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Ballerinas You've Never Seen

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Poll: Ballerinas You've Never Seen (0 member(s) have cast votes)

Ballerinas You've Never Seen

  1. Suzanne Farrell (14 votes [14.58%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.58%

  2. Margot Fonteyn (21 votes [21.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 21.88%

  3. Tamara Karsavina (14 votes [14.58%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.58%

  4. Gelsey Kirkland (15 votes [15.62%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.62%

  5. Anna Pavlova (18 votes [18.75%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.75%

  6. Galina Ulanova (14 votes [14.58%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.58%


#16 felursus


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Posted 30 May 2002 - 04:19 PM

I second Giannina's nomination of Spessivtseva. I have seen everyone on the original list - with the exception of Karsavina and Pavlova, who either died or retired before I was born. Of course I have seen Pavlova on film, but as the cameras were not moveable in those days, the films can give but a slight idea of what she may have looked like in reality. The balletgoers of the future will have a much, much better idea of what dancers from the second half of the 20th c onwards were really like - although one must allow for the basic "unreality" of film/videotape as compared with "real life".

#17 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 05 June 2002 - 10:45 PM

I hate to be grumpy, but I find the question itself offensive.

As chance would have it, Pavlova is the only dancer on the list I have not seen at some point or another. On the other hand I've seen Farrell dozens of times. How do I compare a dancer I have seen only once -- when, for instance, she might have had the flu -- with one I saw over several years? How do I compare a ballerina I saw at age 12 with dancers I saw as an adult? And what about other brilliant stars: Makarova, Hayden, MacBride, and on and on and on

And how, pray to tell, am I to judge a dancer I never saw? As the most appropriate smiley would have it :confused:

#18 Helena


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Posted 05 June 2002 - 11:15 PM

Morris Neighbor - all good points, of course. I am curious - are you saying you saw Karsavina dance? When?

#19 Estelle


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Posted 06 June 2002 - 01:46 AM

I am among the unlucky people who haven't seen any of those ladies, and can only reply "all of them (plus Spessivtseva, Chauviré, and quite a lot of others). But perhaps if I had to choose one, it'd be Karsavina because it'd be also be an opportunity to see the premieres of great Ballets Russes works, and to see Nijinsky and Massine (and also Cecchetti as the Charlatan in "Petrouchka").

Morris Neighbor, I think that such polls are not to be taken too seriously :) And nobody is asked to "judge" or "compare" those dancers, but just to say if they especially regret not seeing someone... Perhaps a less controversial poll would have been to ask people to choose between, say, Taglioni, Elssler, Grahn, Grisi, Legnani and Brianza, since I believe no member of this board has had a long enough life to see any of them! ;)

#20 Marga


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Posted 06 June 2002 - 09:39 AM

To Pville who posted:

I'll opt for a non-option ... allegra kent. If her dancing was anywhere near as fascinating as her life was, it must have been a site to behold

It was, Pville, it was! Allegra Kent was my absolute favourite dancer before Suzanne Farrell. Whenever I saw her name on the program, I excitedly waited for the curtain to lift.

Her "La Sonnambula" was the thing legends are made of, but everything she danced was truly wonderful..... "Bugaku", of course, and "Afternoon of a Faun", and even "Stars and Stripes".....and so on and so on.....

She had the most beautiful face and countenance and body carriage!

I love her spunk these days. She's usually the first dancer we see when we go to STEPS (my daughter takes class there when we're in town), as she stands at her usual place at the barre, right by the door. She's like the energizer bunny. More power to her!

#21 PrimaBallerina01


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Posted 11 June 2002 - 12:41 PM

Definitely Anna Pavlova!

#22 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 20 June 2002 - 02:51 PM

Of course, I have not seen most of those ballerinas. Fonteyn I saw (first time in 1957, I think - I had expected so much but was strangely unimpressed).
But, to my mind, one of the greatest: SVETLANA BERIOSOVA.
Sorry about those caps., but those are my own personal feelings.

#23 cargill


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Posted 23 June 2002 - 11:39 AM

I odn't think you will find many people who disagree with you. She was so extraordinary. In some ways, in the back of my mind, I think I go to the ballet looking for someone with a face and a movement that rich--she would lead my poll of dancers I feel grateful to have seen!

#24 Guest_stpltly_*

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Posted 23 June 2002 - 01:10 PM

I am but a poor student and have had very little opportunity to see many live performances. :) But I have seen all of the above choices on video except Pavlova, so she is my choice! I have Karsavina on video performing ballet exercises at barre and practicing jumps. I was quite disappointed at the poor technique (bent knees in tour jetes, not hitting fifth when landing her 'cats), but then again this was c. 1920! She did have fabulous turnout, and she hung in the air when she jumped. It's just amazing how much technique and training have changed over the last 80 years!

#25 katharine kanter

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Posted 04 July 2002 - 12:51 AM

About fifteen years ago, American friends sent me a video tape entitled "The Story of Giselle". On it, introduced by Patricia McBride, there is a longer interview with Anton Dolin, and with Spessivsteva herself, unfortunately from the madhouse where she died a few years ago.

Far and away the most important dance clip on the film, is what appears to be the only extant film of that woman dancing, about 90 seconds of footage from Act One of "Giselle".

Scrutinishing that clip, one realises that Spessivtseva was, very plainly, one of the greatest technicians of the century. One might imagine, from the still photographs, that she was somewhat "droopy", wrapped in dreams. Wrong ! That "hovering" quality one sees in the still photos, is shewn, by the action clip, to be the product of perfect stability, coupled with attack, speed and strength.

(I might add, that Alicia Markova was not far behind - the same video has one or two minutes of her in allegro passages from Act II of "Giselle". All one can say, is that there is not a single woman, on any stage today, anywhere in the world, with that sort of footwork)

The clip thus puts paid, once and for all, to the notion that technique is far better today.

The leg may well have become a baseball bat, as Alexandra has so cunningly put it, and girls may well turn six turns, but can they dance ?

Spessivsteva - or Markova for that matter - manifestly could.

#26 katharine kanter

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Posted 04 July 2002 - 01:05 AM

Re: Karsavina

"I was quite disappointed at the poor technique (bent knees in tour jetes, not hitting fifth when landing her 'cats), but then again this was c. 1920! She did have fabulous turnout, and she hung in the air when she jumped." (quote from Styplyty, above)

One might want to reflect upon whether there may not be some relation between the sort of technique Karsavina had been taught by the likes of Enrico CECCHETTI (!!) and the fact that, as you say, she "hung in the air when she jumped", and had "fabulous turnout".

The purpose of jumps, is, essentially, to give the illusion of flight. Everything must tend towards that end. Would one not be willing to sacrifice certain things, notably a fully crossed fifth, in order to FLY ?

The "Figaro" weekend supplement here in Paris, has just published an interview with Laetitia Pujol, the new étoile. Allow me to say that this is NOT meant as a criticism of a sensitive and dedicated young woman, but as a GENERAL remark on technique as it is taught today. In one of the photographs, she poses in arabesque at the barre. Her supporting foot is so turned out, the toe virtually looks backwards, while the same knee, clearly, looks forward. If one traces the angle between where the toe looks, and where the knee looks, one is missing perhaps ten to fifteen degrees of REAL turnout.

Mlle. Pujol is renowned as an outstanding technician. And she IS damn good. But the professors and dancers who may perhaps read this page will know precisely what the implications of those missing degrees are, somewhere along the pipeline. To get that hard, shiny, photogenic lacquer painted over all movement, we are, nowadays, systematically sacrificing quality of movement, and intrinsic stability of the skeleton.

That is one, very important reason, why dancers of the calibre of a Beriosova or a Tallchief, no longer emerge.

#27 Allegro



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Posted 07 July 2002 - 01:55 PM

I am not going to vote, seeing that I haven't seen enough people dance, and I don't know if I could pick even then.

I too would love to see Allegra Kent dance.

And about Pavlova. I saw on video her famous Dying Swan solo. And it (OK, I am bracing myself for the imminent lightning strike) was hilariously funny. Technically horrible for any of today's standards. So melodramatic! But of course, ishe was the best of the best back then, and since the people decide their stars, then totally and wholly legitimate in her stardom.

But funny anyway.

Bam! I'm struck! :eek:

#28 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 August 2002 - 06:25 AM

There is one Diaghilev-era ballerina I wish had been filmed, at least - Vera Trefilova.

I've read so many things about her, and yet little record seems to survive pictorially.

#29 coda


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Posted 13 August 2002 - 02:14 PM

About the "funny" Dying Swan.
I had a great priviledge to sit next to Galina Ulanova, then in her 70s, when she was watching a video showing Pavlova's Dying Swan. My eyes were fixed more on Ulanova herself than on the screen. While she was watching Pavlova, her own shoulders, hands and neck were moving very slightly and gently if she was memorising the movements or may be she was just unable to sit motionless, having been herself such a striking Dying Swan in the past. Then we watched another Pavlova's recording - "A Night".
After it finished Ulanova squeezed her hands and pressed them to her chest: she never spoke much. I asked her what she thought about Pavlova's knees which were not always straightened and her shoulders which were stooped sometimes. Ulanova said: "How can this matter?! Her whole body is dancing!" And she moved her body again in her own inimitable way.
I always recall her words when people sometimes criticise a dancer for a slightly distorted 5th position or slightly bent knee but miss at the same time the greatness of his dance.

#30 Guest_rhythmicgymnast_*

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Posted 14 August 2002 - 11:06 PM

I voted Anna Pavlova.....did you know that she customized her pointe shoes to make the first "modern" pointe shoe, with a broad box? I also read she retouched all photographs of her pointes to make them appear "pointey", as her special pointes were almost considered "cheating".

True fact. The info is on www.dancer.com

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