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Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

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13 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

My take is that the pain of tendinitis colored her experience with Balanchine. 

That's a really interesting idea. It certainly wasn't the only significant factor (for one thing, I think they were just fundamentally, temperamentally unsuited to one another), but it very well could have played a substantial role in shaping her responses and, thereby, their relationship. It's so easy to forget how strong an impact serious chronic pain can have on one's experiences (especially when one doesn't have the same experience of pain as another person — which one never does).

Kirkland is probably the one dancer from the past whose career I most intensely wish I had witnessed. In part, this is because there's just so little recorded evidence of it. I've scoured YouTube and relish everything I've found (especially the two complete [or in one case near-complete, and with only reconstructed sound] performances of T&V — I consider the telecast version to be perhaps the greatest complete ballet performance ever professionally recorded, at least of those I've seen), but there's just so much less of her on video than of some other dancers of her era and prominence (for a variety of reasons).

The other reason I wish I'd seen her is that my sense, from those videos, is that she was truly unlike any other dancer. Of course that's true of many—but, for instance, I think I know kind of what it would have felt like to see Baryshnikov, or Makarova, or Verdy. (Of course I could be wrong.) Not because I've seen other dancers who are quite like them, but because I suspect I've seen other dancers who have provoked in me the same sorts of reactions that they would have provoked. My sense is that Kirkland would have provoked something quite distinct. She was sui generis.

Actually, for some of the same reasons (a limited number of recordings and a real distinctness of character and qualities), but also for some others, I think Farrell would be my runner-up in the "wish I had been there" category.

Edited by nanushka

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30 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Kirkland is probably the one dancer from the past whose career I most intensely wish I had witnessed. In part, this is because there's just so little recorded evidence of it. I've scoured YouTube and relish everything I've found (especially the two complete [or in one case near-complete, and with only reconstructed sound] performances of T&V — I consider the telecast version to be perhaps the greatest complete ballet performance ever professionally recorded, at least of those I've seen), but there's just so much less of her on video than of some other dancers of her era and prominence (for a variety of reasons).

The other reason I wish I'd seen her is that my sense, from those videos, is that she was truly unlike any other dancer. Of course that's true of many—but, for instance, I think I know kind of what it would have felt like to see Baryshnikov, or Makarova, or Verdy. (Of course I could be wrong.) Not because I've seen other dancers who are quite like them, but because I suspect I've seen other dancers who have provoked in me the same sorts of reactions that they would have provoked. My sense is that Kirkland would have provoked something quite distinct. She was sui generis.

Actually, for some of the same reasons (a limited number of recordings and a real distinctness of character and qualities), but also for some others, I think Farrell would be my runner-up in the "wish I had been there" category.

I am old enough that I saw Kirkland numerous times from October 1975 (when I saw her do Giselle with Baryshnikov at the Kennedy Center) until about 1985, when I left the east coast. This was the height of the ballet "boom" and many of us in that era trooped all over DC and New York and points in between to see as much of them as possible. One thing so special about both of them (together or separately) was that you were constantly surprised with something you couldn't believe humans could do -- technique, interpretation, expression. I also felt, especially with Kirkland, that if she had a bag over her head, I'd immediately recognize her distinctive style anyway.

There are quite a few tapes of her (often without sound) at the NYPL Dance Collection that are worth seeing, including her work in Baryshnikov's Don Q when it premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1978, her Giselle with Baryshnikov, etc. Her academy's web site has some nice clips, too. But I agree that it's enormously frustrating that so little of her remains on tape (certainly compared to the historic record of Royal Ballet, Russians, etc.)

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4 hours ago, California said:

I am old enough that I saw Kirkland numerous times from October 1975 (when I saw her do Giselle with Baryshnikov at the Kennedy Center) until about 1985, when I left the east coast. This was the height of the ballet "boom" and many of us in that era trooped all over DC and New York and points in between to see as much of them as possible. One thing so special about both of them (together or separately) was that you were constantly surprised with something you couldn't believe humans could do -- technique, interpretation, expression. I also felt, especially with Kirkland, that if she had a bag over her head, I'd immediately recognize her distinctive style anyway.

There are quite a few tapes of her (often without sound) at the NYPL Dance Collection that are worth seeing, including her work in Baryshnikov's Don Q when it premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1978, her Giselle with Baryshnikov, etc. Her academy's web site has some nice clips, too. But I agree that it's enormously frustrating that so little of her remains on tape (certainly compared to the historic record of Royal Ballet, Russians, etc.)

It's unfortunate that in many of her recorded performances,  Kirkland does not look healthy.  She is thin and underpowered in the Don Quixote pas de deux with Baryshnikov,  which is otherwise well filmed.  In the Nutcracker she is additionally burdened with a horribly unsuitable costume,  a narrow nightgown that obscures her line.

But I know of young students who watch her  T and V obsessively,  so there is a younger generation familiar with her work,  but blessedly,  not her troubles.  They don't impress kids who watch reality television and tabloid TV anyway.  What was shocking in the 70s and 80s is small potatoes today.

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10 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

It's unfortunate that in many of her recorded performances,  Kirkland does not look healthy.  She is thin and underpowered in the Don Quixote pas de deux with Baryshnikov,  which is otherwise well filmed.  In the Nutcracker she is additionally burdened with a horribly unsuitable costume,  a narrow nightgown that obscures her line.

But I know of young students who watch her  T and V obsessively,  so there is a younger generation familiar with her work,  but blessedly,  not her troubles.  They don't impress kids who watch reality television and tabloid TV anyway.  What was shocking in the 70s and 80s is small potatoes today.

The only film I know of for their Don Q PdD was taped in July 1976 at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts outside Washington. It was released many years later on video (although they omitted the opening of Push, which was performed at Wolf Trap). The delay reported at the time was that Gelsey refused permission, but she finally agreed when they added that statement from her at the end of the tape. Gelsey was at her unhealthy anorexic worst then. After that summer tour, he headed off to start filming The Turning Point; she had originally been cast, but the directors said they couldn't use her and cast Leslie Browne instead. And the gossip columns were filled with stories of him and Jessica Lange. She was back in good form for his Nutcracker in December 1977 and his new full-length Don Q in spring 1978.  And the T&V on Live from Lincoln Center was also in the spring of 1978 when she was in good form.

But something amazing to note about that performance: it was the fifth and final section of the evening performance for him! It opened with the first movement of Push with the original cast (Tcherkassky and van Hamel), then the Coppelia PdD with Gelsey, Vestris, Spectre (with Tcherkassky) and finally the Don Q PdD. (There were orchestral interludes between each piece.) He was 28 years old. And they did this on two consecutive nights at an outdoor stage in hot, humid DC. It's pretty amazing when you look at this.

 

 

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4 hours ago, On Pointe said:

It's unfortunate that in many of her recorded performances,  Kirkland does not look healthy.  She is thin and underpowered in the Don Quixote pas de deux with Baryshnikov,  which is otherwise well filmed.  In the Nutcracker she is additionally burdened with a horribly unsuitable costume,  a narrow nightgown that obscures her line.

But I know of young students who watch her  T and V obsessively,  so there is a younger generation familiar with her work,  but blessedly,  not her troubles.  They don't impress kids who watch reality television and tabloid TV anyway.  What was shocking in the 70s and 80s is small potatoes today.

Sadly this is all too true.  I've watched the Baryshnikov/Kirkland DQ DVD a zillion times, lamenting that Kirkland is so debilitated by cocaine and anorexia that only a slice of her brilliance shows.  The Nutcracker also is a favorite but that costume is a horror. If you can tolerate it, though, there's much to appreciate. Maybe you've seen a very fuzzy video of Le Corsaire PdD, also with Baryshnikov. If not, it's worth searching on youtube.

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I saw Kirkland dance an exquisite, uniquely waiflike Giselle with Baryshnikov and, several years later and before she went to the Royal Ballet, a pathetically executed solo in The River by Alvin Ailey (maybe she was just miscast), and in Tudor's The Leaves are Fading, where she was not dancing well at all in a role in which she should have been breathtaking.  After reading her first book, I figured these two disappointing performances were during her period of addiction. [As to a different acclaimed ballerina, I saw too many performances by Alessandra Ferri where she was ill-at-ease on-stage and  attempting choreography beyond her technical capability.  Dancers can have off-nights, presumably, but I saw too many of Ferri's.  Fortunately I saw one of her last Juliets before her first retirement (second retirement pending) and could easily understand why she was so loved.]      

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4 hours ago, Marta said:

Sadly this is all too true.  I've watched the Baryshnikov/Kirkland DQ DVD a zillion times, lamenting that Kirkland is so debilitated by cocaine and anorexia that only a slice of her brilliance shows.  The Nutcracker also is a favorite but that costume is a horror. If you can tolerate it, though, there's much to appreciate. Maybe you've seen a very fuzzy video of Le Corsaire PdD, also with Baryshnikov. If not, it's worth searching on youtube.

I thought Wolftrap was just anorexia--she talks about being introduced to cocaine later no??...Anway, I find the Wolftrap Coppelia pas de deux rather charming despite her thinness though I saw her dance Swanilda in the full length Coppelia more brilliantly in the theater both with Baryshnikov (just after she joined ABT) and more exquisitely, so to speak, later in her career with Charles Ward. I remember the former as one of the best ballet performances I ever attended--Clive Barnes wrote about it, at the time, as one of those special nights at the ballet when everything comes together; the two of them were sparking off of each other on stage in an absolutely fantastic way. And in the latter Coppelia, Ward and she just looked wonderful together in a different way (he was quite tall, fair, and--I thought--very good looking). Along with Mcbride, Kirkland was my favorite Swanilda of that era -- in the 21st century I must admit I took a huge shine to Osipova in the Bolshoi Vikharev production. But yes...publicly available video is not the place to find out much about Kirkland's dancing other than hints. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the materials available at NY Public library.

Okay...so all this now just has nothing to do with Peter Martins and sexual harassment. I guess I'm "sorry-not-sorry" I got so carried away when her name first came up. My memories of Kirkland at her best are just wonderful treasures, so I can't always help myself  -- especially since I know a lot of younger people reading these threads never saw her dance. (And over time I have tried to deal philosophically with the complexities and disappointments of her career.) At any rate, her writing did prefigure a little of NYCB's #metoo moment and was, as best I remember, dismissed by many in the ballet world who found it unacceptable to write about Balanchine and NYCB the way she did.

Edited by Drew

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Svetlana Zakharova is just as thin as Kirkland on this DQ video. But Zakharova's Kitri is always energetic and sharp, while this is just a poor performance, Kirkland looks completely winded.

On the other hand, it is amazing how "modern" Baryshnikov looks here, even by today's standards. Had the peak of his career happened today, he'd still be the world's best dancer by far. Maybe he should have been considered for the AD role? What type of legacy has he left at ABT as its AD?

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2 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

Svetlana Zakharova is just as thin as Kirkland on this DQ video. But Zakharova's Kitri is always energetic and sharp, while this is just a poor performance, Kirkland looks completely winded.

On the other hand, it is amazing how "modern" Baryshnikov looks here, even by today's standards. Had the peak of his career happened today, he'd still be the world's best dancer by far. Maybe he should have been considered for the AD role? What type of legacy has he left at ABT as its AD?

However thin comparatively Kirkland and Zahkharova appear to be (a little hard to judge on video I would have thought), Kirkland when she was at her fighting weight and healthiest was a terrific American Kitri in Baryshnikov's full-length staging. In this video she isn't effective in the pas de deux--at least I, like you, don't think so. And we know she was suffering from anorexia--which is not simply being very "thin" but involves extreme restriction of calories, self-starvation etc.  So it's hard to believe it didn't play a role in her dancing. (Does Zakharova starve herself in the manner of an anorexic? Well, I hope not. )

I think Baryshnikov's legacy with ABT has some memorable strengths. A reputation for continence and self-control in his relations with women is not one of them.  To recall Dirac, I rather doubt he regrets not being around for #metoo . 

He resigned from ABT amidst disputes with the company about finances and the role of his assistant Charles France. This article mentions his unwillingness to do fundraising.  (He didn't take a salary and, in return, had a certain freedom.) One of his legacies on the business end was a deficit. These of course are perennial problems for American Ballet companies:

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/29/arts/baryshnikov-quits-as-head-of-american-ballet-theater.html

Baryshnikov IS credited with raising the standard of the company's classical dancing at ABT--particularly the corps--and gave opportunities to a number of young American ballerinas. His repertory choices and stagings drew more mixed reactions. For one thing, he brought some new and substantial Balanchine to ABT ... and at least some observers did not think it made sense for ABT to dance works like Stravinsky Violin Concerto when audiences could see them right across the plaza danced much better. 

He did other things to try to build interesting repertory that seemed (to me) intelligent, though the choices didn't always yield great results.  Partnerships with Tharp and Macmillan; commissions from downtown choreographers; some of his own productions of the classics etc.  As far as legacy goes, too, when Baryshnikov left ABT, he took his own productions with him.

(Here is what the online Oxford Quick Reference says as well and it accords with my impressions:

"In 1980 he returned to ABT as principal dancer and artistic director, where he remained until 1989. His directorship met with mixed success; his stagings included Giselle (1980), Cinderella (1983), and Swan Lake (1988), but the last two were quickly withdrawn from the repertoire.")

I would have said that many of Baryshnikov's casting decisions, hirings, firings (not just Kirkland but Godunov) etc. were as subject to debate as those things usually are. A few--such as the extreme prominence granted Robert LaFosse during several seasons--more so. Others, like hiring Ferri and, later, Bocca, were slam dunks.

I don't agree that he would or could have been a good or even plausible choice at NYCB. He had danced with that company for no more than a couple of  years at a time when Balanchine was often not in great health. NYCB was bound and, I think, right to turn to someone with much more extensive Balanchine experience.

Edited by Drew

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5 hours ago, Drew said:

I thought Wolftrap was just anorexia--she talks about being introduced to cocaine later no??...

Yes. The cocaine problems started in 1980 before she was to return to ABT when Baryshnikov took over as AD. Patrick Bissell introduced her to it. (Dancing on My Grave, pp. 224ff)

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2 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

But Zakharova's Kitri is always energetic and sharp

Normally I can't get enough of Zaharova, and I could watch her do the DQ grand pas a zillion times. But I'm afraid she is becoming a bit old and not "looking the part" for some roles. After watching one of her recent Giselles my wife quipped that she looked like Albrecht's mother. In Sept '16 I saw Krysanova at the matinee and Zaharova in the evening as Kitri and Katya to my eye was the more "believable" Kitri overall.

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There's also a video of Gelsey dancing with Jacques d'Amboise in Balanchine's MND on YT. It's not a high-quality recording, but her dancing looks superb to my eye — light, youthful, delicate, gorgeous.

Edited by nanushka

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Many videos were supposed to have been Kirkland. For instance Balanchine sent her to Berlin to do the second movement of Symphony in C but she withdrew and so Allegra Kent was filmed instead. Ditto Turning Point. 

 

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3 hours ago, California said:

Yes. The cocaine problems started in 1980 before she was to return to ABT when Baryshnikov took over as AD. Patrick Bissell introduced her to it. (Dancing on My Grave, pp. 224ff)

Absolutely right.  In either case, her performance in the DQ PdD at Wolf Trap was only a suggestion of her capabilities.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Many videos were supposed to have been Kirkland. For instance Balanchine sent her to Berlin to do the second movement of Symphony in C but she withdrew and so Allegra Kent was filmed instead. Ditto Turning Point. 

 

Indeed! She was also supposed to do Push Comes to Shove, but thought it was silly, and Marianna Tcherkassky took that role instead. 

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Many videos were supposed to have been Kirkland. For instance Balanchine sent her to Berlin to do the second movement of Symphony in C but she withdrew and so Allegra Kent was filmed instead. Ditto Turning Point. 

 

That video of Allegra in the 2nd mvt. is one that I'd never trade in, however much I'd love to see more of Gelsey.

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9 minutes ago, nanushka said:

That video of Allegra in the 2nd mvt. is one that I'd never trade in, however much I'd love to see more of Gelsey.

Kent's dancing there is exquiste.

 

26 minutes ago, California said:

Indeed! She was also supposed to do Push Comes to Shove, but thought it was silly, and Marianna Tcherkassky took that role instead. 

I agree with her.  

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13 hours ago, Drew said:

I thought Wolftrap was just anorexia--she talks about being introduced to cocaine later no??...Anway, I find the Wolftrap Coppelia pas de deux rather charming despite her thinness though I saw her dance Swanilda in the full length Coppelia more brilliantly in the theater both with Baryshnikov (just after she joined ABT) and more exquisitely, so to speak, later in her career with Charles Ward. I remember the former as one of the best ballet performances I ever attended--Clive Barnes wrote about it, at the time, as one of those special nights at the ballet when everything comes together; the two of them were sparking off of each other on stage in an absolutely fantastic way. And in the latter Coppelia, Ward and she just looked wonderful together in a different way (he was quite tall, fair, and--I thought--very good looking). Along with Mcbride, Kirkland was my favorite Swanilda of that era -- in the 21st century I must admit I took a huge shine to Osipova in the Bolshoi Vikharev production. But yes...publicly available video is not the place to find out much about Kirkland's dancing other than hints. Unfortunately, I haven't seen the materials available at NY Public library.

Okay...so all this now just has nothing to do with Peter Martins and sexual harassment. I guess I'm "sorry-not-sorry" I got so carried away when her name first came up. My memories of Kirkland at her best are just wonderful treasures, so I can't always help myself  -- especially since I know a lot of younger people reading these threads never saw her dance. (And over time I have tried to deal philosophically with the complexities and disappointments of her career.) At any rate, her writing did prefigure a little of NYCB's #metoo moment and was, as best I remember, dismissed by many in the ballet world who found it unacceptable to write about Balanchine and NYCB the way she did.

Thanks for the shout out to Charles Ward.  I worked with him,  and besides being a very handsome tall partner,  and very talented dancer in solos,  he was an immensely kind and humble human being.  Definitely one of the good guys.

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2 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Thanks for the shout out to Charles Ward.  I worked with him,  and besides being a very handsome tall partner,  and very talented dancer in solos,  he was an immensely kind and humble human being.  Definitely one of the good guys.

Very nice to read this. I always looked forward to seeing him dance ...

Edited by Drew

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30 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Speaking of Kirkland another snippet of her Giselle has popped up:

 

Thanks, it's a beautiful snippet.  The lone other clip on YT of her Giselle is the variation in Act I, but with only piano accompaniment.

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1 hour ago, Marta said:

Thanks, it's a beautiful snippet.  The lone other clip on YT of her Giselle is the variation in Act I, but with only piano accompaniment.

There is a small bit of her variation in Giselle near the end of Act II on the 60 Minutes interview. It starts at about 13:00, waist up, but then does show full-body performance. She's on cocaine during this, but it's still amazing to see - and scary. Dancing with Bissell.

 

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On 1/13/2018 at 8:41 AM, Helene said:

 

On 1/13/2018 at 8:14 AM, California said:

Indeed! She was also supposed to do Push Comes to Shove, but thought it was silly, and Marianna Tcherkassky took that role instead. 

I agree with her.

I have to disagree with you -- I think it's a wonderful and sly work.  When people look at the whole of Baryshnikov's directorship at ABT, I think his invitation to Twyla Tharp will stand as one of the most influential things he did.  I don't always love the direction that ballet travelled at that time, but there have been some phenomenal works come from it, and fascinating dancers to perform them.

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On 1/12/2018 at 12:38 PM, nanushka said:

That's a really interesting idea. It certainly wasn't the only significant factor (for one thing, I think they were just fundamentally, temperamentally unsuited to one another), but it very well could have played a substantial role in shaping her responses and, thereby, their relationship. It's so easy to forget how strong an impact serious chronic pain can have on one's experiences (especially when one doesn't have the same experience of pain as another person — which one never does).

Kirkland is probably the one dancer from the past whose career I most intensely wish I had witnessed. In part, this is because there's just so little recorded evidence of it. I've scoured YouTube and relish everything I've found (especially the two complete [or in one case near-complete, and with only reconstructed sound] performances of T&V — I consider the telecast version to be perhaps the greatest complete ballet performance ever professionally recorded, at least of those I've seen), but there's just so much less of her on video than of some other dancers of her era and prominence (for a variety of reasons).

The other reason I wish I'd seen her is that my sense, from those videos, is that she was truly unlike any other dancer. Of course that's true of many—but, for instance, I think I know kind of what it would have felt like to see Baryshnikov, or Makarova, or Verdy. (Of course I could be wrong.) Not because I've seen other dancers who are quite like them, but because I suspect I've seen other dancers who have provoked in me the same sorts of reactions that they would have provoked. My sense is that Kirkland would have provoked something quite distinct. She was sui generis.

Actually, for some of the same reasons (a limited number of recordings and a real distinctness of character and qualities), but also for some others, I think Farrell would be my runner-up in the "wish I had been there" category.

I feel very fortunate that I saw Gelsey Kirkland perform. I saw her in Giselle with Ivan Nagy in Minnesota. Sublime characterisation and fabulous dancing. The Act 1 variation on youtube is just a taste of what she could do. The whole evening was like that. I saw The Leaves Are Fading live as well. I've forgotten what else. I love the Nutcracker film, costume and all.

Regarding Kirkland's memoirs, I don't recall that she "excoriated" Baryshnikov. I worshipped him like the sun, too, so perhaps I've blocked it out. IIRC, she wrote her heartbreak that he moved on romantically, whereas with Peter Martins she seemed blind to the fact that he and Heather Watts (even though he told Kirkland they'd broken up) were still emotionally attached. She seems very young and naive in the book, (age appropriate given her youth and inexperience with men during the events she describes) and extremely self-critical. Maybe the impulse to anorexia is anger turned inward. You can see that in the Diane Sawyer interview. Dancing on My Grave is a juicy read. I recommend it. Martins is the one to introduce her to Baryshnikov and suggest they dance together. Early evidence of his eye as an AD?

I saw Farrell quite a bit too. I happened to see two performances of Walpurgisnacht in a week in 1981 (or so). In the second one Farrell held a balance in attitude so long that she had to improvise an ending to the phrase. What guts. The audience went crazy. Darci danced the second ballerina role that performance. It was a golden era... for me at least.

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20 minutes ago, sandik said:

I have to disagree with you -- I think it's a wonderful and sly work.  When people look at the whole of Baryshnikov's directorship at ABT, I think his invitation to Twyla Tharp will stand as one of the most influential things he did.  I don't always love the direction that ballet travelled at that time, but there have been some phenomenal works come from it, and fascinating dancers to perform them.

Although Push premiered in January 1976 and his directorship didn't commence until 1980. I don't know who had the idea originally to invite Tharp, but I remember a sense that  Lucia Chase was trying to bring in lots of work (new and otherwise) for him to perform. I'm a fan of Push -- silly at times, but never boring. And it provided all sorts of opportunities to show his technical ability, doing things we had never seen before -- like the multiple pirouette sequence in the last movement where he lifts the supporting leg off the ground. (We saw that again in his Tchai Pas when he filmed it with Balanchine. It also appeared in Robbins' Four Seasons; Robbins actually choreographed a different variation for Martins to use in that piece.) And for quite a few years -- when many performances sold out before casting was announced -- it was one sure guarantee that you'd see him that evening, as no other male performed it for many years.

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