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About Fraildove

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    teacher, former professional
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  1. I have a question and an antidotal comment both reguarding La Bayadere. First, doesn’t the Mariinsky and Bolshoi still use blackface when performing this at home? Although I don’t believe the Russians have ever thought of this as ‘blackface’ in the sense that we do here as Americans. my second note is an interesting point my husband made when a lot of controversy arose over the Bolshoi’s broadcast of Bayadere and the black paint. He had no idea why people would be offended as this was never meant to be offensive or degrading. It was used, especially during the soviet period because a) there were no people of color in the major ballet schools or companies, and b) out of wanting to accurately portray the setting. In the story the children with the bronze idol were young black slave children. So most people never gave it a second thought to using makeup and paint to fully portray the characters. The same goes for the idol, himself. I am am not using this as an excuse or am I saying that in our culture this is anything but ok. Just trying to note the differences when living in a closed of, nearly homogeneous society that had to use makeup when playing anything but Caucasian characters. It was not in an effort to demoralize or make fun the way blackface was in the US. I just found his observation interesting and it gave me another point of view to think about. Not agree with but at least to understand.
  2. I would so love to see Tudor’s R&J. I can only imagine the lyricism in his version. The Harlots in MacMillian’s drove me nuts. And I really hated being tossed around like a rag doll in the death scene because I could never imagine Romeo handling Juliet like that, not to mention it hurt on many occasions. I’ve never been able to see Cranko’s complete version but I do like his balcony Pas, which sadly is all I have seen. Juliet was always my favorite role to dance, having gotten to perform it from a young age until I stopped performing. I think being able to dance it at different phases in my life made it all the more dear. I used to have a hard time deciding which role, between Giselle and Juliet was my favorite. Now though having been off the stage for 7 years I find it is Juliet that I have more dreams about.
  3. Obratzova is a stunning Juliet, as well as Giselle, and aurora. When I saw her in London at the Russian Gala this past March, she still seemed a bit out of shape from having her twins. Wondering if she is dancing at full power now, or still limiting her performances in order to spend time with her family. Ive never danced Lavrovsky’s version and of R&J, only the MacMillan. The intricate Pas de Deux in the MacMillan are so icredible to perform but I was never crazy about the rest of the ballet. Parts, yes. I’ve seen Lavrovsky’s several times and have always gotten much more out of it overall with the characterizations reading better and less ‘filler’. Just my openion. I have a hard time ever believing any one dancer owns a role, especially when not having seen a wide range of interpretations. There are certain dancers hat appeal to me more than others, and certain types I prefer in specific roles, but for me, part of what makes ballet such an amazing art is what individual dancers can bring to the role without changing the choreogrpher’s intent. I’ve had many experiences of going into a performance not really caring for a dancer and come out shocked by what I’ve seen. I try and appreciate everyone that attempts a leading role. You become so vulnerable when you give everything to an audience. Months and months of preparation for a maddening 2 hours on stage and you are beyond drained by the end. I came offstage very often in tears, not from injury or a bad performance, but because I was so emotionally spent. I guess having been on the stage gives you a slightly different perspective when in the audience than others who never performed. Yes, I have favorites who I like to see, but 99% of the time I will see a ballet regardless of who is dancing because I know there will be aspects that I will love, even if the principals aren’t my style. Just some thoughts, not trying to admonish anyone else’s motivation for seeing ballet. Goodness knows we need more people to grow an interest in the art form!
  4. 2017/2018 season

    Keep an eye out for Tatiana Osipova. Clips from her graduation performance of Odette and her photos are ravishingly beautiful. And of course Sevenard. Any others I'm missing?
  5. Joy Womack

    Just saw POB in July. Their corps in Sylphide was incredible. Not Mariinsky incredible (there is no company that compares imo) but a close 2nd. All the dancers performing, except one had come up through the school and it really showed. As much as I enjoy Hannah O'Neille it is very obvious she trained somewhere else. Her mannerisms and stage persona stuck out like a soar thumb in the cohesive sense even though I did enjoy her Effie. One of the things I've always loved is watching a company with a distinct style and cohesiveness from Corps to principal. Having trained my entire life in the Vaganova method of course I'm a bit biased toward the Russian companies. But it I think we have strayed way off topic? Or maybe others think differently. Whichever. Nzoia, when you were talking about giving her a break about schematics I would agree and did, when she first started stretching the truth back before she graduated. Now, it's really hard to believe as a 23 year old she hasn't figured out the difference between truth and lies. I know for a fact several company members telling her about the 'principal' mistake. She still refused to change it. And it was announced both in English and Russian about the diploma and Laureate at the awards, not to mention several different people, including one dancer who was very generous to her back in Varna, commenting on how her continued stretching the truth lessens the achievements of the dancers who actually received these awards and placements. I do not think anyone here is saying she is not talented. But I for one find her a lot less talented than she thinks of herself. Could she become what is in her head, maybe. I don't have a crystal ball. But she is making it harder and harder on herself by the continued drama, falsehoods, and public statements about coworkers and her company. I am friends with several directors as well as dancers in ABT. I've heard directly from many of them that they wouldn't hire her for anything because they see her as disloyal and a loose cannon. And that she has done herself. It is really rather sad. Hopefully she will grow up a little in the next few years and make herself a little more marketable.
  6. Then/Now photos

    Who are the dancers in the four Sugar Plum Pas?
  7. Joy Womack

    Sorry I'm so late commenting. One thought and one interesting observation. Someone asked why she still does all these competitions? Usually it is to gain exposure from other directors and to build your resume, or in the case of having three Mariinsky dancers already highly admired, it's because the company they work for are sponsoring those dancers to add more visibility to the company and show 'dominance' over other companies. But what has me thinking that Joy had an entirely different motivation for entering this particular competition (by the way she is now in korea competing at the Korean International Ballet Competition... ?)? I have an inclination that encouraged by her silver in Varna, her promotion at the Kremlin, I think she truly felt she would be able to win gold and prove to everyone at the Bolshoi she was right and they were not. She would be vindicated. This is hinted at in one of blogs when she talks about dancing at the Stanislavskiy in a tribute to her teacher, who had won an award. She describe how *Yulia Makhalina (99% positive that is who she said, I just cant make myself to go back and watch it) and how she told Joy that Joy was the only real prima on the stage and the only real artist. Um I find that a tad unbelievable and even if true, once again she purposefully alienates her colleagues by claiming how an icon in Russian ballet confirmed her own belief about her talent and superiority. She then goes on to say how Filin was the one who had to present her teacher the award, and how vindicated they both felt by this, that she has come full circle, and that what I'm assuming she assumed must have been a slight humiliation for Sergei, which I seriously doubt as that is far from the character of a man I've know for many years, was deserved by him missing what she could have contributed to the Bolshoi. I also found it interesting that even with the majority of the judges being associated with the Bolshoi, she chose to have her bio for the competition still repeating her story of having been a soloist there and being the first American. The stone cold faces of the jury, especially noted after a very 'un-russian' interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, said volumes. And what was the deal with her tutu in don q? The overlay was flopping around that it became a total distraction and something that is very easily fixed. After she received an honorable mention and diploma there has been almost total radio silence. Which once again makes me think that she was totally unprepared for the outcome. So the observation goes back to her constantly stretching the truth to a breaking point. In a twitter feed that has now been deleted and on her Facebook she claimed that she was a Laureate of the competition which she is not (and I double checked with my husband to make sure my translation was accurate. He won a bronze medal at another major international competition and he confirmed that Laureate is bestowed specifically to medal winners and anyone the judges deam appropriate. The diploma is something different). She is a diploma holder. By her claiming this it diminishes her colleagues' accomplishments and once again looks like she needs a serious reality check. She was called out on this discrepancy by one of the dancers who did medal. I continue to follow her her every now and again because I still have hope that maybe something will click. So far I've been sadly disappointed and very sad for her.
  8. Yes I finally was able to find it this morning! I will be very interested to see how Sobin Le, who won Grand Prix in Varna and has already danced major roles in eropean theatres and she is just 19. There is a video of her on YouTube doing Lise's variation at 13 that would put most professionals to shame. There are quite a few 'big names' this year. I see Popov is there, and saw the other Mariinsky dancers as well. Looks like an exciting competition. One question, has it always been just a week long? I thought I have always remembered it as 2. Anyway looking forward to watching it!
  9. Does anyone have the list of dancers competing? I've searched the website in English and in Russian and can't find it. Maybe because I'm looking on my phone? It's also not pulling up the jury other than Grigorovich. Natalia, any luck? Or MadamP?
  10. ABT 2017 Spring Season at The Met

    Ok a couple of thoughts and a general, somewhat rhetorical question. I preface this with the following: I rarely get to see ABT perform, but I do have several friends and a major coach that dance without ABT, as well as a family connection to Ratmansky. I do, however see a lot of European companies as well as galas when I can. Ok with that said: About Ratmansky. I don't love everything he does. I also don't love every last bit of Petipa, or Balanchine, or Ashton either. I've heard many dancers complain about having to work with a choreographer or perform a certain ballet. But in all my travels and with many, many friends who are dancing professionally i have personally never heard a complaint about having to work with or dance Ratmansky. Now granted I don't know every dancer on the planet, and I've heard small complaints about this or that, but the major consensus is he is giving interesting and different material for them to dance and really cares about the dancers he works with. Everything is not a masterpiece, but if inspires or gives new material then I am all for it. About guest artists: My husband grew up and danced with, for many years a principal couple recently retired from ABT (yes I know that so difficult to figure out who that might be) and the main complaint from them as well as other dancers performing major roles is the lack of coaching and the few opportunities to perform. I'm not sure how ANYONE who gets to perform a major role, if they are lucky, one time per year is supposed to develop artistry and confidence in that role no matter how gifted the coach. It should not under any circumstances take 10 years for a ballerina to truly understand what dancing O/O means and how to project that meaning to an audience. I remember reading way back in the day when ABT used to be a primarily touring company that dancers were constantly performing the standard rep as well as some mixed Rep thrown in. Was it grueling, sure. Is it hard to stay in shape on tour, most have no idea how difficult. But they had the opportunity to actually dance and grow in a role before they were required to perform it in the big leagues! I'm sad that that has all but disappeared for ABT. I think they have taken a step in the right direction in allowing their dancers to get opportunities to try out roles and to grow the talent that is there. I'm not sure I would want to be a young soloist and be expected to deliver a star quality performance at the Met my first time out. I cannot imagine the pressure. And knowing in the back of their head that this may be the only chance they will have to prove they can do it. I've been so happy to hear reports of how so many have risen to the occasion this season! That is amazing and I hope those dancers know that more experienced dancers have had to do that and failed miserably. So bravo! Ok my question: when I was in Londen recently I had time to meet with a few dancers who had performed in a gala that I somehow managed to sit through. Two of these dancers have been guest artists for ABT in the past so I asked them what their take on the lack of guest artists these past two seasons is. Both mentioned how much harder it is to secure a visa for Russian dancers trying to perform in the US due to the political climate between the US and Russia. So when I got back I asked another friend who has hosted a very large gala with dancers coming from both Bolshoi and Mariinsky for many years. It looks like this year it may not happen. He also said the same thing about difficulty obtaining visas as well as the huge rise in cost of the sponsoring agencies to secure those visas. So my question is, do you think that might have something to do without ABT's lack of guest artists, and if so do you think that if the political tensions die down that perhaps we will see a reamergance of the Russian Guests back on the ABT roster?
  11. ABT 2017 Don Quixote

    I agree... so much of Italian Foutees is a natural coordination and rhythm. They were always very easy for me (I actually think that might have to do with me playing around with it in the studio at age 11 before I knew it was supposed to be hard! So much in ballet is made more difficult by overthinking). I do think for most dancers Italian Fouettes are more difficult due to the change in balance on the supporting leg. I'm very hyperextended and that had little effect, although I was not blessed with incredibly high insteps. Generally, high insteps make pointe work more difficult due to lack of strength. You have to work very hard to develop strength and also to maintain it. That being said, I do find it troubling that there are continued reports of ABT ballerinas having such difficulties with this particular step. Not to mention to be continually cast in a role that requires them make zero sense. With the talent level in ABT, surely they have a few dancers who could dance the role beautifully in spite of not being a principal. Are the dancers cast as Queen of the Dryads really a huge draw for those buying tickets? I wouldn't really think so and tend to think many would appreciate seeing up and coming talent in a debutant type role. Wasting resources seems to be a specialty of ABT
  12. Clement Crisp — Olga Smirnova

    Somova is 5'6, maybe 5'7. I'm almost 5'5 and she is just a hair taller than me.
  13. Humming Giselle score...?

    Haha funny you asked this. According to my husband I've been known to hum parts of Giselle in my sleep. I guess having danced it many times I know the score backwards and forwards so it is a bit of an unfair advantage. I love the music and the ballet.
  14. Pavel Dmitrichenko - Back In Class

    Unreal. Just stunned.
  15. Dancer's Walk & Morton's Toe

    Morton's Toe isn't any more a hinderence than a big toe longer and all other toes tapering off. In both cases it is one toe that takes the primary contact with the platform of a pointe shoe and therefore steps are taken to help distribute weight to other toes as well. This is done by wearing more tapered shoes, for Morton's toe building up the big toe to be even with the 2nd toe, etc. I have very tapered toes and would sometimes use a makeup wedge that women use to apply foundation in order to help alleviate pressure on my big toe. Of course, dancers with the first 3 toes even have the easiest time with weight distribution in their shoes, but lack of it doesn't mean someone will not become a 'top-notch' ballerina As far as a dancer's walk, when applied to ballet, I think it has to do with how one carries themselves. I was actually at a company audition where the AD asked each of us to walk across the floor on the diagonal and made cuts from there, before even a plie was danced. I've heard that has been repeated by other directors many times and recently. It can be quite unsettling to those cut trying to figure out why, as much as it was to those of us not cut, also trying to figure out why. Most AD's have in mind what they are looking for, even if it may not be easily expressed in words. The natural way someone carries themselves can help indicate how that person may or may not move when actually performing steps. For a female dancer, one of the HARDEST things to master is to simply walk and run in pointe shoes. It really is incredibly difficult!