sandik

Who Was Your First?

34 posts in this topic

ballet company, of course (not something else!) A comment that Drew made in the Frederick Franklin obit thread made me think about this.

The National Ballet which Franklin directed and founded was my "first" ballet company--that is, the first I saw dance regularly live. The company profoundly shaped not just a big part of my childhood but, as I believe, my life. I stumbled out a few words to that effect once when I saw him at an NYCB performance (probably in the 90's).

Most of us here have seen multiple performances from multiple companies, but everyone started somewhere -- who was your first experience? Perhaps not limit it to ensembles, but first artists, first works... How did you get started in this world?

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I don't know: it was some ballet thing on TV -- Ed Sullivan? Bell Telephone Hour? Firestone Theater? -- and I was hooked. I was probably no older than five. The same thing happened with figure skating and gymnastics on Wide World of Sports -- anything with pointed toes and/or moving to music caught my attention immediately -- and the NY Mets, but that was a different kettle of fish. (I grew up thinking that there was a 50/50 chance that a professional baseball player would catch a fly ball.)

My first live ballets were Natalia Makarova and Ivan Nagy in "Swan Lake" and "Giselle" at ABT. I remember being most impressed by the young Mariana Tcherkassky in the Act I Pas de Trois in "Swan Lake."

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first live ballet- ruth page's nutcracker with guests violette verdy and helgi tomasson and then abt's swan lake with Eleanor d'antuono and royes Fernandez.

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Hmm...some bad ballet footage of Alonso during her NYC days at a presentation a friend of my mom did when I was in elementary school...? From then I started visiting him at the library where he worked, and he would tell me about his wonderful ballet viewing years in Havana during the 60's. From then on, I was hooked, and it was not long before I was able to see a performance in Havana during a school vacation with my parents.

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When I was a child my mother took me to the ballet often. It was mostly to New York City Ballet and sometimes American Ballet Theatre. We also went to modern and international dance companies such as Martha Graham, Jose Limon, the Moiseyev troupe, and an Israeli troupe, the name of which escapes me now. However, it was my first Swan Lake with Alicia Alonso at ABT that sealed the deal. I wanted to become a ballerina. That didn't fly in the community where I grew up. So what do you do when your mother dangles a carrot in front of you but won't let you eat it?

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When I was a child my mother took me to the ballet often. It was mostly to New York City Ballet and sometimes American Ballet Theatre.

Reading your first two sentences, angelica, I had to check to make sure I had not written them! :) That's precisely my answer to the topic.

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Jacksonville Civic Ballet, directed by Marta Jackson. I believe she may still be teaching in Jacksonville, Fl, but I am not sure. She also became my first teacher. I don't remember anything about the performances I saw except that the tutus were the most beautiful things I had ever seen...at four years old.

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Growing up in Seattle, in the 60s and early 70s the company I saw most often was the Joffrey. They toured here frequently (there's nothing like a home town boy) and spent a couple of summers in residence locally, teaching and rehearsing. They danced the first Petipa I saw, the first Fokine, the first Balanchine, the first Ashton, the first modern dance I saw live -- the first all kinds of things. It was an incredible adventure in the theater.

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When I was a child my mother took me to the ballet often. It was mostly to New York City Ballet and sometimes American Ballet Theatre.

Reading your first two sentences, angelica, I had to check to make sure I had not written them! smile.png That's precisely my answer to the topic.

:)

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Mid to late 60s, New York City... which company would have done Nutcracker and Swan Lake? I think I saw those. I was not yet 10. I loved it.

I seem to remember that my brothers did not share my enthusiasm.

There was too much velvet, among other things. (the seats)

I think I probably saw a few other productions, though from far away and way-up-high.

We lived in NY for three years, leaving when I was 9.

-d-

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In the 50's in Atlanta. I think now i saw Apollo( the d'Amboise ? Most likely) on TV. I know it was a late Sunday morning tv show and i was mesmerized. I was maybe six. I started ballet classes soon after and it was Robert Barnett and Ann Burton in the Nutcracker with the Atlanta Ballet which brought me here!

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I saw Ashton's The Dream on TV at the age of 5 (I was living in England at the time) then London Festival Ballet's (now ENB) Nutcracker live, then I moved to Winnipeg and went to every Royal Winnipeg Ballet performance from the age of 9 on.

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First live performance was at NYCB, Midsummer Night's Dream in the early 1990s. Jock Soto was Puck, Darci was Titania. I think Boal was Oberon. Helene Alexopolous was Helene.

First televised (that I recall) was the Balanchine Celebration on PBS.

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Freddie and Chura. "Nutcracker" " Everything was beautiful at the ballet"

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In the 50s, when I was a teen-ager, I had liked some of the ballet music I had heard on records, and it seemed a natural extension of my explorations to take myself to have a look at the ballets themselves when they were brought to Chicago (where I lived then and still do).

I'm not sure which of a handful of memories is the absolute first one, but I enjoyed Rodeo, which must have been Ballet Theater's; I was charmed by the animated stage pictures of what must have been the BRdMC Petrouchka, from which I remember coming away wondering whether that was a well-trained animal or a dancer in a very good bear costume in the Fourth Tableaux (I had been to the circus, too, you see); and, last but not least, watching NYCB's Firebird get under way, I had been, first, fascinated by the alternating confidence and fear shown by Moncion's lucid (but of course silent) movement, and, then, stunned beyond belief - like the rest of the house - by Tallchief's spectacular entrance as the Firebird. It brought the house down, and I had to see it again, the following night.

But although there was some dancing in weekend variety shows on television, I don't remember any ballet there until I had been firmly hooked - by a performance of Rubies, by NYCB on tour at the Ravinia Festival in the mid 60s - and I had heard that there was some on PBS. I didn't even own a television until Merrill Brockway's "Dance in America" program gave me a good view of Les Patineurs and Billy the Kid at a friend's home, but that experience persuaded me to buy one. (And that improved my cooking: After I bought a television, I discovered Julia Child.)

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Like others on this board, my first exposure to classical ballet was on television in the 1950s, when Balanchine dancers regularly performed on shows like Ed Sullivan and the Sunday afternoon shows -- all live, on tiny B&W screens.

When New Yorkers were seeing the Bolshoi live in the late 1950s, the rest of us (in small cities in the Midwest, e.g.) were going to the local movie theater on Sunday afternoons to see two feature-length films of the Bolshoi Ballet, distributed about the same time, as the Cold War began thawing somewhat. My memory is vague on what I saw, but I'm pretty sure it was Galina Ulanova in Swan Lake and Giselle. (I've never been able to reliably document the films circulating in that era and it could have been R&J, not Giselle.)

Those viewing conditions were hardly ideal, yet for people who had never seen classical ballet, they were astonishing experiences. Those memories explain my never-ending frustration at choreographers like Jerome Robbins who were so reluctant to allow their work to be shown on "Live from Lincoln Center" or released on VHS/DVD. Some of his work is now available on DVD (performed by POB!), but two of his greatest works (Dances at a Gathering and Glass Pieces) remain unavailable after all these years. I hope the Robbins trust relents on this some day. So many people around the country (no, the world) have no opportunity to ever see his work in the theater for all sorts of reasons.

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Mid to late 60s, New York City... which company would have done Nutcracker and Swan Lake?

-d-

NYCB has presented Nutcracker every year since 1954. I grew up on their Nutcracker and continued the tradition by taking my own children to see it whenever I could (I've lived in Canada since 1972, so it couldn't be every Christmas as before).

NYCB presented only Act II of Swan Lake which they had on their program fairly frequently. My guess is that you saw City Ballet at the State Theater in Lincoln Center. The company moved there in 1964 from City Center.

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If you saw the full-length "Swan Lake" in NYC in the mid-60's, it would have been ABT. I can't find exact dates for when ABT performed at New York State Theater before moving to the Met, but in a recent report about the upcoming move from City Center back to the theater for the Fall season, Rachel Moore was quoted as saying, "Our engagement is especially meaningful given ABT's history of memorable performances at the venue during the 1960's and '70's." and ABT might very have performed the mid-60's full-length "Swan Lake"s at NYST.

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Thank you, Marga and Helene! :)

That makes sense!

It was because of one moment in that "Swan Lake" performance that I wanted - above all else - to be a ballet dancer.

I have no programmes or anything from that time, so it is all just (largely faded) memories.

It is fascinating to read what people remember from their first times at the ballet; whether live or on television.

I also agree that it would be helpful if more choreographers (or their "trusts") would allow for more filmed productions being distributed.

It would also further the spread, understanding and appreciation of the art, I think.

-d-

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First live ballet - Approximately 1971-72, NYCB's Nutcracker with Melissa Hayden as SPF. I vividly recall Act II being sheer magic. I was 5 or 6 years old and had never seen such beauty.

When I became a balletomane - The 1979 PBS broadcast of ABT's Sleeping Beauty with Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones.

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After falling in love with dancing thanks to the June Taylor Dancers on the old Jackie Gleason show, my mother said that I insisted on being taken to a Nutcracker, but no idea what company, since in the ‘50s, Philadelphia didn’t really have a ballet company. It might have been touring, no idea, or something by the Littlefields, one of whom I believe may have still been active in the area at the time. I do remember being enthralled.

Living so close to NYC, we got a lot of touring companies, and my poor mother had to come up with tickets to everything. I’m pretty sure that aside from that first Nut, it was ABT I saw first and most often: my first really vivid memory is of John Kriza in Billy the Kid – I think Kriza was the first crush I ever had. Also saw the RB (Beriosova in Giselle), Kirov (another vivid memory was Sizova in something, maybe Aurora’s Wedding) and Bolshoi (Struchkova in Spring Waters) when they toured. Those were the days.

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I can't find exact dates for when ABT performed at New York State Theater before moving to the Met,...

Well, they were at the State Theater in the summer of 1974 (when Franklin Stevens was with the company for his book "Dance As Life")

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After falling in love with dancing thanks to the June Taylor Dancers on the old Jackie Gleason show,

Yes! I loved the June Taylor dancers, and even now, I'm a sucker for precision ensemble work, especially if you see it from an unusual angle. I think for many of us, who did not grow up in a big dance town, dance on television and in films was a huge influence.

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Like others on this board, my first exposure to classical ballet was on television in the 1950s, when Balanchine dancers regularly performed on shows like Ed Sullivan and the Sunday afternoon shows -- all live, on tiny B&W screens.

Good grief, that brings back a memory: Omnibus (I think), Balanchine and some dancers, one of them Farrell. He had her point her foot, then he took hold of it and tried to flex it. I seem to remember he said something like, "See? See how strong her foot is?"

What treasures those old programs were for arts lovers.

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As Angelica & Marge's mothers did, so did mine. Every weekend we went to a concert or ballet. Many times travelling out of my home town to do so. The first ballet I remember vividly was Alicia Alonso dancing "Giselle" with ABT. I was smitten. My mother also bought me all the music of the different ballets, so even if I didn't remember the steps exactly, I would make up my own. Incidentally, coming full circle, I saw Alicia Alonso's last performance at The Met in "Giselle" with Jorge Esquival.

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