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What would you say is the hardest ballet (or section) for the corps?

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What is the hardest single ballet (or section of a ballet) you or your colleagues has ever had to dance?

Rebecca King of Miami City Ballet, writing in her blog Tendus Under a Palm Tree, answers the question from the point of view of a member of the corps.

That answer is easy: Balanchine’s Square Dance. I can’t speak for everyone, but I am 90% certain that everyone who has danced this ballet would say it is one of the hardest things they have ever done. The other 10% have a very strong petite allegro (small, quick, jumps) and the choreography thus comes much easier to them. I am jealous!


It would be interesting to hear what our Ballet Alert members -- dancers, exdancers, and audience members -- would say in response to the question.

Based on what you know -- or just what you might guess as a member of the audience -- do you agree with King about Square Dance. If not, what other ballets or sections of ballets seem especially difficult? Any thoughts about what makes them so hard? Or what a dancer has to do to make them LOOK easy?

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I have read from more than one man that MacMillan's Romeo is a killer role. It is rare that a dancer has to tackle both that role and Square Dance. I have no idea how they would compare. One is a short, intense ballet with little (if any) strenuous partnering. The other involves a lot of lifts and a uses all aspects of a man's well-rounded technique.

I assume Miami dances the "revised" version of Square Dance with the solo for the leading man. Years ago, I read somewhere ( :dunno: ) that Balanchine inserted that solo because he felt that the female corps needed a rest between the Girls' Dance and the Finale. I believe it.

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Some memories of Balanchine ballets:

Square Dance IS hard for the corps, but also exceptionally rewarding to dance. I say that as a guy, though; it's much tougher for the women.

Allegro Brillante is also puffy and very exposed--the corps consists of only 4 couples.

This is secondhand, but I've heard that dancing the corps women in Donizetti Variations, believe it or not, is a killer--very aerobic. Also, as much as we may enjoy watching it, no woman I've known seems to like doing Raymonda Variations! As far as men, the ending of Theme and Variations is tough in terms of getting the guys to synch those double tours; the same goes for Stars and Stripes finale, too.

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I loved dancing in Allegro, Square Dance, and Donizetti but the toughest ballet for me was as one of the four Russian girls in Serenade. It was fun to do but the last section was for me almost impossible. You had to do 4 double turns while the corps is swirling around you doing small pique arabesques. I almost asked to be taken out of it but I persevered.

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There is a preview on YouTube from the 2010 Dutch National Ballet season for Concerto Barocco. Francia Russell is interviewed and notes that dancing the corps role is much harder than the solo roles. Any agreement out there?

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As far as men, the ending of Theme and Variations is tough in terms of getting the guys to synch those double tours; the same goes for Stars and Stripes finale, too.

You made me think of Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. 5 (I think) men, doing multiple double tours at the same time, for quite a while. There's a dramatic challenge of a kind, too. Romeo, at the center, has to be, simultaneously, one of the guys WHILE somehow standing out. In other words, to convey comradery and competition at the same time.

I can understand "difficulty" in terms of technical challenges, or non-stop movement, and -- as Ms. King stresses -- petit allegro. But sustained adagio dancing must have difficulties of its own, especially when it has to be synchronized. Any fiendish difficulties in adagio?

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