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Crying at the ballet

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Reviewing NYCB's "Four Voices" program, Alistair Macaulay says he cried at two of the ballets: Wheeldon's "Carousel (A Dance)" and Mr. B's "Sonnambula." I always cry at the latter. (One look at Paul Kolnik's stunning photo of Kistler and Hubbe in today's NY Times and I almost teared up again). Macaulay considers these lachrymose reactions "cause for celebration," and I agree with him. I always used to cry at Balanchine's "Don Quixote," and did again at every performance of Farrell's revival two years ago. I may have brought up this subject in the past, but I think it's time for another good cry. What always makes you weep at the ballet? No wise guy answers, please.

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I didn't cry for Tuesday night's Sonnambula, but I did feel a lump form in my throat. Tears welled up for yesterday's Bayadere matinee.

One thing that always gets to me is a beautifully danced Rose Adagio. It doesn't matter who the dancer is--if it's done well, I'm overcome with emotion. The combination of the music along with everything I love about ballet is summed up in that single moment.

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Not actual "crying," but I have had feelings exactly like those described by Old Fashioned.

The only time this happens over plot issues is in Swan Lake and (rarely) at the end of Giselle. Thinking about it, the crucial factor seems to be sudden awareness of a connection between movement and feeling that overpowers me. It also happens during a particularly beautiful Rose Adagio.

It only happens in live performance.

Usually I am responding to some quality, of deep intensity, of movement, or some exceptionally beautiful linkage of movement, dancer, and music. I find myself thinking: "Thank God, there are artists like this. And that I am here to see it."

I feel something similar occasionally at opera and classical theater, but never as powerfully as at ballet.

This season, it's happened three or four times. One was Haiyan Wu bourreeing backwards into the wings but holding Albrecht in her gaze for as long as possible, bending her torso slightly forward toards him ... until tkhe connection was lost, the eyes became blank, the torso moved back to the erect, and then she was gone. Another was during a surprisingly lyrical performance of pas de deux in Agon, when I suddenly remembered in great detail my feelinsg seeing it for the first time almost 50 years go..

And one was not ballet at all. It was the chance to discover qualities of movement I'd never seen or imagined before, during an all-Ravel program of the Pascal Rioult Dance Company

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Isn't it refreshing to have a critic who can cry not once but twice during a performance? Wow! Not jaded!

I used to cry fairly often at the ballet. I don't think I ever would have cried during the Wheeldon Carousel, but that does not mean I can't be moved by Broadway-inspired ballets. One of my more reliable tear triggers was the "Somebody Loves Me" section of Who Cares?, the upbeat female quintet. Go figure! :thumbsup:

The last Liebeslieder Walzer of the winter season -- which was also Miranda Weese's last Liebeslieder -- was the first time I cried during that ballet. Not for Miranda's imminent departure (she's a dancer I've admired more than loved), but for the remarkable intimacy the cast created among themselves. The dancers were portraying people who all seemed to have had long lived relationships of family and community with each other.

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For me it was always at the starburst figure and ascension at the end of the shorter Apollo. It may have had to do with the fact I was living in a apartment next to Russ and Daughters at Houston & Allen (not terribly fashionable then) and would soon have to take the pungent F train back to my dreary quarters and leave all of the Apollonian glory behind.

I didn't cry at Carousel (a dance) this year here in San Francisco, but I was quite moved by it. It is the best Wheeldon I've seen so far, his most Balanchine-like ballet, perhaps because of way the leads are kept apart by the corps.

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A question: do you have the same or similar responses to dance on video as to live performance?

The only videos I cry at are of performances and performers I can no longer see live. Two examples:"Robert Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze," and, of course, "Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse," at which I cry every time.

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I was about to reply "Oh, no! Of course I never cry during videos!" But FF's reply above helped me remember the Allegra Kent section of the film "Six Balanchine Ballerinas." Her story and her dancing both affected me deeply.

A mutual friend introduced me to Allegra Kent just one or two days after the broadcast. Because of the freshness of the emotions aroused by the film, I was tongue-tied.

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I cry during second movement Barocco. It's almost a healing cry, a sort of washing away of worries, tensions and feelings of inadequacy that plague at my peace of mind. That music and those steps are better than any drug! :wink: And I always cry at Davidsbundlertanze. Does anyone else cry at the end of Prodigal Son as the father lovingly cradles his grown and broken son in his arms? God that gets to me everytime! :(

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Perhaps we should divide our various responses into categories:

Major Blub: uncontrollable, noisy and totally embarrassing displays

Lesser Blub: not so noisy but a 3 kleenex experience

Minor Blub: noiseless but wet; 1 kleenex

Welling Up: the most common manifestation, occasionally accompanied by a small hiccup.

Try to sit far away from me during retirement performances. I may have to buy out the house if they hold a Hubbe farewell as that will be a Major Blub Deluxe.

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Me Too, Perky -- the adage in Barocco.

The end of Prodigal Son.

The first time I saw Symphony in C, San Francisco Ballet was performing in Berkeley, and Betsy Erickson made me cry in the adagio. Same place Allegra makes me cry, when she swoops idown into that penchee arabesque and goes round the corner.

The end of Dido and Aeneas -- last time I saw it, here in Berkeley, with Morris as Dido, retreating one step forward, 2 steps back, 1 step forward, 2 steps back, until she exited through the slit in the curtian center stage. Audible.

The end of Swan Lake totally destroyed me, Dowell and Sibley.

I found myself kvelling in Aurora's last variation, to hte violin solo, when Joanna Berman danced it in SanFrancisco, when she started corkscrewing her wrists started doing that Russian dnace on pointe

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The end of "Dances at a Gathering" does it for me. And the Act I curtain for Giselle. And yes, the right Act II curtain, too - major blub. And I can cry at proper apotheoses in Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, too.

My dislike for Balanchine's Don Quixote should be well-known by now, but when he mixed biblical imagery or religious tradition, as the servant girl drying the old man's feet with her hair, or Dulcinea crowned on an eminence, the Queen of Heaven, those things catch me hard at the throat.

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The only time at the ballet was McBride in 'Liebeslieder Walzer' in 1985. At opera, only 'Die Meistersinger' (Bernd Weikel's singing) production at Met in 1995. In dance, Virginie Mycene as the Bride in 'Appalachian Spring' in April, 2005 at City Center with the live orchestra made me cry nearly uncontrollably, and recently Audra McDonald's wrapping up '110 in the Shade' with all that infectious happiness as the rain came down onto the stage brought me to tears.

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So far, openings, closings, and adagios seem to be in the lead. Thanks, all, for helping me fill in some of the blank spaces in my memory.

The diagonal line of women at the start of Seranade -- and the end of Dances at a Gathering, with the dancers gazing silently at the sky -- have always seemed to me two versions of the same feeling. And they both choke me up.

With Seranade, the emotion is one of anticipation: I can hardly wait for the dancers to move; and indeed they do, rushing away so that the ballet can begin.

In Dances, the feeling is valedictory: I don't want the final image ever to end.

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Gelsey's mad scene in Giselle w'/ Barysnikov when ABT had a season at the Uris theatre ( not sure what the current name of the theatre now) in the 70's and M Van Hamel- P Bissel's 4th act of the Blair-staging of Swan Lake at the Met.

I don't recall of "crying" lately but the end of La Bayadere with Nikiya guiding Solor up the stairs to heaven always leaves a lump in my throat.

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Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream: When Helena walks weeping across the stage and plucks the leaf Puck holds out to her to dry her tears, while all the little fireflies flutter sorrowfully – and apparently unperceived -- around her. Chokes me up every single time. Even in video. No matter who’s dancing.

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Super-deluxe-major-blub: David Bintley's Cyrano; David Nixon's Madame Butterfly

Major Blub - Sir Frederick Ashton's "Two Pigeons" although a performance in Birmingham with Nao Sakuma and Robert Parker went absolutely off the scale! - do other people cry at happy ballets as well as sad ones?

Major Blub - NBT's current Romeo and Juliet; some BRB performances of Macmillan's R&J (especially Sadler's Wells October 2006 - Ambra Vallo and Chi Cao - I was crying almost as much as the dancers at the curtain calls!)

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I seldom cry but choke up at the end of Serenade, at the brief moment in Liebeslieder where the dancers are locked in a circle, and then in the late 2nd part pdd which I don't know how to describe, but Patty McB and Bart Cook performed, and believe it or not, the closing of the first part of Symphony in 3 Movements, where that beautiful wave of arms slides up the line of women.

However, at the Seminar on Lincoln Kirstein on Monday night, I teared up just as I had the night it happened when they showed the clip of the 80th birthday celebration.

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