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corps dancers we love as if they were stars


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#16 carbro

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 09:03 PM

Yes, pville, but Korbes and Bouder are not likely corps lifers. ;)

For me, the huge gaping hole remains in every role danced by Renee Estopinal. Tall, dark and pretty, she exuded sophistication, elegance and glamour and a certain girl-next-door accessibility and warmth. She was also modest, discussed as an indispensible characteristic on another thread. She never fussed over anything at a time when City's dancers tended to be very mannered.

Among her most notable roles were the Agon first pas de trois, demi in Third Movement Bizet (stage left), the Theme in Goldberg, and -- here's the vacuum -- Who Cares?, the Somebody Loves Me Section (the female quintet), where her status as a first among equals (the lady in the middle) really has not been matched by any of her successors. I know I am asking for a lot, but hey . . . can't help it.


As friends have heard me whine many a time, I miss Renee!!! :)

#17 glebb

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 10:09 PM

Me too Carbro! I couldn't agree with you more about Renee Estopinal. Do you know anything of what she is up to now?

#18 emhbunhead

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 01:35 AM

back in 1996 ( i believe ) PNB came to nyc and performed at city center... i cant tell you how the principals danced.. i was too busy watching Gavin Larsen (now dancing in Alberta Ballet)

at ABT, Carrie Peterson - i saw her dance a "friend" in Coppelia when she was 14 and i was 11 back at her studio in NJ. My mother and i were amazed at her, such talent!! and on top of that shes a genuinly nice girl!

#19 Ari

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 08:07 AM

Another unforgettable Estopinal role: the lead in the Ricercata section of Episodes. Her musicality and unfussy dignity were perfect for this part, and for years after she retired, when watching this ballet, I would mentally edit out the dancer onstage and replace her with Renée. Later, Maria Calegari gave a breathtaking performance in that role, but it's Renée's that sticks in my mind.

#20 carbro

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 10:37 AM

Yes, Ari. Definitely the Riccercata. Also the Chaconne pas de trois.

Oh, I miss Renee.

#21 liebs

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 11:48 AM

I remember Estopinal, Frankfurt and Susan Freedman in the pas de quatre in Harlequinade. All dark haired beauties - but who was the fourth?

I also have to nominate Sean Savoye and Tracy Bennett. Bennett and Castelli were frequently paired in Agon, Div #15 and 4 Ts.

And Marjorie Spohn, such a creamy smooth way of dancing.

#22 glebb

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 11:57 AM

Susan Freedman was stunning. I remember her elegant and fresh beauty especially in the ensemble of 'Serenade'. Gorgeous everything about her, attacking pique turns.

Marjorie Spohn, another fair, beautiful, perfect Balanchine type body.

Could it be Victoria Hall, liebs? Was she not part of that foursome in 'Mozartiana'.


Those women had a sophistication that I miss.

#23 carbro

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 01:14 PM

I believe the lovely Victoria Hall was in Mozartiana's original foursome but left the company not too long after its premiere. She was replaced by (if that's the word) (no, the role was recast with) Nina Fedorova.

In Harlequinade, Nina had the role of the Statue-Come-to-Life, so that quartet would not have included her. Hmmm.:confused:

Garielle Whittle? I'm thinking Phlegmatic, where she had membership in that foursome.

#24 Ari

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 02:13 PM

Susan Freedman was also wonderful as one of the sisters in Prodigal Son. She actually reacted to what was happening onstage (as opposed to the other sister, Carole Divet, who just stood there like she was waiting for a bus), and in the final scene added to the pathos with her compassion for the Prodigal.

#25 Lillian

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 02:30 PM

I think Fedorova was in the original cast of Mozartiana. It's in Balanchine's 'Mozartiana': The Making of a Masterpiece by Robert Maiorano. Balanchine was fond of her and in the book there's a nice bit about him complimenting her on her attitude turn and marking her name on the score at that point in the pas de quatre.
I always thought of Fedorova as the blonde Suzanne Farrell. What ever happened to her?

#26 grace

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 05:30 PM

just want to say: what a lovely idea for a topic. :)

#27 Lovebird

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 06:03 PM

This topic is very nice,but it is only suitable for the New York City Ballet and the North American companies because their repertoires are mostly Balanchine,and he is the only choreographer who really gives attention to the corps de ballet,not counting the more recent choreographers of course.This does not work as well with European companies whose repertoires are not based on Balanchine,as can be seen from this thread where memorable corps dancers are all from the NYCB.Petipa,Macmillan,Cranko,Ashton,Bournonville do not shed so much light on the corps de ballet.That said,these dancers must be true artists because they shine onstage,even if they are only Girl No. 14 from the left.In the Royal I admire Sian Murphy,Lauren Cuthbertson,Christina Arestis,Kristen Mcnally,and Natasha Oughtred.In the Paris Opera:Alexandra Cardinal,who is one of the most beautiful woman dancing,and Veronique Doisneau,Juliette Gernez,and Aurore Cordellier.In the Stuttgart I like Katarzina Kozielska,and Vanessa Valdueza Tauroni who have to dance in the star-centric Cranko repertoire and still stand-out.

#28 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 07:55 PM

Lovebird, you can trust me that Alexandra could tell you upwards of 100 stories about the Royal Danish Ballet alone that would illustrate that corps dancers are considered important artists in other companies and with other choreographers. Of course I love Balanchine, but every one of the choreographers you name also have the same sort of attention to the corps we New Yorkers are speaking about, it's just not in the way we've grown used to with Balanchine and perhaps not in the ballets we've gotten to see here. For example, in Martins' adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, Saskia Beskow was able to squeeze every last drop of theater out of the truncated countess role. I don't think it's her Balanchine experience that taught her to do that, it was her Danish training and her own natural gifts.

#29 carbro

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 08:00 PM

Although, Leigh, Lovebird does have a point.

Many of us remember the casting policy under Balanchine: almost every corps dancer had one or two roles that allowed him or her a few spotlight moments.

#30 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 23 February 2003 - 08:06 PM

Much as I think all good springs from Mr. B, good casting, institutional thinking and cultivation of the entire company wasn't his invention. I'm certainly not saying this to knock Balanchine - but really, other choreographers and ballet masters did that as well.


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