Jump to content


The Ten Best Dancers


  • Please log in to reply
39 replies to this topic

#1 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,312 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 02:15 PM

Luke Jennings offers his nominees.

Born in 1890, Nijinsky trained at the Imperial Ballet School in St Petersburg, where his amazing virtuosity swiftly became apparent. As the star of Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes,his intense characterisations in new-wave ballets like Scheherazade, Carnaval and Petrouchka won him a huge European following. "Nijinsky never once touched the ground, but laughed at our sorrows and passions in mid-air," wrote one spectator. His reputation grew with the choreography of several modernist works, but by his mid-20s he was displaying signs of the schizophrenia which, with brutal prematurity, would end his career.


The merits of such lists are debatable and certainly the merit of this one is, but I do give Jennings credit for sticking his neck out to make and defend his choices. Comments? (And don't be too hard on him unless you're willing to put forth a few suggestions of your own. :))

#2 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 03:27 PM

The problem is that you really have had to see them, preferably in a variety of works. I would certainly vote for:

-- Astaire (based on films in which he maintained artistic control);
-- Soloviev (based on video), and
-- Kirkland (based on video snippets and many live performances, but counting only her good nights).

But that's only 3 out of 10. :helpsmilie:

#3 volcanohunter

volcanohunter

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,981 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:47 PM

I couldn't possibly compile such a list. Like bart, I only agree with a few of Jennings' choices. Fred Astaire? Definitely! MIchael Clark as the sole representative of modern dance? He must be joking.

#4 kahoyo

kahoyo

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 12 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:15 PM

>Luke Jennings

utter nonsense.
The correct choices are:

--Yoshida (...goddess at last)
--Kumakawa (virtuosity)
--Kuranaga (I wonder why she stays in a small company like Boston. She can immediately fill the vacancy resulting from Yoshida's retirement and naturally surpasses Cojocaru and Nunez.)

#5 vipa

vipa

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,077 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:33 PM

Interesting to think about. I'm not ready to name names, but I have a bit of a problem with the idea of naming someone you've never seen. Nijinsky, Josephine Baker - how does one know?

I love the topic because it has made me think about the dancers I've seen and who I would select. We are not talking about a single great moment or moments but selecting one of the greatest dancers. That is different. Many, many years ago I watched Milton Myers coach the Joyce Tristler Co. He stood up and did a segment of the Tristler version of 4T's with such beauty and musicality that it is still etched in my mind. I wouldn't call him one of the 10 greatest dancers of all time, but for me that is one of the 10 greatest dance moments that I've witnessed.

Or maybe I'll looking at it totally wrong. Love this topic!

#6 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 07:48 PM

There's such a thing as a correct choice for a list like this? :wink: Any top ten list is going to be a function of time and geography. I don't see much of Acosta except when I get to London; what I've seen wouldn't displace other dancers for me.

I saw more of Kistler and saw her when - she's on my list.

Like Jennings though, I would take Cojocaru over Guillem every time - almost. Not in Forsythe.

#7 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 08:20 PM

>Luke Jennings

utter nonsense.
The correct choices are:

--Yoshida (...goddess at last)
--Kumakawa (virtuosity)
--Kuranaga (I wonder why she stays in a small company like Boston. She can immediately fill the vacancy resulting from Yoshida's retirement and naturally surpasses Cojocaru and Nunez.)


Great response, made my day. Never heard of any of your faves, though.

#8 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,312 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 08:41 PM

Interesting to think about. I'm not ready to name names, but I have a bit of a problem with the idea of naming someone you've never seen. Nijinsky, Josephine Baker - how does one know?


You can't be sure, but you can take an educated guess. We know that enough knowledgeable people acknowledged Nijinsky as a great dancer and a genius to grant him that status and include him on such a list, in the same way you might include Edmund Kean on a list of greatest actors. Had Jennings wanted to include Pavlova (or even a later dancer like Fonteyn, who doesn't gain much on a lot of the video we do have), that would have been fair. It is sad that we have no film, but even if we did that film might be deceptive, because we wouldn't see Nijinsky as audiences saw him then.

There's such a thing as a correct choice for a list like this? :wink: Any top ten list is going to be a function of time and geography.


No, there's no "correct" list. I would say by making a choice and justifying it you are describing your own tastes as well as dancers and what you think is most important in a dancer. There may be some dancers around whom a consensus gathers but not many. Jennings doesn't go into time and geography but I don't think he looked far beyond the early 20th century.



#9 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,255 posts

Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:38 PM

When I saw this thread, I put together a list of who I was expecting to be on it -- Jennings' list, not mine:

Nijinski
Pavlova
Markova
Alonso
Fonteyn
Nureyev
Baryshnikov
Bruhn
Guillem

I didn't come up with a tenth.

Boy, was I wrong :lol:

#10 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 839 posts

Posted 04 August 2010 - 12:24 AM

It's interesting that Jennings lists Michael Clark (in Alston's Soda Lake), whose own choreography hardly gets any mention in the States. His work, though on a very small chamber scale, seems to be some of the most visually arresting post-Balanchine, post-Diaghilev stuff. It's contrapunctal, painterly and works every part of the stage canvas. He's a distant, hyperactive cousin of Apollo.

When I saw this thread, I put together a list of who I was expecting to be on it -- Jennings' list, not mine


This is close to Maynard Keynes' classic Beauty Contest definition of how rational agents work in a market economy! And Jennings list itself is like a multi-temporal economy that mixes Euros, pesetas, and old francs.

#11 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:45 AM

This is close to Maynard Keynes' classic Beauty Contest definition of how rational agents work in a market economy! And Jennings list itself is like a multi-temporal economy that mixes Euros, pesetas, and old francs.

I love the analogy. But there is a positive side to it as well. List making like this can be like those bags of mixed-currency coins that I have gathered over the years. Small-denomination, mostly gone from circulation, some shiny, some faded to the point of unrecognizability -- not really useful, but fun to look at when I come across them ... and impossible to throw away.

#12 Mashinka

Mashinka

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,189 posts

Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:53 AM

The inclusion of Michael Clark is very odd, a good dancer and interesting choreographer to be sure, but I suspect only Jennings would put him on a best list. Amazed also at the inclusion of Nadezhda Pavlova, she invented the hyper-extension and would therefore only get on my list of ten worst.

#13 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 653 posts

Posted 04 August 2010 - 04:34 AM

There's no Balanchine dancers on this list, therefore I find it suspect.
A top ten list is too limiting anyway. You've got to have at least a top twenty.

#14 Cygnet

Cygnet

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 733 posts

Posted 04 August 2010 - 09:05 AM

Dirac wrote,

No, there's no "correct" list. I would say by making a choice and justifying it you are describing your own tastes as well as dancers and what you think is most important in a dancer. There may be some dancers around whom a consensus gathers but not many. Jennings doesn't go into time and geography but I don't think he looked far beyond the early 20th century.

What's the saying? "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Obviously, it's a matter of personal preference; and what we're looking at is Jenning's personal and subjective opinion. IMO, if you're going to make "greatest" lists, I say choose specific dancers in specific ballets, choreographies, categories, genres, eras, and emploi then narrow it down.

*(What Mashinka said too).

#15 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 04 August 2010 - 09:19 AM

Two questions:

Is "Best Dancers" a useful category? Or is it like those Book Review lists of "Best Novels of the Year," which attempt to include something for everyone's taste? Why not focus on Ballet Dancers, on Ballet Talk at least?

Also -- Would it be useful to create a separate category for something like the Top 10 Historically Important Dancers? That is, those dancers who changed the way informed audiences think and feel about the art and who even set new standards for what we look for in performance?

This would certainly be a place to include Nijinski, Pavlova, and others whom none of us has actually seen, except in brief studio clips.

More recent dancers, those many of us have seen and whose performances can be examined on video, could fit into this category as well. I'd certainly add Nureyev and Farrell to such a list.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):