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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid ballet goer, particularly NYCB, former modern dancer, teaches dance
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    New York
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  1. I saw Gillian Murphy dance Swan Lake a few years ago. I was moved beyond belief. I find her to be a true artist and her appeal, for me, has nothing to do with her technical mastery. If I want pyrotechnical physical feats I can watch teenage ballet students all over Youtube. Gillian Murphy can tell a story through dance and make you feel what the character feels.
  2. I really enjoyed Fall for Dance this year. I saw opening night (program 1), with Elizabeth Streb, Kyle Abraham's beautiful piece to Nina Simone recordings. and Sweet Gwen Suite with Georgina Pazcoquin (very sassy), program 2 with Stephen Petronio, Houston Ballet and Ephat Asherie (very charming, tap and hip hop), and Program 5 with Fandango, Justin Peck's Bloom for Tiler Peck and Herman Cornejo (fabulous), and Ayodele Casel (great tap, with music and amazing vocals by Crystal Monee Hall. If she has a record I'm buying it) . What a lot of variety. It may have been easier to get tickets, but the audiences seemed quite full, and as enthusiastic as ever.
  3. I'm glad to hear that some have found the article has given them food for thought. For me, the context of talking about dancers' weight should include a few facts: 1. The School of American Ballet, where all the women (and most men) at NYCB get their start, is incredibly exclusive. Young dancers are chosen for their body types; smaller body types, smaller frames, and long thin limbs being preferred whatever the dancer's height, along with turn out, arched feet and musicality. Roughly 2,000 students apply each year and only 200 are chosen for the summer session. 100 for the winter session. That's a rejection rate of 90-95%. We're talking about criticizing people who made that cut, that 5%, and then the subsequent yearly cuts, and then also managed to have careers in ballet. We're not discussing a widely attainable physical standard. 2. Disordered eating abounds in order to achieve this "aesthetic." You can like "the look," not like it, think one dancer is too skinny and another too fat, but a very high percentage of these people are doing extreme and unhealthy things (at least at times) to attain "the look." It comes up in interviews all the time. One wanted to get pregnant, but realized she needed 6 weeks of eating disorder treatment in a facility before she could try. Another's hair started to fall out. Another didn't eat enough to make it through rehearsal. Maria Tallchief describes how she, and later Tanaquil LeClerq, would go out to dinner with Balanchine and he would bring an apple, since his wife wasn't going to eat dinner. (Yes, perhaps the meal was post-performance and the woman had already eaten something... but Tallchief writes it was common practice, and something she didn't miss when she stopped being Mrs. Balanchine.) Was it Suzanne Farrell who wrote she ate just the foam from a cappucino? These women were gorgeous, fantastic, legendary ballerinas, but those are not healthy eating habits! 3. Women's size, shape, and condition is often criticized by men to exert control over women. It's a part of our society, from corsets, girdles, brassieres, panty hose and bikinis to indecency laws (historically, only women seem to get arrested for swimwear), the fight for birth control, gynecology, (including gynecologists that wash their hands), and reproductive freedoms. Men have a long history of telling women how to look, how to dress and what women can and cannot do with their bodies. That is my context. I don't think it's right and I don't think bullying about weight has any place in offhand remarks in a ballet review, "sarcastic" or not. Are patrons going to exchange their Nutcracker tickets when they read that someone in the audience found the lead dancers “fat?” I don’t think so, and I don’t see any value in the information. I'm not interested in reading it, no matter what any audience member or critic might say at the time.
  4. It was hard for me to get through Alistair's new piece. It was like reading Thomas Jefferson defending slavery and harping about how hard his life was when it was discovered he got Sally Hemmings pregnant those 6 times. When Alistair started mentioning the women he knew who were fat or anorexic... I just had to stop. It's not about him. His voice is not what has been missing from the conversation. He really doesn't understand. Sorry to hear you have an eating disorder @Balletwannabe and sorry for anyone else dealing with those issues. Some day I may write about my own journey with weight and eating. Do you ever write about it? Does that help?
  5. I had plantar fascitis for several years. Sometimes I’d cry on the street, three blocks from home, unsure how I was going to get back without further injury. It’s hard to get rid of. Attendance isn’t mandatory at the farewells. Why would they all be there?
  6. What I got from the Martins story is that he could have protected the lead dancers from the critics, and had other casting options as it was the start of the season, but he chose not to protect the dancers. For his reasons, I suppose you’d have to ask him. To me, the result seems mean spirited and punitive. Completely in keeping with the behavior Georgina Pazcoquin describes in the Midsummer Nights Dream rehearsal. But there’s no way to know if he knew what the result would be.
  7. Thank you so much for posting this! Also, I saw Merrill Ashley a few weeks ago at In Balanchine's Classroom and that was not her onstage when you asked. I don't know who that woman was, but it was definitely not Merrill Ashley. She is not that gray and her body is a different shape.
  8. I went to Maria's farewell this afternoon. The audience was quite full and if you look on Instagram, many notable former NYCB dancers were planning to attend. Jock Soto, Damian Woetzel, and Robert Fairchild all greeted Maria onstage. Kay Mazzo, Zachary Catazaro, and Savannah Lowery and probably many more were in the audience. The dancing was stellar. Just stellar!! Chaconne looked lovely. Russell Janzen and Maria aced the pas de deux. They have a great connection and it was her one Balanchine-pointe shoe ballet of the evening. Opus 19 with Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia looked beautiful, but has never been one of my favorite ballets. I confess, I dozed a bit. The excerpt from Wheeldon's Danses a Grande Vitesse was spectacular. The corps de ballet began and then Maria entered aloft, in a lift with Tyler Angle carrying her overhead, arms and legs in a narrow X. The duet was well chosen and had some of the most dynamic dancing of the evening. The audience clapped and showed their appreciation nearly every time she appeared onstage. People have written previously about Amaria. I'll say that it improved a bit on second viewing. It seemed to have a bit more substance. There are some recurring gestures that are developed. They dance together, she has a solo, Amar has a solo, they dance together again. In the bows you could see that she was moved, and perhaps struck by the realization that their professional partnership was over. Slaughter was a lot of fun. The audience roared in the coda when she starts high kicking and throwing her hair around. During the bows I think Abi Stafford came out first. Then Unity, Tiler, the rest of the principal women, the principal men, the former principals (Jock Soto wore a suit and... words fail me... a ...ceremonial... bow and train, perhaps. Amazing looking. He was festively dressed for the occasion), Jonathan Stafford and Wendy Whelan (who hugged Abi Stafford) the repertory directors, Stella Abrera, another woman I think was from ABT, ending with Maria's young son and her husband, Martin Harvey. The final curtain call went on for some time. The audience was buzzing with love and appreciation for her long career and many accomplishments. I was thrilled to be there. I think the first dancer to come out with flowers is Abi Stafford, followed by @unityphelan, @tilerpeck, @mfairchild17, @tessreichlen, @shyltin in costume, @saramearns, anthony huxley, jared angle, @andiev1, @dpulbricht , @josephgordon_nycballet_ @adrianclay, @rustlegj and many more. https://www.instagram.com/p/CVJhY7Eg5a4/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
  9. In a lecture dem at the Center for Ballet Arts, Heather Watts described Agon ppd, in part, as "a high wire act" meaning there are a lot of moments that can easily go awry. The same can be said of the pas de trois with the second woman and two men. The woman balances on pointe and the men turn, or change places, or go to the knee. They can easily knock her off. I"m glad Lauren King got a nice solo bow. I would have loved to see her, but I think I've seen La Valse twice this season already, and I don't just love the ballet itself. Brava Lauren King! You'll be missed.
  10. I was wondering that, too. I've only seen Miriam Miller dance the first woman in Agon. I've only seen Teresa Reichlen dance the first woman as well. Maybe this was before my time. Maybe the poster is mistaken. Unity has never done the lead in Agon at NYCB, to my knowlege. (I realize no one asked about her, I have no explanation...) She's done the ppd at Vail. With NYCB she dances the pas de trois with two women. The fanfare music is the same at the beginning of both sections, and perhaps for other sections as well. There's a lot of repeating music in Agon. I'd love to know who's working on these roles and with whom. Ashley Laracey posted recently that she'd had a Midsummer coaching with Patricia Mcbride. Must be on Helena.
  11. I saw Savannah Lowery's last performance with NYCB which included that role in Agon and the second lead in Concerto Barocco. She was so warm and expansive, dancing like a huge hug to the entire audience, just drinking the moment in. She was beautiful in the Bransle Gay. The trio has some tricky moments, too. I know there are a bunch of ballerinas who've been working on the main Agon ppd. Who besides Megan LeCrone dances that second woman's role? Who that's still in the company?
  12. I love After the Rain, practically every time. The rest of the ballet was quite different. I saw it years ago, but it's also possible that I get it confused with Wheeldon's Polyphonia. I think the costumes were similar to that ballet, three couples in dark wine, burgundy or purple, very different from the costumes for the pdd and the two sections do not share any dancers that I remember.
  13. I don't think Abi Stafford has a public facing IG account (correct me if I'm wrong), so there will be no info on that front.
  14. I think they're just trying to stay in business.
  15. When Abi retired, Jon and Wendy did not come out and give her the traditional flowers. Jon and Wendy did do so for both Ask and Lauren, which makes me think Abi's retirement might not have been very cordial behind the scenes. With all the masks are you certain they didn't come out? It can be hard to recognize people onstage masked.
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