Jump to content
nanushka

Which dancer do you most wish you'd seen live?

Recommended Posts

I posted something on another thread (it was, admittedly, pretty far off topic!) that I thought might be an interesting topic for a separate discussion:

Gelsey Kirkland is probably the one dancer from the past whose career I most intensely wish I had witnessed. In part, this is because there's just so little recorded evidence of it. I've scoured YouTube and relish everything I've found (especially the two complete [or in one case near-complete, and with only reconstructed sound] performances of T&V — I consider the telecast version to be perhaps the greatest complete ballet performance ever professionally recorded, at least of those I've seen), but there's just so much less of her on video than of some other dancers of her era and prominence (for a variety of reasons).

The other reason I wish I'd seen her is that my sense, from those videos, is that she was truly unlike any other dancer. Of course that's true of many—but, for instance, I think I know kind of what it would have felt like to see Baryshnikov, or Makarova, or Verdy. (Of course I could be wrong.) Not because I've seen other dancers who are quite like them, but because I suspect I've seen other dancers who have provoked in me the same sorts of reactions that they would have provoked. My sense is that Kirkland would have provoked something quite distinct. She was sui generis.

Actually, for some of the same reasons (a limited number of recordings and a real distinctness of character and qualities), but also for some others, I think Farrell would be my runner-up in the "wish I had been there" category.

I'd love to hear others' ideas! Which dancer from the past do you most wish you had seen live, and why?

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post

What a great idea for a discussion!

I'm sure I'll have to add onto this as I think more about it, but first I'd say I wish I could have seen Nureyev while he was still in his prime. I saw him dance in the 80's, when he has quite past his prime, but of course the house was sold out anyway and somehow I lucked out with a very-close-to-the-front seat (I could see the sweat on his face). I still remember how labored his entrechet six were, but he was still magnetic. I was awe struck.

Also, I wish I could have seen Plisetkaya's Dying Swan live.

Those are the first two that come to mind, but I'm sure I'll think of others.

Share this post


Link to post

Wonderful idea for a topic, nanushka. It would absolutely have to be Nijinsky and no matter if the passage of time made his feats less obviously dazzling.

Closer to the present, and modifying the topic to include individual ballets, I would have loved to see Seymour and Gable in MacMillan’s R&J when it was new.

Share this post


Link to post

I think Pavlova first of all. I have a notion that despite the radical difference in aesthetics and technique from such a different era, her charisma, the qualites that influenced, say, Ashton, and won so many others to classical ballet careers, would still be in evidence and something I could feel and not just dutifully ‘appreciate’. . . I love many of her photos and at least some of what I have seen on film/video. From that era Nijinsky ...yes...too! And Karsavina who in some (not all) photos looks dramatically beautiful. But still, I think Pavlova first.

A dancer I caught a glimpse of at the end of his classical career: Bruhn.  I wish I had seen much more of his dancing  though I feel the little I saw of him in classical roles—one Albrecht and one Franz—did impact my taste. I wish I had seen his James especially...and when I was a little older too.

Always Alla Sizova whom I never saw live, but whose Sleeping Beauty on film, seen when I was a tiny child, made me a ballet fan for life. (I guess I should say especially before the back injury that-I have read-hampered her later career somewhat.)  And her partner in that film, Yuri Soloviev.

We discussed this or a similar topic some years ago and at that time I believe I said Jean Babilee! That holds still. When it comes to bad boy auras I don’t think Polunin’s  is any more exciting.  I don’t remember if LeClerq was high on my list then, but certainly now....

Edited by Drew
Punctuation

Share this post


Link to post

Nijinsky for sure. Such a legendary figure, yet there is no film of him at all. At least Pavlova had Hollywood friends who got some of her movement recorded for posterity and we can get a slight sense of her movement quality. Nijinsky was in his prime when film technology existed and it's such a terrible loss that he was never filmed.

I've always wondered if that was a decision of Diaghilev. I saw a claim somewhere that Nijinsky prohibited film, but do we know that was his decision? We know that Diaghilev did not want Ballet Russes filmed, as he thought people would stay away from the theater. As far as I know, only one bit of film of Diaghilev's company does exist. Such a loss to later generations!

 

Edited by California

Share this post


Link to post
14 minutes ago, Drew said:

I don’t remember if LeClerq was high on my list then, but certainly now....

I had her in mind for my third choice. Talk about gorgeous photos!

If I'd been following her career, though — well, I can imagine the heartbreak of how it ended.

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, nanushka said:

I had her in mind for my third choice. Talk about gorgeous photos!

If I'd been following her career, though — well, I can imagine the heartbreak of how it ended.

LeClerq is very high up on my list. I knew people who were in the company with her and they always said that she could create an atmosphere on the stage like no one else.

Share this post


Link to post

LeClerq most of all. And Marie-Jeanne. And the baby ballerinas. And out of curiosity, Robbins.

Share this post


Link to post

I want to see Auguste Bournonville. He was apparently an amazing dancer and the fast footwork and dizzying array of jumps was his speciality. 

Share this post


Link to post
14 minutes ago, canbelto said:

I want to see Auguste Bournonville. He was apparently an amazing dancer and the fast footwork and dizzying array of jumps was his speciality. 

Great thought Canbelto. I'd love to see Bournonville too.

Share this post


Link to post

Maria Tallchief most of all but followed closely by Alicia Markova, who I am certain would have become my idolized favorite. 

Share this post


Link to post
20 hours ago, dirac said:

 

Closer to the present, and modifying the topic to include individual ballets, I would have loved to see Seymour and Gable in MacMillan’s R&J when it was new.

Yes! Yes!  .....plus Spessivtseva........

Share this post


Link to post
58 minutes ago, atm711 said:

Yes! Yes!  .....plus Spessivtseva........

Yes indeed. There's a little bit of film of her in "Giselle" (she has a ponytail) that leaves one hungry for much, much more......

Share this post


Link to post

Allegra Kent, Tanaquil Le Clercq, Suzanne Farrell, and Nijinsky.

Share this post


Link to post
On 1/12/2018 at 1:56 PM, ABT Fan said:

What a great idea for a discussion!

I'm sure I'll have to add onto this as I think more about it, but first I'd say I wish I could have seen Nureyev while he was still in his prime. I saw him dance in the 80's, when he has quite past his prime, but of course the house was sold out anyway and somehow I lucked out with a very-close-to-the-front seat (I could see the sweat on his face). I still remember how labored his entrechet six were, but he was still magnetic. I was awe struck.

...

This is indeed a wonderful topic -- many thanks for bringing it forward.

I also saw Nureyev towards the end of his dancing life, during one of the "and Friends" tours. I've written about his performance of Apollo here before, so won't repeat much except that you were very aware you were seeing someone with a history.

But if I had to choose only one, it would be Isadora Duncan.

Share this post


Link to post

Kirkland and Farrell would be my top two, add to that Sizova (one of my teachers and if her performance was anything like her class demonstrations I can just imagine), Soloviev, and Ulanova I would be in heaven.

Share this post


Link to post

Maya Plisetskaya, especially as Kitri.  I can’t stop watching her YouTube videos as Kitri.  She lights up the stage like nothing I’ve ever seen.

And because I didn’t see my first live ballet performance until 2012, I never got to see Ethan Stiefel live.  (Or any of ABTs amazing male dancers).  I have the Corsair and Dream videos of him, but I wish I could have seen his Siegfried, Albrecht and Romeo.  😢

Edited by Kaysta

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Fraildove said:

Kirkland and Farrell would be my top two, add to that Sizova (one of my teachers and if her performance was anything like her class demonstrations I can just imagine), Soloviev, and Ulanova I would be in heaven.

What was it about her classroom demonstration that caught your imagination?

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, sandik said:

What was it about her classroom demonstration that caught your imagination?

Where to start... By that time her incredible jump was no longer there, but the softness of her preparation and landings when she did were effortless. She had more turnout than any dancer I’ve seen even now and oh my how she used it. In her adagio her extension was still flawless, with barely any shifting in sher hips or back when doing grand rond de jambe. Her ecarte derrière was could be so far back when she exaggerated, which was rarely, that it was nearly to arabesque without any opening of the hip. In 1st position her feet were beyond 180 degrees and her knees in plié were over her toes. It often left our class shaking our head in disbelief and wondering how we could ever live up to that. From the moment I met her I was struck by her gentleness, a perfect lady she was always. Very feminine and conservative but very wise and opinionated when she needed to be. I was lucky enough to have her as a coach for Aurora and I can recite nearly word for word her insights and corrections. I kept them in a notebook. She was very logical and wanted movement to mean something more than just dancing. Granted this is just how I saw her and interpreted her words and actione. I know of others that might disagree on her personality traits, but I doubt anyone would argue her elegance while demonstrating her class. And a very artistic class she taught!

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, Fraildove said:

Where to start... By that time her incredible jump was no longer there, but the softness of her preparation and landings when she did were effortless. She had more turnout than any dancer I’ve seen even now and oh my how she used it. In her adagio her extension was still flawless, with barely any shifting in sher hips or back when doing grand rond de jambe. Her ecarte derrière was could be so far back when she exaggerated, which was rarely, that it was nearly to arabesque without any opening of the hip. In 1st position her feet were beyond 180 degrees and her knees in plié were over her toes. It often left our class shaking our head in disbelief and wondering how we could ever live up to that. From the moment I met her I was struck by her gentleness, a perfect lady she was always. Very feminine and conservative but very wise and opinionated when she needed to be. I was lucky enough to have her as a coach for Aurora and I can recite nearly word for word her insights and corrections. I kept them in a notebook. She was very logical and wanted movement to mean something more than just dancing. Granted this is just how I saw her and interpreted her words and actione. I know of others that might disagree on her personality traits, but I doubt anyone would argue her elegance while demonstrating her class. And a very artistic class she taught!

Many thanks -- what a wonderful experience for you!

Share this post


Link to post

Miko Fogarty, from that movie First Position, came down to San Diego at least twice to do the Nutcracker (IIRC) at Eastlake High School south of town. I transited that direction twice to try to see her, but ran into bus problems both times along the way. 

And now it seems she's moved on.

Share this post


Link to post
On 1/12/2018 at 9:10 PM, kfw said:

LeClerq most of all. And Marie-Jeanne. And the baby ballerinas. And out of curiosity, Robbins.

Interesting choices!  Among ballet fans at the time she was often described as being 'quirky'---definitely out of the ordinary at the time.  She did not have a particularly  beautiful 'classical line' and I felt she was unsuited to 2nd mm of Sym in C.  We had to wait for Kent and were finally rewarded with Farrell.  She did however, have her inimitable  'wit'.  I saw Marie-Jeanne in 3 roles with the Ballet Russe - Concerto Barocco, Ballet Imperial (Tchai Concerto #2) and Baiser de la Fee.  I have seen no one like her in Barocco--she had long slender feet (for her height of 5'2") and she used them like daggers---wonderfully fast sharp thrusting of the foot.  Her pointes were firm and hard (not as mushy of what I see today).  She had the lead in Ballet Imperial but I can never forget the unbecoming costume she had to wear..(.the blue and white short tutu) .  She looked like she had no waistline! (outrageous costuming for her). As sharp as her technique was  in these two  ballets,  we saw a different Marie-Jeanne in Baiser de la Fee.  She danced the part of the bride and wore a long white tutu with a ring of flowers atop her head and she had all the softness and warmth of a Giselle.

Share this post


Link to post

atm711 - Thanks so much for your insightful description of Marie-Jeanne. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×