she was dancing, would boozily let me know,
"Karin von Arolding-ding-ding-ding." I guess she rang his chimes.

#52 bart

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 03:02 PM

On one of my subscriptions way back then, I used to sit next to a man who, upon arrival, would check his program and if she was dancing, would boozily let me know,
"Karin von Arolding-ding-ding-ding." I guess she rang his chimes.

I love that! :lol:

#53 cargill

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 07:38 AM

I feel like the super-competitive English chair in a David Lodge novel, who was trapped by a gormless British academic playing the "what great work have you never read--more points for the most famous" into admitting he had never read Hamlet. I never like watching Suzanne Farrell, all those flappy hands and exaggerated extensions. To be honest, I came to the NYCB after several years watching the Royal Ballet, with their understated pure lines and beautiful upper body, but she was one dancer I never enjoyed. (The fact that the first time I saw her was wearing underwear in Bejart's ultra-trashy Nijinsky might have something to do with it.) I understand now what I missed. Mary

#54 E Johnson

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 08:55 AM

It took me some time to warm up to Kyra Nichols, but I am glad I did.

The generally loved dancers I don't get: Kistler and Maria Kowroski. Kistler may be a timing issue; by the time I was really paying atention to her, it was late in her career, and she just doesn't have the physical abilities she used to have. But it makes me angry to see her constantly doing a bad job in inappropriate roles. Nichols, in my view, had a much more dignified and enjoyable end of her career because she picked the right roles for the dancer she was. Kowroski just rubs me the wrong way, and i have never seen the "wit" so many others claim she has.

#55 sandik

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 10:24 AM

I feel like the super-competitive English chair in a David Lodge novel, who was trapped by a gormless British academic playing the "what great work have you never read--more points for the most famous" into admitting he had never read Hamlet.


Oh, excellent! We need to play this game as well (ballets we just don't get/don't like)

I never like watching Suzanne Farrell, all those flappy hands and exaggerated extensions. To be honest, I came to the NYCB after several years watching the Royal Ballet, with their understated pure lines and beautiful upper body, but she was one dancer I never enjoyed. (The fact that the first time I saw her was wearing underwear in Bejart's ultra-trashy Nijinsky might have something to do with it.) I understand now what I missed. Mary


It took me a long time to warm up to her, I think in part because everyone else I knew adored her. I felt contrary.

#56 sandik

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 10:31 AM

I think one's love for a dancer is often very "personal and subjective" and what I enjoy about this thread topic, especially if one sticks to it very strictly (which turns out not to be that easy), is that it isn't about garden variety disagreements.

...

You can't make me dislike Makarova --one of my all time favorites--but you can explain to me why her dancing felt artistically unsatisfying to you in some respects and explain it in such a way that I can "see" what you mean regarding tempos and how they may have distorted choreography. And, on the other hand, I can try to explain what is inventive or intriguing about a particular musical choice she made or why I think it worked interpretively. That type of argument is a little different from 'agreeing to disagree' though in the end one may just agree to disagree as a matter of courtesy or respect . . . or getting off the internet.


And bart's comment early on:

I can admire ... but I do not enjoy.


This is a big issue for me as a dance writer. There are whole styles that I don't care for, but that I understand. I don't much like certain kinds of dance (and if it were just up to my desires, would probably not watch much of) but I recognize their importance in the larger community, understand how they work, recognize a good (and poor) example of them. Personal taste is a powerful element, but a full understanding of the art form can't stop at what "I" like.

#57 Farrell Fan

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 12:54 PM

Ever since this subject came up, I've been alert to see if anyone would admit to not liking Suzanne Farrell. Both cargill and sandik have now pleaded guilty with an explanation: "I understand now what I missed." and "everyone else I knew adored her. I was being contrary." You are forgiven, my chilldren. Go and sin no more.

#58 duffster

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 06:41 PM

It took me a while to appreciate Heather Watts. Her port de bras and flexed wrists were hard to take. I think my opinion comes from my own training - I was taken to task during a company class by Ben Harkarvy, where I was using my arms (I guess) in not a truly classical way. So watching her perform, in later years, I grew to admire her versatility in the Balanchine rep. Still her arms bothered me.

#59 sandik

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 11:05 PM

Ever since this subject came up, I've been alert to see if anyone would admit to not liking Suzanne Farrell. Both cargill and sandik have now pleaded guilty with an explanation: "I understand now what I missed." and "everyone else I knew adored her. I was being contrary." You are forgiven, my chilldren. Go and sin no more.


I am so relieved...

#60 kdubzz

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Posted 26 September 2009 - 01:08 AM

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?


Well, she's Cuban, we're Cubans, and we DO love extravagance and passion-(aside from great turns and balances)-perhaps more than a "perfect" style and pure line-(is there any "perfection", I wonder...BTW?). And thinking about it, we do carry our good dose of "vulgarity" with pride and humor. That, in the long run, turns to be kind of spicy and attractive for some others... :P
If anything, let's agree to disagree. :flowers:


Absolutely happy to 'agree to disagree' re: Valdes! I should note, though, that I love so many of the male Cuban dancers and several of the other female ex-pats that I have seen - especially Lorena Feijoo. It's just Valdes who perplexes me, especially since I'm normally fairly good at seeing a dancer through the eyes of his/her fans, even if they don't personally move me. I just can't get past the technique with her but would certainly give her another shot if I had the chance.


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