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Body Type-by company


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#16 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 04 May 2002 - 06:46 PM

Duly chastened, I hereby withdraw the word "plump" in all contexts related to Patricia MacBride. (The last time I heard this adjective, alas, it was from a veterinarian trying to sell me very expensive cat food.)

Let's just say that MacBride was shorter and more rounded than the archetypal Balanchine ballerina. She was no taller than Villela or D'Amboise when she rose on point, she had small but prominent breasts (she even bore a child, when such an act was regarded as disastrous for a dancer), she loves the company and its founder.

Let's just say that she didn't fit the stereotype, yet enjoyed his favor. In other words, that she proves my point about the irrelevance of body types.

#17 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 04:34 PM

I will certainly second PP's comments on the Taylor types, and add an interesting comment on Merce.

I once had the pleasure of being part of a "Friends" events (when it only cost $40 to be a "Friend of Merce") and had the opportunity to ask him about the changing builds (and skills) of dancers.

As usual with Merce, his face lit with fascination as he noted, "They can do things we never imagined in my time." This recognition has probably led him to replace his failing body with computer simulations, to the reported dismay of his dancers, who don't always accept the computer's definition of human possibilities. But, like Mr. B, he has come to value dancers with strength, technique, flexibility and a long, beautiful line.

I'd point to another way in which Cunningham and Balanchine are similar: the effortless fascination of their best works has proved largely impossible for their acolytes to imitate.

I cannot afford enough coffee to stay awake through the earnestly pointless works of former Cunningham dancers. Mr. B's followers at least deliver music worthy of our attention, but only occasionally steps we want to see again.

But I'm showing my age....

#18 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 31 May 2002 - 07:17 PM

Alexandra has highlighted a key point: as the pool of talent grows larger and the number of top-rank schools increases, the tendency toward a "standard style" becomes more widespread.

The results for dance are mixed: performances at regional companies have risen to new highs, but the New York companies still lack major creative forces. So we get nothing but new (and sometime arbitrary) versions of the classics.

#19 Morris Neighbor

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Posted 06 June 2002 - 12:56 AM

Paul Parish raises in interesting point here, in the matter of the Paul Taylor company. There has historically been little variation among the men, owing largely to the nature of the choreography. When it comes, for instance, to the famous quartet in Cloven Kingdom, no 98-pound weaklings need apply. Robert Kahn, a slightly-built Taylor dancer of the early '80s, retired on doctors' orders after too few seasons, when the strain got to his back.

When it comes to the women, however, there has always been a wide variety, which can be traced to the fact that his is a small company (16 dancers in all, as I recall), and the women's roles tend to be customized to individual talents. So he always needs a tall and imposing "Bette de Jong," a short and ethereal "Carolyn Adams," and so forth.

Given the fact that it often takes a few seasons for a new dancer to make an established role his or hers, the company suffers in times of high turnover and blossoms in times (like the past few seasons) when stability and experience dominate. Indeed, during this spring's season, I was quite willing to consign my memories to the scrapbook and cheer the brilliant dancers on stage.

#20 Marga

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Posted 03 May 2002 - 08:18 PM

Just to add to the Patty McBride 'defense': she was certainly not plump -- absolutely not! :eek: Maybe you're confusing her with someone else....



#21 Guest_wastedyouth_*

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Posted 27 May 2002 - 08:51 PM

Ballet companies still to this day do favor certain body types, i assure you. But now its more height oriented.


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