Posted 01 November 2002 - 11:27 AM
Posted 15 November 2002 - 07:27 AM
You asked who Patricia McBride's predecessor was. I remember Arlene Croce once writing that the ballerina whom McBride most resembled was Marie-Jeanne, and went on to praise McBride's performance of one of Balanchine's works for M-J, Ballet Imperial (or Tchaikovsky Concerto #2).
I must say I'm surprised by the relatively little discussion about Tanaquil Le Clerq. Many writers, including Croce, have stressed the importance of Le Clerq to the development of the "Balanchine ballerina." And her influence continued even after her retirement—Croce once suggested that Balanchine choreographed the Agon pas de deux (on Adams) with Le Clerq in mind.
Posted 01 November 2002 - 11:02 AM
Posted 01 November 2002 - 02:55 PM
Tallchief was important and her import spreads well past Balanchine (which may be another reason I think of her as less archetypical of Balanchine), but I'm having a hard time naming her "descendants" at NYCB. She was a smaller, strong dancer with a grand scale to her (Firebird, Scotch, Sugarplum, Gounod Symphony), and I'm guessing, but I'd say the dancer "before" her was Marie-Jeanne. In one sense her heir might be Verdy, but I may be stretching to say that, especially as I think Verdy was even more independent than Tallchief.
Posted 01 November 2002 - 03:35 PM
Which actually brings me to a heretical observation about Farrell: I mean in no way to diminish her impact or greatness, but I do think the best ballets she danced in (rather than her best roles) contained roles she assumed or reinterpreted, (Symphony in C, Agon, Midsummer, Monumentum/Movements) rather than ballets choreographed at the time she created the role (I'd even include Diamonds in this, though I am sure others would not.)
As archetypical and inspiring as she surely was, to me, she wasn't the one who was there when Balanchine made the masterpieces.
Posted 01 November 2002 - 06:57 PM
As said before, Farrell and Tallchief were physically very different. From what I can tell from descriptions and films, Farrell was a larger dancer, and a more plastic one than Tallchief. Both were in some senses "heroic"; they both danced big. Farrell had a more extravagant line, Tallchief was considered a virtuoso. Tallchief herself does not have the kindest things to say about her facility; she describes her feet when beginning to work with Balanchine as being "like spoons". It isn't that Farrell was the caricature of a Balanchine dancer either (she had one foot that did not point well, and she was not built to be rail-thin) but her lines and extensions were part of what dirac referred to as The Look.
I've seen clips of Tallchief in Scotch Symphony and I recall her more clearly in the Bell Telephone Hour specials (maybe doing Flower Festival with Nureyev?) She dances with authority; she's older at that point, and she dances like a Star. It's a performance of someone comfortable with performing.
There is a tape of Farrell doing a truncated version of the pas de deux from Agon with Arthur Mitchell. Her effect is the polar opposite; that of someone completely innocent of the effects she produces. Think of what Lolita would have been like if she had no clue what she did to Humbert. She had this amazing physicality, but danced like an innocent.
Posted 01 November 2002 - 11:47 PM
Post Diaghilev, there's also the Baby Ballerinas, Toumanova in particular.
I think Adams is awfully important to the canon - she figures in the creation of a lot of the masterpieces. (original cast of Agon, Divertimento No. 15, Liebeslieder Walzer, Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, both Movements for Piano and Orchestra and the role of Titania were created on her though she did not dance their premieres. . .)
To me, Marie-Jeanne was one of the underrated ones, and Allegra Kent coiuld have been even more central than she was.
Posted 02 November 2002 - 01:18 PM
Posted 15 November 2002 - 08:39 AM
What was fascinating to me about LeClercq from the films shown at her memorial was that she was completely unclassifiable. Yes, she had "The Look", but unlike Farrell, you didn't feel like she was a conduit for Balanchine onstage. On bad quality deteriorating from age, you still get a blast not only of her beauty and her glamour, but her wit and mischief.
Ditto Kent. One assumes from her plasticity that she was just an adagio dancer, but then there's the 1956 tape of Western (with LeClercq as well - probably the last tape made of her before she was stricken) and she's in the scherzo, leaping and beating beside Robert Barnett. Or Kent's oblique, birdlike second movement Symphony in C.
All these women were so lucky to have found Balanchine. But, oh, how lucky he was that they found him.
Posted 02 November 2002 - 02:41 PM
Posted 01 November 2002 - 08:35 AM
It's a pity there doesn't seem to be many "muses" anymore
Posted 02 November 2002 - 06:42 PM
Would Whelan be Wheeldon's muse?
I'd certainly consider Kistler to be Martins' muse and Margaret Tracey as well.
I think times have changed and we have so few muses because we've had so few (as Leigh said) who are willing to take the "job" and too few choreographers who feel the need to have one. Perhaps the muses were the first "stars" of ballet and again, the lack of them now is depressing.
Farrell Fan, where's LeClercq in that listing? Surely she had more than 4 done on her to qualify her ;)
Posted 15 November 2002 - 08:17 AM
I always her "story" would be one that sparked enough interest in her. At the public tribute NYCB did for her, there didn't seem to be a dry eye in the house.
She was really Robbins muse as well.
I didn't realize many of her roles had disappeared.
Posted 03 November 2002 - 08:16 AM
Posted 01 November 2002 - 06:13 AM
For the first time, I'm learning about a Balanchine muse other than Suzanne Farrell.
According to this book, Balanchine made many important ballets on Tallchief (she lists Firebird, Swan Lake, Symphony in C, Scotch Symphony and The Nutcracker). He continued to do so even after they were no longer married.
In addition, she seems to have had unprecedented training as a Balanchine dancer. Balanchine spent one summer giving class to just Tallchief and her partner at the time (Nicky ??? -- can't remember the last name).
Why does Suzanne Farrell get so much more recognition as Balanchine's muse and interpreter?
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