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Other Dances

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Other Dances was choreographed by Jerome Robbins for Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It (1976) followed two larger-scale Chopin piano ballets Dances at a Gathering (1968) and In the Night (1970). It was one of the few pieces choregraphed for Makarova, who rued publicly that she wished choreographers would do pieces for her. There were some wonderful photographs of the ballet by Max Waldman that were made into posters, and just about every ballet fan I knew in college had one of them. Here's a link to one of them:


I've seen the ballet nine times in total, eight at NYCB, and once at ABT (1985) with Susan Jaffe and Robert LaFosse, with Paul Connelly the pianist. Over half of the performances were with Kyra Nichols, partnered by Sean Lavery, La Fosse, and Damien Woetzel, spanning a decade. Nichols was stylistically and physically different than Makarova in just about every way, and her performances were the benchmark for me. A performance with Heather Watts that I saw in 1985 contrasted in approach, but it was her partner Ib Andersen's performance in the Baryshnikov role that stood out for me.

One of the highlights of seeing the ballet was hearing Jerry Zimmerman play the work at all NYCB performances I saw. I believe he was one of the great Chopin interpreters of the late 20th century.

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Makarova and Baryshnikov were filmed and it was shown on television. The library at Lincoln Center has it. This is the entry;

Telecast on WNET-TV's Dance in America series on February 20, 1980.

Credits Writer, Tobi Tobias; lighting and art director, Ralph Holmes.

Note Narration: Michael Tolan.

Contents Jerome Robbins coaches Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov and is interviewed by Tobi Tobias at a rehearsal for Other dances -- Performance before a live audience of Other dances / choreography, Jerome Robbins; music, Frédéric Chopin; set design, Rouben Ter-Arutunian; costumes, Santo Loquasto; lighting, Jennifer Tipton; performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova. First duet: mazurka, op. 17, no. 4; Baryshnikov's first solo: mazurka, op. 41, no. 3; Makarova's first solo: waltz, op. 64, no. 3; Baryshnikov's and Makarova's second solos: mazurka, op. 63, no. 2; last duet: mazurka, op. 33, no. 2.

Peter Martins coaches Heather Watts and Ib Andersen for Calcium light night and is interviewed by Tobi Tobias in a rehearsal theater -- Performance of Calcium light night / choreography, Peter Martins; music, Charles Ives (The see'r; The new river; Incantation; Ann Street; Calcium light night; At sea; Gyp the Blood or Hearst!? Which is worst?!; and Hallowee'n), original stage design, Steven Rubin; performed by Heather Watts and Ib Andersen.

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I, too, saw it at the Opening Night City Center Gala with Ferri and Corella. I don't remember the performance too well. However, subsequently I paid a visit the NYPL and found a recent ABT tape of Other Dances (ca. 2000) with Ferri and Bocca, which took my breath away. I thought it was simply perfection. They performed it with so much abandon. When they walk on stage together holding hands in complete silence looking at eachother...well, that'd be worth the price of the whole ticket for me :-). From what I understand they've danced this piece together since 1990, and it really shows. Both are extremely musical, and their movements are so liquidy. Bocca's first solo is extremely funny, the second beautiful, as if he was painting a memory. Ferri is best in the second, slower solo. Both get the folkloric-esque part of it so well, and their rapport is just so affecting. Ferri is very feminine and Bocca very affectionate.

Permission is required to view this, but it is very easy to acquire; ask the Librarian for more information.

I will be back at the library soon to watch Makarova and Baryshnikov since it was created on them. :-)

I wonder if NYCB would consider it for their repertoire any time soon...does anyone know when the last time they danced it was?

Anyway, I'd love to hear about more recollections of this ballet. Has anyone seen Makarova and Baryshnikov live? Or anyone else :-)

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I have seen this performed by ABT and NYCB. At the latter, Stephanie Saland danced it with Damian Woetzel. The role suited her earthy personality to a tee. Heather Watts was another frequent interpreter.

Gelsey Kirkland danced it for ABT with Robert LaFosse. An earlier, abbreviated performance of hers (with Baryshnikov?) was televised at the opening of the Wang Center. It's possible that the Library has that in its collection. If so, it would be well worth seeking out. Each dancer did only one variation. :tomato:

The last time I saw Ferri and Bocca perform OD (before 2000, I'm pretty sure), I was very disappointed. Ferri's dancing seemed calculated and lacking in real feeling. "Abandon" was sorely wanting. I'm glad she recaptured it for the performance that will be seen by future generations. :)

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This was one of the first ballets I saw NYCB perform, in a performance with Barishnikov and McBride in Chicago in '79. I was relatively new to the ballet and still learning what to look for but eager to see the great Barishnikov, and I remember being somewhat underwhelmed. The performances of this ballet I cherish in memory are those by Jaffe and Bocca.

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I like "Other Dances," and think it's a beautiful glossary of Baryshnikov and Makarova's Russian-ness, but I have much the same response to it that I read once about "Once Again, Frank" (the duet that Twyla tharp made for herself and Baryshnikov) -- that it's performed very close in, more for the dancers than the audience.

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