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First contact with ballet


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#16 NO7

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Posted 05 September 2001 - 01:14 AM

My father introduced the music of Swan Lake to me when I was seven. After he told me the story of Odette and her Prince, I imagined myself a Swan Queen. Ten years later my sister brought home a video Bolshoi's Swan Lake (can't remember who danced it). It's my first time watching the ballet. But I became hooked on classical ballet when I first saw live performance of the Kirov.

#17 Patricia

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Posted 05 September 2001 - 08:24 AM

It was a 1973 special on PBS entitled 3 BY BALANCHINE. The three ballets were SERENADE, TARANTELLA, and DUO CONCERTANT. I watched every repeat. Following that, I borrowed Lincoln Kirstein's lavishly illustrated history of New York City Ballet from the library so many times that my Mom eventually bought my own copy! That December I saw NYCB's NUTCRACKER for the first time. After JEWELS I knew this was for real. Ballet lessons soon followed... and continue!

#18 Estelle

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Posted 05 September 2001 - 10:46 AM

My first contact with ballet was a book which was given to me when I was 9 by an old lady my mother had invited for dinner: it was written by the French critic Gilberte Cournand, and its title was "Beauté de la danse". It included a few nice photographs, and excerpts of various books and texts about dance (Noverre's "Lettres sur la danse", some biography of Pavlova, a text about Nijinsky's falling into madness, a text about Martha Graham by Bethsabee de Rotschild, an excerpt of the memoirs of Marie-Louise Didion, dealing with her childhood years at the POB school and her encounters with Lifar and Spessivtseva, etc) I read it almost extensively, didn't understand most of it but found some parts fascinating (perhaps even more because I didn't understand many words! For example the Nijinsky text ended with somthing like "a few days later I learnt that Nijinsky had been _interné_ (sent to a psychiatric hospital)" I had no idea what "interné" meant, but surely it looked like something dark and frightening. But there was no ballet in my home town of Grenoble, and I quickly forgot that book.

I became interested in dance years later, when I was about 16-17, when I saw a TV program about Nijinsky, which included a video of his "Afternoon of a faun". Then I read again "Beauté de la danse", started browsing all the dance-related books I could find in libraries (my high school had only two, the most recent being from the early 1960s) and bookstores and thought that something which looked to fascinating and beautiful on photographs could only look better on stage. I finally saw my first ballet performance in september 1992- but actually, bizarrely I was already hooked before seeing it!

#19 justafan

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Posted 05 September 2001 - 11:00 AM

My first ballet was NYCB's Nutcracker, when I was four or five. This was followed by ballet lessons (that didn't last long as I had little flexibility) and a visit to ABT or NYCB every year or so throughout my childhood. Although I liked the ballet, I never really fell passionately in love with it during my childhood. I think I didn't like some of the full-length ballets (at the time, I found Giselle and the non-NYCB Nutcracker's quite boring.)

When I was in college, I started to go to a lot of modern dance. Indeed, I thought of myself as liking dance, not necessarily ballet. So I went to all sorts of dance performances. After a few years of this, however, I started to get a little cynical. So much of modern dance is of uneven quality -- both in performance and choreography.

Readers of this board might be horrified to learn of what turned me into a ballet fanatic. It was NYCB's American Music Festival in the 80s, which was a critical disaster. Seeing that Ray Charles was performing with the ballet, I saw an opportunity to take my then boyfriend to a dance performance that he might enjoy. I don't remember much of the performance, other Charles, and that it was mobbed. But I do remember thinking "these people can really dance -- they are far better than what I have been seeing."

So I decided to get a subscription to the ballet. I didn't fall passionately in love with the ballet until some time later, when I was transported by Darci Kistler in Duo Concertant. Since that time, I not only have retained my subscription to NYCB, but I now have a new appreciation for Giselle and full length ballets.

Martins has really been criticized for things like the American Music Festival by traditonal balletomanes, and I can understand why. Nevertheless, when I go to a performance of something like NYCB with Wynton Marsalis, and see an entirely different audience than is normal, I am heartened by the fact that the audience for ballet is being broadened -- and maybe not for just one night.

[ 09-05-2001: Message edited by: justafan ]

#20 Margaret

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Posted 09 September 2001 - 11:20 AM

I have been a ballet fan for over 50 years. My introduction was aged 7 when my mother took me to a performance of The Sleeping Beauty. I am not sure which company it was, but we did see the International Ballet and the then Sadlers Wells Ballet - we lived in the UK in the midlands. I had never seen anything like it before and was really hooked and went to classes on and off for many years.
In the years since then I have seen many performances and many dancers and companies. One memorable occasion was a performance of Marguerite and Armand in 1965 with Fonteyn and Nureyev which was wonderful. Only this year I was lucky enough to see a superb debut - Alina Cojocaru in Giselle. I am now looking forward to seeing her in other roles.

#21 Guest_sparklez109_*

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Posted 09 September 2001 - 11:37 AM

I took ballet for a month at age 7, but terrified of my teacher, I quit. Then when I was 9, and a complete tomboy, since I refused to take ballet (because ballet is for sissies I used to say) my mom forced me to take a jazz class. I found out I was pretty good at it and grew to love it. The next year I was asked if I wanted to join their jazz junior company, but I had to take a ballet class. So halfway through the year I enrolled in a ballet class. But ballet at this studio was sort of a joke. anyways, I danced in the company the next year and took one ballet class and decided I liked it just as much if not more than jazz. So I went to a ballet studios summer program and switched to their studio last year. But it was over 30 minutes away (too far for my mom to drive) so this year I'm going to another studio, one that I'm sure I'll be with for a while. It was a very bumpy start, but at least I know where I'm going now. :D :)

#22 Richard Jones

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Posted 10 September 2001 - 03:48 PM

I was aware of ballet at an early age because our local dance school was run by an aunt who was very close to us, and my mother played the piano for the shows. I can still see them marching onto the stage to 'Anchors aweigh' - hordes of girls (including my sister) doing ballet, tap and acrobatics; very 1950's. I resisted being taken to watch Sadler's Wells on tour (in Norwich); music was my thing, and when the opera arrived I had to be there! All this despite the fact that I really enjoyed doing ballroom dancing.

What converted me to watching ballet was MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, which I drifted along to watch when I was a student. I knew the play and the music; I was amazed at how ballet could convey the detail of Shakespeare's drama. Juliet was Antoinette Sibley (gorgeous!) and Romeo Anthony Dowell - but the star for me that evening was David Blair, for whom the part of Mercutio was made. I didn't think that a guy would look so virile on the ballet stage!

From then on I had to see more, but only 20th century ballet. It was years before I wanted to see Swan Lake and the other 19th century classics.

[ 09-10-2001: Message edited by: Richard Jones ]


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