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Will the Real MYRTHA Please Stand Up........?

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Mu ultimate Myrtha, again probably because it was one of the first ones I saw, was Deanne Bergsma of the Royal Ballet. She was tall and absolutely gorgeous is a very exotic way so she looked like a magical creature. Certainly not vulnerable, though. She was also my ultimate Lilac Fairy.

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Hey, Cargill, I loved Bergsma too - the thing I remember the most were her entry bourees - it looked as though there was a layer of air between her and the floor. And I agree with you about her Lilac Fairy, too. I also have extremely fond memories of a Bolshoi dancer, Maya Samokhvalova, as Myrtha. She had the most amazing jump ever. She just seemed to sit in the air.

BTW, and somewhat off topic, for those of you in NYC, besides whatever she may be dance-wise these days Martine Van Hamel has taken up choral singing. She's a member of the New York Choral Society. They have a concert coming up in May in Carnegie Hall. (NOT promoting my own thing, Alexandra - although I'll confess that my husband is in the choir.) wink.gif

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THe conversations on board are so exhilarating to read... I was especially moved by Leigh Witchell's description of his great Myrtha (whose name i'm going to have to go back and re-read...) but hte feeling he gave of her being a creature of hte air flying in over the rest sets my soul on fire....

It's a great jumping role, and there's nothing we can do about the loss of elevation in the women's technique except to jump up adn down and make a commotion when somebody comes along who gets the ballet back up into hte air. Karsavina in one of her books made a big point about Giselle's ballotte as a step of ELEVATION -- it's not about a high extension at hte end of hte jump, but a double passe unbelievably high off the ground that rocks back and forth like a buouy....

I did see Monica Mason dance Myrtha back in 1969, and she made a bigger impression on me than sibley and Dowell did as hte lovrs -- she was awe-inspiring. Mason had a capacity for hte objective, she could make you feel you were looking at Fate, something that was indifferent to questions of person... so everyting she did had the force of the inevitable.... her face, it's true, had glittering-eyed cold fury in it (I think she turned upstage to blink), but her dancing was tempered by this other, actually more frightening quality --

she had many other qualities, but when called on, she could deliver this one..... she could have danced for Pina Bausch...... Derek Rencher could deliver a tremendous power in character roles -- his von Rothbart was similarly as much a force of nature as a character..... he was like the pull of gravity, he didn't have to do anythingg except wait you out..... when Von Rothbart put the whammy on Odette, her personal force drained out of her...... these are the sorts of things that actors practice in their exercises, and the Royal BAllet was -- rather had been -- a part of the Old Vic Theater company; it made the Royal Ballet in those days rather like a modern dance company (the Capulet men danced with tremendous weight in the ball scene of MAcmillan's Romeo and Juliet -- Rencher danced Tybalt)

Mason was also wonderful in Dances at a Gathering...... wonderful wonderful


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I worked with Terekhova and Berejnoi at Boston Ballet last summer. They were very good for the dancers and I enjoyed having the opportunity to learn from their coaching.

I know her Kitri is captured on video. Is her Myrtha available on video?

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I would have loved to see Mason's Myrtha; her Carabosse was so wonderful smile.gif Myrtha must have been on the same path. I also miss the weight of the Royal Ballet character dancers (the Bolshoi, too, if what we saw in DC last year was representative of the company.) I think ballet needs both weight and air to work. If it's just air, just lightness, and there's no contrast, then the lightness can seem merely lightweight. I'm sure Mason's Myrtha was not at all lightweight.

Paul's comment on the jumps makes me want to sneak in another plug for Mette-Ida Kirk, who had a lovely jump, and added an element of the demonic to her portrayal. A Myrtha with a big jump AND epaulement -- now, that's a Myrtha.

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Speaking of JUMPS, well, maybe this belongs on a different thread, but...... Gloria Govrin used to do double saut de basque and entrechat-DIX, you guys. In his class, Balanchine would have her stand next to D'AMboise and say "jump as high as he does," or sometimes "jump as high as SHE does......" SHe told me so.

[ February 25, 2002: Message edited by: Paul Parish ]

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Obviously, Big Glo was a lost Myrtha
Oh, indeed, Alexandra!

How wonderful it would have been to see Gloria Govrin dance Myrtha!!! If only Balanchine had done Giselle...... (now I'm deliciously musing about who would have danced the other roles....)

I would also have wanted to see Volochkova's Myrtha. For those who did see it, I wonder ... did it suit her as well as I imagine it must have?

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So good to see this wnderrful thread come back to life.

Terekhova is a magnificent artist -- what skill, and what imagination.I wish I'd seen her Myrtha.

But Mette-Ida Kirk; my God!!

In hte last year I've seen some videos of her dancing that thrilled me so my bones sang. She was an amazing creature -- like the return of spring, like winter ice breaking up, the spring in her was so exciting. There used to be a little whippet in hte cottage at the front who as a young dog sprang around the yard like nothing I'd ever seen before, except maybe a Wili. If Myrtha can have that quality, like a flame leaping around a log, , you believe this is supernatural -- or if not supernatural, then an archetype of the eternally natural, the hidden thing that in ordinary life we don't see but that underlies everything.

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Just finished (again), watching my well-worn copy of ABT's Giselle and, of course, Martine van Hamel was wonderful as Myrtha. At some point last night, I started thinking about the recent thread on Cynthia Gregory, where there were a few interesting comments about her performances as Giselle. What I would like to know is; did Gregory ever dance the role of Myrtha? If so, did she come across better as Myrtha than she did as Giselle?

Robert LaFosse once described Gregory as the most chilling Siren he ever danced with in Prodigal, so I think I could picture her as Myrtha as well.

van Hamel is often praised (and rightly so), for her strong performances as Myrtha - who else do YOU feel was, or is now, effective in that role (or is van Hamel pretty much the "ultimate"?)

Who was dancing Myrtha the last time that ABT was performing Giselle?

A very good one nowadays is for sure Marianela Nunez. She has expression,jump,turn,very strong technique.You can appreciate her in the dvd of Giselle with the Royal Ballet. Alina Cojocaru is a wonderful Giselle,too. The best Giselle ever now. My three favourite Giselle are actually: Fracci,Ferri and Cojocaru!:-)

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Maria Alexandrova: she IS Myrtha.

She has a commanding stage presence and impose herself in such a noble and authoritative way that it leaves no doubts on who is the Queen and why.

Her powerful dancing, supported by her clean but eloquent technique, gives to the role a dimension of grandiosity that is beautifully matched by her acting.

The first time I saw her entering on stage launched in imperious grand jetes and with the music going up, I was almost scared and willing to escape from my seat! :)

She can just stand in a corner and you can "feel" her: she is motionless and when she just closes her eyes, without moving any other muscle of her face or her body, the air immediately vibrates of her indignation and her hardly controlled interior fury at the sight of Giselle's rebellion, so offensive to her. When I saw it live, it was almost impossible to move the eyes from her even when Giselle (and it was Lunkina!!!) and Albrecht were dancing the main pdd: her presence was so strong to remain the focal point, and the story was more "Myrtha defeat" then "Giselle saves Albrecht".

Maybe Lunkina, as wonderful as she is, is too delicate and the only Giselles that nowadays can match Alexandrova's Myrtha are Osipova, because of her not-that-much-Giselle energy, and, at a higher and incomparable level, Alina Cojocaru, whose Giselle has such a vibrating and perceivable soul and such a spiritual strength that can face without fear or hesitation the physical and institutional power of her Queen.

Alexandrova's Myrtha, in my opinion, is a must to see. :)

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My Myrtha was and always will be one of the four Cuban "Jewels": Miss Aurora Bosh. She OWNED the role for almost 50 years in Cuba. Her demeanor onstage was just that of total COMMAND. While actively dancing, she was the tallest of them all, and she could easily outshine the best Giselle in a given performance, a traditional thrill that seems to be getting lost. In the next clip Miss Bosh was very close to retirement, and her technical abilities were somehow diminished, but boy could she own a night like nobody else...! Her Myrtha wasn´t a suffering broken heart being...hers was a pure malignant entity, ready to destroy everything on her path. I was lucky to be in this very performance in 1991, during that multiple all-Principals memorable Giselle, and can testify that she was one of the highlights of the night.

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