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Name 5 ballets.

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Aren't there some ballets that we identify as pivotal works in our balletomanne formative years...? Don't you think of certain works when trying to remember those early performances you saw...? Are certain ballets part of a very early repertoire you grew up with...? Can you name 5-(it might be difficult for some of you)-of those ballets that you saw waaaay back and made you feel in love with the art form...?

Here are my five, with no doubt. They were done all the time back in Havana during my adolescent years-(late 80's, early 90's), and I keep treasuring them until today.


2-Grand Pas de Quatre-(Dolin)

3-La Fille mal Gardee-(Alonso/Hertel after Nijinska's for BT)

4-Les Sylphides-(Alonso after Fokine's for BT)


Which are yours...?

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Sleeping Beauty because it was the first I saw (though on film) and I immediately became enraptured with ballet.

Giselle and Coppelia crucial for me and works I got to see repeatedly when still a child.

As a very little girl, probably my favorite work at the (now defunct) National Ballet was the grand pas from Raymonda. The curtain would go up and the ballerinas would all be in classical tutus and the chandeliers glowed. That was IT for me. I recently found an old program that said the staging was by Balanchine and Danilova (set on the company by director Frederic Franklin). This is a memory that I sometimes forget, but the recent Mariinsky tour brought it back to me.

My first memory of very consciously loving and thinking about Balanchine is a performance of Symphony in Three Movements I saw as a teenager. By that time, I had certainly seen other Balanchine that I liked and I wouldn't see Symphony in Three Movements again for a number of years. Still I think it DID impact my taste because Balanchine's modernist works have become so important to me. (There were other Balanchine/Stravinsky works on the same program--including, I think, Stravinsky Violin Concero--but Symphony in Three Movements is what really blew me out of the water.)

I was impacted at times by performances perhaps as much as by choreography. That would require a different thread.

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A fun exercise!

Four Temperaments

Green Table



Swan Lake

Of these, I think 4 Ts is likely the most important to me -- the first ballet that I really ever felt I "knew" (not in the sense of dancing it, but of knowing its structure)

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Where do I put Merce? :wink:

All joking aside, my early years of dance watching consisted mostly of Balanchine and Cunningham, with some Robbins and Taylor thrown in and a bit of downtowny flirtation with early Trisha Brown. I didn't learn how to watch three-act story ballets until ... hmmm ... maybe a decade ago. I loathe Swan Lake to this day. So, not your typical balletomane.

Sticking with ballet:

1) Four Temperaments

2) Apollo

3) Divertimento No. 15 (The only tutu ballet I really liked until I was a thirty-something)

4) Dances at a Gathering

5) The divertissement pas from Midsummer Night's Dream.

ETA: I forgot to name the one that was most important to me: it's a toss up between 4 Ts and Apollo.

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You are sending me on a trip back to my first immersion in ballet as a teenager seeing NYCB. Those ballets that left indelible memories are always associated for me with specific dancers who gave them life. So for anyone who is interested, here's my list:

1. La Sonnambula with Allegra Kent

2. Apollo with Jacques D'Amboise

3. Prodigal Son with Edward Villella

4. Afternoon of a Faun with Arthur Mitchell and I'm not sure but maybe Diana Adams

And 5. My first grownup ballet (plotless) and still my favorite ballet of all time, Jewels. Looking forward to seeing it for the umpteenth time this spring.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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What a fun exercise. For me - in no particular order the ballets that I saw that made me want to come back were:

1. Swan Lake (with Cynthia Gregory)

2.Theme & Variations

3. 4 Temperaments

4. Midsummer Night's Dream (Balanchine)

5. The River (Alvin Ailey)

Not the same as my list of 5 favorite ballets of all time, although some would make both lists!

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Five that made me want to dance....

1. Nutcracker- the earliest ballet I remember seeing, and this was a local, civic version (Marta Jackson's, to be exact)

2. Giselle with Marianna Tcherkassky as a guest at Richmond Ballet- her bourees were the most amazingly liquid movements I had ever seen.

3. Paquita- the Cynthia Gregory/Fernando Bujones performance from PBS- not only did she balance forever, but she brought such majesty and aplomb to the role!

4. Theme and Variations-Gelsey and Misha, of course!

5. Concerto Barocco- the marriage of music and movement entranced me, and I fell in love with the second movement in particular.

and a last one (so I have six)- Apollo- the first time I saw this was on a Dance in America broadcast featuring Baryshnikov and several dancers from ABT. However, it wasn't until years later when I watched this rehearsed by Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero (MCB) at Wolf Trap that I saw the magic of Apollo.

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Still to this day I remember these ballets that I saw as a young student. As a birthday gift my mother introduced me to Swan Lake with the Kirov(now Marinsky). Later Don Q with the Bolshoi ( Maximova and Vasiliev). Years later Symphonic Variations (Sibley and Dowell) and my favorites to dance were Allegro Brilliante( Balanchine) and Lilac Garden( Tudor).

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1. Onegin: The performance I saw at the London Coliseum on 26 May 1984 - London Festival Ballet (now ENB) with Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun guesting - is what converted me to watching ballet.

2. Romeo and Juliet: Sir Frederick Ashton, as performed by London Festival Ballet

3. The Dream: Sir Frederick Ashton and still perfection in my eyes

4. Carmen: Roland Petit - a Saturday afternoon at the London Coliseum with London Festival Ballet and guest starring Dominique Khalfouni and Denis Ganio. That is the only time I have seen this ballet and it is still seared on my mind.

5. La Sylphide: Peter Schaufuss production for London Festival Ballet. The first performance I saw, in August 1985, was danced by Eva Evdokimova and Peter Schaufuss and is another performance that is seared into my mind. With this performance and his TV series Dancer, Peter Schaufuss gave me my love of the Bournonville style that abides to this day.

Just looking at my list, I started my ballet watching with LFB, now known as English National Ballet but then, for me, some time in the early 1990s they went into a doldrums which they have started to come out of under the directorship of Tamara Rojo. I now follow Birmingham Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet and do see the other British-based ballet companies (RB, ENB and SB) when I can, as well as other visiting companies.

I still class Onegin as my favourite ballet and I have seen a number of other companies performing it over the years.

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Serenade. The RDB's performance of this back in 2009 was my first live experience with ballet and it really was an eye opener.

La Sylphide. One of the first ballets I saw (on DVD) and remains my favourite to this day. I'm not necessarily sold on everything Bournonville, but Sylphide is a gem.

Swan Lake, though the first production of it that I actually liked was the Zurich Ballet DVD with Polina Semionova. To this day, I prefer the more modern and minimalistic versions than the traditional Russian masterpieces.

La Bayadére. My first introduction to Minkus' music and it remains my absolute favourite musically. It was one of the first major works I saw the RDB perform with no prior knowledge of the ballet. I like Hübbe's re-imagination of it, but love the Russian versions more. Nikiya is the only role I've seen Svetlana Zakharova in where she struck me as unmatched.

Lady of the Camellias. I love everything Neumeier, but this one is my favourite of the ballets of his that I've seen and possibly my favourite ballet ever. I love all performances, both live and recorded, that I've seen!

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  • "The Sleeping Beauty" with Lesley Collier (Aurora), Anthony Dowell (Prince Florimund), Monica Mason (Carabosse), Marguerite Porter (Lilac Fairy), Jennifer Penny & Wayne Eagling (the Bluebirds)

  • Giselle" with Carla Fracci, Laetitia Pujol, Evgenia Obraztsova, Olesya Novikova & Ekaterina Osmolkina

  • "Ballo della Regina" with Merrill Ashley

  • "La Bayadere" with Altynai Asylmuratova, Daria Pavlenko, Victoria Tereshkina & Uliana Lopatkina

  • "Swan Lake" with Olga Tchyentchikova-Vazieva & Konstantin Zaklinsky, Daria Pavlenko & Uliana Lopatkina

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I have such an odd list. But seeing these ballets when I was young opened my eyes to the extraordinary possibilities of dance. I loved the great classics, but these ballets stand out in my mind. In no particular order:

Picnic at Tintagel

The Combat


Wedding Bouquet


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I have such an odd list. But seeing these ballets when I was young opened my eyes to the extraordinary possibilities of dance. I loved the great classics, but these ballets stand out in my mind. In no particular order:

Picnic at Tintagel

The Combat


Wedding Bouquet


"Picnic at Tintagel" Oh, goodness -- whatever was it like?!

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The names of the dancers and choreographers in my list are much less elevated. :)

But they all did the hard work of making art, and I wouldn't be the balletomane I am without them:

-- James Sewell's Winter performed by The University of Tennessee Dance Theater showed me that ballet could be funny and human.
-- A routine Chinese variation from The Appalachian Ballet's Nutcracker performed by Claire Barratt showed me what an exciting world an intelligent dancer can create on stage.
-- A solid mid-century Swan Lake as performed by Indianapolis' Ballet Internationale was my first choreographic production with psychological depth.
-- A duet from a small piece called Requiuum at Circle Modern Dance in Knoxville, Tennessee was the first truly moving ballet that I saw.
-- The Four Temperaments as performed at Indiana University by Joseph Morrissey and Sarah Wroth showed me Balanchine-style musicality and mystique (respectively) for the first time.

(I'm also surprised to reallize how much quality modern dance I saw in my early years in Tennessee...and how much it shaped me, too!)

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Mostly from my early nineties NYCB fifth ring ballet going days:

Symphony in C – the merging for four discrete systems of operation at the end was mind blowing


The Four Temperaments

Donizetti Variations – how big a small ballet can look

Ballet Imperial (at some later point)

Also. when I was very young, a primal image of Edward Villella on tv making great leaping bounds around the stage.

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I don't know if early ballets remain in my memory, I was watching things I didn't understand and feeling like they were old fashioned and uncool. Liked Nut as a kid, got sick of it as a 20-something.

Later, I gave up feeling like I needed to be "cool" and so here are 5 pieces that made me sit up, riveted and watching intensely:

La Valse (especially Louise Nadeau)

Symphony in C (again Louise Nadeau)

Petite Mort (I could watch it every day for the rest of my life)

That's Life from 9 Sinatra Songs (Kauri Nakamura and Seth Belliston) best fight scene in ballet, better than R&J

Friar Lawrence's scenes from the Malliot RetJ (specifically performed by Olivier Wevers)

When Maya Pliesetskaya died, I posted a full video of her dancing the Bejart Carmen on my FB feed, and it received the most passionate, excited commentary from my non-dancer friends in 8 years of facebook. Just blew them away.

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During my first formative years of ballet-going:

Les Sylphides

Pillar of Fire (saw it with Kaye and Laing)

Theme & Variations (with Alonso and Youskevitch)

Fancy Free (I saw the 2nd performance of the work with the original cast, and Bernstein in the pit)

Graduation Ball (with Riabouchinska and Lichine)

Is it any wonder that I was "hooked" way back then?

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Ruth Page's Nutcracker. (Verdy, Tomasson)

ABT's Swan Lake (Blair) (Makarova, Gregory, d'Antuono, Ted Kivitt, Ted Kivitt, Royes Fernandez

Fall River Legend (Sallie Wilson)

Giselle (Alonso/Esquivel, at the Met)(Hilarion was Antonio Gades)

Jewels (Original cast)

Prodigal Son (Baryshnikov) (in Chicago with Ghislaine Thesmar, his debut in the ballet)

Oops, six...... :innocent:

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During my first formative years of ballet-going:

Les Sylphides

Pillar of Fire (saw it with Kaye and Laing)

Theme & Variations (with Alonso and Youskevitch)

Fancy Free (I saw the 2nd performance of the work with the original cast, and Bernstein in the pit)

Graduation Ball (with Riabouchinska and Lichine)

Is it any wonder that I was "hooked" way back then?

I substituted Graduation Ball-(in my original list)-with Les Sylphides. They were both ever present, but I realized that Sylphides made quite a bigger impact.

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1. Romeo and Juliet

At age four I saw the film of the MacMillan version on television, and it made an extremely powerful impression on me. I was convinced that Fonteyn and Nureyev had really and truly killed themselves at the end, so when I turned five, and my mother decided it was time to sign me up for ballet lessons, I wanted noooo part of it. At age nine I saw the ballet live for the first time, in the Grigorovich version, and I hated it, absolutely detested it. This marked the birth of my personal sense of aesthetic judgment, not least because I rebuffed all adult protestations of "but it's the Bolshoi..." Later encounters with Cranko, Van Dantzig and other versions set right my relationship with the ballet, but it's been central in my ballet-watching life from the outset.

2. Concerto Barocco

The first ballet that literally took my breath away, in the second movement, when the main theme appears for the second time.

3. Giselle

I was 12, and my enchantment was complete. Since then it's rare that I'm completely satisfied with a performance, although I have seen individual interpreters I consider ideal.

4. The Four Temperaments

A miracle and a mind-boggling primer. From an educational standpoint, the color-coded Dance in America version was extremely helpful.

5. La Fille mal gardée

Not because of the ribbons, but rather because of Alain and his umbrella. :wub:

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Hmmm mostly SFB in the 90s/2000s, but a few from my dance school growing up.

1. In the Night at SFB in the 2000s

2. Romeo and Juliet Balcony Pas, MacMillan version

3. Giselle (Joanna Berman's last performance)

4. Serenade (dancing it and "getting" Balanchine for the first time)

5. Filling Station at SFB, mid-90s

And an extra 6/7. The Nut and/or Swan Lake--saw both when I was 4ish at SFB and have been hooked ever since!

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This is too early for me to answer, because I saw my first ballet in 2013. But the moment I knew I was hooked was the first time I saw the snow scene in Balanchine's Nutcracker. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

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