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


iczerman

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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!)

I knew Svetlana very well, she was a lovely person, and would speak to you in a quiet Lithuanian accent, her father Nicholas Beriosov had been involved with Ballet as well, but she never mentioned her Mother.

I always remember her dancing in Antigonie, wearing a bright red dress which was cut on an angle across her legs, she looked stunning. As Odile/Odette she was really beautiful with her Russian style of dancing. She would have spoken to you at the stage door, even though she was a little shy, but friendly. She often danced with Donnie Mc Cleary, and they made a superb partnership.

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My first ballet love was in the late '70's seeing Suzanne Farrell dance in Vienna Waltzes. Her solo and duet with Adam Luders in Der Rosenkavalier was magical. Farrell's beauty, charisma and stage presence projected all the way to the top balcony. I wish her performance on Live From Lincoln Center was made available on dvd.

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This is a terrific thread! I loved reading others' replies about Patricia McBride and Villella in The Nutcracker. I only saw it once as a young teenager but loved it and thought about it for years afterwards. I had the chance to see McBride dance only once in Jewels. Also loved that. So, she was the first ballerina that I really noticed and found breathtaking.

I was a rabid Nureyev fan in the 60's and 70's but I was also one who did not "get" Fonteyn. I am grateful for this website for showing me that others felt the same way. I saw them dance together twice, and I always felt that I wanted to see him dance with someone else but never had the chance to see that in a live performance. Thankfully for videos and DVD's, I have seen several of his performances, some very brief, with other ballerinas, and the pairing that impressed me most was Alla Sizova. Her technique, especially her ballon (am I using the right word?), or buoyancy, was amazing. I would have loved to have seen her in person, or even a longer performance on DVD.

Now that I'm able to get to NYC more often I enjoyed Nina Ananinashvili. I saw her farewell performance at the Met and am sorry I won't see her again. For sheer all around technique and acting ability, she was superb. Now I'm looking forward to seeing more of Gillian Murphy. Even though her acting ability is sometimes lacking, I enjoy her athleticism and the power of her movement.

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I have never really been in a position to acquire a 'first love', if by that we mean one from our early days. Having said that, the ballerina who first struck me most forcibly by her amazing physical presence and expressiveness was Sylvie Guillem at the Royal Opera Gala first night. I dare say that at the end of my life (not as far off as I would like), I will be saying that she was my first real love. I saw her only a couple of days ago in a TV documentary, and while watching it, recalled that all too brief snatch from Manon at the Royal Opera, and got some very watery eyes - again.

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That would have to be Éthéry Pagava, whom I saw (in the fifties) in classes of Ana Ilic at Studio Wacker in Paris. She exhibited, what appeared to me, to be the ideal Platonic classical pirouette, done at whatever speed to chose to do it in. Slow, fast, no matter. Her lyrical style was ravishing.

For me she stood as the epitome of the dancer's use of the body as a medium of aesthetic content.

She was, at the time, a leading member of a pick-up company led by Milorad Miskovitch, preparing for a European tour.

I saw a guest performance of the company with Pagava the following year at the German theatre where I had a contract, but nothing gave me the pleasure of seeing Pagava at close view in class.

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I’d have to reverse engineer the first ballerina question because, sort of like Helene and SanderO early on in this thread, I stumbled into ballet through bits glimpsed and there on television.

A solo Villella did on a black and white tv (an ancient Hoffmann or a Dumont) skirting all the cardinal points of the stage was so clean and clear that it really changed he way I thought about ballet, but unhappily I didn’t follow up on this insight until years afterward.

That ballet was an wondrous articulation machine, Shakespearean in its compass, compacted with sweets, I learned from Balanchine (in cheap 5th ring seats at NY State Theater) and Balanchine led to Petipa.

I probably could have been led in the ballet door by Melissa Hayden in Stars & Stripes or Maria Tallchief in Pas de Dix or even in her crisp Chopiania, but not Swan Lake -- or Diana Adams, more than Allegra Kent, in the dangerous Agon. (Agon would have changed everything for me.) Margot Fonteyn would have been too slow and devout (except for Facade) and I would have fixed on how much she look like Princess Margaret.

A first hand studio class experience though, like chiapuris's with Éthéry Pagava, might have done the trick.

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Ekaterina Maximova in the Toreador scene from Zefferelli's 1982 film of La Traviata: the devilment in her eyes and the quality of her acting captivated me 27 years before I learnt how good a dancer she was, or indeed who she was. There is still nothing that raises my spirits so quickly as that exuberant and far too short scene.

Alina Cojocaru's was the first interpretation of Giselle I saw (I'm truly a latecomer), and now after seeing Ulanova, Alonso, Ferri, Mezentseva, and Zhakarova I can't decide between Alina and Alessandra Ferri, so I study them both tirelessly.

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I'm still very new to ballet, but the dancers I've been particularly taken by are Obraztsova, Vishneva, Guillem, Osipova and Nikulina. It's very depressing, however, that without youtube I wouldn't have been exposed to their art as I live in a country where major companies seldom tour (it's as if the world ends at the equator). Obraztsova is the one I'm keenest on, I'd love to see her Juliet live but I doubt that'll ever happen.

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I've done ballet for many many years, but I never had a favorite ballerina until I moved to San Francisco. The first time I saw Yuan Yuan Tan of San Francisco Ballet I fell in love. And the more I see her the stronger the love grows. She has such gorgeous arms and legs and can move them in such a way that it looks beautifully foreign. She's not just a contemporary dancer though. She has wonderfully strong classical technique, but not just that, She can act!!! A talent that I find is way too underrated in the ballet world today. Her Giselle brings me to tears every time and her Odette/Odile is so well done people have actually thought that it was two separate people. She's a wonderful dancer with a spectacular gift. If you ever have the chance to see her I highly recommend it.

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This is such a great thread that I'm only seeing for the first time.  Perhaps we can get it going again.  My very very first love or role model was Cynthia Harvey in Don Q with Baryshnikov.  To this day she will still be my favorite Kitri.  The camera got such great close ups of her sassy facial expressions.  Then I saw her in the ABT mixed bill in both Les Sylphides and Paquita.  If I hadn't seen Cynthia first, it would be Gelsey Kirkland or Alessandra Ferri.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/30/2009 at 4:58 AM, Nora said:

This is a terrific thread! I loved reading others' replies about Patricia McBride and Villella in The Nutcracker. I only saw it once as a young teenager but loved it and thought about it for years afterwards. I had the chance to see McBride dance only once in Jewels. Also loved that. So, she was the first ballerina that I really noticed and found breathtaking.

I was a rabid Nureyev fan in the 60's and 70's but I was also one who did not "get" Fonteyn. I am grateful for this website for showing me that others felt the same way. I saw them dance together twice, and I always felt that I wanted to see him dance with someone else but never had the chance to see that in a live performance. Thankfully for videos and DVD's, I have seen several of his performances, some very brief, with other ballerinas, and the pairing that impressed me most was Alla Sizova. Her technique, especially her ballon (am I using the right word?), or buoyancy, was amazing. I would have loved to have seen her in person, or even a longer performance on DVD.

Now that I'm able to get to NYC more often I enjoyed Nina Ananinashvili. I saw her farewell performance at the Met and am sorry I won't see her again. For sheer all around technique and acting ability, she was superb. Now I'm looking forward to seeing more of Gillian Murphy. Even though her acting ability is sometimes lacking, I enjoy her athleticism and the power of her movement.


I did have a goodly number of opportunities to see Nureyev dance with other partners; some very fine ones I seem to recall.  (I'm not sure why but the blazing glory of Yoko Ichino seems to be calling out to me at this immediate instant.)  Still talking of a ballerina and an event, I was in the audience during one of 'those nights' at what was then known as the O'Keefe Center in Toronto when a then relatively unknown young dancer called Karen Kain was pulled from the NBoC's corps and thrust by Celia Franca into Erik Bruhn's two act production of Swan Lake as Odette/Odile opposite Nureyev's Siegfried as a replacement.  One heard the sigh of disappointment when it was announced pre-performance that the promised principal would not perform and her name was called out.  I would later learn she had never danced the role before.  I, myself, was very young at the time - and certainly impressionable -, but I have never forgotten the electricity that was generated - nor the great male dancer's somewhat obvious displeasure that this truly extraordinary young female artist was getting so much deserved attention at the curtain calls.  I remember dashing about trying to find out her name at the end of that revelatory outing.  No one seemed to know.  In the end I had to go to the stage door to actually discover it.  Once learned it was never forgotten.  Of course Nureyev himself would later hone in on Kain's balletic majesty many times over, much to his - and our own - concerted advantage.  

Ah, memories ... 

Edited by meunier fan
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On 7/6/2021 at 3:31 PM, meunier fan said:


I did have a goodly number of opportunities to see Nureyev dance with other partners; some very fine ones I seem to recall.  (I'm not sure why but the blazing glory of Yoko Ichino seems to be calling out to me at this immediate instant.)  Still talking of a ballerina and an event, I was in the audience during one of 'those nights' at what was then known as the O'Keefe Center in Toronto when a then relatively unknown young dancer called Karen Kain was pulled from the NBoC's corps and thrust by Celia Franca into Erik Bruhn's two act production of Swan Lake as Odette/Odile opposite Nureyev's Siegfried as a replacement.  One heard the sigh of disappointment when it was announced pre-performance that the promised principal would not perform and her name was called out.  I would later learn she had never danced the role before.  I, myself, was very young at the time - and certainly impressionable -, but I have never forgotten the electricity that was generated - nor the great male dancer's somewhat obvious displeasure that this truly extraordinary young female artist was getting so much deserved attention at the curtain calls.  I remember dashing about trying to find out her name at the end of that revelatory outing.  No one seemed to know.  In the end I had to go to the stage door to actually discover it.  Once learned it was never forgotten.  Of course Nureyev himself would later hone in on Kain's balletic majesty many times over, much to his - and our own - concerted advantage.  

Ah, memories ... 

What a wonderful story!  I love to hear about dancers being thrown in last minute and having much success!

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