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Idk what I'd classify Balanchine's training as but his epaulement looks like Imperial classical ballet at its most refined. 

Look at the difference between him and Eddie Villela. 

 

choreographer-george-balanchine-rehearsi

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13 minutes ago, Helene said:

And Balanchine based his teaching on the lessons he learned in the Imperial School, a methodology of practice and example, but that does make what he taught the Imperial style.  And it doesn't make what Vaganova taught the Imperial style, either. 

 

Vaganova was the AD of the company as well as a teacher, and it was she who famously removed the mime from the classical ballets to make the ballets more interesting to audiences, who preferred the tricks.  If that's not a distortion of Petipa, I'm not sure what is.

Balanchine eventually developed and taught his own style, which had to take into account the available talent, traditions and schooling that he had to work with wherever he was. But, of course, his foundation was the Imperial Russian style, which then evolved under the influence of the iconoclastic Les Ballets Russes, and then through his own experience and creativity.

Vaganova did two restagings of classical ballets, and yes, she did shorten the use of mime, since it looked archaic and unintelligible to the more modern audiences. The dancing in the scene where Siegfried meets Odette that we see in most versions of Swan Lake today is Vaganova's creation, before than it was all mimed. But the Petipa style was never defined by the mime in his ballets, rather by the grand corps scenes and iconic PDDs. In any case, staging a new version of a ballet is not the same as distorting a style. And as for tricks, they were well liked by Petipa as well, one of his favorite ballerinas Legnani was famous for her 32 fouettes, which she inserted into Petipa's works, even though many ballet purists frowned upon them as circus-like.

Vaganova's method directly stems from the Imperial style, since she was, after all, a ballerina of Imperial Theaters during their heyday when Petipa was creating ballets for them, and the likes of Kschessinska, Legnani, Preobrajenska, Karsavina and Pavlova graced their stage. And this is also the style on which Balanchine and Fokine were originally brought up, so they both knew it very well, though chose to move into new innovative directions. Vaganova codified and systematized this classical ballet schooling and experience, but she did not invent it.

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The foundation of both of their styles was the Imperial school, however, even the Vaganova site credits her with creating the school's method of pedagogy.  And of course Petipa liked tricks, but they were placed in context.  What came concurrently with his last years -- he was especially displeased with Gorshkov's staging of Don Q in Moscow -- and after him was both a change from the symmetry and style that is reflected in the descriptions and notations and that context. Under Vaganova it modernized, but like  the Peking Ballet that toured the US in the '70's, with lots of acrobatics and without those pesky musical interludes that audiences, especially Western audiences, didn't get.

 

Petipa was defined by the combination of mime and dance, and mime was integral to his long, leisurly ballets.  What is actually left from the Petipa, despite all of the ballets that are attributed to him?

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7 hours ago, vagansmom said:

I think the difference between Misty Copeland and Joy Womack is that Copeland appears to have more social communication skills. She knew enough to hire a good PR person and to follow the advice.  As dancers go, however, I'd much rather have to watch Womack in a performance than Copeland. Neither have the musicality I need to see in order to enjoy a performance and both are too earth-bound for me. But Misty scales down the technique whereas Womack doesn't.

 

That poses an interesting question: Ignoring everything but their dancing, who do you think makes a better ABT principal?

 

Neither one.  The ABT has become an interesting variant of a company, with top international principals who are also principals at other companies.  Without looking up his specific wording, Kevin McKenzie came up with the great idea of importing principals to dance parts in which they excel, instead of casting a dancer in roles, in which he/she may not excel just because he/she is a principal.  I think it is an excellent idea and has certainly catapulted ABT.  I have been told, but cannot personally vouch for it, that the corps is not that great.

 

I love to follow dancers I believe are up and comers.  One of them is Gisele Bethea in the ABT corps.  Stella Abrera (principal) has amazing arabesque extensions.  Robert Bolle is very special (but probably reaching his peak now).  David Hallberg?  Well, what can I say.  He is spectacular.  He is my favorite in Maro Spada (Bolshoi/Pierre Lacotte, latest version).  Think I read the other day that Diana Vishneva has retired fro ABT (recognize her greatness but not a favorite of mine).  I love Daniel Ulbright -- his dancing and his spirit.

 

I don't think either Joy Womack or Misty Copeland is at the level of the top principals of ABT.  

 

Well that's it.  Strayed a little off topic, I'm afraid.  Thanks everyone for the chat.  Allowed me to avoid a whole bunch of nasty stress today.

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18 hours ago, Nzoia said:

 

 I believe the NYCB is beginning to open up to outside dancers now, as is the POB -- a positive move I think.  

 

 

I'm puzzled by this observation: with the exception of Joaquin De Luz, Gonzalo Garcia, and Ask la Cour, all of NYCB's Principals and Soloists came into the company via its own school and surely most if not all of the corps has as well. There were more non-SAB dancers on the roster in Balanchine's day - his famous "Danish Pastries" for instance (Andersen, Lüders, Martins, and Tomasson). De Luz, Garcia, and la Cour have all been with the company a decade or more. 

 

Every now and then a non-SAB ballerina is taken into the ranks -- Most recently Sofiane Sylve -- but they are more or less the exceptions that prove the rule.  

 

PS: I must respectfully disagree that it's a positive move for companies to "open up to outside dancers" - especially those with distinctive, recognizable styles and their own schools. I think a diversity of style is important to any art form, and I worry about the kind of homogenization that might result if companies don't cultivate their unique styles by cultivating their own dancers. Or worse, what happened to ABT for a time: a stage that was a hodge-podge of every style and no style at all at the same time. As much as I relish the opportunity to see dancers like Cojocaru and Lendorf, I'm actually more excited by the company's burgeoning ranks of homegrown talent such as the recently promoted Sarah Lane, Devon Teuscher, Christine Shevchenko, and Calvin Royal not to mention the up-and-comers like Skylar Brandt, Catherine Hurlin, Gabe Stone Shayer, and Cassandra Trenary,  (just to name a few). The corps looks better than one might have been led to believe.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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5 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

I'm puzzled by this observation

I could be wrong about this.  That's why I added "I think."  Can't remember where I got the notion.  Certainly, the POB has started opening its doors -- albeit, gingerly.  A good move I think.  I don't think insularity ultimately serves a company well.

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18 hours ago, Helene said:

The foundation of both of their styles was the Imperial school, however, even the Vaganova site credits her with creating the school's method of pedagogy.  And of course Petipa liked tricks, but they were placed in context.  What came concurrently with his last years -- he was especially displeased with Gorshkov's staging of Don Q in Moscow -- and after him was both a change from the symmetry and style that is reflected in the descriptions and notations and that context. Under Vaganova it modernized, but like  the Peking Ballet that toured the US in the '70's, with lots of acrobatics and without those pesky musical interludes that audiences, especially Western audiences, didn't get.

 

Petipa was defined by the combination of mime and dance, and mime was integral to his long, leisurly ballets.  What is actually left from the Petipa, despite all of the ballets that are attributed to him?

You are referring to the English version of Vaganova's bio on the site, which contains a number of inaccuracies and leaves one wondering whether their author as chosen for her knowledge of English, rather than knowledge of ballet history, and why the administration of the Academy is taking such a cavalier attitude towards the quality of material on its website.

If we refer to the Russian version of the site, which I would consider more definitive since it is written in the mother tongue and is, thus, more thorough and less prone to incorrect word choices, we will read the following:

 

Vaganova's method has become the most famous one in world ballet teaching. What is its significance? Perhaps, it is the well-known dancer, choreographer, teacher and artistic director of the Academy of Russian Ballet Igor Belsky who has captured the very essence: "Vaganova did not invent anything new in movements. She collated everything that came before her, mainly using the lessons of Olga Preobrazhenska. There were good teachers before Vaganova, but they taught intuitively, while she systematized their techniques and compiled a method for a gradual teaching of classical dance. The French school had hanging elbows, the Italian - elbows that were too tense. Vaganova fused the French softness with the Italian precision of arms, found the middle way, and out of it came the Russian school. Another important accomplishment of Vaganova, together with Fyodor Lopukhov, was that amidst the ruin of post-revolutionary Russia they managed to preserve Russian ballet - its repertoire, its school and its professional mastery"

So, by synthesizing the achievements of different schools and teachers, Vaganova did not invent anything substantially new. What was new was her approach to the system of teaching classical dance.

 

As for Petipa, he is most remembered by lavish, grand spectacles that were his ballets, and the memorable dance scenes, like the Shades in the Bayadere or the black PDD in Swan Lake, mime was just a filler between dance scenes. As for placing tricks in context, often a ballerina's desire to highlight her special skills in a ballet, any ballet, was more than enough context for him. He freely changed his ballets to accommodate the desires of his ballerinas, for example in Swan Lake he liberally inserted and removed pieces specifically at the request of Karpakova, Sobeschanska, Kalmykova - this is how much "context" meant to him. 

 

But you are right about the fact that most of the Petipa ballets we see today around the world probably have very little of the original Petipa left in them. But the imperial Russian ballet style of St. Petersburg has been preserved thanks to Vaganova and at the Academy that bears her name, that is, unless the current Muscovite leadership does not eventually put an end to it.

 

As for Don Quixote, Vaganova had nothing to do with it, it was Fyodor Lopukhov that staged DQ at the Mariinsky/Kirov back then, and she actually clashed with him over his fondness for acrobatics. Neither am I aware of her having anything to do with the Peking Ballet.

Edited by Fleurdelis

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6 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

PS: I must respectfully disagree that it's a positive move for companies to "open up to outside dancers" - especially those with distinctive, recognizable styles and their own schools. I think a diversity of style is important to any art form, and I worry about the kind of homogenization that might result if companies don't cultivate their unique styles by cultivating their own dancers. Or worse, what happened to ABT for a time: a stage that was a hodge-podge of every style and no style at all at the same time.

 

Yes. Thank you for putting it so persuasively. 

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1 hour ago, Nzoia said:

 Certainly, the POB has started opening its doors -- albeit, gingerly.  A good move I think.  I don't think insularity ultimately serves a company well.

 

I wouldn't define relying on dancers selected from a company's own school (or, alternatively, a network of trusted teachers / academies) as "insularity." Unless a company is unable to fill its ranks from its own school or network, what benefit does it get from bringing in dancers from elsewhere? (I'm not asking to be snarky - I'm genuinely curious.) 

 

If you want your ballerinas to do justice to, say, Swan Lake, wouldn't it be better to invest in robust and focussed coaching rather than airlifting in a fully-formed dancer from another company to dance in a few performances and then vanish? 

 

Wouldn't an openness to a judicious expansion of the repertory combat ossification?

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On 02.08.2017 at 0:46 PM, Nzoia said:

Certainly, the POB has started opening its doors -- albeit, gingerly.  A good move I think. 

 

Ruinous, I think.

 

The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet began "opening their doors" to foreigners because they were forced to do it by EEC labor market rules. Previously the Royal Ballet had been a Commonwealth-only club, and graduates of the Royal Ballet School who didn't have citizenship of a Commonwealth country were forced to seek employment elsewhere. A lot of them, including Marcia Haydée, Richard Cragun, John Neumeier and Jiří Kylián, went to Stuttgart. There almost seems to have been an arrangement in this regard. Neumeier has said it was Ninette de Valois who arranged a job for him in Stuttgart. (Apparently she also arranged a job for him with New York City Ballet, only neglected to tell him. Neumeier has speculated about how differently his career might have turned out if he'd gone to work for Balanchine rather than Cranko.)

 

The first "foreign" RBS graduate the Royal Ballet retained was Alessandra Ferri in 1980. Sometime early in her career, before she moved to ABT, the long-defunct Ballet News published a brief interview with her in which she explained all the details. Anyone with a stack of the magazines from 1982 or 1983 could find it. If the Royal Ballet had stuck to hiring graduates of its school, that would have been one thing. But soon enough it began hiring dancers with no connection to the school or the Ashton repertoire, until they dominated the principal ranks, and a lot of people really began to worry about the survival of the company's style. At the Royal Danish Ballet the situation was considered at least as bad, and Lis Jeppesen, for example, sounded the alarm in the English-language dance press.

 

At the Paris Opera Ballet this process has been slower because the company hires dancers at the quadrille rank, and from there they have to work their way up the system through the promotion exams, which is a lengthy process, and dancers can never be certain that they won't be injured during the exam and won't be forced to wait an entire year for their next attempt. The upshot is that any dancers coming from the outside would have to do it early in their careers, presumably while they're still young enough to adapt to the company style, because it's a long climb to the top. It has been done, notably by Ludmila Pagliero.

 

If I understand correctly, anyone can be hired as an étoile, but this hasn't been done for a long time, and to do it at this point would be terrible for company morale. POB dancers have some faith in the fairness of the system, and when Benjamin Millepied wanted to get rid of it, they blocked him.

Edited by volcanohunter

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17 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

I wouldn't define relying on dancers selected from a company's own school (or, alternatively, a network of trusted teachers / academies) as "insularity." Unless a company is unable to fill its ranks from its own school or network, what benefit does it get from bringing in dancers from elsewhere? (I'm not asking to be snarky - I'm genuinely curious.) 

 

If you want your ballerinas to do justice to, say, Swan Lake, wouldn't it be better to invest in robust and focussed coaching rather than airlifting in a fully-formed dancer from another company to dance in a few performances and then vanish? 

 

Wouldn't an openness to a judicious expansion of the repertory combat ossification?

I agree that an attached academy is very important; however, the best companies accept the best from elsewhere (providing, of course, they fit their brand).  The POB and NYCB, of course, have been known for having closed shops.  In my view, it shows.  As I mentioned in a post the other day, ABT actually changed its model to rely on importing principals.  Kevin McKenzie's idea was to be able to cast the best in a specific role, rather than an in-house principal who may not be the best in a specific role.  I think it is an excellent idea.  Even, all the top Russian companies now import talent.

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16 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

 

 

The Royal Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet began "opening their doors" to foreigners because they were forced to do it by EU

The improvement in the quality of the Royal Ballet has, in my view, been dramatic since it opened its doors to outside dancers. 

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The Royal ballet has a significant number of dancers that are both non UK and non EU, I think it simply follows a pattern, after all even Russian companies are now employing non nationals.

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20 minutes ago, Nzoia said:

I agree that an attached academy is very important; however, the best companies accept the best from elsewhere (providing, of course, they fit their brand).  The POB and NYCB, of course, have been known for having closed shops.  In my view, it shows.  

 

How does it show in the case of NYCB specifically? What have you seen recently that you think might have benefited by being performed by non-NYCB dancers? There is such a surfeit of talent there at all levels - especially among the women - that there hardly seem to be enough casting opportunities for the company's dancers as it is. 

 

I haven't seen the POB since their 2012 visit to NYC, so it's hard for me to comment on the current state of the company's roster and whether it might benefit from talent from elsewhere.

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5 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

What have you seen recently that you think might have benefited by being performed by non-NYCB dancers?

 

5 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

 

How does it show in the case of NYCB specifically? What have you seen recently that you think might have benefited by being performed by non-NYCB dancers? There is such a surfeit of talent there at all levels - especially among the women - that there hardly seem to be enough casting opportunities for the company's dancers as it is. 

 

I haven't seen the POB since their 2012 visit to NYC, so it's hard for me to comment on the current state of the company's roster and whether it might benefit from talent from elsewhere.

Balanchine's Ballet imperial by the Mariinsky.  The NYCB could not possible match it, in my view.

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Just saw POB in July. Their corps in Sylphide was incredible. Not Mariinsky incredible (there is no company that compares imo) but a close 2nd. All the dancers performing, except one had come up through the school and it really showed. As much as I enjoy Hannah O'Neille it is very obvious she trained somewhere else. Her mannerisms and stage persona stuck out like a soar thumb in the cohesive sense even though I did enjoy her Effie. One of the things I've always loved is watching a company with a distinct style and cohesiveness from Corps to principal. Having trained my entire life in the Vaganova method of course I'm a bit biased toward the Russian companies. 

 

But it I think we have strayed way off topic? Or maybe others think differently. Whichever.

 

Nzoia, when you were talking about giving her a break about schematics I would agree and did, when she first started stretching the truth back before she graduated. Now, it's really hard to believe as a 23 year old she hasn't figured out the difference between truth and lies. I know for a fact several company members telling her about the 'principal' mistake. She still refused to change it. And it was announced both in English and Russian about the diploma and Laureate at the awards, not to mention several different people, including one dancer who was very generous to her back in Varna, commenting on how her continued stretching the truth lessens the achievements of the dancers who actually received these awards and placements. 

 

I do not think anyone here is saying she is not talented. But I for one find her a lot less talented than she thinks of herself. Could she become what is in her head, maybe. I don't have a crystal ball. But she is making it harder and harder on herself by the continued drama, falsehoods, and public statements about coworkers and her company. I am friends with several directors as well as dancers in ABT. I've heard directly from many of them that they wouldn't hire her for anything because they see her as disloyal and a loose cannon. And that she has done herself. It is really rather sad. Hopefully she will grow up a little in the next few years and make herself a little more marketable. 

Edited by Fraildove
Autocorrect

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Hi Fraildove.

 

Pretty well agree with all that you say,

 

I understand the fame and high recognition of the POB.  Some individual amazing dancers.  The corps is good (but as you say not as good as the Mariinsky corps -- the best barre none).  POB students look outstanding.  However, for me, somehow all that does not translate on stage, especially with the women.  I think the men tend to be better.  I am still working on figuring out why I am not a fan of POB performances.  Most likely the style.   I haven't seen enough of Hannah O'Neille to say much.  I think it is obvious she trained elsewhere.  I think it is important that guests, outsiders fit the brand (aka w/ all the imported principals at the Bolshoi  (David Hallberg and lineup of Vaganava/Mariinsky principals).  Yet there is another side to fitting the brand.  I know one top principal who moved and is being molded into a different and lesser style -- won't mention names. 

 

I, too, am biased towards Vaganova/Russian training and the Russian companies.  I think the three top Russian companies are the best in the world, without any doubt.  Without exception, they always stand out in class.  It is their training that results in such excellence.

 

In general, I agree with you about Joy Womack.  In  I believe her inappropriate vlogging has already most likely jeopardized many chances and will ultimately send her into oblivion.  Ironically, once there, her vlog fans will no longer be interested.  As far as I can gather they are mainly young girls, teenagers, and student dancers, most of whom will never make it -- so a strange audience from which to be seeking advice about career decisions.  I am sorry she never managed to find herself a professional mentor (in addition to her dance coach), because I believe she is talented and could have had potential to be a principal dancer in some of the European companies (but not the top Russian companies).  She is talented and the improvement in her dancing has been dramatic.  So, I do call people who criticize her talent unmercifully and unfairly.  

 

An up and comer I watch closely is Ksenia Zhiganshina (since her Vaganova student days).  Now in the corps of the Bolshoi (coryphee, I believe). Has always advertised herself, but so professional and, with her move, supportive of the Bolshoi.  She is doing so well.  Already dancing significant soloist roles.  Joy could take some pointers from her.

 

Thanks for the chat.

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2 hours ago, Nzoia said:

 

Balanchine's Ballet imperial by the Mariinsky.  The NYCB could not possible match it, in my view.

 

I think I would have to see both companies perform the ballet before I could confidently make a judgment.

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I think if one doesn't like Balanchine in the first place, but finds another style superior, it's not unusual to prefer Balanchine performed in that style.

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

I think if one doesn't like Balanchine in the first place, but finds another style superior, it's not unusual to prefer Balanchine performed in that style.

Agreed. Again we are talking about taste.

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I still don't understand why we are so far afield without the moderator stepping in. We should be discussing Joy Womack.

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I don't understand why you're discussing the discussion.

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Just based on the dancing that I've observed with my own two eyes, at Kremlin Ballet in Moscow, Joy Womack is a lovely dancer. I like that she has a distinctive personality and is not a cookie-cutter swan, yet has always been technically adept in what I've seen. I don't understand the negativity but, then again, I do not follow vlogs or any other social media sites of dancers.

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2 hours ago, CharlieH said:

Just based on the dancing that I've observed with my own two eyes, at Kremlin Ballet in Moscow, Joy Womack is a lovely dancer. I like that she has a distinctive personality and is not a cookie-cutter swan, yet has always been technically adept in what I've seen. I don't understand the negativity but, then again, I do not follow vlogs or any other social media sites of dancers.

 

I haven't followed Joy Womack that closely and like you I haven't seen much of the social media comments. I did see one video clip that I liked very much.

 

Charlie, since you were based in Moscow for four years, maybe you would care to do some posting at the Bolshoi topic. I was at the Bolshoi theater for the first time last year and it was the best that I've ever seen the company. Perhaps being on their own stage can make a difference and you might be able to tell us about this. You can always start your own topic at the Bolshoi topic space.

Edited by Buddy
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Buddy, I'll be happy to oblige as time passes. Retirement is turning out to be busier than I had expected but I'll try to read new posts regularly and, when appropriate, chime in.

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