Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Alexandra

Administrators
  • Posts

    9,306
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Alexandra

  1. Thanks, Angela - Melnikov wasn't at all dull when he was with the Kirov -- he was very classical, i.e., he didn't throw his hair around, or grin, or make faces to show he was feeling the music. I saw him nearly ten years ago, so I suppose he would be in his early thirties now? And, of course, he could have changed. alexandra
  2. All this book and magazine talk is very interesting, and I hate to be a traffic cop, but I created a whole forum for reading material, and I'd love it if this discussion could continue there. As a helpful hint, I'm closing the thread! Thanks, alexandra
  3. Celia -- Yes, I do think it's possible. I think you'll know it when you see it. Watching ballet is a process of refinement. What you think is hot stuff your first season, may be less enticing later on. (First there's ice cream, then there's champagne.) It's like the processions in the old Petipa ballets (or Giselle's hunting party entree). First come the most beautiful women in the most beautiful gowns you've ever seen. Eight of them, better than a fashion show. Then come two or three others -- even more beautiful, with gowns that are unimaginably gorgeous. That last one MUST be the Queen, or Bathilde, or whatever Star is expected. And then, as the beautiful ones walks around the stage, showing off the clothes and the way they walk, there's a little pause and on comes -- the Queen. And you know it's the Queen, and you're embarrassed that you were ever taken in by the ladies in waiting. alexandra
  4. Celia -- Yes, I do think it's possible. I think you'll know it when you see it. Watching ballet is a process of refinement. What you think is hot stuff your first season, may be less enticing later on. (First there's ice cream, then there's champagne.) It's like the processions in the old Petipa ballets (or Giselle's hunting party entree). First come the most beautiful women in the most beautiful gowns you've ever seen. Eight of them, better than a fashion show. Then come two or three others -- even more beautiful, with gowns that are unimaginably gorgeous. That last one MUST be the Queen, or Bathilde, or whatever Star is expected. And then, as the beautiful ones walks around the stage, showing off the clothes and the way they walk, there's a little pause and on comes -- the Queen. And you know it's the Queen, and you're embarrassed that you were ever taken in by the ladies in waiting. alexandra
  5. Thanks to all for joining in on this one -- Olivier, it's wonderful to have a dancer respond with such lovely stories. Celia, "understanding the grand classical style" is related to what Margot wrote about Danilova's explanation of Sleeping Beauty. It's partnering, and presenting the ballerina, but it's more than that. It's the way the dancers actually move, the way the head is held, the fingers, the movement of the shoulders, that a foot is brought up to the knee cleanly, that a ronde de jambe describes a circle, doesn't just flap around. It's all the things that it takes nondancers years to see (and most fans don't care about too much, which is fine). But if you get into it, it's those "classical niceties" that separate great classical dancers (usually, but not always, those who have had the opportunity to study at one of the great academies) from good ones, or interesting ones. I can't comment on Evelyn Hart, because I haven't seen very much of her, and not at all lately. There are some dancers who are more aura than technique, and I've loved some of them. There are some who are both. Celia, a wonderful "game" to play is to rent some videos -- oh, four different Swan Lakes, or Raymondas, or a couple of those great "Greatest Hits of Our Glorious Russian Tradition" thingies, and play them back to back and see how different the dancers look. Margot, Danilova addressed the Dance Critics Association's conference on Sleeping Beauty about ten years ago. She wore a red Chanel suit and three-inch heels (the floor had just been waxed. We were all terrified every time she got up to demonstrate something, which she did at any excuse.) It was obvious that she had been burning with comments about Sleeping Beauty for years. From a Russian Imperial point of view, the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty was too homey and middle-class. Marriage for love, balderdash. "Princess must be little bit snitty," said Danilova. I didn't quite understand what that meant at the time. (I've been helped greatly in understanding ballet by keeping mental note of sentences like those that I hear or read, things that don't make sense to me but that I'm sure are true, and keeping them in my head until I figure them out. Takes a long time, but it's worth it.) alexandra
  6. Thanks to all for joining in on this one -- Olivier, it's wonderful to have a dancer respond with such lovely stories. Celia, "understanding the grand classical style" is related to what Margot wrote about Danilova's explanation of Sleeping Beauty. It's partnering, and presenting the ballerina, but it's more than that. It's the way the dancers actually move, the way the head is held, the fingers, the movement of the shoulders, that a foot is brought up to the knee cleanly, that a ronde de jambe describes a circle, doesn't just flap around. It's all the things that it takes nondancers years to see (and most fans don't care about too much, which is fine). But if you get into it, it's those "classical niceties" that separate great classical dancers (usually, but not always, those who have had the opportunity to study at one of the great academies) from good ones, or interesting ones. I can't comment on Evelyn Hart, because I haven't seen very much of her, and not at all lately. There are some dancers who are more aura than technique, and I've loved some of them. There are some who are both. Celia, a wonderful "game" to play is to rent some videos -- oh, four different Swan Lakes, or Raymondas, or a couple of those great "Greatest Hits of Our Glorious Russian Tradition" thingies, and play them back to back and see how different the dancers look. Margot, Danilova addressed the Dance Critics Association's conference on Sleeping Beauty about ten years ago. She wore a red Chanel suit and three-inch heels (the floor had just been waxed. We were all terrified every time she got up to demonstrate something, which she did at any excuse.) It was obvious that she had been burning with comments about Sleeping Beauty for years. From a Russian Imperial point of view, the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty was too homey and middle-class. Marriage for love, balderdash. "Princess must be little bit snitty," said Danilova. I didn't quite understand what that meant at the time. (I've been helped greatly in understanding ballet by keeping mental note of sentences like those that I hear or read, things that don't make sense to me but that I'm sure are true, and keeping them in my head until I figure them out. Takes a long time, but it's worth it.) alexandra
  7. There are a lot of male artists, I would say (perhaps more in the past). Malakhov's dancing is certainly beyond technique. Alexei Fedayachev with the Kirov. Nureyev's certainly was. The charms of the Princes in the 19th century ballets are not always evident on first viewing, especially if the man dancing the Prince isn't really a Prince. I think you need a good understanding of the history of the ballets, and an appreciation of the grand classical style, before you see what the Prince is doing, instead of thinking, "Why isn't he dancing?" (I have a grave historical bias towards dancing!) alexandra
  8. There are a lot of male artists, I would say (perhaps more in the past). Malakhov's dancing is certainly beyond technique. Alexei Fedayachev with the Kirov. Nureyev's certainly was. The charms of the Princes in the 19th century ballets are not always evident on first viewing, especially if the man dancing the Prince isn't really a Prince. I think you need a good understanding of the history of the ballets, and an appreciation of the grand classical style, before you see what the Prince is doing, instead of thinking, "Why isn't he dancing?" (I have a grave historical bias towards dancing!) alexandra
  9. Hello, Celia, and welcome. I'm fascinated that you'd buy a book about a dancer when you weren't a dance fan! You're the reader all publishers want to reach! What made you buy that book? I found your "career path" through ballet interesting, too. You have good instincts! alexandra
  10. This is more to Jane's post than Ed's original one, but yes, you have a good point. ABT used to have a crew of dancers who wore their opinion of the choreography on their sleeves -- not quite what you mean by Wall, the artist who couldn't condescend to the material, but sometimes commentary is permissible. The best/worst of these was Leslie Browne. She would practically hold her nose when forced to dance something she didn't like (MacMillan's Concerto, first movement, I think, comes to mind.) No transcending here. alexandra
  11. hello and welcome back, Dale - Hadn't read you in awhile, and I missed you! Have you been to many Nutcrackers? I'm a fan of all your choices. I read "After Images" once or twice a year for ten years, until I'd practically memorized it. I especially found the essays at the back of the book useful. I must say that I did not always agree with her, but I always took her seriously. So many of the things she wrote about in the '70s and '80s have come true. I particularly remember her writing about the Royal when they came here in the mid-'80s, after running through a list of things that were wrong with the company, saying, "But what's the use? It's like straightening the pictures in a house that's been bombed." I thought that harsh of her at the time, thought, "Oh, come on. They're not that bad." I didn't see what she saw until the early '90s, when they came with a new Swan Lake and a new "improved" dancing style. Yes, she did get bitter, perhaps, but that happens when everything you loves dies on you. She is very much alive, still going, and writing a book about Balanchine's ballets. I also loved "Balanchine's Muses" -- the photographs as well as the text. When you get dancers talking about dancing, it's the best of all. While we're on Balanchine books, I also learned an enormous amount from Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review; I only wish it had been updated, if only until Balanchine's death. I poured over that book, trying to figure out his way of categorizing dancers and casting. alexandra
  12. Hello, again. I have so many favorite dance books I couldn't put them all in. The first book I bought was Keith Money's book about Margot Fonteyn "The Making of a Legend." I love all of Keith Money's books; this one is like a scrapbook, and it's full of love for Fonteyn. I bought it partly because I had just seen my first performance, with Fonteyn, and partly because it was the only book about ballet in the bookstore. I read it over and over during my first year as a balletomane, although it was difficult, as most of the ballets -- nearly all the ballets -- were unknown to me. (I didn't know much about the '30s and '40s in British ballet then.) I used it as a guide for years. When I'd see the Giselle or Swan Lake of a dancer called "great" and I couldn't find out why, I'd get out those sections in "Legend" again and look at Fonteyn, and compare her to the new Great One I'd just seen, and figure out why the latter was wanting. She never failed me. Margot, dancers writing about dance offer a perspective that nondancers can't, so the books fascinate me. If they can write well, you get a bonus. If they can't you get information and point of view. Every scrap of real information is valuable. (Now, how to tell the real from the well-intentioned errors, the folk tales and the self-promotion is the problem.) I love Karsavina from photos; she's one of the dancers I'm going to see first when I get to Heaven. Booked long ago. But I have to admit I didn't love her book, much as I wanted to. I did love, however, Kchessinskaya's memoires ("Dancing in St. Petersburg") because her personality blares forth from every page, as she tells you how kind she was to her rivals (hah!), how she had to ask "Nicky" (the Tsarevitch) to intervene in this or that backstage brawl, how it didn't really matter that Pavlova didn't have turnout, not one little bit -- and how she broke it to her parents that she wanted to leave home to become the Tsarevitch's mistress, and how she got that nice little house from the Grand Duke -- and all the things that make small children think they want to be ballerinas (although I was hardly a child when I read it). Last word on books for now, and apropos: I remember reading Camille when I was in high school, before I knew what ballet was (but I knew about theater) and thinking that a courtesan was a great job, not because of the flowers and dresses, but because she had box seats at every theater in Paris. Mon dieu! Where does one apply? alexandra p.s. Use the search engine at Barnes and Noble on our shop page to find books. You can search by author, title, or subject.
  13. Actually, I think we should start a new thread, because this one is so long. (But it's fine to write long, long posts, Margot, or anyone.) Estelle, if you'd like to keep a book list, feel free. I already have four jobs! Thanks all, alexandra jump to favorite books#2
  14. I'm not going to go first this time! What books have you read that have made a difference to you? What books do you love?
  15. Of course you can talk about any magazines you want -- my only request is that if anyone ever has a comment on an article that appeared in either Ballet Alert! or DanceView that they talk about it on those threads. I'd like to get an interactive "Letters to the Editor" column going. On magazines: my all-time favorite was the old Dance and Dancers which I devoured; DanceView was modeled on it. I also read (and have written for) Dance Now, Dance International, and Ballet Review. I think there should be dozens and dozens of dance magazines, each with a stringently different point of view. All right, Estelle. I'm going to start a forum on Books and Dance Critics right now. Any further comments, please go there. alexandra alexandra
  16. Linda Hindberg. Not the ideal Teresina (too Russian), but OK. Villumsen's mad scene is one of the great scenes on video. I've shown it to every class I've ever taught. (They all like the shorts and can't believe it's from 1842. Well, in 1842 they wore tights under the shorts, but they still wore the shorts. Shocked 'em back then, too.) I was watching that the other night, and couldn't help but cry. All those dancers are gone now (and not because they're too old) and it's unlikely you'll see a Napoli Act III and/or tarantella like that again. To Someone who wrote me not knowing who Arne Villumsen and Lis Jeppesen were, they were the Danes leading couple in the 1980s and early '90s and were wonderful dancers. Villumsen stars in this Napoli video (which I think has been pulled off the market; copyright rental period expired, or something) and Lis Jeppesen dances the girl-with-the-purple-trimmed-skirt in the third act. alexandra
  17. Hello, All! This is a continuation of the thread Ed Waffle started called Audiences, where many of us "confessed" to how we became interested in ballet. That thread has gotten so long, it takes a long time to load and is hard to read. So please continue telling your stories here. Everyone is welcome! (as to all threads, of course). Thanks, alexandra
  18. Thanks for the suggestion, Estelle. I'll add that sometime this week -- and I'll post a suggestion down on Talk Ballet Alert! for other people to nominate special categories. alexandra I'm also going to start a new Audiences thread, because this is getting so long. I'm going to call it "How Did you Discover Ballet?" Please make any comments you have, and, I hope, tell your stories, on that thread. Thanks.
  19. Yup. She's in. Love to go -- actually, high on my "To Do" list for this site is to put a link to Air France on the Paris Opera page! I have a lovely postcard photo of Loudieres in Arabesque in that same Don Q. A model of the Parisian arabesque. That will go up too, some day. alexandra
  20. This, I hope, will be a continuation of the Who Are the Great Ballerinas Today? question that had outgrown its first home. To review the bidding, the following ballerinas have been nominated. (These are not just good dancers, are promising dancers, but dancers who are worthy of sitting at the head table in the Great Ballet Hall of Fame.) Altynai Asylmuratova, Elisabeth Platel, Sylvie Guillem, Isabelle Guerin, Kyra Nichols, Nina Ananiashvili, Evelyn Hart, Darcey Bussell, Viviane Durante, and Anna Polikarpova. Monique Loudieres was nominated as well, but I believe she is retired, and so does not meet the criterion of actively performing; if she's still dancing -- Estelle, Margot? -- then she's in. This is not a bad list. Maybe things are better than we sometimes think. It's just that these women are spread out among several different companies (all to the good, I'd say) and we don't get to see them all day, all the time, two blocks from where we live. But not a bad list. Please continue nominating, congratulating, or quibbling over these ballerinas, or others. alexandra
  21. Note: I posted this 12/01 late evening, and it didn't make the move, so I copied and am reposting it; hence, it's a little out of sync. Hello again, Paul. Yes, ballerino is a "real appellation," although people will look at you funny if you say it on the bus. Here at Ballet Talk, though, the support group for people who know ballerinos, you can say it as many times as you want.<p>Glad you liked Estelle's page. I found it my first night on the Web and thought everything was going to be like that. Alas, not. Please check the links on our links page. There aren't many pages that have real content, but as I find them, I put them up. You might like the two Kirov sites; lots of pix. If you can't see the real stuff in the flesh, you might as well gaze at their image.<p>I'm going to close this thread now, because it's so long, and start a new one "Great Ballerinas 2." Closing the thread means that the thread won't accept any more posts, but neither the thread, nor its posters, should take it personally. It's just that we don't want the page to explode.
  22. I check this board like a gardener in spring, clucking over nascent blooms, but somehow I missed Steve's. What Steve and Estelle are saying is quite true, that when you fall in love with ballet, it's like a lightning bolt, but it's often not the first exposure to ballet -- there were other opportunities, and the love did not come. Like Estelle, I saw pictures of dancers in books when I was a child. We had an anthology of articles from the old Vanity Fair magazine (from the 20s) that I practically memorized, and I remember a wonderful picture of Nijinsky as the Golden Slave that mesmerized me, but there was no dance to go to, and I thought it silly. (Lovely, the judgements we place on things about which we know nothing.) I loved music and theater and film and reading, but avoided art and dance. Don't know why. I did see some modern dance in college, and found it interesting -- certainly didn't dislike it -- and took a semester of modern dance from a crazed Grahamite who made us do sit ups with the knees touching and the legs extended out to the sides at perfect 90 degree angles, all the while saying, "Play children. Into each life, a little PAIN must fall." None of these experiences had anything to do with the first lightning bolt performance ("Marguerite and Armand" with a Nureyev and Friends program in 1975), yet all prepared me for them, in an odd way. And, like Steve and Estelle, the worst part about it was not being able to talk to anyone. I began reading and seeing everything I could. I lived two blocks from the Kenbedy Center (accident) ad so it was easy to do standing room and I saw companies like ABT, NYCB (both of which did 3 to 7 weeks a year here then) the Royal, Royal Danes, some of the more modest European troupes, eventually Paris Opera, which I adore, and the Kirov and Bolshoi, and all of the important American regional companies. I also began to take "open university" type courses in dance history and began a Master's degree in dance at George Washington University. While there, I took a course in criticism from Alan Kriegsman, then critic for the Washington Post, who, at the end of the course, asked me to write for the Post. This was ridiculous, because I'd only been watching dance for three years, but you don't say no to such an opportunity. I've written for the Post since 1979. I began a small tabloid publication called Washington DanceView soon after (the hubris of youth); this grew to a nationally-distributed and focused quarterly called DanceView. Writing for the Post, and living in a city which, in the 1980s, had a very extensive dance series, gave me the opportunity to see many performances. All through this period I had a "day job" as a manager and eventually vice president of one of the city's major reporting firms (reporting congressional hearings, trials, etc.) but in 1985, I left business because it was a 24-hours-a-day on call job that interfered too much with the writing. I had dropped out of GW when I began to write for the Post, but in 1989 I went back to grad school, this time to Georgetown in their Liberal Studies program. By this time, I had become fascinated by the Royal Danish Ballet and the ballets of Bournonville. In preparation for a long-planned trip to Copenhagen, I began learning Danish so I could read all the Danish language material on that company. Georgetown let me put together a collection of courses related to European intellectual history and the early 19th century (the Danish Golden Age). I've made about 20 trips to Denmark since then, and was given access to watch rehearsals and classes and just generally hang around backstage and ask questions, which trebled what I thought I had known about ballet. In 1993, I began writing a biography of one of their greatest dancers and chief balletmasters, Henning Kronstam (which is still in progress) and in 1995 I started Ballet Alert!, a newsletter, as a supplement to DanceView. While DanceView covers all types of dance, Ballet Alert! is devoted just to ballet. This web site was started in August of 1997. Sorry this is so long, but people keep asking questions. More true confessions, please. alexandra [This message has been edited by alexandra (edited April 01, 1999).]
  23. Oh, welcome, Estelle! Thank you very much for posting. I have not seen Polikarpova, but had heard from several people that she is extraordinary. Hard to tell what kind of a classical ballerina she is in that repertory, but still extraordinary. I haven't seen so much of Guerin. She did a few Nikiyas in Washington. I'm sure she did a Swan Lake when the company first performed here about ten years ago, but I don't remember it! I've seen a bit of her Giselle on tape, which I thought quite beautiful, and as the Bride in L'Arlsienne, she made much of a part that I'd thought uninteresting before I saw what she could do of it. Note to everybody: I never can remember the url to Estelle's site, because it's so long, but we have a link to it on Ballet Alert's link pages, and if you've never seen it, please do. It's one of the nicest sites on the web (and my favorite, I must say, along with ballet.co) with LOTS of information on ballets and dancers. Estelle, next time you post, maybe you could put your url as a signature line for those who won't check our links page? alexandra PS: I realized, of course, as soon as I pressed "Post reply" that all you have to do is go up to the middle button that looks like a little letter at the top of Estelle's post, and you'll have her site address. Which is: http://protis.univ-mrs.fr/~esouche [This message has been edited by alexandra (edited 12-01-98).]
  24. Ed, I think it happens a lot. For a variety of reasons, great dancers outnumber great ballets, and have for at least 150 years. (The current drought is not the first.) The Royal Danish Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet have both been without a choreographer of the first rank for three times the lifespan of any American ballet company. The Royal Danes used to have a reputation of "they make bad ballets look good." They had to. They had the finest schooling, and turned out a world-class male dancer every two or three years for about 50 years. Their dancers had to learn to substitute stagecraft for choreography. In one of the interviews I've done for my book on Henning Kronstam, the dancer I was talking to was going through the roles he remembered Kronstam in, and came to one that is always mentioned as one of his "greatest hits." "That's what Henning was good at," said the dancer. "Making something out of nothing." Problem is that in companies where the artistic director doesn't have, shall we say, the finest artistic instincts, but just has to fill seats and make both performers and audiences happy, "selling" and "pandering" rather than "making something out of nothing" is often the rule. Also, there are those who cna make something out of nothing and those who can make nothing out of a great deal. alexandra [This message has been edited by alexandra (edited 11-26-98).]
  25. Yes, Giannina, but it ain't cheap. There are now dual system VCRS available over here. I don't have one, but I understand they exist. BUT you have to have a converter (from European to American electric plug, which is cheap) AND I'm not sure, but you may have to have a European-capable TV. (Of course, you can buy a PAL VCR and TV and lots and lots of cables.) alexandra who doesn't know what the letters mean, either, except they're Eurpoean for BARRIER
×
×
  • Create New...