Neryssa

Jacques D'Amboise: Memoirs

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I don't think there was any love lost between Farrell and any of these ladies

I've just ordered the D'Amboise memoir tonight, my stack of unread or uncompletely read books being tall already. So perhaps he says something to back this up. But while it's evident from many other sources that Farrell provoked jealousy, I recall nothing that suggests she disliked her rivals.

I don't, either. Kent does say in her book that Farrell was generally silent in the dressing room while they made up before performances, but there's no suggestion that it was personal.

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Well from the "outsider" perspective I feel as if Balanchine was ultimately responsible for creating such an unhealthy climate in the company. He was the boss, and his obsession with Farrell was obviously destructive. Farrell however sees the relationship nowadays as a loving, productive one, and that's undoubtedly true as well. But when I read d'Amboise was writing the book there was a subtle but definite defense of the ballerinas Balanchine neglected once Farrell came into the picture, particularly his friend Melissa Hayden and LeClercq.

I agree that the book could have used an editor to give it less disjointed, jumpy feel. But I also do look how it seems to be written by d'Amboise himself, instead of ghost-written. The voice of d'Amboise is very obvious in this book, and that's something I feel is missing from many ghost-written books.

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She's never been apologetic about Balanchine's behavior or her own. Given how destructive the relationship between them was viewed by the people around them who were willing to speak, that must rankle the most. I've always ascribed this to her religious worldview, a refusal to have regrets and accepting things, at least eventually, as experience.

I don't see that either Farrell or Balanchine did anything they had to make any public amends for. In her book she wrote movingly about their last talk on what happened between them in 1969. She said she thought he'd forgiven her for what she'd had to do and forgiven himself for things he couldn't help. Which seems fair enough.

(In addition, lest we forget, there was an artistic dimension to all this; it wasn't a simple matter of an old man's infatuation.)

Thanks for those quotes from Villella's book, Quiggin. That's what I was thinking of earlier when I commented that perhaps Villella had a point (about d'Amboise).

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.... That's why when she was really dominating the atmosphere at NYCB in the late 60s, it was perfectly natural that she wouldn't exactly be 'loved' by her fellow dancers, there's always a trade-off.....

From "Holding On to the Air":

‎".... At one time I had perhaps ten cats. But she was my best friend [Bottom, her first cat]. We grew up together. She was the one I confided in when I didn't have any friends in the company. Next to God, this cat knew more about me than anybody.

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Maybe I should add that there are often other names besides LeClercq's on many of those pages, as well.

Thank you for that. It doesn't surprise me...though I was hoping for a chapter! :beg:

I want a biography of LeClercq too. I thought she was the most sublime, enchanting dancer (not that I ever saw her perform) but I have always been fascinated by her dancing. When I was skimming the book by D'Amboise, I didn't see many references to her in the index.

How to post links properly? She is so beautiful dancing in La Valse: http://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/dance/tanaquil-leclercq-nicholas-magallanes?ref=term&refcar=/genre/ballet

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That is lovely, Neryssa - thank you! The link worked perfectly. I find it so hard to believe that we still don't have a biography of this magnificent dancer and spellbinding spirit.

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A wonderful clip. Thank you so much, Nereyssa. I wish I had been able to see LeClerq dance. SHE was the dancer people talked about most when I first started attending NYCB later in the 1950s. I love the abandon with which she rushes into the music. She even gives life to Magallanes, not always the quickest or most engaged dancer. Would that every dancer in this part could access that level of joy and risk taking.

According to Repertory in Review, Farrell also danced this part. Does anyone recall her performances. And how they compare to this?

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I just bumped into D'Amboise's autobiography in a thrift store, and grabbed it. Been reading it today and find it very entertaining. Written with a candid, honest style, he's no short of telling the reader about hard self assessments and doubts while in NYCB. He repeatedly declares that he knew he was not in the same league as some of his peers, both from America-(Villella)-or abroad-(Vasiliev, Bruhn). Very interesting to once again get another account on City Ballet's first tour to the Soviet Union-(I had already Kirkland's and Villella's takes)-and how things were handled over there. D'Amboise even shreds lots of light into a allegedly platonic fixation that Balanchine seems to have had on Diana Adams, and how she sort of slipped away from his muse trail. Also, very interesting views on "Apollo". Will finish it tomorrow at the beach.

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Glad you enjoyed it. Would be curious to see what you think of his dish on Suzanne Farrell. When I read it I was like ... wow. The estrangement Farrell continues to have with the NYCB alumni is depressing.

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The d'Amboise autobiography also provides some record of Tanaquil Le Clercq's life with the company and Balanchine, which didn't really exist anywhere else until the recent documentary was released.

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Yes...there are many anecdotes related to Le Clerq, as well as Tallchief. As I said, he devotes a lot of writing to his development of Apollo. Actually, I met the man once, here in Miami, where he attended some performance of an organization he patronizes. Extremely gracious and talkative man, he spoke to me about the less than ideal conditions he had when Apollo was filmed-(the little TV studio set).

So in the book he describes one time when he and Balanchine were in the wings watching Martins perform the ballet.

JD- "Why did you do that, Mr B...? Cut Stravinsky's music, cut out the prologue and change the choreography for the ending..?

GB- "You know, audience only want to see stars, and stars only want to make poses, not do my steps, SO I GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT..! Poses. Like for a magazine. Like van Gogh...cut off his own hear!

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More interesting excerpts/conversations between D'Amboise and Balanchine...

JD'A- "Mr. B...in the history of all the ballerinas you've taught and choreographed for-from the earliest days...Toumanova, Barnova, Riabouchinska...all the way up till today-who do you consider the most talented...?

He immediately answered...

GB- "Allegra. She is the most gifted. She is missing only one element in the "formula to be perfect"....Allegra has the right ingredients, but something prevents her from being consistent. I can't count on her"

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Not everyone agrees with me, but I found Allegra's book pretty wonderful too. Very honest I thought.

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I agree with you about Allegra. She was one of the great dance artists and she is very articulate in her book about who she is and what she did. Even when her "external" life was a mess she knew what she was doing on stage.

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"He repeatedly declares that he knew he was not in the same league as some of his peers, both from America-(Villella)-or abroad-(Vasiliev, Bruhn).".

It is hard to evaluate one's own stage presence... His was, at the very least, in the same league...

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