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How Did You Discover Ballet? (was Audiences)


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 08 December 1998 - 10:17 AM

Hello, All!

This is a continuation of the thread Ed Waffle started called Audiences, where many of us "confessed" to how we became interested in ballet. That thread has gotten so long, it takes a long time to load and is hard to read.

So please continue telling your stories here. Everyone is welcome! (as to all threads, of course).

Thanks,
alexandra

#2 Guest_Barb_*

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Posted 09 December 1998 - 08:50 PM

I was fortunate enough to grow up outside Washington, D.C. where the Kennedy Center offered a smorgasbord of dance at which to be an audience member, and my parents were very generous in making sure I saw some amazing performances and dance greats.

In first grade I had the option of choosing which after-school activity I wanted to take....French or ballet. For some reason I picked French class, though I have the strong suspicion this was not entirely my own choosing. The next year was ballet was the chosen activity. And the following years it was always my love/hate relationship with ballet. I loved it but I hated some of the things that came with it, like no evenings with friends, no playing outside after school, and tights. (I still hate tights.) I even survived the later school years where it was uncool to be in ballet, and trying to avoid walking with such a turnout, to avoid being beat up. I had no dream of being a ballerina. The back row was my world and the specialty roles written for the "tall girls on pointe" at school performances. And "tall girls on pointe" pretty much knew that it was the little ones in the front row that would have a shot at the big time while we struggled with our balance and our weekly height advancements. Ballet wasn't to be my world professionally, but it was an enjoyable past-time and interest.

Until we had the Russian guest teacher one semester. I believe she was Cruella Devil's Russian sister, but I could be wrong. She had a big stick, loud voice, and her teaching technique had nothing to do with correction, teaching, advancement and respect for the art, but rather humiliation, mental manipulation, pain, and power. One particularly nasty personal remark was the final straw for me, and I did the unthinkable; I walked out of the class, the school, and ballet. As an adult, I realize I should have said something to my parents at least, and more to the point, to the director of the school, because this sort of thing was so completely different the school's way of doing things. I think the director, a highly reputable woman who has turned out a large number of principal dancers in the top ballet companies, would have been heart broken to hear about this. But I am sure she would have put a stop to it.

After awhile, I was longing to return to the studio, so tried other forms of dance. And in college, even helped get a ballet class for non-theatre majors started, and then lobbied for permission for the technical theatre majors to be able to take it (no small task.)


I was always going to make theatre my life. And it's been many twists and turns, but lo, and behold, the theatre work I do is for dance. I started working for a modern dance company, and then various ballet companies. The discipline, language, appreciation and technique I learned many years ago at my ballet school is information I use daily. The people and organizations I would have dreamed about working with as a dancer, had I had such aspirations, I work with now. What was a pleasant part of my childhood is now my livelihood, and I am forever greatful to the wonderful woman and organization who treated the tall girls in the back row no differently then she did the front row.

I am, however, very careful around Russian teachers with sticks.

[This message has been edited by Barb (edited 12-09-98).]

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 05 March 1999 - 12:34 AM

As with the Audiences thread, I'm just posting something to bring this thread back up.

I had missed Barb's post before -- I enjoyed reading it very much, and hope your early training helps with the stick dodging!

For newcomers, feel free to continue posting here; and read the posts on the Audiences thread to find out how some of the people who've been with this board since it started (back in November) got into ballet.

To confuse things totally, there's a Please Introduce Yourself thread in Anything Goes. Post either place.

alexandra

#4 Katharyn

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Posted 05 March 1999 - 09:28 AM

Isn't it lovely to remember our the first time when ballet hit us straight through the heart and soul?
I remember sitting through Onegin... well I enjoyed it, more out of expectation (the thought of any of us girls not enjoying the ballet was scandulous... we were of course students of the dance!).
But right at the end.. I'm talking the part were Titania sends Eugene away... the very last movement onstage is Titania developing her arm towards the ceiling.
Well that just did me in. The eloquence of that single waif like arm and hand and the perfect expression of beng torn between adulthood and childhood passion on Justine Summers' face reduced me to tears... and I can't describe how that just appealed to me but I was in a trance for weeks afterward,. I would desperately take my place at the barre and work myself as hard as possible to give myself the chance of being able to do what Justine did.
Since then I have not been able to get enough of dance. I watch videos all the time, I save my money to go interstate to watch companies that never come to my home state (if I hadn't gone to melbourne when would I have seen NYCB? Never, probably!).
Its amazing how one can become a slave to dance from just one perfect movement.

I envy everyone that regularly gets to see any kind of dance (esecially you, Alexandra! nearly every night for years! My idea of heaven... *sighs dreamily*) and one day I will be financial enough to see more performances..


I love reading what everyone else has to say. And I know how you feel Barb- I am constantly relegated to the back row even though at 5"4 I'm not that tall, its just everyone else is younger than me! I could also share some horror stories about various teachers (one in particular who had a pin that she would poke you with if you weren't pulling something up well enough...) and I know I will never make a career of dance..
But its nice that we can all appreciate ballet no matter what our talents.

#5 pdance

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Posted 11 March 1999 - 11:39 PM

Okay, this is going to be B-O-R-I-N-G!! Anyway, I guess I just heard about dance through the grape vine. My parents and I spent a lot of time trying to find a dance studio. Then we found one and I'm now forever attached to ballet. Okay, there's my piece.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 12 March 1999 - 10:40 PM

Okay, pdance, that's how you found the ballet studio, but why did you WANT to find the ballet studio? What made you want to take ballet?

And, by the way, I wanted to say this on another thread, after you'd posted that you'd been accepted at the Southern Ballet Theatre summer intensive, but I didn't post in time, and there were several other posts in between, but CONGRATULATIONS! Hope you get to go, too.

alexandra

alexandra

#7 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 12 March 1999 - 11:30 PM

pdance, not boring at all, and quite delightful! Thank you for sharing with us!

#8 Ed Waffle

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Posted 13 March 1999 - 05:36 AM

Katharyn wrote: "The eloquence of that single waif like arm and hand and the perfect expression of beng torn between adulthood and childhood passion on Justine Summers' face reduced me to tears... and I can't describe how that just appealed to me but I was in a trance for weeks afterward..."

and also: "Since then I have not been able to get enough of dance."

and furthermore: "Its amazing how one can become a slave to dance from just one perfect movement."

While there are a lot of great posts on this board, the one I excerpt really hit me because it is such a beautiful validation of my own feelings, both of obsession and that the obsession can come from that perfect moment, a moment that may be missed or just not as obvious to other people watching.

There is another thread "Spine tingling moments" which is seems to be about spine tingling moments in Giselle. But Katharyn's post brings back that one, essential, never to be forgotten time when suddenly the world of beauty and grace just opened up, became transparent where it had been opaque, the "shock of recognition" that this had been here for you all along and you are finally discovering it.

And it is always (for me at least) as Katharyn describes it--the eloquent action displaying the emotional content of the character and resonating emotionally in us.

THIS is how you go to the ballet (or opera or anything else worthwhile) and this is what can lead to hours spent walking and talking after a particularly moving performance, shocked that you were there, IN THE SAME ROOM as an artist who was able to touch you so deeply and seeminly with such graceful ease.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 13 March 1999 - 11:14 AM

Beautifully done, from both Ed and Katharyn. It is amazing, isn't it, that it's often that "perfect moment" -- and it can be an arm, a glance,, the way a head is inclined, a look of despair or love -- is often what one remembers from a ballet, not the multiple pirouettes and high leaps?

Alexandra

#10 pdance

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Posted 15 March 1999 - 01:32 PM

I first saw a Christian dance company perform when I was five and fell in love with it. I became driven to take lessons there. I became a part of that same company five years later and am still a part of that company today! Alexandra: I hope I get to go to SBT too, but like I said before: it all depends on scholarship!
PS: sorry for the delayed reply!

[This message has been edited by pdance (edited 03-15-99).]

#11 atm711

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Posted 15 March 1999 - 03:36 PM

I saw my firstlive ballet performance on April 23, 1944!! It was by Ballet Theatre (as it was then called)at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York..The program opened with "Les Sylphides" with Markova and Dolin, followed by "Fancy Free"(its 3rd performance!) with the marvelous original cast of John Kriza, Harold Lang, Jerome Robbins, Janet Reed, Muiriel Bentley (who died just recently), Shirley Eckl and Rex Cooper. The closing ballet was "The Fair at Sorochinsk" with Andre Eglevsky and Anton Dolin (dancing on pointe)

#12 cargill

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Posted 15 March 1999 - 04:39 PM

This is for Atm711. If you don't mind, would you please say more about your first performance. I would love to hear anything you can say about Fancy Free, especially. I have read that the first night the audience went wild--did they when you saw it? And any details you remember about the performance, about Markova and Dolin. Thanks in advance. Mary

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 15 March 1999 - 07:23 PM

Thanks for filling in the gaps, pdance. I asked, because it seemed, from your first post, that you went to take lessons first, and then became interested. (Which sometimes happens.) But most people see something they love and that makes them go to the ballet and now we know what you saw. It must be nice to be able to take part in what inspired you! (Hope you found the smilies. If not, email me)

ATM711, what a debut! I'm sure most of us are seething with jealousy (I know I am.) You started going at just the right time to have seen almost everything that's been important in America's ballet history, and I fervently hope you'll keep us entertained with more. Did you stick with Ballet Theatre, or go see everything? (And you can remind us how much ticket prices were then, too). A very hearty welcome.

Alexandra

#14 Natalia

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Posted 26 March 1999 - 06:16 PM

Nutshell Version: Saw Alicia Alonso & the Ballet Nacional de Cuba perform in my native San Juan, Puerto Rico, in August 1978. The troupe performed four divertissement programs, with Alicia dancing excerpts from Carmen, Swan Lake and Giselle. All seats were sold-out way in advance. I went with my parents to the opening night, for which we had good seats. I was so enthralled that I bought standing room for the other three nights, going by myself & screaming "Bravo!" each night til I lost my voice. The rest is ballet-madness history!

#15 atm711

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Posted 08 April 1999 - 06:55 PM

Thank you for your kind interest. I saw the third performance of Fancy Free (with Bernstein in the pit) and all the performances were greeted raucously! but for sheer noise nothing can top the debut of the Sadler's Wells' Sleeping Beauty. The "Old Met" had standing room for $1.80 in the orchestra and we lined up at 12 noon for the evening performance. It's true--when Fonteyn made her entrance the applause sounded all through her first variation. In those days we did not have the abundance of dance companies that we have today...but what we saw!!! Alonso-Youskevitch Giselle - breathtaking. (I cannot bear to watch the later videos of Alonso in Giselle--not even a shadow of what her Giselle was) Nora Kaye in "Pillar of Fire" and the early Rosella Hightower (I never forgave her for going to Europe - the best Myrtha, ever. We saw Balanchine with the Denham Ballet Russe and we were there for the beginning of New York City Ballet, starting with Ballet Society. Here I must confess we went up the fire escapes of the City Center to see the performances-- since they were all subscription and no one had that kind of money!


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