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Alexandra

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Everything posted by Alexandra

  1. Thank you, Cristian! MERRY CHRISTMAS! and a happy holiday to everyone who reads this board, double good wishes for those who post, and a huge thank you to the Moderators and Administrators who keep this board going.
  2. I was so sorry I could not be there to see this, but I'm very grateful to those who went -- thank you all for your comments, and Jane and Eva for your beautiful pieces. Thomas Lund is certainly a fine artist -- and a very Danish one, not only because of his brilliant beats, of course, but because of his humanity and his way of becoming a character. I've known him from the time he was 15; we had a photo of him at that age in the 1992 DanceView devoted to the Royal Danish Ballet and the Bournonville Festival. One of his teachers, Margaret Mercier (who I'll bet was there for the farewell) pointed him out to me, calling him "beautiful Thomas". Teachers often know I got to know him a bit more, two years later, because he worked with Henning Kronstam the last month of Kronstam's life, and learned a lot from him. Thomas Lund had a wonderful career, and I'm very happy that he will be a guardian of the tradition he embodies.
  3. A friend emailed me this piece by the British dancer Henry Danton and asked that we post it. It's his response to press accounts of Sergei Polunin's career change, which reminded him of another young dancer. He discusses both, as well as the demons that beset young dancers. (Yes, Mr. Danton is 94 years old, and this was written a few days ago.) * * * Henry Danton was born in 1919 in Bedford, England, and danced with the International Ballet and the Sadler’s Wells Ballet before embarking on a voyage of the world after the Second World War. He was one of the original cast of Ashton’s “Symphonic Variations.” He danced in companies across Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand before becoming a teacher. At 94 years of age he lives in Mississippi where he continues to teach. Karapetyan and Polunin (alphabetical order) This is a response by an ex-dancer, and subsequently teacher, (and a Brit to boot) with many years in the profession, to Ms. Kavanagh's article relating to the Polunin bubble. While I am in disagreement with the present fashion of exposing the private lives and problems of artists in general, and dancers in particular, one must be grateful to Ms. Kavanagh for clarifying some of the aspects of this “storm in a British teacup” which was blown up way beyond its importance. In reading the details of Polunin's childhood and progress to his present status as a dancer, I am struck by the similarity of these with those of another very talented young dancer, who I have had the opportunity to observe and get to know. I first saw Avetik Karapetyan in the Varna Competition in 2010. I saw his first round appearance and was, like the other members of the audience, very impressed. Attending Elizabeth Platel's classes for the workshop, which was held in conjunction with the competition, and which Karapetyan took daily, I soon realized that I was watching a very unusual dancer. Apart from the fact that when a step or combination was being shown by the teacher, he would just watch quite motionless, sometimes sitting in a split on the floor, watching and absorbing, he would then, without any of the “rehearsals” of legs and hands most dancer do when learning a combination, deliver a perfect rendition of the steps, ever accurate, impeccable and faultless, and with a full understanding of all the implications of the step or movement. But this was not the only phenomenon. Details were added so that one finished up by thinking that one had never seen that particular step or combination done before. As the week progressed he would add his embellishment or sophisticated improvement of the steps, sometimes much to the teacher's chagrin, and usually to applause by the other dancers and those watching the class. This was never done with any sense of disrespect, rather from his innate sense of improvisation. He has since told me that he is the despair of ballet masters as they never know what he is going to do. The details of his life and progress as a dancer as I have come to know them, are strikingly similar to those of Polunin. But his reactions to circumstances have been almost always dissimilar. Like Polunin he comes from a somewhat similar “underprivileged “society, Armenia. Like Polunin, early life saw him on the streets and into street fights. Both had mothers, who in an effort to get them off the streets, put them into other activities. Polunin to gymnastics, and Karapetyan to dance. Their mothers, however, seem to have been very dissimilar. Polunin’s mother appears to have had big ambitions from an early age for her son, pushing him, and eventually, one must suppose, being responsible for him leaving for England and the Royal Ballet, for a career in what was perhaps not his choice. All of which could account for the strained relations with his mother. Karapetyan, on the contrary, in a profession that he liked, at the age of 17 made his own decision to leave Armenia, because, if he had remained he would have had to do military service for 7 years, which would have put an end to a dancing career. Both, at an early age, though about three years apart in age, find themselves out of their respective countries but in very dissimilar circumstances. . Polunin in a very secure and guaranteed situation where he can continue his studies, albeit maybe in a profession not of his choice. Karapetyan separated from his family, (who he was not to see again for seven years), alone without assistance or sponsorship, in a foreign country with only his wits to allow him to survive, But Karapetyan calls his mother regularly and frequently to ask for recipes for his attempts at cooking to maintain a healthy regime, free of stimulants. But whereas Polunin had no opportunity to choose his teachers, to like or dislike their systems, Karapetyan in his wanderings in Europe eventually was able to make his own choice of teacher. “I chose Prokofieff because I did not have good enough feet for Pestov”. His choice was particularly auspicious, as Prokofieff produced extremely strong and masculine dancers. The two dancers are quite dissimilar in physiques. Polunin tends to be longer and more stretched out, a result maybe of early gymnastics. Karapetyan is shorter, stockier, with powerful shoulders, which undoubtedly the street fighting helped to develop. These allow him to lift his partners effortlessly. His “press lift” of his partner in arabesque, makes it look like she was lifted from above, and he lowers her controlled and softly on to pointe. This a dissimilarity with Polunin, who must acquire this. With respect to their different physiques, Polunin tends to have long stretched straight legs and arms. My teacher’s eye detects Polunin’s hips that are not squared to the front, the result of a specific training which produces a different line. Karapetyan is muscular to a point which would have delighted Michelangelo, and correctly placed hips allow him always to easily and naturally assume an accordant and harmonious pose, both in the air, or on the ground It is said that clothes make the man. Maybe they also reveal something of character. There is a dissimilarity in what appeals to Polunin and Karapetyan. Polunin would appear to prefer black and loose fitting, concealing not only the tattoos that adorn his body, but also possible defects. . Karapetyan wears the least necessary, skin tight, with a preference for white, which allows every muscle tendon and sinew to be seen. His white socks are a hallmark which detail the fast accurate footwork of feet that were “not for Pestov”. Both Polunin and Karapetyan have languished for the past years in state companies, which have their advantages and disadvantages. Polunin has been presented, perhaps over-presented. too soon in his company and up till now has been known principally in the tight close circle of British Ballet. For which reason, maybe, he decided to make a change. Karapetyan, facing the hierarchy of a staid Swedish state company took the initiative and got himself out to international competitions all over the globe, where he earned medals, and is known to a different but equally elite public. Both are unusually talented young male dancers, now at a turning point in their careers, with much to be compared between them. Comparisons have been made of Polunin to Nureyev and Baryshnikov. He is now to be mentored by Zelensky. It is to be hoped that he will have a Director who will not address a recalcitrant and rebellious 22 year old as ‘’darling” and not emerge as a Nureyev-Baryshnikov-Zelensky clone. Karapetyan, I am sure, will emerge only as Karapetyan. “I just love to move and am happy if anyone watching enjoys it”. If there are as Ms. Kavanagh suggests, demons in dancers’ lives which live and belong in the darkness, there must be, by the same token, angels who live in the light. My bet will be with the angels.
  4. As far as I know, there's no anthology/collection plan in process. As you say, theyre important, but in the current climate, I think it would be very hard to get a collection of criticism published. I hope it happens some day, though.
  5. The high school photo really blew me away. The intensity! (And thank you very much for your kind words. He was a quiet presence, didn't go around making sure everyione knew all the changes he made, but he changed dance criticism, both in the way one writes and what one covers.)
  6. One more. I posted an appreciation of Kriegsman on danceviewtimes today. http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2012/09/in-appreciation-alan-m-kriegsman.html
  7. Oh, Drew, I remember that review too! It was before I was writing for the Post and before I knew him. He had been out of town and someone else had written about it and hadn't liked it. Mike came back and saw it and wrote. It was a beautiful review. (I also remember the performances. "Song of the Earth" remains my favorite MacMillan ballet.) Alastair Macaulay has an obituary in the Times today: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/arts/dance/alan-m-kriegsman-dance-critic-dies-at-84.html?_r=1
  8. This is very sad news not only for Washington, but for the dance world. His was an extremely important voice, and one thing that may be forgotten now is how he fought for dance coverage -- the Post had four part-time critics in addition to Mike Kriegsman -- and, more importantly, for dance. Before it was fashionable, he would cover all kinds of dance. He tried to cover everything -- cast changes, local companies no matter how small -- at a time when Washington had 75 dance and ballet companies. He was a force. Here's a quote from the obituary (which is quite nice, I thought): His background in music was an important part of his writing. He had an extremely sensitive ear, and he loved musical dancers, and musical choreographers. Alan Kriegsman was my mentor, and started me, at the Post, as a critic. One of the things I remember about him is how careful he was, filling notebook after notebook with ideas, outline his piece -- this took hours -- and then start typing and finish the review in about 20 minutes. Once I came back to find him writing about "Swan Lake" Now, he had seen "Swan Lake" about 500 times, but he was almost hidden by books piled up from the floor to his shoulder. "How was it?????" he asked, excitedly, about a Gerald Arpino ballet to a very contemporary score. He would have seen both, were it possible.
  9. An obituary on Horst Koegler is now available on the Dancemagazine website. The link is: http://www.dancemagazine.com/in_memoriam/4541
  10. Good question! I just assumed everyone, simultaneously My guess would be someone in England (Cyril W. Beaumont, Ninette de Valois) because a Russian would KNOW it was classical style and wouldn't have to point it out. But that is just a guess. I hope someone knows!
  11. Good question! I hadn't thought about it in the abstract, but I think I prefer the tutu -- but originally it was probably a below-the-knee tutu. It did show the leg more than the Romantic skirt, and I think that was important to Petipa's shop.
  12. He's only 80? I would have thought he was older. At any rate, he had some wonderful roles.
  13. Lots of good points -- re what is there, especially since (pace Lifar) they haven't had a great in-house choreographer since the 18th century and hence no canon (no Bournonville, Petipa, Ashton, Balanchine). yet they survive. One can say it is the School -- but the school has changed. (There's a lovely reference to the difference between the 1830s and, I suppose, the 1860s I've heard quoted from one of Bournonville's daughters' letters from Paris: "Oh, Papa, Papa! How the style has changed!" If she elaborated, no one I've found who knows the quote can tell me anything more. And yet there's something -- the self-referential style (the arms always come in to the body in turns), the precision and clarity of positions. The turn out has become more extreme, yet many of the drawings of courtiers suggest that those guys could walk into a class and be up to speed by the end of term. Re dancing an eclectic repertory: I think that dancers of the European companies who do have a style dance everything in their style. It's what they do and probably what their audience expects. You want to see Paul Taylor dance Paul Taylor? Go see it (Not saying I agree, but I think that's the view.) Nureyev said sonething when he was quite young -- it may be in the Autobiography -- that "When inspiration fails, you fall back on your technique"/[schooling]. That can become precious -- I definitely agree that Nureyev jolted them out of a long, sloppy period, and one can hope that those who worked with him remember that and pass it on.
  14. I think what goes on in the studio matters more to the company (not the audience, of course; we're always stuck with what they feed us). There are a few snippets of Hilaire's coaching on Wiseman's La Danse, and I was happy He seems to have a very good eye and was making minute corrections -- which made a huge difference. That's what I saw this week in DC, as well. There were tiny changes at each performance, and the corps on the last night was much tighter and polished than they had been opening night, when they struck many of us as dancing on a higher level than we're used to seeing. By, oh, 50 miles. I love your Catholilc Church analogy, milosr. I kept thinking all week of the Baroque, and the Church's idea of showing us Heaven in religious art, rather than "if you're not good you're going to HELL" as they had in the Middle Ages. Ballet is a Baroque art form, still, it seems -- or can be -- even in a Romantic ballet. It can show us what we CAN be, rather than what we're stuck with in real life. That said, the dancers can be wonderful in contemporary works (although I take your point about classical dancers overwhelming a modern piece, or carefully, lovingly straightening out every single broken line until there's nothing left of it.) A bunch of critics and long time fans were discussing the company all week -- was it this strong in the 90s? Why was this the best thing we'd seen (for those under 40) or the best thing we'd seen in 20, 30 years? I think it might be that 20 years ago (the last time they were in DC) there wasn't such a gap between POB and other companies. We've been complaining about slippage of values, technique, etc. for ages, but when you're confronted by the standards that so many companies, including major companies, have lost or tossed -- it's a shock. Anyway, back to your poll, I think they should do other work as long as they can dance their core classical repertory at this level. I wish there were new classical choreographers (and some are emerging) but they've found a way to dance "ballet modern" in a satisfying way. i will say, re that interview, I wish LeFevre would stop being embarrassed, at least in print, that the company is well schooled. "We are not a company for purists!" Oh, yes you are.
  15. I didn't see Friday, Simon, but heard about it. I will say the people I know who were there were still happy they went. On Sunday, though, she seemed to be very "on". Hoffalt started the entrechats quite late -- I think he did about 10. But for me, the company was so obviously NOT doing tricks -- no high extensions, but rather soft, low Romantic ones consistent with the style of the work, no 540s.... so I didn't feel cheated.
  16. I can't fairly elaborate because it's not my comment, but something someone said to me -- actually, wrote me afterwards There were quite a few things, a few of which I pointed out in my review, small bits of mime, and the clarity of the miming, that made the story more clear -- Giselle interrupting Myrtha's curse in Act II , the mother's mime scene explaining the curse of the Wilis in the first act. Here's a link to another, more detailed review, than mine by Oksana Khadarina for dance tabs: http://www.dancetabs...lle-washington/ Re your anxiety -- I'm sorry! I can't help. I do have a few friends who were not looking forward to it and wanted to see the company in a ballet we don't see here so frequently, but were very glad they went. But...who knows? There used to be a man who went to every single performance here, back in the '70s and '80s. He had a stop watch and wrote down the timings for every act. Someone asked him once why he came every night, you've seen this stuff over and over, and he said, "Because you never know which one will be the best."
  17. I loved this "Giselle" -- saw three performances (Opening night, Saturday and Sunday matinees). I have a review on danceviewtimes: http://www.danceview...ed-to-life.html It's interesting that a couple of friends of mine who've seen the company in Paris were surprised at my reaction, but it's not a unique one. (And two friends who see the company in Paris quite a bit were surprised that I was surprised because what I wrote is what they feel generally.) There were quite a few people who came up to me at intermission sputtering (as we all were) trying to find another way to say, "This is the best thing I've ever seen," or "I've seen I can't count the number of "Giselles" and this is the first time the story made sense," etc. Other views welcome!
  18. This was indeed sad and shocking news. I've been surprised at how much coverage there has been -- a big segment on The NewsHour last night, half the program on Piers Morgan. Very grateful for that coverage, of course -- Nora Ephron was such an important voice.
  19. Thank you, vrs. Here's an obituary that ran in the Guardian today. There was also one in the Times, but you can't see it unless you're a subscriber. (A friend wrote to say that the woman with her back to us in the photo is Queen Elizabeth.) http://www.guardian..uary?MP=twt_fd Editing to add: if it seems odd that an obituary is written by the subject's spouse, Judith Cruickshank is also a London dance critic, and, along with her husband, has long written the obituaries of major figures in dance.
  20. Jane Simpson has put up a lovely appreciation of John Percival here: http://www.dancetabs.com/2012/06/john-percival-1927-2012-a-personal-appreciation/
  21. Ratmansky's "Cinderella" (which the Mariinsky brought her a few years ago) is quite contemporary and Somova may well be perfect for it. (Not writing that to start yet another fight about Somova by any means, just wanting people to not expect a traditional production.)
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