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Lynn Seymour


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I checked out some videos with different ballets in my library. Today I wached Giselle with Rudolf Nuriev as Albrecht and Lynn Seymour as Giselle, and corps de ballet of the Bavarian State Opera House. It was taped in 1979.

My question is: Is Lynn Seymour a little bit plump for a balerina? I could not see a single muscle on her back or arms. Is it the way it should be, or was she really overwaight?

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I think that video was shot when both Seymour and Nureyev were past the first bloom of youth. Some did consider Seymour plump; she is also rather short. Others found her an ideal Romantic ballerina. I think she battled a weight problem throughout her career, though -- lots of injuies and time off for them, too.


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Seymour danced what is basically the girl in green in Dances at a Gathering (though the British verison divided up the roles a bit differently), and after all these years, I can still see her whenever I watch the ballet. No one has ever done the little ethnic touches (tossing the head, or the arm movements) as gracefully or as roundly. And she was so funny in the walking scene, and in her solo.

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Years and years ago, Lynn Seymour danced a Giselle with Ivan Nagy, as a guest with ABT. I decided not to go, since Seymour had never impressed me as a brilliant dancer. Stupid me. Several friends told me it was one of the best they'd ever seen. Oh well...

Isn't there a film of her doing Ashton's "Six Dances in the Manner of Isadora Duncan" (I think I have the name wrong)? She was heartbreaking in that.

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Seymour did have problems with her weight all through her career, but even at her slimest she always had a rounded, very feminine body. I don't think she was particularly short - about the same height as Antoinette Sibley who was her contemporary. In the UK at least Alexandra, she was thought of as a dramatic, rather than a romantic dancer, and McMillan used this aspect of her dancing in roles like Anastasia and Marie Vetsera in his Manon. Ashton made the Isadora Duncan waltzes for her in 1975, to dance at a gala in Hamburg. Barishnikov appeared on the same programme, dancing with Seymour in Spectre de la Rose (he wore plain white tights, but she wore Fonteyn's costume for Spectre). On that same programme Barishnikov also danced the pas de trois from Le Pavillion d'Armide. The Isadora number was such a success that the following year Ashton added two? extra numbers and it became Five Brahms waltzes in the manner of Isadora Duncan. That same year Ashton made the role of Natalya Petrovna in A month in the country for Seymour, and I think it was the last thing she danced with the Royal Ballet. I've never seen anyone dance that role better than she did.

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Alymer, I agree that she was a dramatic dancer, but I'd also make a plea that she was a great Romantic one. Isn't that what Ashton saw in her for "The Two Pigeons?" I always thought she would have been an ideal Bournonville Sylphide or Teresina.

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One of the things that attracted Ashton to Seymour, I think, was exactly her physique and her tendency to plumpness - he described Isadora Duncan as 'small, round, feminine, voluptuous. She was round, appealing - everything I thought, and think, dance should be'. Also Seymour's feet reminded him of Pavlova's - than which he knew no greater compliment.

Although Seymour was such a wonderful dramatic dancer, I think we lost a lot when she became so closely associated with tragedy. She rarely got a chance to show her sense of humour, and people tend to forget how beautiful her actual dancing was - she was so fluid, as if boneless, and almost seemed to melt into the music.

If I remember rightly, incidentally, Seymour did the Brahms Waltzes - or some of them at least - at the Met Gala in the 80s, which some people have on video.

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Ah, words. They are hard. Someone could argue that Juliet (depending on the version) was a "lyrical" role, while a dramatic role would be Tudor's Hagar or Ashton's Natalya Petrovna. (I'm not offering this to dispute what Leigh wrote, just to point out that there are so many words with so many different shades of meaning.)

I'll bet that closer to Fokine's day, each of those three leading "sylphs" was a different genre. And speaking of sylphs....Bouornonville considered his La Sylpide a classical role, as opposed to demicaractere (Teresina in Napoli) and let it go out of repertory when he didn't have a classical ballerina. The great Danish ballerina Margot Lander (the 30s and 40s) was heralded in Giselle and Coppelia, but never danced the Sylphide. I asked why once, and was told, "she had a gimmick in her eye."

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited February 22, 2000).]

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Dance for the Camera: The Reunion

"Artist film-maker, Jayne Parker’s collaboration with choreographer Ian Spink of Second Stride fame is an elegeic and deceptively simple film, shot in an empty theatre. Featuring Lynn Seymour, one of the greatest and most expressive ballerinas of the 60s and 70s, the film reunites her with Donald Macleary her ballet partner of 30 years earlier. Their careers went in separate directions and the narrative echoes the formative moment of their meeting and the subsequent long absence."


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