yudi

The Plisetskaya Head-Kick

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As shown in the photos bellow, the leading ballerinas in Chinese ballet The Red Detachment of Women did the “head-kick” jeté :

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In a Chinese forum some people were talking about the artistic achievement of Chinese modern ballet "Red Detachment of Women" and saying THIS “head-kick” jeté was evolved by Chinese choreographers from dances in traditional Peking Opera. It even has a Chinese name "Back Golden-Crown Kick".

I told them: it cannot be originated by the Chinese choreographers, because Maya is famous for the “head-kick” jeté she did in Don Quixote and The Fountain Of Bakhchisarai, much earlier than the Chinese modern ballet was produced. This is known as “the Plisetskaya head-kick”.

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I am very curious to know the history of the Plisetskaya head-kick. Any other ballerinas did head-kick before Maya?

thanks.GIF

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Don't know whether it was exactly the Plisetskaya kick, but Lydia Ivanova in her brief career gained a lot of attention for her unorthodox grand jetes, which were described as bigger and less lady-like than her predecessors.

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I doubt if the following counts, but Harriet Hoctor used to kick the back of her head while on pointe, a stunt she can be seen performing in the Astaire-Rogers vehicle "Shall We Dance." I couldn't find a video of that online, but here's a clip of Hoctor and ballet girls in "The Great Ziegfeld" along with some patient borzois.

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I doubt if the following counts, but Harriet Hoctor used to kick the back of her head while on pointe, a stunt she can be seen performing in the Astaire-Rogers vehicle "Shall We Dance." I couldn't find a video of that online, but here's a clip of Hoctor and ballet girls in "The Great Ziegfeld" along with some patient borzois.

Hi dirac, Thank you for the clip! As always, I am very happy to know more about the art, history and everything about ballet from you and other members in this forum.

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I learned the term "the Plisetskaya head-kick" from Jennifer Homans' review of the book I, Maya Plisetskaya. Here is a link to her article The Undying Swan: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/79589/the-undying-swan

By searching the internet, it seems like that this term is also used by other ballet critics in their review articles. Maybe, Maya made this “head-kick” jeté more shinning such that she gained the 'credit' ?

flowers.gif

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I doubt if the following counts, but Harriet Hoctor used to kick the back of her head while on pointe, a stunt she can be seen performing in the Astaire-Rogers vehicle "Shall We Dance." I couldn't find a video of that online, but here's a clip of Hoctor and ballet girls in "The Great Ziegfeld" along with some patient borzois.

In Shapes of Change, Marcia Siegel talks about the famous Hoctor backbend and speculates that it was an influence on Balanchine and the ending of Serenade.

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Great and inventive Busby Berkeley(?) choreography with Harriet Hoctor, the hard pointwork sandwiched between the soft and docile borzois.

A tribute to Blanche & Alfred Knopf?

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I learned the term "the Plisetskaya head-kick" from Jennifer Homans' review of the book I, Maya Plisetskaya. Here is a link to her article The Undying Swan: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/79589/the-undying-swan

By searching the internet, it seems like that this term is also used by other ballet critics in their review articles. Maybe, Maya made this “head-kick” jeté more shinning such that she gained the 'credit' ?

Certainly she inspired others with it, yudi. Gelsey Kirkland mentions in her first book that she saw Plisetskaya do the jump and promised herself that she would get one of those for her own. As she did:

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Those were the days.......

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In her book Merrill Ashley said she did the same jump in "Ballo della Regina," inspired by Plisetskaya.

I know in skating, the Chinese reverse engineered tapes of Soviet figure skaters captured from TV. I don't know how much of the reverse was true, but the move has a longer history in China than it does in the ballet that evolved when Plisetskaya was dancing. Ironically, "The Red Detachment of Women" was one of the models of the Cultural Revolution, when Peking Opera was being denounced, but they didn't throw out all of the babies with the bathwater.

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I know in skating, the Chinese reverse engineered tapes of Soviet figure skaters captured from TV. I don't know how much of the reverse was true, but the move has a longer history in China than it does in the ballet that evolved when Plisetskaya was dancing. Ironically, "The Red Detachment of Women" was one of the models of the Cultural Revolution, when Peking Opera was being denounced, but they didn't throw out all of the babies with the bathwater.

I would say that the Chinese ballet choreographers have closer relationship with Soviet ballet teachers than the figure skaters. After some people brought up the topics about head-kick jete in Chinese forum, I did some searching and found out that some of the choreographers of The Red Detachment of Women were actually trained by Soviet teachers in 1950s. There were few of them who even went to Moscow/St. Petersburg for years of studying and training. I would not believe that they had never gone to the theaters to watch Ulanova and Maya dancing when they stayed in Moscow/St. Petersburg.

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However, I really don;t know how The Red Detachment of Women was produced. I cannot tell exactly if or not Chinese choreographers were inspired by Maya's head-kick when they made that Chinese ballet, though, I do think they must be impressed by Maya's dancing. Anyway, I just post the photo and video to let them see Maya in The Fountain Of Bakhchisarai and Don Quixote.(1958).

flowers.gif

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The Chinese choreographers may have recognized the Plisetskaya head-kick from their own Peking Opera roots. They may not have thought of it in ballet terms until then.

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The Chinese choreographers may have recognized the Plisetskaya head-kick from their own Peking Opera roots. They may not have thought of it in ballet terms until then.

I would do some research on this topics when I got time. As I know at this moment,

1. the movie "The Fountain Of Bakhchisarai" was released in China as early as in late-50s or early-60s, before the "RED" ballet was produced;

2. in Peking Opera the kung fu dancers don't do Grand Jete in air, though, they do back head-kick, and keep another foot on ground generally.

The term name "Back Golden-Crown Kick" is famous and sounds very beautiful in Chinese. Maybe, the choreographers of "RED" learned the head-back jete from classical ballet and named it in Chinese term?

dunno.gif

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keeping with the Chinese connection, something tells me there might be photos of the "kicking" grand jete from performances of this ballet, which dates from 1927 and which originally featured Yekaterina Geltser as the leading female character Tao Xoa, followed next by Victorina Krieger in the same role.

here's the NYPL cat. entry:

<<Red poppy : Original title: Krasnyi mak. Chor: Lev Lashchilin (Acts 1, 3 and character dances) and Vasilii Tikhomirov (Act 2 and classic dances); mus: Reinhold Glière; lib & scen: Mikhail Kurilko. First perf: Moscow, Bolshoi Theater, June 14, 1927, Bolshoi Ballet (Company)>>

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keeping with the Chinese connection, something tells me there might be photos of the "kicking" grand jete from performances of this ballet, which dates from 1927 and which originally featured Yekaterina Geltser as the leading female character Tao Xoa, followed next by Victorina Krieger in the same role.

This is close flowers.gif :

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The Red Poppy: Darya Khokhlova (Golden Fingers variation)

Copyright:© Dave Morgan

From Russian Ballet Icons - Galina Ulanova Gala Rehearsals - Coliseum - May 2011

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hmmmm

Great historical recordings! So much information. I watched on YouTube. Its English caption is written in good English, not machine translated. yahoo.gif

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