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A New Profile of Violette Verdy by Marina Harss

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The Nation has posted the full text of a new profile of Violette Verdy by Marina Harss.

It's a lovely appreciation of Verdy as both dancer and teacher, but it's also packed with the kind of descriptive observation that can help guide our own dance-watching. Here's a sample:

Verdy encouraged Laracey to sway her hips more as she walked and to take liberties with the timing, “as if you’re singing to yourself, inventing it on the spot, and you’re not onstage at all.” During the second movement, a minuet, Laracey carefully unfolded one leg in such a way that the action appeared perfectly smooth, uninterrupted. Verdy stopped her: “Remember, not too lyrical, a little more folk.” The dance’s Slavic folk elements—a turned-in knee, a hand on the hip, a little horselike prance—began to come into relief, accentuated by pauses and minute changes of timing. The steps developed a flavor. “Feel the slight syncopation here,” Verdy pointed out, referring to the way an accented step slightly anticipated and held the beat. Through these touches, Balanchine and Verdy had turned Ravel’s lilting minuet into a kind of modified mazurka. The dance alternated between French nonchalance and the earthiness of Slavic folk dance.

Harss' article beautifully describes the special combination of musicality, imagination, intelligence, and heart that were the foundation of Verdy's dancing and are now the foundation of her teaching. A few quotes here won't do it justice, so just go read the whole thing!

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A wonderful interview. Madame Verdy is the kind of torch-bearer ballet and ballets always need. I love the descriptions of her coaching techniques and approach to the art in general - so sensitive, detailed and intelligent. Thank you, Marina, for this beautiful report.

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