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Who was your "first love"..as far as ballerinas go....


iczerman

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A close second is my favorite American ballerina Alicia Alonso (to me she will always be American because she made her mark on the ballet world in the U.S. and became a Prima Ballerina in an American company--my apologies to Cuba, but we saw her first).

No apologies atm711, for which this is the absolute true!!.

and BTW...it was you who I was eager to see responding on this thread... :bow:

Edited to add: Quite a gap of time from atm's experience watching Alonso-(50's...?)- to Natalia's during the 70's to myself during the 90's...The lapses are of 20 years each... :D

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Duffster, we're on the same page -- Antoinette Sibley was the first to break my heart in the theater, and I felt before I started to write that I was going to have to mention Dowell, her partner. It was like they were twins, and knew each other from the womb. Their connection was so cool, so imperturbable, and so complete, its as if there was really nobody else in the world but them, and they were expressive and legible to a degree it had never occurred to me was possible to SHOW -- you could hear it from Artur Rubenstein, but until I saw them dance I didn't realize it was possible to make music visible.

It was in Swan Lake, in I guess 1970, I first came under Sibley's spell, and it affected my own dancing -- in those days, i was just a rock and roll dancer, but at parties people would step back and watch me, sometimes, and I remember dancing to Black Magic Woman and having an out-of-body experience channeling her Odile -- it wasn't just me, my friends said so too, "WHAT was that?" Her dancing was amazingly spontaneous -- correct, and techincally brilliant, but so spontaneous, it's like she didn't know what she was going to do till she did it. It's famous now, but I saw it, when she did the fouettes she had no plan and threw in doubles ad lib, at a whim. I remember seeing Dowell's jaw drop when she did them.

That was a glorious era -- In the US then, Farrell danced very much in the moment, it's become legendary I've now seen the films, especially the amazing dances from Don Quixote where she moves like smoke..... but I didn't see the films for another twenty years.

The first Balanchine ballerina I loved was McBride -- in Tarantella. Then came Allegra Kent, In Midsummer Night's Dream. I didn't come to care about Farrell until Mozartiana, when I noticed in the video that in the finale, where there a number of steps in which she had to turn her back on the audience briefly, she'd come around the corner smiling and instantly wipe the smile off her face. This hidden inner life, and the wit in it -- not to mention the witty way she'd "sit" in fondu on the bass notes that punctuated her first variation, which I thought was a hilarious and delicate homage to Mozart's farting jokes which anyone who's read his letters will know he was addicted to -- made me rethink Farrell altogether, and suddenly she no longer seemed conceited....

Thanks for posting this question, iczerman.

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Margot Fonteyn and Maria Tallchief. Diana Adams, and much later, Suzanne Farrell. I had a flirtation with Patty McBride until Suzanne came along. Kay Mazzo figures into the equation later on, too. Oh -- I almost forgot! I was absolutely IN love with Allegra Kent!

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:D [My first memories of being taken to the ballet date back to when I was five years old, my Mother took me to see Coppelia, at the Chiswick Empire, on the outskirts of London. The company was something to do with Mona Ingsby, and my Mum told me their costumes were all darned, as it was just after the 2nd World War. As soon as the London Festival Ballet was formed by Oleg Briansky, I was taken to see them. I was really hooked, I ate, slept and did Ballet. The first Dancer I can remember as being very speical was ANITA LANDA. I followed her in great detail going to see her whenever I could. She was lovely, very musical and lyrical with dark hair and expressive large brown eyes. She danced many different roles from classical , Character and modern. Mike Davis (Davies?) the photographer featured her a lot in his work.She was also featured a lot in the childrens ballet books, The Princess Books of Ballet. her associates at LFB were Marilyn Burr, John Gilpin, Michael Hogan(her husband) Louis Godfrey, Alicia Markove, Anton Dolin to name a few. She definatly was my first favourite dancer.
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Great thread!

On TV, as a child living in a small town -- Gelsey Kirkland. I've written it elsewhere, but I didn't even register Baryshnikov in that Nutcracker as a child -- whenever she wasn't on screen, I'd wait impatiently for her to come back, and I'd try out 'her part' on our coffee table.......... The mystique continued as one of my teachers who had danced with NYCB would occasionally drop in a story about Gelsey (or Farrell)........ discovering, when I was much older, the trouble she went through (euphemism......) as a dancer broke my heart, but also somehow solidified my fascination...........

In performance, I had the opportunity to infrequently watch performances while in college, but it wasn't until I moved to England for some years that I really had the chance to fall in love again -- this time, first, with Tamara Rojo. Exquisitely beautiful -- those feet, her lines, that face, her style, her proficiency, and her commitment to performance -- she redefined ballet for me. Of course, as I watched, I added more dancers to the list, but these were my first two loves.......

As I write this, I also realize that most of my faves are short -- like me. I grew up a good 4-5 inches shorter than the next-shortest girl in class, and always thinking I was 'too short' to be in ballet -- especially as we had a good group of girls between 5'5 and 5'10!!!!!!!!

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Rojo is soooooooooo cute! She is so petite. Absolutely beautiful!!!! My first crush was not a ballerina. Donna Wood from the Ailey Company! With those big and alluringly expressive eyes! Great body! Gorgeous! And, by the way, a great dancer!

My first ballerina crush was a soloist with ABT during the late 70's. She was movie star gorgeous. Blonde. Can't think of her name! Pretty good dancer!

Some of my other crushes over the years- yes I now consider myself a dirty old man, as well as a fan- are:

Tamara Rojo....already talked about this superb and beautiful dancer.

Veronika Park....drop dead gorgeous. Dancing has improved a great deal over the past two seasons.

When I was a dirty young man........ Violet Verdy...what a looker! What a dancer!!!

Eva Evokimova....tall and regal. Not a classical beauty. Still, a very appealing lady. Great dancer. I cried when I read about her death.

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Great question! The first ballerina that I saw live that made a major impression on me was Svetlana Beriosova. I saw her in Enigma Variations, and her grace, grandeur and air of resigned dignity is something I will never forget. She was a very special dancer.

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Me too. By the time I started going to the ballet Beriosova was already the one I most wanted to see, from photographs and television appearances, and she lived up to all my expectations and is still my standard of excellence in many ways. She was lovely in Coppelia as well as in more tragic roles. (And the only time I've ever waited outside a stage door was to see her, though I would not even have dreamt of speaking to her!)

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My first true love was Toni Lander - but a couple of years later - I totally agree with Jane Simpson here - along came Svetlana Beriosova and for me she will always remain on the Mount Olympus of ballet.

Hans:- you like Altynai Asylmuratova and I couldnt agree more, she has always been a favorite of mine. Maybe because she reminds me somewhat of Beriosova. But it must be said, I have never seen AA live.

Nanarina:- Yes, I well remember Anita Landa and the LFB. Always liked her a lot and saw a lot of her too in those days.

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Alessandra Ferri....litheness and strength packaged and very expressive. Transitions from classical to contemporary with effortless ease. She pulls you in...and holds you...

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My experience is so limited that I think I still haven't got a "first love", but let me try.

If male dancers count, then Mikhail Baryshnikov be it, followed by Ángel Corella.

If not, I'm not sure. Paloma Herrera lasted me a couple of days. Natalia Osipova hooked me to ballet, she is very good but still full of promises of greatness, and since then I've realized that she is not quite technically perfect.

The only "great" ballerina that I've see dancing live up to date* is Alina Cojocaru. I've explained how she almost made me weep in Bayadère.

There is Uliana Lopatkina, also. She attracts me both for her mastery of classical ballet (IMVMHO**), for her thoughts about what ballet is, and for her carefulness in choosing roles. Seeing her dancing the Black Swan variation leads me to think that God exists, is good, and loves us.

So, cold reason tells me Lopatkina, voluble heart is split between Osipova and Cojocaru.

* At least until August, 4th, as I've got tickets for this

** In My Very Much Humble Opinion

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Without a doubt, Darci Kistler. My husband fell hard for her as well --to the point he rarely goes to the ballet with me anymore. No one has matched her for him. That's what makes both her last few years and pending retirement so heartbreaking for me. (On the other hand, I've found so many others to love. But maybe not quite as much as your first love.)

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How I wish I could cite brilliant live performance as my segue into ballet! As a teenage student in Colorado, I saw limited live performances but watched a VHS of the Makarova A&E Ballerina special almost almost every night, and it was the advanced students from the Mariinsky school and the Royal Ballet school, to be honest, who were my idols. And images of Maximova in library books. I also had a VHS of the Asylmuratova/Royal Ballet Bayadere, which I loved for Asylmuratova, secondly for Mukhamedov, and thirdly for Bussell.

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This thread makes me itch, as I can't help to come back. The thing is that, besides that first flash of dancing that forever has stayed in my memory-(Alonso's Giselle)-then I have to talk about that other type of ballet love, more mature in nature. After quite few years watching ballet, then along came Miss Lorna Feijoo, which I had the opportunity to see dancing from her very start out of the ballet school 'till the moment she defected. I must say she has left an impression in my mind and soul that no one has been able to surpass afterward...

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My great ballerina love -- first, last and always -- has been Gelsey Kirkland, even though it became a sado-masochistic attachment. Every performance, no matter her condition, left me feeling spent. A friend once described the experience like this, "Gelsey kind of beats you up and drags you around the stage with her." Her vulnerability, which seemed to be both physical and emotional, always reeled me in. When she was good, it was great. When she wasn't, it was hell. But it was always intense.

There have been other loves over the years, but only one other -- a very different ballerina type -- has come so close that I regularly compare them, at least in my mind, and that is Ashley Bouder. Not much vulnerability with her, but the connection I feel is immediate, and she's just soooo good!

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A (auto?)biography of Melissa Hayden was the first "ballet book" I ever read, and I wanted to see her live--but she had retired long before then.

The first time I saw a ballet live, I was two years old. I think it was ABT, I know it was Swan Lake, I remembered the music forever after, and fell in love with ballet, though I had no idea what it was (other then v. small people--we were in a top balcony--dancing under green/blue light, like swans--my favorite bird at the time.) But when my family returned to Japan many years later, I loved Plisetskaya for her nerve AND verve.

(In my company at the time, I remember Yoko Morishita for her elegance.)

Margot Fonteyn for herself, and because we share a birthday.

Back in the States...(ABT)

Makarova

and Ferri.

Then Kirkland, Van Hamel, Jaffe.

Then came the ten year break where I saw nobody/nothing and had to rely on memories, old videotapes, and the occasional satellite feed I caught late-night in 'master control' at work.

I never saw NYCB live until very recently so my memories are of fuzzy tapes and old PBS/DiA programs. But of course I remember SF and PMcB (whom I did see live when she did "Bugaku" with her husband in Amherst.)

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I don't know if this qualifies as a "first love" -- but Peter Martins (in Far from Denmark) writes of having seen photographs of Alicia Alonso, who was the first dancer who seemed to him "the personification of female beauty." (*)

Alonso was dancing with John Gilpin in these photos. Would this have been at London Festival Ballet? It seems to me that I recall, when I was a child, being impressed by photos of Gilpin that appeared in some sort of LFB Annual (soft-cover, large format) that my mother had. But I thought the woman was Toni Lander. Anyway, the photos WERE beautiful, and much more impressive than the limited real-life ballet I had seen up to that time.

(*) Source: Francis Mason, intro. to Steven Caras's Peter Martins: Prince of the Dance.

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Bart, checking what Martins said in Far from Denmark, it looks to me as if he loved photographs of both Alonso and Gilpin but he doesn't imply that they were dancing together. Gilpin certainly doesn't mention such a partnership in his autobiography, and I've had thought he would.

"There were two dancers whose photographic images fascinated me, and these images fixed themselves in my mind. One was of Alicia Alonso... and the other was of the English dancer John Gilpin."

I'm grateful to be reminded of Martins' admiration for Gilpin, though.

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Jane, thanks for the correction. I misread a slightly ambiguous reference in Mason's text. For a second I had fantasies of a kind of ballet history scoop: "Alonso and Gilpin, the Forgotten Partnership." :)

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My great ballerina love -- first, last and always -- has been Gelsey Kirkland ...

True for me as well...I thought of myself as an admiring fan of ballerinas before Kirkland, but--however great they were--in my heart they were Rosalind to her Juliet...

Most of the first ballet performances I saw when very young were by the National Ballet of Washington (now defunct): their leading ballerina was Marilyn Burr, then married to Ivan Nagy. And I did adore her, especially in one performance of Giselle, in which I was completely overcome by the story, living right inside of it as if it were happening before my eyes. So she should be credited as my first (live) "ballerina"...

Alla Sizova was the first ballerina I ever saw, in a film, when I was -- let's say -- very, very young. I loved her but thought that to be a ballerina you had to have golden hair as she did--which caused me some distress since I had dark hair. What a relief to see pictures of Pavlova and Fonteyn...( :wink: It turns out I lacked other attributes necessary to be a ballerina.)

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