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Sara Mearns: The Great American Ballerina of Our Era


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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 08:45 AM


"The great ballerina"...?...Why is that I notice an uncompromising feeling here..? He avoids to go too far as to name her "The GREATEST ballerina", or to be too soft to write "A great ballerina"... Is "THE GREAT..." phrase grammatically correct...? What is he really saying here...?


No, he means by 'The Great' the same thing as 'the Greatest', it's just a more theatrical thing to say 'The Great'. Gramatically it's all right, just a bit annoying. In this case also, since he wants to emphasize her 'a great ballerina' is probably not quite enough, but he should be content with 'one of the greatest ballerinas' or 'one of the two or three greatest ballerinas' (in that case, he wouldn't even have to say 'American', which is pretty much beside the point these days anyway, since everything is more accessible than in past epochs. But critics are sometimes able to promote performers they want to by hyping them up, so it's no big deal really. That's probably all it means.



Thanks Patrick and Happy New Year!! :flowers:

#17 Mel Johnson

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 09:28 AM

I find the title making an odd harmony with the Eugene Loring/William Saroyan ballet-play from the first night of Ballet Theatre, "The Great American Goof". Surely, that couldn't be intentional on Macaulay's part? Or could it?

#18 canbelto

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 10:03 AM

Well one thing that I do think is true that after several years where the NYCB ballerina roster was weak (I can't tell how many times I passed up evenings because I had no desire to see Darci Kistler or Yvonne Borree) it's now extremely strong, and Mearns is part of the reason. I'd also add Ashley Bouder, Tiler Peck, Kathryn Morgan, as ballerinas I've never seen give a bad performance. It's become an exciting time to go to the NYCB again.

#19 papeetepatrick

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 10:53 AM

I find the title making an odd harmony with the Eugene Loring/William Saroyan ballet-play from the first night of Ballet Theatre, "The Great American Goof". Surely, that couldn't be intentional on Macaulay's part? Or could it?


Ha ha.

#20 dirac

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 11:23 PM


Actually, Kirkland politely loathed Farrell. Kent was her model.


That makes sense to me: Kirkland, even in her distinctiveness, recalls Kent more than Farrell.

Some (underline: some) elements of her off-stage career even recall Kent's slightly defiant relation to Balanchine though, in that case, if one is to trust Kent's memoirs, it led to three children -- not a career with ABT and a Ballet Academy with a commitment to story ballets. (This presumably is not a matter of influence.)

But I'm pretty sure about the Croce remark...and of course one can be influenced, if only unconsciously, by someone one loathes! But certainly it's easier to picture Kirkland with Kent as her model.


Off topic: It doesn't matter what Kirkland does or doesn't think of Farrell personally. Farrell's influence on NYCB during a certain period was as pervasive in its way as T.S. Eliot's over poetry in his day - he was in your head whether you wanted him there or not and the available evidence suggests that applied to Kirkland in relation to Farrell, too.

(Kent was also a strong influence on Farrell's dancing in the early days.)

Not all critics agreed with Croce that Farrell had become a caricature of herself when she left in '69.

Returning to our moutons, I would say that Macaulay is free to hail Mearns in any way he likes, if he can back it up with action. I have not seen Mearns but I thought he made a good case.

#21 Simon G

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 01:26 PM

When I saw NYCB here in London at the Coliseum last year, Mearns was the absolute standout ballerina of the evening in the second movement of Symphony in C.

To be fair to the company they really didn't seem to be having a great time of it, the theatre was 25% sold, the lighting designer or technician at the Coliseum seemed to really have some kind of grudge against the company as I don't think I have ever seen a company lit so unflatteringly, flatly or badly. I think that was part of the problem they looked tired, under rehearsed and ill prepared for the season and that was reflected in the care given to the stagecraft.

But when Mearns came on it was like WOW, she was just dancing on a different plane from the rest of the company that evening (Bouder wasn't on that night, but I saw her later in Tarentella) Mearns was spiritual, lush, romantic just gorgeous a real ballerina in what had been a very lacklustre evening.

On a related issue: May I just take this opportunity to hail myself as The Great British Ballet Alert Poster of This (or any other) Era.

#22 bart

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 02:37 PM

On a related issue: May I just take this opportunity to hail myself as The Great British Ballet Alert Poster of This (or any other) Era.

Simon, please do! :) I would add: "a powerful influence on Ballet Alert Posters everywhere."

Thanks for your memory of Mearns in London. Such a cavernous theater. And with bad lighting. It must have had its depressing side.

But when Mearns came on it was like WOW, she was just dancing on a different plane from the rest of the company that evening (Bouder wasn't on that night, but I saw her later in Tarentella) Mearns was spiritual, lush, romantic just gorgeous a real ballerina in what had been a very lacklustre evening.

"Spiritual, lush, romantic, ... gorgeous, a real ballerina ...." You (and Macaulay) are making those of us who have not seen her rather jealous.:(

#23 papeetepatrick

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 03:15 PM

On a related issue: May I just take this opportunity to hail myself as The Great British Ballet Alert Poster of This (or any other) Era.


Yes, you may do, and yet not all will agree that it's of any importance. or that you are either, of course (after all, there's Jane and leonid, you know). Because some of it's hype, even if you've actually seen these dancers. Yes, she's beautiful and a fine dancer, but this 'action' is publicity and nothing else. The Dewdrop I saw her do was good, but not great, and the Swan was great but not that great. A lot of us have seen the greatest dancers of NYCB and over decades, and even the ones who were the critics' darlings, as Suzanne Farrell definitely was, are not greatest because of this kind of critic-talk; she was still 'one of the greatest' in many people's minds, but even though I once thought she was 'THE greatest', I don't anymore (and those who do think it do not think because any critic told them to at any given point). And what does any of that matter? Or is that not allowed once these pronouncements are made? Is there a point at which these judgments become official? No, there never is, even when Tobi Tobias once wrote in New York Magazine that there was no understudy for 'Mozartiana', and that if Suzanne didn't do it, then they cancelled it. Why? Because 'she is simply incomparable'. Although I don't say that this sort of febrile prose does not come quite naturally as part of the 'greenhouse effect'. This is all common knowledge, of course, it's just that if it's possible to get worked up, it's very human to enjoy it, and it becomes part of the snob appeal that is always aimed for in all realms of the art, as everywhere else.

Not that I don't think this kind of 'promo criticism' is not par for the course. But, in that case, it's also another way of marketing your favourites. That's cool, but expect disagreement.

It's so elementary a thing that I recall when someone was shocked, she said, that I could be both and Anglophile and a Francophile.

#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 03:18 PM





The thing is...how can he name her to be "The Greatest..." if he hasn't been able to see the whole range of this era's ballerinas...at least onstage...?

"The greatest ballerina I've ever seen live" sounds better to me.

#25 Simon G

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 03:39 PM

Cristian

I really think you'd like Mearns in the flesh, she's quite unmodern in her physicality, recalling a great deal of those 50s ballet bomb shells who float your boat in fact. She's got lush curves and a very womanly presence and plasticity.

She's by no means a technical Wunderkind like Valdes, Nunez, Rojo, Osipova etc as seen in that clip 32 fouettes are just that 32 (ish) singles, but she's a real dancer, a real ballerina, she has the technique she needs to accomplish the ballerina roles and that something extra, the indefinable quality that made Ulanova stand out above Dudinskaya, Fonteyn above Grey, Seymour above Park etc She's a ballerina.

It's that special quality that has to be seen in real life, like I said when she came on in what was a really turgid evening suddenly you were in a performance, she just made the evening, took such command of the stage. She's delish, the real deal. One of my best ballet memories of the past few years, in fact.

Simon G
The Great British Ballet Alert Poster of This (or any other) Era

#26 papeetepatrick

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 03:42 PM

Cristian

I really think you'd like Mearns in the flesh, she's quite unmodern in her physicality, recalling a great deal of those 50s ballet bomb shells who float your boat in fact. She's got lush curves and a very womanly presence and plasticity.

She's by no means a technical Wunderkind like Valdes, Nunez, Rojo, Osipova etc as seen in that clip 32 fouettes are just that 32 (ish) singles, but she's a real dancer, a real ballerina, she has the technique she needs to accomplish the ballerina roles and that something extra, the indefinable quality that made Ulanova stand out above Dudinskaya, Fonteyn above Grey, Seymour above Park etc She's a ballerina.

It's that special quality that has to be seen in real life, like I said when she came on in what was a really turgid evening suddenly you were in a performance, she just made the evening, took such command of the stage. She's delish, the real deal. One of my best ballet memories of the past few years, in fact.

Simon G
The Great British Ballet Alert Poster of This (or any other) Era


Thanks for that. Now we know you're not.

#27 Helene

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 04:59 PM

Mearn's attitude turns in the variation were luscious.

#28 richard53dog

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 05:25 PM

It's that special quality that has to be seen in real life, like I said when she came on in what was a really turgid evening suddenly you were in a performance, she just made the evening, took such command of the stage. She's delish, the real deal. One of my best ballet memories of the past few years, in fact.

Simon G
The Great British Ballet Alert Poster of This (or any other) Era



I think that's a part of it with Mearns. To a degree it's a bit undefinable; she has that quality that makes you watch her. It's over and above the steps she'a actually doing .

#29 Simon G

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 06:05 PM

I think that's a part of it with Mearns. To a degree it's a bit undefinable; she has that quality that makes you watch her. It's over and above the steps she'a actually doing .



That's the essence of what a "real" ballerina is, exactly. I remember there was a poll on these here boards a while back about whether it was necessary that a ballerina do the hands in fifth balance in rose adagio to be allowed to perform it, if I remember the majority vote was that "yes" if she couldn't do it, she had no place performing it. And I think so much ballet performance has become so generic, what we get to see is so much of a muchness that if that technical gloss isn't the same we feel cheated or rather demand that this generic technical transparency applies to each and every ballet dancer taking the ballerina roles.

But then come those really rare dancers who just are ballerinas, they are real artists and suddenly it just doesn't matter anymore. As Helene pointed out Mearns' attitude turns were gorgeous, the last one in particular where Mearns obviously hit that right note where you pull off a stunning feat, and it was a slight surprise to see her fouettes weren't as secure, if we saw say an Osipova or Nunez pull those attitude turns out of the bag we'd know we were in for doubles, triples fouettes with multiple pirouettes to finish - Mearns gave us 27 fouettes travelling and put in a soutenu action to cover up the fluffed final few and it didn't matter. What you got was a ballerina fully in the role of Odile.

In fact she reminds me a bit of Veronika Part, in her expansiveness of movement, her lush dance qualities, her curvy muscularity and the fact that whatever technique she may "lack" in comparison to the dynamos around her she still dances every single one of them off the stage, just a pity Part had a far rockier road before her talents were fully appreciated.

I do think that as dance and ballet becomes more homogenised and globalised where ballerinas from top companies can pretty much be dropped from one company into another with very little jarring because style is so generic, real ballerinas like Mearns who just stand out because of what they are, are wonderful are rarer than ever. It's what ballet is all about.

#30 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:00 PM

I specially LOVED her renversés in her solo. Also, I noticed that she introduced those "Balanchine pas de chat"-(what's the correct term for those...?)-in her final diagonal of the coda, before the pique turns...
If anything, she looks FEARLESS..! (a quality I ABSOLUTE adore in ballerinas...)

And yes..she's got THE body... :wub:


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