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The Ten Best Dancers

40 posts in this topic

:clapping: All Dancers actually seen live

Ruzimatov, Nureyev, Baryshnikov Vasiliev,Tanranda.

Fonteyn, Asylmuratova, Makarova,Dupont, Cojocaru.

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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.

I thought it was an interesting choice as well -- I've seen nothing of his live, and really only the early stuff in any kind of depth on tape, but it was fascinating stuff. I'm afraid that his personal hullabaloo took attention away from the art at the time.

Any list like this is as much about the list maker as it is the artists listed -- some of the denizens here have posted their own, and I'm sure everyone else reading along could make one too. But it's great fun to think about other people's choices.

And I was thrilled for the link to N Pavlova footage. I'd read about her years ago, in Croce's enthusiastic, evocative prose, but hadn't ever seen her move -- what a treat to see her in action!

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So many interesting comments.

I've come up with my tentative list of 10 greatest:

Fonteyn, Fracci, Farrell, Allegra Kent, Alina Cojocaru

Fred Astaire, Nureyev, Bruhn, Baryshnikov, Gary Chryst

I think each of these were game changers, transcendent performers and/or had a major influence on those who came after.

I'm trying to come up with a male performer who is still dancing.

I don't know that you'll have seen him, but I'd suggest Steve Paxton, one of the developers of Contact Improvisation. That performance practice has had an astonishing affect on the development of contemporary dance styles, both performance and choreography.

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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.

It is not often that I disagree with Mashinka comments on Russian dancers but I feel I have to Nadezhda Pavlova a dancer who had extraordinary talent as a teenager and who apparently experienced a very difficult time whilst with the Bolshoi Ballet.

Nadezhda Pavlova's potential for hyper-extension was a natural physical feature of this dancer which may have been was exploited by artistic directors.

Importantly she never used five to six penchee arabesques or in ala seconde poses went beyond the vertical, unlike some dancers of the present day Kirov or Bolshoi. See her at 16 years of age where every opportunity to hyper-extend exists, but is not attempted.

Where is any vulgar hyper extension four years later in a studio film seen here performing Aurora? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vBkhrYjwEM.

As well as seeing her dance in London I saw her give an extraordinary performance of Giselle in Moscow in 1986 and of course there was the legendary performance she gave of this role at the Kirov with Yuri Soloviev also sans hyper extensions.

Pavlova was blessed with beautiful feet and leg line coupled with a strong back through which she certainly achieved high extensions but for me always without losing the aesthetics of academic classical ballet.

Pavlova’s seemingly fragile personality brought touching pathos to a number of her roles and was joyous in Grigorovich's Nutcracker and in my opinion second only to Yekaterina Maximova in the role of Masha.

As Jane Simpson points, the "ten best" of various subjects has been published in The Observer and so perhaps Mr Jennings was a hostage to the process. If thats the case, its a sad situation for a ballet critic to be in as the whole question of "ten best" is for me, something of a subjective and vainglorious exercise.

Dumbing down has quite clearly hit "The Observer" which was once a quality newspaper, but then high art practitioners and knowledgeable pundits alike, are quite clearly ready to eschew the standards of the past rather than support them.

PS

I will post a further example of Pavlova's dancing below as apparently only two media files can be used in a post as an illustrative example.

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Just wanted to add that, in the newsreel footage of N Pavolva's 1973 Grand Prize performance there is a heartbreakingly lovely clip of Alexander Goudonov at the reception, looking young and hopeful.

And in the voiceover -- I'd forgotten that Karen Kane and Peter Schaufuss competed as well.

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So many interesting comments.

I've come up with my tentative list of 10 greatest:

Fonteyn, Fracci, Farrell, Allegra Kent, Alina Cojocaru

Fred Astaire, Nureyev, Bruhn, Baryshnikov, Gary Chryst

I think each of these were game changers, transcendent performers and/or had a major influence on those who came after.

I'm trying to come up with a male performer who is still dancing.

I don't know that you'll have seen him, but I'd suggest Steve Paxton, one of the developers of Contact Improvisation. That performance practice has had an astonishing affect on the development of contemporary dance styles, both performance and choreography.

I have not seen him, but will do some exploration! Thank you

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:clapping: All Dancers actually seen live

Ruzimatov, Nureyev, Baryshnikov Vasiliev,Tanranda.

Fonteyn, Asylmuratova, Makarova,Dupont, Cojocaru.

Thank you Nanarina, I'm not familiar with Tanranda. Could you give some insight?

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Gediminas Taranda was a dancer with the Bolshoi and was the Abderakhman in both Bolshoi videos (the Ludmilla Semenyaka/Irek Moukhamedov and Natalya Bessmertnova/Yuri Vasyuchenko performances).

He is one of my all-time favorite dancers, and even on video, he blows away the stage. There used to be a number of the DVD clips on YouTube, but it looks like they've been pulled, at least in the English versions of the posts.

However, they do have clips from his appearance with partner, four-time World Champion and Olympic bronze and silver medalist Irina Slutskaya, on Ice-Age, in a spoof of the White Swan Pas de Deux:

I think they even put ruffles on his tutu panties.

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Gediminas Taranda was a dancer with the Bolshoi and was the Abderakhman in both Bolshoi videos (the Ludmilla Semenyaka/Irek Moukhamedov and Natalya Bessmertnova/Yuri Vasyuchenko performances).

He is one of my all-time favorite dancers, and even on video, he blows away the stage.

Oh, yes indeed. If you haven't seen those Raymonda videos, do seek them out. In them Taranda is just about the sexiest thing I've ever seen. He's like Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolf Valentino rolled into one, only a lot bigger and taller. I remember seeing him in Ivan the Terrible during the Bolshoi's visit to New York in 1990, and while I hated the ballet, I was completely transfixed by Taranda's Prince Kurbsky. I'm pretty sure that after the show I ran to the Lincoln Center gift shop, bought all the Bolshoi videos that featured him and went straight home to watch them. (Gosh, is it obvious that he set my female heart aflutter?)

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I think is even possible to name 10 GRAND dancers from EACH important period of classical ballet-(Imperial, Soviet, Diaguilev, Basil, BT, Balanchine, etc...)

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I think is even possible to name 10 GRAND dancers from EACH important period of classical ballet-(Imperial, Soviet, Diaguilev, Basil, BT, Balanchine, etc...)

And we'd still argue about who should be on each list :wink: which makes for fun discussions!

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I remember seeing him in Ivan the Terrible during the Bolshoi's visit to New York in 1990, and while I hated the ballet, I was completely transfixed by Taranda's Prince Kurbsky.

I saw him dance Kurbsky in Paris in 1991 with Alexander Vetrov (a hugely under-rated dancer IMHO) as Ivan and Maria Bylova as Anastasia. It was a matinee performance on a bitterly cold day with the audience as miserable as the weather but at the end I witnessed one of the most astounding ovations I've ever seen at the ballet with the audience almost going berserk applauding what they had seen. Taranda's dancing was a revelation but it wasn't just his technical ability, in the scene where Ivan chooses Kurbsky's beloved Anastasia as his bride I remember his whole body seeming to collapse inside and he slowly left the stage a totally broken man. Taranda didn't just dance his roles, he lived them.

I too have all his videos and made great efforts to see him dance all over Europe, he is a larger than life character offstage too and I've always kept in touch with him. He still makes the odd appearance with his own company and is an inspiring coach.

It would be impossible for me to contemplate a top ten that didn’t have the name of Gediminas Taranda on it.

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Methinks Jennings is bored or lonely - he wrote this list knowing that it would be controversial and elicit letters, e-mails, etc. How could anyone print a "10 best dancers" list and exclude Nureyev, Bruhn, Fonteyn, Ulanova - to name a few. I am stunned. Hence, my theory that Jennings is lonely and wanted people to correspond with him.

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Unfortunately, I saw Nureyev dance live at the end of his career. But with regard to the taped performances I've seen I would definitely include him on this list. Luckily I got to see Barysnikov in Giselle and Don Q (live in 1981) and he definitely belongs on the list. I love Fred Astaire movies and include him too. Whenever I think of Balanchine dancers I think of Patricia McBride. To me, she's the gold standard for NYCB ballerinas (just my opinion). I never saw Edward Villella live, but from the film I've seen of him Villella (did I spell his last name right?) belongs on the list as well. And I would also include Nina Anashvilli whom I fortunately got to see live several times. There are dancers whose performances I've loved - Bocca, Corella, Cornjeo, but I don't think they're quite in the top ten. I can't think of anyone else at the moment.

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