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Who Would Be on Your All-American Ballerinas List?(Past and Present)


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#16 pherank

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 12:20 PM

Surely Aran Bell is American, but how would that be meaningful if his training is POB-based, one of the foundational rather than eclectic classical styles/curriculums?  Gillian Murphy, Tanaquil LeClercq, and Michelle DePrice received all of their dance education in the US, but they wouldn't qualify.

 

I feel this is the crux of the matter - whatever it is that makes an "American/US" Ballerina, in stylistic terms, has little to do with place of birth. Obviously training has a lot to do with one's aesthetic choices, but environment, and influence from choreographers and fellow company members can't be underestimated. As an example, Maria Kochetkova is no doubt sold to new audiences (think ABT) as "Bolshoi-trained", but she's developed into something decidedly un-Russian when seen in non-Petipa ballets. And that's coming from her years at SFB, working with current choreographers, and traveling the world doing endless galas. I almost find this more interesting: what turns a "foreign" dancer into an "American" dancer?

 

Enjoyed Kathleen O'Connell's rant very much.  ;)



#17 Drew

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 01:41 PM

There are a number of great American ballerinas past and present.--I'll say for me that "American" in this context means trained primarily (not necessarily exclusively) in U.S. and has U.S. family background (say, a parent) wherever they happen to be born.

 

I'll name one from the recent past  who, in my judgment, ranks as one of the all time greats from any continent or any tradition:  Gelsey Kirkland...



#18 bart

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 01:53 PM

I almost find this more interesting: what turns a "foreign" dancer into an "American" dancer?

 

Great question.  I'm repeating it because I don't want us to lose it.  Possibly it deserves a thread of its own, Helene?    The first dancer who jumped to mind is Violette Verdy. 



#19 canbelto

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 01:55 PM

I would propose that although Alastair Macaulay may be a full-time dance critic, he is merely a part-time ballet critic. A full-time ballet critic ought to be able to draw audiences in by his/her insights into those aspects of a production or a ballerina that deepen one's appreciation of the art, broaden one's understanding, and move one up to a higher level of experience when attending a ballet performance, not drive them away with a plethora of negative reviews. A full-time ballet critic would not waste his words on ad hominum criticisms of a particular dancer or on crafting sentences that sound erudite but have only some vague or no meaning at all (see Kathleen O'Connell's post above). A full-time ballet critic would attend the most important performances on a company's calendar and not bow out of the closing ballet of a company's season with its most exquisite ballet partnership and therefore have nothing to say about one of its most accomplished and refined ballerinas. I would say that Clive Barnes was a full-time ballet critic, but Alastair Macaulay doesn't make the cut.

 

He attended six out of seven performances. I'd say whether you disagree with him or not he did his job as a ballet critic. 

 

As for "all-American" ballerinas I'd say Tiler Peck and Sterling Hyltin are the embodiments of the "American" ballerina: wholesome-looking, technically fearless, unpretentious and un-mannered in their dancing style. I never saw her live but Patricia McBride from the videotapes would strike me as having the same qualities.



#20 angelica

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:36 PM

 

I would propose that although Alastair Macaulay may be a full-time dance critic, he is merely a part-time ballet critic. A full-time ballet critic ought to be able to draw audiences in by his/her insights into those aspects of a production or a ballerina that deepen one's appreciation of the art, broaden one's understanding, and move one up to a higher level of experience when attending a ballet performance, not drive them away with a plethora of negative reviews. A full-time ballet critic would not waste his words on ad hominum criticisms of a particular dancer or on crafting sentences that sound erudite but have only some vague or no meaning at all (see Kathleen O'Connell's post above). A full-time ballet critic would attend the most important performances on a company's calendar and not bow out of the closing ballet of a company's season with its most exquisite ballet partnership and therefore have nothing to say about one of its most accomplished and refined ballerinas. I would say that Clive Barnes was a full-time ballet critic, but Alastair Macaulay doesn't make the cut.

 

He attended six out of seven performances. I'd say whether you disagree with him or not he did his job as a ballet critic. 

 

It isn't a question of numbers, it's a question of which six performances he chose to attend. Certainly the jewel in the crown of ABT deserves to be included. Remember what happened when Carabosse wasn't invited. 

 

In any event, I was making a parallel to Macaulay's use of the term "part-time ballerina." If he can make such a statement, he doesn't merit the distinction of being called a full-time ballet critic.



#21 canbelto

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:42 PM


It isn't a question of numbers, it's a question of which six performances he chose to attend. Certainly the jewel in the crown of ABT deserves to be included. Remember what happened when Carabosse wasn't invited. 

 

In any event, I was making a parallel to Macaulay's use of the term "part-time ballerina." If he can make such a statement, he doesn't merit the distinction of being called a full-time ballet critic.

 

 

To each his own but I've seen Veronika Part's Aurora and I wouldn't call it the jewel in any ballet company's crown. I found her horribly miscast. When I saw her as Lilac Fairy it was a different story altogether -- all was right within the kingdom. Anyway I still think attending six out of seven ballet performances more than fulfills the duty of ballet critic.



#22 California

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:54 PM

 

 Anyway I still think attending six out of seven ballet performances more than fulfills the duty of ballet critic.

 

Perhaps, but as someone who missed all the SBs this year, I would have appreciated hearing what he had to say about Part &  Gomes at the last performance. I might often disagree with him, but still find him interesting to read.

 

(I might add that I was also disappointed that LaKarsavina did not record the bows at the last performance. And Robert Gottleib, another must-read critic, only seems to have attended one SB, one R&J, and no SLs or Onegins...)

 

http://observer.com/...eason/?show=all



#23 Helene

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:06 PM

Robert Gottlieb is a part-time critic.  Insightful and a must-read, and we're lucky for the time he does spend doing it, but still part-time.



#24 California

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:10 PM

Robert Gottlieb is a part-time critic.  Insightful and a must-read, and we're lucky for the time he does spend doing it, but still part-time.

Excellent point -- but as he's 82 and retired from a distinguished publishing career, I guess he has a good excuse.



#25 angelica

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:12 PM

 

 

 Anyway I still think attending six out of seven ballet performances more than fulfills the duty of ballet critic.

 

Perhaps, but as someone who missed all the SBs this year, I would have appreciated hearing what he had to say about Part &  Gomes at the last performance. I might often disagree with him, but still find him interesting to read.

 

 

Exactly, California. I would add that most people on this forum who attended the Part/Gomes performance, I among them, thought both Part and Gomes were superb.

 

Macaulay is such a loose cannon, however, that perhaps it's better that he didn't attend Part's performance because you never know what he might have said about her left pinky. I just wish he would focus more on the positives in every dancer's performance, illuminating their virtues rather than highlighting their faults. I think part of a ballet critic's job is to spread the gospel.



#26 canbelto

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 03:22 PM

Macaulay is such a loose cannon, however, that perhaps it's better that he didn't attend Part's performance because you never know what he might have said about her left pinky. I just wish he would focus more on the positives in every dancer's performance, illuminating their virtues rather than highlighting their faults. I think part of a ballet critic's job is to spread the gospel.

 

 

Gospel implies that there's some unshakable truth about a performance and that frankly is NOT a critic's job, to either repeat praise or spout meaningless superlatives. That's the job of a press agent. 

 

Reviews that I disagree with are some of the most informative reviews I've ever read. For instance I once read a film critic's takedown of Ginger Rogers. I didn't agree and still don't agree, but after that review I did watch the Astaire/Rogers dances with a different eye. I saw how the choreography carefully highlighted what Rogers could do and hid what she couldn't do. 



#27 Paul Parish

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 04:00 PM

Helene, I've read [if memory serves] that Kaye was magnificent as Odette. Denby, I think, but can't say for sure.



#28 Helene

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 04:34 PM

I can imagine that Kaye would have been a great Odette.  Perhaps not one that would be recognized in Russia, but from everything I've read and heard about her, I would have paid to see her paint her toenails.



#29 angelica

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 04:42 PM

 

Macaulay is such a loose cannon, however, that perhaps it's better that he didn't attend Part's performance because you never know what he might have said about her left pinky. I just wish he would focus more on the positives in every dancer's performance, illuminating their virtues rather than highlighting their faults. I think part of a ballet critic's job is to spread the gospel.

 

 

Gospel implies that there's some unshakable truth about a performance and that frankly is NOT a critic's job, to either repeat praise or spout meaningless superlatives. That's the job of a press agent. 

 

By spreading the gospel I meant introducing the art to people who might not be aware of it, who might not consider attending a performance unless someone gives them good reasons to go.



#30 pherank

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 06:27 PM

 

I almost find this more interesting: what turns a "foreign" dancer into an "American" dancer?

 

Great question.  I'm repeating it because I don't want us to lose it.  Possibly it deserves a thread of its own, Helene?    The first dancer who jumped to mind is Violette Verdy. 

 

 

Excellent choice, Bart. Verdy would make a great case-study. "Possibly it deserves a thread of its own, Helene?" - I believe I could actually hear Helene's eyes rolling.   ;)

 

Here's a toughie: What kind of dancer was Tamara Toumanova? She was called an "American" dancer at the time of her death. Sure she studied with Preobrajenska in Paris, but that doesn't exactly make her an Imperial Russian dancer either. And she worked with Balanchine, but not for as long as he would have liked.




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