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Comparing Generations

31 posts in this topic

[Admin note: Posts 1-7 on this topic were originally posted in the Mariinsky 2012-13 season thread, but it was too good a topic to not break out into its own thread. Thank you, writer!]

I often watch clips of the MT and the Bolshoi from the 1980's and earlier. The technique and the body type has changed so much, I daresay a dancer who had the same body and technique as Maya Plisetskaya would not be accepted into the company these days. The technique seems to be in some sort of transition.

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And yet, writer, I've seen clips of Plisetskaya performing grand-jete-en tournant -- higher and more spirited than many men -- and I think that her technique and brio would be hailed today. If she were in her prime now (2013), she would be just fine - tallish, long-limbed but 20lbs lighter. I have the feeling that the greats of 50-60 years ago would be great now but only slimmer, in the case of the women.

Youskevich & Alonso would be battling Osipova/Vasiliev or Hallberg/Murphy right now, if the 'seniors' were at their prime in 2013. I would even venture to guess that the Youskevich & Alonso would be the #1 stars right now.

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I would even venture to guess that the Youskevich & Alonso would be the #1 stars right now.

Amen to that. There was certainly no room for weaknesses then.

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I often watch clips of the MT and the Bolshoi from the 1980's and earlier. The technique and the body type has changed so much, I daresay a dancer who had the same body and technique as Maya Plisetskaya would not be accepted into the company these days. The technique seems to be in some sort of transition.

Not just the company but I'd venture further and say their feeder school(s) would also reject the great Maya's body type as well. And frankly, in the last 10 years they would likely reject even a young Makarova as well for she was very proportioned rather than ALL legs prototype being favored over any and every other type regardless of talent or readiness. A sad but very unfortunate truth.

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and speaking of cynthia gregory and fernando bujones..no cigarette tho....

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Well speaking of Grand Pas Classique watch Komleva and Soloviev absolutely sail through it:

Thanks canbelto. What a delight !

Haven't really had a chance to really get into the Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones one yet.

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I found this on YouTube; "Grand pas Classique. Different generations of dancers. Choreography. Technique. Dance.", a compilation of five ballerinas performing the same variation, was posted yesterday. The five ballerinas are:

Oksana Skorik.

Diana Vishneva.

Elisabeth Platel.

Gabriela Komleva.

Marina Kondratieva.

First impressions: I particularly loved Komleva's version; I found it charming and evocative of Petipa female characters. Kondratieva didn't charm me as much, but in that fiendish diagonal of turns from plie/attitude front/plie/turn, the way she went up and made each turn bloom following the music phrase was great. I can't bear the extensions that Skorik and Vishneva do in this, but I hadn't realized how strong Skorik's feet were before. Platel is very proper, but I prefer a little more salt and pepper.

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Great video. It really shows how the desired 'look' has changed.

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Thanks, Helen. I was thinking of adding Diana Vishneva for comparison, but didn't want to overload the topic. Elisabeth Platel's version I've been watching for years.

So let's bring Olga along as well.

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Here's another comparison. In this case, very similar type dancers, same company, same schooling. It's very cool to see how Maya Plisetskaya and Natalia Osipova are like "sisters": they have the same strong ankles, the elevation, the aggressive attack.

Regarding thinness, I actually think that most dancers of previous generations were as thin as today's dancers, or almost as thin. If you looked at many of them offstage, they were absolutely tiny and bony. And we know from their memoirs that the pressure to be thin was as present back then as it was now. There were a few dancers that were more chubby (Lynn Seymour, Galina Ulanova) but they were exceptions even in their time. The difference I think is the cut of the tutus. Tutus back then I notice tended to be very frilly, and have a poofy shape. Nowadays tutus are usually cut in a way to give the illusion of a severely tapered waste (they do this by a plunging neckline that in olden days probably would have been considered immodest), and the tutu skirt is larger and flatter, which makes the legs (particularly the thighs) look thinner.

I noticed this effect of the modern tutu when I watched the "reconstructions" that generally have a more old-fashioned costume design. The womens' figures looked less sleek and streamlined, and everyone looked "larger." Not FAT but they definitely look a lot different than when they are in modern-cut tutus.

Anyway, back to topic:

Natalia Osipova:

Maya Plisetskaya:

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Canbelto, getting back to your original Gabriella Komleva and Yuri Soloviev video for a moment, in essence I think that artists like these two may transcend generational differences. In part I mean that they would be just as compelling on a stage today as they were back then.

[second sentence added later]

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Osipova is probably the closest in energy to Plisetskaya. There is just something about her!

The tutus have definitely changed shape. It don't think it is just weight thas has changed. There is more of a preference for hyperextended legs and high arches. These were not absolutely necessary. In fact, hyperextended legs and high arched feet are actually weaker.

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I found this on YouTube; "Grand pas Classique. Different generations of dancers. Choreography. Technique. Dance.", a compilation of five ballerinas performing the same variation, was posted yesterday. The five ballerinas are:

Oksana Skorik.

Diana Vishneva.

Elisabeth Platel.

Gabriela Komleva.

Marina Kondratieva.

First impressions: I particularly loved Komleva's version; I found it charming and evocative of Petipa female characters. Kondratieva didn't charm me as much, but in that fiendish diagonal of turns from plie/attitude front/plie/turn, the way she went up and made each turn bloom following the music phrase was great. I can't bear the extensions that Skorik and Vishneva do in this, but I hadn't realized how strong Skorik's feet were before. Platel is very proper, but I prefer a little more salt and pepper.

My definitive Pas Classique.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZTRr-nDmQY

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So great to see Rolando Sarabia again, Cristian. I've lost track of him completely. I thought that he could be one of the all time greats, and I told him so once, but…? I hope he's doing well.

Lorna Feijoo -- and I thought that I was watching Viengsay Valdés. I was all set to tell you how I tracked her down in the halls of the Mariinsky to tell how her well I thought that she did. I think that she's precious, but that story has to wait for another time. Nice job, Lorna and Rolando.

[added comment]

Very interesting thoughts about costumes and everything, canbelto.

[corrected the spelling of Rolando Sarabia's last name. Inexcusable happy.png ]

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The tutus have definitely changed shape. It don't think it is just weight thas has changed. There is more of a preference for hyperextended legs and high arches. These were not absolutely necessary. In fact, hyperextended legs and high arched feet are actually weaker.

One other thing that has changed is the ancillary training that dancers do -- I can't think of a performer that doesn't do something outside of class and rehearsal. Circuit training, Pilates or other machine-based therapies, swimming... dance training is very different now than it was just a few years ago.

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One other thing that has changed is the ancillary training that dancers do -- I can't think of a performer that doesn't do something outside of class and rehearsal. Circuit training, Pilates or other machine-based therapies, swimming... dance training is very different now than it was just a few years ago.

Sandik, I wonder how much 'Russian sphere' dancers do this.

Rolando Sarabia

I guess this can be an example of generational difference and much more. This is somewhat of a promo, it seems, but it does give some more insight.

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I don't know much about behind the scenes in the dance community, but I did know the U.S. Pilates scene for a short time, when I was doing Pilates everyday and even became an instructor for a short time (and went to trainings and conferences) and almost all the Pilates instructors I have known were former or current local dancers. I was in the vast miniority of Pilates instructors and got away with not having been a dancer yet still accepted as a Pilates instructor because I was male (very few Pilates instructors seem to be male and most studios like having a male instructor to encourage more men to do Pilates). So I think Sandik may be correct. I suspect in the U.S. most ballet dancers get involved in Pilates today, and I would be surprised if foreign dancers didn't do so also (Pilates is worldwide now).

At the studio where I worked one woman who had two c-sections had abs and a body that skinny teen-age girls would die to have. Pilates really works. I have seen practical miracles happen through the practice. I need to get back into it, but I find yoga more fulfilling actually, so I gave up washboard abs for a more rounded look! LOL

I do know that Joseph Pilates started teaching in New York in the 1930s and Balanchine, I believe, even did Pilates from some reports. So I wonder how many ballerinas in the 1950s, for example, took part in Pilates training as opposed to how many do today. We might be surprised to find out that many did Pilates even in the 1950s.

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I do know that Joseph Pilates started teaching in New York in the 1930s and Balanchine, I believe, even did Pilates from some reports. So I wonder how many ballerinas in the 1950s, for example, took part in Pilates training as opposed to how many do today. We might be surprised to find out that many did Pilates even in the 1950s.

Nancy Reynolds (George Balanchine Foundation – Director of Research)

"I always had a weak back. I went to Pilates also. These were both Balanchine’s recommendations, which shows that he was concerned with his dancers."

http://dancetabs.com/2013/02/nancy-reynolds-george-balanchine-foundation-director-of-research/

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At the studio where I worked one woman who had two c-sections had abs and a body that skinny teen-age girls would die to have.

I had to giggle -- my niece is just finishing her Pilates teaching certification, about the same time that she's scheduled to give birth -- it's been an interesting process!

Buddy, I have heard of dancers trained in the Soviet/Russian tradition using physical therapy and gymnastics techniques to improve strength and flexibility. I don't know so much about systems that were developed in the West, like Alexander and Feldenkrais.

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At the studio where I worked one woman who had two c-sections had abs and a body that skinny teen-age girls would die to have.

I had to giggle -- my niece is just finishing her Pilates teaching certification, about the same time that she's scheduled to give birth -- it's been an interesting process!

Buddy, I have heard of dancers trained in the Soviet/Russian tradition using physical therapy and gymnastics techniques to improve strength and flexibility. I don't know so much about systems that were developed in the West, like Alexander and Feldenkrais.

Your niece might have an easy birth. I have had female friends say their Pilates practice made childbirth so much easier. Many clients at the studio I worked at did Pilates up until very close to their due date, and when they returned, Pilates helped them get their bodies back very quickly. The one woman I said had two c-sections was a very A-Type personality, and she did Pilates everyday at the studio and at home, so there was absolutely no sign of having had two children by c-section at all. She is proof that determination can do wonders! LOL

I have a studio reformer that I bought for home, but I really miss the trap table!!!! I just don't know where I would put the trap table (cadillac) if I bought one!!! Not to mention these things cost a fortune!!!

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Canbelto, I worship the Anna Pavlova video. I've watched it for almost ten years and I consider it possibly the ultimate statement of the art. She is probably another example of someone who transcends generational differences.

In this regard I might also call attention to the Rolando Sarabia video. This is a man who probably rivals the great pre-Petipa virtuosos and also, based on live viewing, has a remarkable nobleness, gracefulness and charisma. All this put together once again crosses generations.

Another thing that might be interesting across the generations and related to the very welcomed, apparent improvement in physical health considerations is the general atmosphere of a company. A very fine example of the positive effects of a relaxed, friendly environment and probably an essentially modern development might be the Miami City Ballet. We have posters here who are near experts on this company so they might want to comment. From my somewhat distant perception over the years, this company has produced dancers of the highest order in an environment seemingly as friendly and mutually supportive as one could hope for.

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I think dancers today may not be smaller/weigh less, but they are certainly more sculpted in the arms/torso which changes their upper body appearance dramatically, and makes them look thinner. There's few dancers today that have soft upper arms--everyone's are sculpted to the max. Some women have taken it too far, imo; sometimes all you can see is the musculature and not the epaulment. Even Tamara Rojo (who used to be a bit softer, which I appreciated) has dramatically changed her upper body in the last few years, most likely through Pilates.

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I think this discussion could also take place in any sport. I am not a big sports fan, but I follow tennis and my husband follows other sports. There used to be an attitude that practicing your sport gave you what you needed. Now the cross training and science it amazing.

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