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Ballet de Toulouse/Nanette Glushak

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In a thread on another topic, Mel Johnson wrote:


"And a note on the Toulouse company:

I believe that although Ed has said that the company acquitted itself "respectably", a lot would have to depend on Nanette Glushak as the company's director. She's a strikingly attractive and startlingly brilliant woman, and very classy, but her basic language is Classic Balanchine (nothing can convince me to use the word "old" in connection with Ms. Glushak!). Even though she worked with Tudor at ABT, and even, I think NYCB (She Wore Perfume in "Dim Lustre?"), I think her basic æsthetic is Balanchine, and at that, she is matched by only a few. Her braininess, good taste and sensibility would lead her to mount quite adequate productions of Tudor, but I think there was a slight disconnect there that might lead to less success than with Balanchine works or other neo-classics - I would love to see Toulouse do some Ashton!"


I share Mel’s very high opinion of Nanette Glushak although I have only seen her for a few minutes and that from the audience. Once when the Ballet de Toulouse pulled into town it was also the time that the Postal Service was issuing the ballerina stamps. Before the evening began a large replica of the stamp, mounted on a board, was put on stage on a stand. A local postmaster type entered and said something about the stamp, then Ms. Glushak entered. He presented her with the replica.

Ms. Glushak seemed the slightest bit nonplussed for about a millisecond, then very graciously accepted the souvenir of her trip to Michigan, spoke briefly about how pleased she was to have it and how much the company enjoyed touring in the United States and exited. She was wearing a bulky brown sweater with threads of red. It has a roll collar and the sleeves were pushed up to her elbows. Dark brown leather slacks that fit very well and brown boots with high heels. She had short dark hair in an angular cut that emphasized her cheekbones, not that they needed it. Minimal accessories—gold earrings and possibly a simple gold necklace. Did I mention the leather slacks?

She obviously didn’t expect to be called on stage and handed a large stamp mounted on a varnished board and may well have been thinking, “Where am going to stash this thing?” but was poised, gracious and briefly eloquent. It was probably a real high point for the postal official, but just another unplanned moment in what may have been a series of them, since the Ballet de Toulouse was on tour, where anything may happen.

Saying that they did “respectably” was more a reflection of the conditions under which the company was touring and performing than anything else. Looking back, the Limon presentation of “Dark Elegies”, which I saw after this one, had a greater emotional impact which is the only way I can measure a work I have seen only twice. And its emotional impact, of course, will have as much to do with the audience watching as the artist performing—possibly much more.

Ballet de Toulouse was on tour in the American upper Midwest in the middle of winter when I saw them that year. Toledo yesterday, Detroit today, Ann Arbor tomorrow, on a bus and truck tour. Different size stages, different sound systems, not much rehearsal time to correct errors that might creep in to performances. Add to that the personnel (and personal) problems that are heightened in a tour, the crummy food one tends to eat while on the road, a different motel bed almost every night and just being away from one’s home and everything that one finds familiar. And it is all in a foreign country, full of overweight people who don’t know a battement from a bumblebee. It is amazing they can get anything at all on stage.

The following year they presented “Rodeo” and (I think) an act of “Scotch Symphony”—I can’t find that program and I’m don’t know if the Balanchine Trust allows excerpts, but I recall it that way. The company seemed much more at ease, especially in the Balanchine.

This does seem to be an excellent company, led by a very talented and dynamic director. I would love to see them reviewed from their home turf. Showing once again that the French know what is important, they are prominently featured on the official site that promotes tourism is the Toulouse region.

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Here's a report from French television with Nanette Glushak rehearsing her company for a program that includes Scotch Symphony and Raymonda Variations.


On a related note, the company in Nice is presenting a program of American works this weekend, with Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, David Parsons' The Envelope and Gene Kelly's Pas de Dieux. Comments from Eric Vu-An and Claude Bessy.


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