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Kistler in Duo Concertant

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I haven't read much in the way of sheer, unreserved praise for Darci Kistler this season. I myself hadn't seen her dance in a few seasons and have never been a particular fan (though I've enjoyed particular performances), so I went to see Duo Concertant this afternoon (2/4) not knowing quite what to expect...

Well, I have nothing but sheer, unreserved praise for Kistler's performance. Every moment was danced -- lived -- in full, radiant bloom. Michael1 commented recently on the difficulty of coming up with a vocabulary of praise, and I'm afraid I don't have the vocabulary to do justice to Kistler's extraordinary presence as a dancer -- its richness, responsiveness, and joy. This was a gorgeous performance and a gorgeously danced one -- full of detail yet expansive and performed AS IF with utter spontaneity. (I want to emphasize the quality of dancing because I do NOT mean she "compensated" for other weaknesses by being beautiful Darci Kistler; I have seen this ballet before -- Mazzo, Farrell, Borree -- and this was as true a ballerina performance as I hope to see in it.) By the by, I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me; he had never seen Kistler before and had specially come to see her. He was NOT disappointed and said repeatedly (something we all know about Kistler, but still worth valuing): "she glows." He did say that her feet may not be as sharp as some twenty year olds (and I agree), but also that it didn't matter. Still, in emphasizing the quality of her dancing, I would say, that her entire body has a sharpness -- in the sense of a quality of responsiveness and aliveness -- far in excess of dancers with sharper feet; moreover, her dancing is all of a piece...ALL of her is dancing. Leigh Witchel recently commented on his memories of her dancing the final secion of Duo Concertant and certainly her simplest gesture was memorable. I particularly liked the way she held her hand up into the spotlight with her fingers splayed apart so that it appeared like a miniature lyre; I, at least, thought of the picture, now on display in the promenade, of Balanchine holding the Orpheus "lyre," and the way in which that image can super-impose itself on the ballerina/muse image that closes this ballet...and when she drew her hand down and touched her cheek it had great delicacy and pathos -- she's a human being as well as a muse. But her performance in the earlier sections was just as wonderful -- the way her entire body seemed to swing into the opening "conductor" like moves with which the dancing opens and her large open fourth positions which seemed to just radiate outwards, the playfulness of her skips and turns, the fluidity of her arms etc. etc. etc. I'm a little embarassed at writing such an obvious fan letter -- but based on some recent remarks I've read on this board I would never have guessed I was in for such a treat, so I decided to offer a no holds barred tribute.

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited February 04, 2001).]

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That was beautiful, Drew. I've always admired Kistler. I saw her first Swan Lake when she was sixteen, and saw her fairly frequently in her early career, but not very much in the past ten years. I've heard and read that she's totally fallen apart, etc., but the few times I have seen her -- about six, including one TV and the Nutcracker film -- I still thought she was wonderful. If her technique has deteriorated and she's not adapting to it, then that's sad, but in the things that I have seen her do -- including Duo Concertante, twice -- yes, she glows. For me, the rank of "ballerina" is for life. You can be an aging ballerina, but if you've ever had that magic, you don't lose it.

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Once upon a time, there was a very dignified, elderly man who attended every single one of the ballet performances at the Kennedy Center. He carried a stop watch, and noted the running time of each ballet. He is known to me only as The Chinese Gentleman -- say that name to any Kennedy Center regular, and they'll know instantly who you mean.

One day, a friend of mine asked him why he came ever night and he said, "Because you never know which night will be the good one."

These are among the wisest words I have ever heard spoken about ballet.

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Well, I have nothing but sheer, unreserved praise for Kistler's performance. Every moment was danced -- lived -- in full, radiant bloom

I agree, it was a remarkable performance, and she never looked better. It was the highlight of a rather good day, all around

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No, I saw her dance Duo a couple of weeks ago. My reaction was about the same as Drew's, though somewhat less eloquent. I believe "Wow" was the way I put it when the curtain came down. Luckily no one seemed to notice. I thought it was an amazing performance.

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I too was at the performance on Sunday and Darci blew me away--and I was sitting all the way up in the fourth ring. The last time I had seen Darci dance was eight years ago and I was very curious to see her dance again because of the recent discussion of her abilities deteriorating. I was not disappointed, which I couldn't say about other pieces performed that day. I will try and provide a review later today.

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