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Helene Alexopoulos


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I'd seen her in a few televised NYCB performances, but seeing as I live far away from NYC I haven't seen her dance live ... I recently rewatched the documentary about Suzanne Farrell (Elusive Muse) and there was a segment of Suzanne rehearsing Slaughter on Tenth Avenue with Helene. I thought Helene looked lovely, even in rehearsal! For anybody who's seen her, what did/do you think? I'm very curious. Thanks!

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I'd be interested in hearing what people who've seen her recently think. She was "coming up the ranks" when I was watching the company more regularly (when they graced D.C. with their presence regularly :) ) and I always thought her beautiful -- beautiful face, beautiful, long-limbed body that was not (to my taste) overmuscled -- but still a bit tentative.

I've heard from friends, though, that she's made quite a few roles her own. What do our New Yorkers (or others who have seen her) think?

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Well, I like her. When I started going to NYCB fairly regularly about seven years ago, she was one of the first dancers that I easily distinguished form the others, if that makes sense -- as soon as she came on stage I knew who she was. Not just her appearance (I agree she is beautiful) but her style was very distinctive to me.

I think she's excelled in an interesting mix of roles -- Episodes, and Red Angels, which was choreographed on her, I believe, on the one hand, and then more "dramatic" roles, including Slaughter, Dances at a Gathering and Vienna Waltzes.

I have always felt she was underappreciated among NYCB’s principal women. I don't think (but am not sure) that Martins has ever choreographed for her.

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I think Helene is absolutely wonderful. She is so understated, in a way that only a very beautiful woman can be, yet she has a very dramatic quality. I love her as the Siren, and in Episodes--that first enrance, as if she were walking a tight-rope on pointe. She brings so much nuance to her performances, and a rich imagination, too.

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I saw her in August 2000 during the Edinburgh festival. She danced in "Serenade" and "Dances at a gathering" (I'm not sure of the color, but I think it was mauve), I remember finding her very graceful, elegant and "perfumed", if this makes any sense.

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She's a very interesting dancer, and for a time the reigning "stretch queen" of the company. I'd say the fact she wasn't a main pillar of the repertory is why she's lasted this long looking good - in her forties and with twins.

I think her most memorable role was created on her by William Forsythe - her role in Behind the China Dogs which took her "no-joints" body and pushed that look as far as they both could take it.

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I think Leigh's term "stretch queen" is quite apt -- it conjures a wonderful visual memory.

Helene is just a wonderful dancer. Despite her age, she continues to dance at a very high level, and her flexibility and motion seem to be extraordinary. I too have wondered why she wasn't used more. It may be simply that her maternity leave fell at a time when she was needed most -- when Kistler began getting injured and Whelan was thrown into absolutely everything. (Wasn't Kyra Nichols on maternity leave around that time too?)

Now, of course, there are so many up and coming 20 -somethings that her time has probably passed. Neverthless, despite her advancing age she has danced quite a lot in the last couple of years. As has been mentioned, I particularly love her as the Siren in Prodigal. She exudes a sexiness that I don't think is matched by Kowrowski,whom I love in almost everything. I also think of her as a mainstay of the leotard ballets.

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I just want to add to all the praise that Alexopoulos has so justly received that she has always been a ferociously strong dancer. Her performance of the killingly tough Gloria Govrin variation in Raymonda Variations remains the Gold Standard for me--I've never seen another dancer come close to articulating every step the way she did.

She could have been a top international ballerina if she'd wanted to, but she evidently preferred to have a personal life as well as a professional one.

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Going through some old magazines to throw them out, I came across an article on Alexopoulos. It said that while receiving her early training in Chicago, Maria Tallchief taught her all her old roles. That must have been special. And Helene was even as a corps dancer, just from watching her in Raymonda Variations or even as one of the demi-soloist girls in Who Cares? she stands out. One of her first featured roles was the Mimi Paul part in Emeralds -- a part she still does beautifully.

Indeed, she has great flexibility. In addition to the roles already mentioned, I liked her in Red Angels (the part was created on her, but an injury kept her out of the premeire and Darci Kistler did the part the first season). Hopefully, she'll be doing it when the ballet is performed in May on Live from Lincoln Center. And Ecstatic Orange also featured this aspect of her talent.

Alexopoulos also has taken some roles that I didn't originally care for and made me see them in a different light, such as the Mazzo part in Davidsbundlertanz and Watts' role in Jazz.

My estimation of Alexopoulos rose after she participated in Suzanne Farrell's first staging of Balanchine at Kennedy Center in which she performed Slaughter and Tzigane. I remember she only got one chance at Tzigane during the week, so Farrell had her dance it during a corps talk. And dance it she did. Once all the way through the difficult opening solo and then Farrell came up on stage and said, "Well, I like to see how people deal with a different tempo" and had the pianist play it really slow. HA did it slower, bringing out different accents. Then Farrell said, "Ok, faster." The tempo was fiendish but HA held on and afterwards practically plopped on stage in exhaustion.

When she performed with City Ballet afterwards, she took on the opening movement of Vienna Waltzes and showed off a romantic side to her, one that was also featured in the Schumman. She also does the fouttee part in Goldberg Variations, proving she's still got some technique left in her. Her glamour, stage manners and lovely line are a wonderful part of NYCB.

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Wow! I didn't know her final performance was coming up soon ... thanks for the notice. I'm so sad, since I won't be able to go out to NYC and see her perform at least once with NYCB! I hope some of you out there get to see her in Vienna Waltzes, that's one of my all-time favorites. Does anyone know whether she'll be in the Live from Lincoln Center broadcast that's going out in May? (I've only heard about this broadcast so I'm not sure whether it's for real...)

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the Live From Lincoln Center NYCB/Diamond Project telecast is scheduled for May 30, at 8 pm EST, and is billed to include performances of JEU DE CARTES (Martins), CHIAROSCURO (Taylor-Corbett), RED ANGELS (Dove), MERCURIAL MANOEUVERS (Wheeldon), as well as excerpts for VIOLA ALONE (O'Day), ANCIENT AIRS AND DANCES (Tanner), THEM TWOS (Martins), and LA STRAVAGANZA (Preljocaj).

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this is the company's announcement of the farewell performance for HA:



New York City Ballet announced today that Principal Dancer Heléne Alexopoulos will retire from the Company this spring, and will give her farewell performance on Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m. For this performance, which will celebrate her 24-year career with the Company, Ms. Alexopoulos will dance George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son and Vienna Waltzes.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Ms. Alexopoulos began her dance training at the age of six with local teachers. She continued her studies with former NYCB Principal Dancer Maria Tallchief, then the director of the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, and while still a student she appeared professionally with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet.

In 1977, Ms. Alexopoulos came to New York on a scholarship to study at the School of America Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, and later that year became an apprentice with the Company. She was invited by George Balanchine to join New York City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 1978, was promoted to the rank of Soloist in 1984, and was named a Principal Dancer in 1989.

During her career with New York City Ballet, Ms. Alexopoulos has performed a wide range of roles in the Company’s extensive repertory, including principal roles in George Balanchine’s Agon, Apollo (Calliope), Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Concerto Barocco, Cortège Hongrois, Divertimento No. 15, Episodes, The Four Temperaments, Ivesiana, “Emeralds” from Jewels, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Helena), Monumentum Pro Gesualdo/Movements for Piano and Orchestra, The Nutcracker, Orpheus, Robert Schumann’s “Davidsbündlertänze,” Scherzo a la Russe, Serenade (the Dark Angel), Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Symphony in C, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3, Union Jack, Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir, Western Symphony, and Who Cares?

Ms. Alexopoulos has originated roles in Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces and Antique Epigraphs, and among her many featured roles in the Robbins’ repertory, are Afternoon of a Faun, Dances at a Gathering, The Four Seasons (Summer and Fall), The Goldberg Variations, I’m Old Fashioned, In The Night, Ives Songs, Moves, Piano Pieces, and West Side Story Suite. She has originated roles in Peter Martins' Ecstatic Orange, Suite from Histoire du Soldat, and The Waltz Project, and has performed featured roles in Mr. Martins’ The Chairman Dances, Fearful Symmetries, Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements), Rejouissance, A Schubertiad, The Sleeping Beauty (Lilac Fairy and Carabosse) and Swan Lake. Ms. Alexopoulos originated principal roles in William Forsythe's behind the china dogs, Ib Andersen's Baroque Variations, Ulysses Dove’s Twilight, Lynn Taylor-Corbett’s Mercury, Alexander Proia’s Refractions, and Robert La Fosse’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm” section of 1999’s Duke! She also appeared in Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels, the Jerome Robbins/Twyla Tharp collaboration Brahms/Handel, Lar Lubovitch's Rhapsody in Blue, and John Taras' Souvenir de Florence.

Ms. Alexopoulos danced for Suzanne Farrell for the Kennedy Center’s 25th Anniversary, and appeared in the film Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse. She has also worked with Chet Walker and Richard Move on The Seven Deadly Sins for Jacob’s Pillow.

Ms. Alexopoulos has been seen on television on Dance in America and Live from Studio 8-H. In addition she was featured in the film version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, in John Avildson’s motion picture Slow Dancing in the Big City, and was one of four NYCB dancers featured in the New York City Ballet Workout video and dvd, which was released in the spring of 2001. Ms. Alexopoulos has also been featured in the Interpreters Archive videotapes produced by the George Balanchine Foundation.

In addition to her appearances in New York, Ms. Alexopoulos has traveled extensively with New York City Ballet, appearing in Athens, Tokyo, Osaka, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Berlin, London, Paris and many American cities. She has also appeared as a Guest Artist throughout the U.S. and Europe

New York City Ballet’s 2002 spring repertory season will run April 30 through June 30 at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. For information on any NYCB performance call 212-870-5570, or visit the NYCB web site at www.nycballet.com.

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Thanks, rg, for all the information! I checked the PBS listings for the San Francisco station and the NYCB telecast was *not listed*! I checked some surrounding dates, no trace of the program ... I emailed the local station last week but have not yet heard a response. Does anyone know whether this will only air in the NYC region? I will be so upset if we can't get it in SF. It looks like the Antiques Roadshow (which seems to be on every night) just can't be sacrificed!

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a source at NYCB notes that the diamond project telecast is now scheduled to be aired in the los angeles area on sunday, june 2, at a time to be announced, obviously not live. (i have no information about the san francisco region.)

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