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MEMORIES OF MY BALLET TEACHERS
Practically all of my ballet teachers were émigré Russians. Some had been in this country since long before I was born. Others had newly arrived from the Soviet Union. Being acquainted with them, even if from a distance, was a lifetime experience I shall never forget.
Rather than just an alphabetical LIST of these teachers, I thought it might be better to introduce them as individuals; their personalities, how I came to be a student
Class on Wednesday was a little less successful as far as applying corrections went--the students were in a giggly mood. I can't blame them, as they've been dancing quite a bit for the past few weeks, so I didn't make things too difficult and just let them dance. Not sure when I'll be teaching them again (hopefully soon).
I gave the following pirouette and grand allegro combinations:
Pirouettes. 16 measures 3/4 time. Begin at pt. 6, R leg pointe tendue devant croisé.
Measure 1: Piqué
Class on Wednesday night was a success!
Alexandra Danilova wrote that in her opinion, a good class is one the student does not want to end, and judging by the eager response when I asked the students if they would mind doing the grand allegro combination again, I think it was a good class in the Danilova sense.
I've noticed lately that I seem to be improving as a teacher in two ways:
1. Building a class around 1-3 basic, important ideas.
2. Creating combinations that meet the students
I am about to start teaching at a local summer program, and one aspect of technique that students often struggle with is using their turnout correctly. Usually, they either try to turn out too far and end up rolling (allowing their arches to collapse, the result of turning out the foot but not the entire leg) or they place the foot correctly on the floor but do not engage the most important turnout muscles and only rotate their legs in a vague, passive manner. It usually only gets worse when t
In Baltimore last weekend, I drove by the new arts district, Station North, and saw an ad for artist lofts in a converted warehouse called the Copycat Building. Ironic name aside, I thought it might be an interesting place for a ballet school--lots of space, high ceilings, right in the middle of an arts community with constant art exhibitions all around. Baltimore doesn't have much in the way of serious ballet schools, and even one good teacher working alone could make a difference. There are
As we have had several discussions on the board lately regarding port de bras and épaulement, I'd like to offer a mini online lesson about the upper body geared toward audience members. I'll include technical information, but this will be by no means exhaustive, especially considering that there are plenty of textbooks that do a fine job of describing the various methods' stances as far as the upper body is concerned. What I'd like to do is give balletomanes who do not have classroom experienc
][attachmentid=18]Riabouchinska and Kriza in 'Les Sylphides'
This scratchy old photograph was taken during a performance of 'Les Sylphides' during the 1945 season of Ballet Theatre at the old Metropolitan Opera House in NYC. Riabouchinska's performance was legendary in this ballet; less known is the performance of John Kriza. He remains my favorite in the role and was the most Byronesque of anyone I have seen.
The Early Days
Listening to the clip of Maria Tallchief talking about how delighted she was to be a part of the Ballet Russe, together with all the excitement about the new "Ballets Russe" film set me to thinking about her early years with the Company. She had been in the Company a short time when I began seeing her in 1944--ah, we were both so young! She was a dancer you noticed right away; her innate musical sensitivity was evident even in her small solo roles. As she led the can-can in "
This is a photograph of Tatiana Riabouchinska in one of her most famous roles--performing the Prelude in "Les Sylphides". It was taken live during a performance at the old "Met" Opera House in New York during Ballet Theatre's 1945 season. It beautifully captures the dreaminess of her interpretation.
And--dreamy it was. One Sunday afternoon during this Season, I attended a performance which opened with 'Les Sylphides'--I was late in getting to the theater and managed to
This is a photograph of Alexandra Danilova and Nicholas Magallanes taken during a performance of the Denham Ballet Russe at the "City Center" in New York.,...about 1946. I think it's from "Raymonda".
A Personal Memory
To say that Hugh Laing was unique as a dancer would be a considerable understatement. No one performed as he did. The only other dancer of his generation who had the same impact on the stage as he---was Leonide Massine.
He had the same intensity and dynamism. As the Gypsy Boy in "Aleko" he was favorably compared to Massine and it was thought that he would be well suited to other Massine roles, i.e., the Young Musician in "Symphonie Fantastique" or as the Hussar in "Le Be
I am currently reading Deborah Jowitt's biography of Jerome Robbins---the third book I have read about him in the past three years. The other two were the Greg Lawrence biography, "Dance With Demons" and Christine Conrad's "That Broadway Man, That Ballet Man".
Whenever I read about Robbins my thoughts go back to Wilma Curley. I knew she had passed away but didn't know when. I found an obituary on the Web and learned that she had died on October 16, 1999; her married name was Harrison; she h
I have an anniversary, of sorts, coming up this month. It will be 60 years since I saw my first ballet performance on Saturday evening April 22, 1944. Accompanied by my sister Marie and her friends we went to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City to see Ballet Theatre. Our seats were in the first row of the balcony around the curve of the horseshoe shape of the theater---and 4 levels up. I had a fairly good view of the stage by leaning over the brass railing. The program was Fokine
My current favorite Swan Queens have come from the ranks of American Ballet Theatre, the Bolshoi and the Kirov and not from the New York City Ballet. Recently a poster on Ballet Alert enthusiastically wrote about Miranda Weese and I thought it was time for me to go back for another look at my video tape of Ms. Weese in the Peter Martin production. Martins has presented the ballet with one intermission; Acts 1 and 2, and then Acts 3and 4---since this appears to be the current trend, I offer no
Alicia Alonso had a diverse range as a Ballerina. She excelled in romantic, classical and contemporary works, and she was equally accomplished in performing Coralli, Petipa, Balanchine, Tudor or deMille. In this respect she outrivaled most of the ballerinas of her generation. When I ponder her technique, it is not the bravura that comes to mind, although it was profuse. Alonso was known for her rock-solid balances, dazzling footwork and fast, light floor skimming bourrees. It is her careful
Before there were glossy brochures for upcoming ballet seasons there were 'snakes'. They were long sheets of plain white paper approximately 5"X18" on which was printed, in two long columns, the programs for the coming season. They hung on a hook in the theater lobby. I still have the original 'snake' of the Sadler's Wells Ballet first American tour in 1949 in New York City at the old Metropolitan Opera House. It is somewhat smaller than the usual 'snakes'---5"X12", and as befits such a fin
When I began to learn about ballet, the period that held the most interest for me were the Diaghilev years. There was a vast amount of his ballets still being performed in the 1940's and 1950's. During my first few years of attending performances I saw 'Prince Igor', 'Les Sylphides', 'Carnaval', 'Scheherazade', 'Firebird', 'Spectre de la Rose', 'Petrouchka', 'Afternoon of a Faun','Le Tricorne', 'Apollo', and 'Prodigal Son'. Later I would see 'Les Noces', 'Parade', and 'Rite of Spring'. It is
"Degas: Dancers Practicing At the Barre"
The original painting is square in shape, approximately 36"X36", painted with mixed media on canvas, and framed with a clear glass covering.
It portrays two dancers in extended positions at the barre: the one on the left stretching in Arabesque, and the dancer on the right, with her back to us stretching forward in a Developpe. Their supporting legs are beautifully turned out at a 90 deg. angles, as are their extended legs. Impressive, also, is the
I recently acquired a DVD player and before buying a disc I have been previewing it by borrowing the discs from the New York Public Library. (I am fortunate to have such a good source.) I have had pretty good luck so far; I look up titles on Amazon and request them from the NYPL and then decide if they are worth buying. The most recent was a 'Swan Lake' choreographed by Nureyev, with Margot Fonteyn and the Vienna State Opera Ballet, recorded in 1966. I don't recall seeing this on a videotap