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Kennedy Center Honors 2012 - Natalia Makarova honored

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Julie Kent looked wonderful.

I agree with Helene and others--I was really kinda surprised nothing from On Your Toes was included--and dumbing down or not (and I admit I come from a Broadway background as a dancer), so many people I know who were first introduced to Makarova were so, because of that revival (I was three so I couldn't see it :P ). I thought it was a nice tribute, and I am so glad she got the tribute she was awarded. I hated how the ballet was filmed (when you can see dancers sweat, and not what you are meant to see it's always a bad choice), but I thought, Jimmy Kimmel's quip about "the ballerina" aside, I thought it was a good show.

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Sorry to be disagreeable, but I thought the televising of the dancing was another opportunity missed. Much too complicated. Good glimpses and bad, shuffled together - like cards in a deck - as though they couldn't tell the difference. The "reaction shots" ascballerina complains of are part of the problem - they're thrown in mechanically when Makarova's not reacting, she's watching intently. Same thing with Farrell in 2005, IIRC.

I may be cynical--but this is how dance is filmed for TV now. I hated a lot of it--and we should want for more--but it's not even a new thing. Even the old "filmed in studio" versions of the classics we now have on DVD with the Royal Ballet, and the National Ballet here in Canada do the exact same thing. I am probably in the harsh minority but I think with widescreen the tendency has finally been more on the side of showing the full body, when filming things.

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To add insult to injury, the clips on the CBS site this morning include every honoree except Makarova:

http://www.cbs.com/s...r_honors/video/

Perhaps they're still editing that one?

That IS ridiculous.

I guess I was still pleased that watching with my family, so many non ballet dancers or fans were impressed. I am used to my own bit being shown on the Tonys for a second--and that's a theatre based awards, so to see anything actually on a major network seems like a plus to me. My mom did say, and it's true (IMHO) that it's much easer to get people involved with an excerpt from a pop song everyone knows and probably loves. I thought the acting with Hoffman came off worse (and I grew up thinking, like some here have said, he's pretty handsome.)

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I would have preferred it to a mediocre Black Swan excerpt, but I didn't get to choose.

I would have preferred one longer story ballet excerpt to three very short ones. Obviously the three excerpts allowed more dancers to appear, but it felt like a case of dumbing down, of expecting and catering to short attention spans.

Exactly. Much easier for a mainstream audience to swallow, but I still laugh at the Ashford "Hullabaloo" era choreography for Cook's sequence last year.

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Also, I couldn't help but wonder if cutting away from Part during the fouettes was an act of politeness. (After all it's a celebratory evening and some reaction shots were required anyway). Certainly when the camera returned to her it looked as if she had done some traveling.

This possibility certainly crossed my mind too. I would love to see the actual footage of Part's performance in order to answer that question. We'll probably never know, though.

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Also, I couldn't help but wonder if cutting away from Part during the fouettes was an act of politeness. (After all it's a celebratory evening and some reaction shots were required anyway). Certainly when the camera returned to her it looked as if she had done some traveling.

This possibility certainly crossed my mind too. I would love to see the actual footage of Part's performance in order to answer that question. We'll probably never know, though.

It is a possibility, certainly, but all i saw was that she had potentially travelled forward in a straight line which is not considered poor form in fouttees ( Hey, makarova in the Nagy video travels!).

I rather liked that they picked Part for this although I agree it isn't her strongest suit. She's gotten to the point where unlike some people (Kowrowski) I don't worry if she'll make it through the foutees. I've never seen her not.

She does singles, which Makarova also did (this wasn't her strong suit really either) and which M is on record as preferring.

And while she uses the technique, she emotes through it, it isn't just about technique. Which is what Makarova also was about.

I thought having her do Odile was a smart choice.

(Wording is terrible, not enough coffee!)

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I don't think the issue is whether or not Slaughter on 10th Avenue is Balanchine worth taking seriously--let's say it definitely has a place in the repertory even if not everybody would agree on what that place should be--but whether it would have been a better choice for the Kennedy Center honoring Makarova than what we saw on television.

For myself, I was delighted to get the four classical excerpts we got since each one honored an important aspect of Makarova's career. Bits from two nineteenth-century classics didn't seem too much given the honoree: she was the Odette/Odile for me and many others growing up and, of course, was considered by many to be the Giselle of her generation too. These roles are a huge part of her legacy. Add to that: excerpts from a twentieth-century dramatic ballet --with the added frisson of including an American Romeo who now dances with a Russian compay--and the one quality ballet created on her in the west and I think we did get a miniature portrait of the most important parts of her career.

(The straight, male, sports-loving, Letterman loving, occasional ballet goer with whom l watched the telecast greatly preferred the Giselle excerpt to the others. As it happens, he didn't care a straw for Slaughter on 10th Avenue when we saw it in the theater. However, he may not be representative. Probably isn't.)

I admit, though, that the quick bit of Black Swan ended up being pretty ineffectual: I don't now how much was danced at the live performance--certainly more needed to have been for the excerpt to have much impact--but in principle ballet bravura is accessible to everyone and "black swan" now has pop cultural currency of a sort. It was not necessarily to have been predicted that Gomez/Part would turn out seeming a little lame (maybe potential problems with Part's fouettes could have been predicted). It also seems appropriate to have invited a Kirov/Mariinsky ballerina now at ABT and one who has been on Letterman no less...(I found myself wondering if Makarova had any say or influence.)

In any case, despite her success in the work, for me an excerpt from "On Your Toes" would not have had the same resonance as a way to honor Makarova. So, on the whole, I give the organizers of the tribute good marks.

I will add that just as the evening began I found myself thinking that the best way to honor Makarova would be with the opening of the Shades scene from Bayadere (though I did not come up with Helene's lovely idea of mixing students with professionals): I actually think this could have worked in the theater even for an audience of non-ballet fans, IF the producers didn't lose their nerve and included a full corps-de-ballet--but...uh...I don't think it would have worked on television at all. So...

Yes, thank you, Drew, for putting it so well.

I think the Kingdom of the Shades opening could have come off well on the smaller screen. It wouldn't have had the same effect that it has in the theater, but it was shot effectively by Herbert Ross for the opening credits of "The Turning Point" and it might have turned out quite well well here. They had also shown footage of Makarova rehearsing the corps in the piece, so that would have been a tidy connection of past to present.

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Abatt, Nureyev frequently sought out older ballerinas to partner... It seemed to work well for him... Different stage presence temperament between Hallberg & Nureyev... I wonder if that made it work for one and not the other? On the other hand, when I was young, older dancers playing youth always made my skin crawl. Now that I'm older myself, it doesn't seem so unnatural anymore. Maybe they all look young to me.

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When Nureyev was a sapling it was SOP for the new young men coming up to work with senior ballerinas. In the early years of the Fonteyn-Nureyev partnership the age difference wasn't significant in the theater. It was more noticeable on film, especially in the later years of the partnership.

In general chronological age has traditionally meant less on stage. It used to be said that an actress had to be forty before she knew how to play Juliet properly and Mrs. Patrick Campbell was nearly 50 when she originated the role of Eliza Doolittle. Wouldn't happen today.

Kent seemed lissome and lovely last night to this eye - not at all like the F&N Romeo and Juliet on film (where Fonteyn does look like Aunt Juliet, unfortunately).

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Heather Watts said that when Martins proposed that she partner with Jock Soto, who hadn't been in the company for long, she was concerned about how the age difference would play. She said (paraphrase) Martins told her they looked great, and then wondered whether he was being sincere or expedient.

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With respect, I think Fonteyn looked ravishing as Juliet EXCEPT when the camera closed in on her face; her neck was crepe-y, they should never have been allowed to [if they were going to use Fonteyn at all instead of Seymour] BUT when she ran up the stairs, Fonteyn was like a little girl -- she moved like a young woman.

They all told the story of Ulanova, when the company went to see the Bolshoi rehearse -- they were looking for the star, and there was nobody remotely glamorous anywhere onstage. There was this old lady wrapped up in woolies -- then came the moment, off came the woolies, she threw the cape around her and rushed around the stage and all the English dancers went out of their minds screaming. She didn't need to BE 14 years old -- she needed to be able to pretend to be 14 years old.

Curious, it was Zeffirelli's RnJ that did finally break the mold and put young Judi Dench in the role -- Macmillan, with Lynn Seymour, made Juliet YOUNG -- then management gave Fonteyn the opening night. She WAS great in the role. The movie mis-represents how she looked onstage.

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Curious, it was Zefirelli's RnJ that did finally break the mold and put young Judi Dench in hte role -- Macmillan, with Lynn Seymour, made Juliet YOUNG -- then management gave Fonteyn the opening night. She WAS great in the role. The movie mis-represents how she looked onstage.

Olivia Hussey was Juliet in the Zeffirelli movie--but yes, definitely young.

(Julie Kent is a beautiful woman. I didn't notice-or give a thought to- how old/young she looked compared to Hallberg at the Ken Cen honors. I can't say I never notice that sort of thing...but in this case, no.)

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Yes, Drew, it was Olivia Hussey in the movie. but that came later. Judi Dench played Juliet in 1960 in Zefirelli's revolutionary staging of the play RnJ at the Old Vic. She's had an amazing career http://www.ask.com/wiki/Judi_Dench

Elsewhere on these boards someone -- i think, RG -- has gone into Seymour the dancer's debt to Dench's performance as Juliet.

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I'm sure the Ulanova story was told by many, but it was captured in Barbara Newman's "Striking a Balance," and I think in Antoinette Sibley's chapter. (I can't look it up because I loaned out my copy.)

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Yes, Drew, it was Olivia Hussey in the movie. but that came later. Judi Dench played Juliet in 1960 in Zefirelli's revolutionary staging of the play RnJ at the Old Vic. She's had an amazing career http://www.ask.com/wiki/Judi_Dench

Elsewhere on these boards someone -- i think, RG -- has gone into Seymour the dancer's debt to Dench's performance as Juliet.

Ooh I'm embarassed, but also pleased to learn about this...

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oops, Drew -- i'm sorry, didn't mean to embarrass you. I just wanted to get the information out there, because LOTS of people don't know this. I haven't known it for long, myself. Evidently that Old VicRomeo and Juliet was like the first bombshell of the sixties....

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oops, Drew -- i'm sorry, didn't mean to embarrass you. I just wanted to get the information out there, because LOTS of people don't know this. I haven't known it for long, myself. Evidently that Old VicRomeo and Juliet was like the first bombshell of the sixties....

I think I heard about this years ago, but forgot till this reminder. Dench has had a long and active career, and it tickles me that, after opening so many doors, she was the first female M in the Bond franchise.

I remember going to the film version of R&J, though, and how swoon-inducing it was for so many people.

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This might be of interest: Johan Kobborg just sent this out on Twitter:

johan kobborg‏@KOBBORG

Dear USABalletAlert people - Stiff back and Death mask..wow.LOL,amazing stuff.well done.how do u do it, ones again, Spot on ;)) LOL

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You know what they say about responding to one's critics, but I suppose it's gallant of him to try to defend the honor of his life partner. (I'm not sure if they're married.)

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My own two cents:

I thought that Julie Kent and David Hallberg looked exquisite together and that Kent looked young and ravishing, with flawless skin. No wonder Hallberg looked smitten. I had no sense of an age disparity.

I wish that more could have been said about Makarova's staging of La Bayadere, especially the Kingdom of the Shades scene, with perhaps a 30-second video of ABT dancers descending the ramp. There's a book about Ballet Theatre from way back when that devotes an entire chapter to the work Makarova did to remake this ballet for ABT and to achieve a unity of what was then a somewhat ragged corps de ballet.

It seemed to me that Makarova showed little emotion, especially while watching the performances. Not a single smile. It made me think that she was unhappy with the whole event. But that's pure speculation.

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I was mentally comparing her to the Queen watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics, actually. Now that you mention it, it does seem strange.

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Makarova put on her glasses to watch the performers on stage. I'm not sure what her eyesight is like, but if her prescription is strong, then that might explain her expression without them, and most of the other recipients wore (or tried to wear) a single expression during their tributes, and only the camera focussing on tears in their eyes made it that emotional. The glasses hid her eyes from the prying cameras.

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It seemed to me that Makarova showed little emotion, especially while watching the performances. Not a single smile. It made me think that she was unhappy with the whole event. But that's pure speculation.

I was watching with my daughter, who's a ballet dancer and teacher. Both of us agreed that Makarova was concentrating intently on the dancers' movements, style and interpretation. Her face was the same as my own when I study a dancer. I thought she was deeply invested in what she was seeing. I don't think she was unhappy at all. How could she be, even given her expertise and preferences, when the performances were so stellar?

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Kobborg must know that this forum is populated by ballet enthusiasts who focus on every single detail, and are not general, casual observers of ballet. If he doesn't like criticism, he shouldn't read the comments on here. I thought it was very interesting when I read a comment from Carrie Lee Riggins (I think) on Ballet Alert a few months ago in which she said that ,in retrospect, various comments/criticisms she had read on here regarding her performances were truthful and correct. Even if Alina's performance was mostly very good, but had some weak points, people on this board are going to discuss them. Cojocaru and Kobborg are principals at one of the best companies in the world. Why would he focus on a few negative comments here, on a forum that isn't even read by the general public?

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Yes, Drew, it was Olivia Hussey in the movie. but that came later. Judi Dench played Juliet in 1960 in Zefirelli's revolutionary staging of the play RnJ at the Old Vic. She's had an amazing career http://www.ask.com/wiki/Judi_Dench

Elsewhere on these boards someone -- i think, RG -- has gone into Seymour the dancer's debt to Dench's performance as Juliet.

Claire Bloom played Juliet at the Old Vic when she was about 21, younger than Dench. The Zeffirelli stage production was indeed groundbreaking in style and approach, however. Zeffirelli cast teenagers Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in the movie, to dubious effect.

I'm sure Fonteyn was a perfectly convincing Juliet onstage, Paul, but not in the movie, at least for this viewer. Really sad, if inevitable, that Seymour and Gable, still at the Royal at the time of filming, didn't get to play the roles.

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