Kristen

Kennedy Center Honors 2012 - Natalia Makarova honored

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There is (I think on the "Ballerina" series that Makarova hosted) some footage of her rehearsing this work with Robbins, and I remember thinking at the time that he was working very closely with the image of her we had at the time, where her identity as a Russian was as prominent as her identity as a ballerina.

I don't recall the "Ballerina" series, but there was a one-hour PBS show called "Two Duets" in 1980 which included Other Dances. It opened with Robbins rehearsing Makarova and Baryshnikov and then being interviewed by Tobi Tobias. That excerpt include quite a bit of the Slavic heel-and-toe as well as the hand crooked behind the head. (The other Duet was Calcium Night Light with Heather Watts and Ib Anderson.)

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I don't think for a second that Peck was trying to imitate Makarova.

I would have preferred Part in "Other Dances" because while I wouldn't have expected her to look like Makarova, she has a similarly individual quality, and the connection of her coming from the Vaganova School and Russia to the US to dance classics and newer works would have been sweeter than Peck dancing "Other Dances" and Part dancing Odile, which isn't even the part of "Swan Lake" with which Makarova is most associated. (Which is why I think White Swan PDD, even an Odette solo, since they had the "Giselle" PDD, and "On Your Toes" as a rousing closer would have been better. Even if people expected a Black Swan tutu from the movie, the "Black Swan" soundtrack is heavily based in the White acts music.).

I think Peck is a fantastic dancer, but I still don't see the Peck-Makarova connection institutionally, culturally, or stylistically. It was a tribute, not a gala, but, on the other hand, I'm not sure the other honorees got more specific tributes across the board.

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[

I don't recall the "Ballerina" series, but there was a one-hour PBS show called "Two Duets" in 1980 which included Other Dances. It opened with Robbins rehearsing Makarova and Baryshnikov and then being interviewed by Tobi Tobias. That excerpt include quite a bit of the Slavic heel-and-toe as well as the hand crooked behind the head.

There is also a lot of that Slavic flavor in certain sections of Dances at a Gathering.

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I don't recall the "Ballerina" series, but there was a one-hour PBS show called "Two Duets" in 1980 which included Other Dances. It opened with Robbins rehearsing Makarova and Baryshnikov and then being interviewed by Tobi Tobias. That excerpt include quite a bit of the Slavic heel-and-toe as well as the hand crooked behind the head.

There is also a lot of that Slavic flavor in certain sections of Dances at a Gathering.

I haven't studied the context of Dances at a Gathering (e.g., what, if anything, Robbins said about his inspiration), but I am pretty sure he said he used music for Other Dances that was "left-over" from Dances at a Gathering. Chopin, of course, was Polish, a Slavic country, so I wonder how much of this detail was inspired by Chopin's music.

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I think Peck is a fantastic dancer, but I still don't see the Peck-Makarova connection institutionally, culturally, or stylistically. It was a tribute, not a gala, but, on the other hand, I'm not sure the other honorees got more specific tributes across the board.

We've had other conversations on this board about the programming decisions for these shows, but I confess I am still stymied from time to time. We can make a narrative that would stretch to include these works and these performers, but I think there would have been other, more powerful choices that could have been made. Nonetheless, I enjoyed what I saw, and am very glad the committee recognized Makarova.

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I don't recall the "Ballerina" series, but there was a one-hour PBS show called "Two Duets" in 1980 which included Other Dances. It opened with Robbins rehearsing Makarova and Baryshnikov and then being interviewed by Tobi Tobias. That excerpt include quite a bit of the Slavic heel-and-toe as well as the hand crooked behind the head.

There is also a lot of that Slavic flavor in certain sections of Dances at a Gathering.

I haven't studied the context of Dances at a Gathering (e.g., what, if anything, Robbins said about his inspiration), but I am pretty sure he said he used music for Other Dances that was "left-over" from Dances at a Gathering. Chopin, of course, was Polish, a Slavic country, so I wonder how much of this detail was inspired by Chopin's music.

The combination of Chopin, Makarova and Robbins at the time Other Dances was made was extremely powerful. They were indeed "other" dances, in that they were a continuation of the work he had been doing in Dances at a Gathering (not quite outtakes, but rather more like what filmmakers call a Director's Cut), but they also celebrated the 'other-ness' of Makarova, who was still very much an exemplar of Russian dancing. Combine that with Chopin, who was so identified with Russian ballet through Les Sylphides, and the work had a very heady penumbra.

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Re Other Dances -- Makarova and Baryshnikov were fabulous in that ballet, and the Slavic touches were very important to it.

Just for depth of background, i'm posting a wonderful video of Serge Vikharev in the man's mazurka from Chopiniana [aka Les Sylphides-- since it's danced to piano accompaniment -- asi the ballet was originally before Diaghilev had Chopin's piano music orchestrated - the connection to Robbins's Chopin dances is pretty clear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX9LSqaJxiQ

Even more so, though there aren't any allusions to Slavic arms, Fokine has used the rhythm of the Polish mazurka step as the organizing principle in this solo, and there is a deep, true musicality in Vikharev's dancing that brings out the nostalgia that Chopin built into the music and that Fokine built into the dance, and which Robbins is using as the atmosphere his dancers are breathing. That poetic rhythm, the ebb and flow of it, is the MOST important thing of all.

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