Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Who Was Your First?


  • Please log in to reply
33 replies to this topic

#16 California

California

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,554 posts

Posted 06 May 2013 - 08:21 AM

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.

#17 Marga

Marga

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,022 posts

Posted 06 May 2013 - 06:13 PM

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.

#18 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,329 posts

Posted 06 May 2013 - 06:58 PM

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.

#19 diane

diane

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 371 posts

Posted 06 May 2013 - 10:08 PM

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-

#20 MakarovaFan

MakarovaFan

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 461 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 02:29 AM

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.

#21 PeggyR

PeggyR

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 654 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 05:48 AM

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.

#22 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,642 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:09 AM

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")

#23 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,642 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:11 AM

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.

#24 PeggyR

PeggyR

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 654 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 10:53 AM

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.

#25 Ballet Foot

Ballet Foot

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 30 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 03:57 PM

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.

#26 Marga

Marga

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,022 posts

Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:17 PM

my first really vivid memory is of John Kriza in Billy the Kid – I think Kriza was the first crush I ever had.


I had a crush on John Kriza, too. Could have been my first crush, as well. Posted Image Also, at that time, I crushed on Jacques d'Amboise over at NYCB. Ballet crushes are the best!

The Capezio calendars handed out to us when we bought ballet slippers or dancewear in the 1950s were a wonderful source of pictures of our favorite dancers to hang on our bedroom walls.

#27 Hamorah

Hamorah

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 37 posts

Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:56 AM

Although I saw ballet performances from an early age, I think the company that probably was the closest to my heart was London's Festival Ballet, which became eventually English National Ballet. My parents and I belonged to their club, which was totally different from the various "Friends" organisations that exist today. We joined almost from the beginning and the membership was very special. My mother and I would "man the table" every now and then in the Royal Festival Hall trying to recruit new members. In the days before mass communication services this was the only way. The club had events including a summer garden party and a Christmas party (where my Dad got to dance with all the beautiful ballet girls to his delight!) and we had lectures by important guests, such as Alicia Markova (I was chosen to present her with a bouquet, which was a proud moment indeed!) and Beryl Grey. We really felt part of the company and loved it. We had our own magazine "On Pointe" and could submit articles for it. We went to lots of performances including of course Nutcracker every Christmas season. It's a shame that there is no longer such meaning or pleasure in being a member of the "club".

#28 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,329 posts

Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:30 AM

That sounds wonderful, Hamorah!

#29 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 09 May 2013 - 06:32 AM


my first really vivid memory is of John Kriza in Billy the Kid – I think Kriza was the first crush I ever had.


I had a crush on John Kriza, too. Could have been my first crush, as well. Posted Image


...and I wonder why...? Posted Image

Posted Image

#30 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 943 posts

Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:20 PM

I don't quite fit the most common "pattern" here (seeing one's 1st ballet early in life). My first was when I was 19, and the memory of it is indelibly etched in my memory (altho that's been 49 years ago now!). I was going to school at UC Berkeley studying physics -- which is a pretty far place from the world of ballet Posted Image. Indeed, I'm not sure I even knew ballet existed.....altho I presume I must have. My parents were not the type to go to performing arts, so I had no experience with such things. However, thanks to exposure by some high school friends, I had developed a love for classical music and jazz.

One day at Berkeley, a friend told me that if you went to the student union, you could get a "usher pass" that allowed a college student to usher at the San Francisco Opera House which then allowed you to stay and see the performance. I had very little money, so this sounded pretty good to me. Soon I was on my motorcycle heading over the bay bridge to see what I thought was my 1st live symphony orchestra performance. Little did I know that the scheduled performance was to be a ballet.

I remember as distinctly as if it had happened yesterday, standing in the back of the orchestra level, behind a short wall where ushers were parked after their duties were discharged, when the curtain rose. [size=5]Wham, and wham again[/size]. What I saw in that moment changed my life.

The gods were with me that day because the program started with Balanchine's Serenade! Can you imagine the effect of that opening tableau on a young, impressionable 19 year old?? It was quite simply the most beautiful thing I had ever seen (the opening curtain on Serenade still brings tears to my eyes to this day). In 5 minutes I was forever hooked. As soon as I got a job, I became a SF Ballet subscriber and went to every ABT, Joffery, or whatever company came to town (normally every night they performed). Once I moved to Seattle, I transferred my allegiance to PNB. My love for ballet has never wavered in these nearly 50 years since that first curtain went up.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):