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What was the first ballet that you ever...


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The first ballet I saw was Boston Ballet's "Tales of Hans Christen Anderson" I believe in 1990. They did a triple bill of fairy tales which were:

The Ice Maiden

The Steadfast Tin Soldier


Wild Swans

I know that the choreography for Steadfast was Bruce Marks and the choreography for Wild Swans was Jill Bahr but I am not sure about Ice Maiden. I wish I remembered. I do remember that Jenifer Gelfand danced the role of the paper ballerina in Steadfast... :)

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THe first "ballet" I ever saw was at college, in Oxford, Mississippi -- the Ballet Folclorico de Mexico -- character dancing, you might say, but SO vivid, I have near-total recall of the show -- the hidalgos' quadrilles with the couples in maroon, with the ladies quail-feather hats, the deer dance (which is a LOT like the Dying Swan), a vaquero and his lariat, dances for women in swirling colorful skirts, with bottles of wine balanced on their heads, and as the first-act finale, la Bamba -- the song was popular at the time on hte radio, Trini Lopez's version (or was it Richie Valenz), and they DID la Bamba, with lots ofheel-stamping and cries of "Arriba!": it's a wedding dance-- the bride takes hold of the end of the groom's cummerbund, and he spins out of it, like Apollo out of hte swaddling clothes, and then they laid the sash -- it's 10 feet long, at least -- on the floor and kicked it into a cryptic design with their heels, and folded it over somehow, and then lifted it up and showed it to us, and it was a true-love knot, and it brought the house DOWN --

Which I remembered VERY vividly when I saw my first "ballet," La Fille Mal Gardee, in London a year later (1969) at Covent Garden at a Satruday matinee -- it was Leslie Collier's debut in a major role and she was dancing Lise, and when they did all that cat's cradle and stuff with the ribbons, I thought of la Bamba and was thrilled.....

What I remember about Collier at that point was her footwork, which my attention got called to a lot, and which was indisputably strong, tidy, and quick, and her nose, which did not make enough of a statement for me to take her very seriously. A ballerina (I'm afraid I feel) does not need a chin, but it is very hard to command attention without much nose....

What I remember about FILLE, on the other hand, is that i LOVED it, and that I was fascinated to contemplate an experience where I felt I'd understood everything DOWN TO HTE GROUND without there being a word spoken; I wondered how that could be, and it led me back to Covent Garden, again and again, esp to Swan Lake, which really bowled me over, esp Sibley and Dowell in it -- that left me so moved I couldn't applaud until the very last bows, I couldn't even start to get out of my seat till people were on their way out of hte house......

Fille didn't do that to me, but I DID love it, especially the mime scene, and Alain (it was Grant), and Lancaster's hilarious sets -- the painting of the prize bull over the hearth, the idyllic, almost preposterously happy spirit of the WHOLE thing, the picnic, the storm, and all those wonderful inventions with the ribbons -- like a private language the lovers spoke; I remember for sure a cat's cradle, and they also do a true-love knot, don't they?

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Mine would also be Swan Lake. I attended with my parents and my great grandmother. That was the catalyst which lead me to dancing. My great grandmother had a great influence over me, though she probably never knew it. It was she who lead me to dance, art appreciation, drawing, painting and so many other things that define my talents and who I am today. We also attended Nutcracker with her. She had bought a copy of the souvenir program, which I looked through regularly when we went to visit her....for many years.

Funny that on September 15, 2001, I introduced my fiancé to the ballet with Swan Lake. He admits enjoying it much more than he expected. However, in London last year, we saw Giselle at Royal Opera. He was so moved that he could hardly contain himself. His children have seen Nutcracker a time or two, but now his daughter is really starting to take an interest. She pours through my copies of Pointe, has watched my videos many times (the son has learned that fouetees are much more difficult to do than they appear :) ) and expressed an interest in taking lessons.

Little did my great grandmother know some 26 or so years ago that her love of ballet would foster that same love for so many generations to come!

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My first "real" live ballet performance was Sleeping Beauty staged by Dame Beryl Grey (from the Royal Ballet). Even though my very first actual live ballet experience was a production of Don Quixote by the Royal Swedish ballet School and they most definitely inspired and impressed me!

Why is that Nutcracker seems to be the far most common ballet in the US, every local studio seems to have it's own production of it? I don't even know the real synopsis of it. The only Nutcracker I've seen is erhhm the Barbie version I'm afraid :)

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My first ballet was the SF Ballet Nutcracker, I forget with whom, and darned if I can recall anything about it. At the time, it didn't make much of an impression -- I was about nine or so, had taken some lessons because my sister did, but I wasn't immediately enthralled. (The Nutcracker did not help much, I'm sorry to say.)

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Good question Susanne - about the American obsession/tradition :) of Nutcracker productions.

Though I am sure that others, more knowledgeable than I, will respond to your question - here are two old threads that do talk a bit about the American take on this ballet, the general history and its various incarnations. :)A Nutcracker history - U.S. style? and More thoughts on Nuts

P.S. And thank you for telling us about your first "real" live ballet staged by Dame Beryl! :ermm:

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The first ballet I ever watched was a televised recording of Spartacus with Vladimir Vasiliev when I was seven years old. If you have seen this recording you know what I'm talking about. It was exceptional!

Not so with the first live ballet I watched which was a late 70's Buckarest performance of something unpleasantly green, soporific and crossover which sent me to sleep within 10 minutes.

(My parents with whom I have pleaded for hours to get tickets and who had gone to great trouble to find the tickets (they did not speak Romanian) were suitably incensed and refused to take me to any kind of performance for years to come)

I have no idea of what that piece was, though I suspect the music was by Stravinsky.

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Ever since I was old enough to sit still, my parents were taking me with them every winter to see the Nutcracker either in Oakland or San Francisco, but the first non-Nutcracker performance I saw was Swan Lake, with Evelyn Cisneros and Anthony Randazzo at SFB, I was about 13 or 14 at the time, but even then I knew it was a stellar performance. :P Then I rented the video of Swan Lake with Makarova from the corner video store a couple of times, and Giselle (also Makarova) from the local library, and I was hooked within a couple of years.

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Well this looks like a pretty old thread but it seems to have been revived, so here goes.

To be honest I don't remember what the first ballet I saw was. Back in 1968, while I was in high school, I inherited a 4 performance subscription to NYCB. I went and enjoyed it, but didn't have too much of an idea what I was seeing. With the four performances though I saw a good cross section of the lead dancers at that time in NYCB. I remember seeing Eddie Villella, that was the one name I recognized.

Probably that was those were the times that I saw him that he was least affected by injuries.

Ok, that's pretty lame, so let me give my first performance that was important to me. Again, I was still in high school but had a teacher that was a big ballet fan.

So she gathered up a group of us and got us to buy a whole batch of tickets for the 1969 Spring season of the Royal Ballet tour (in NY) So my first real performance (that I remember) was Romeo and Juliet with Fonteyn and Nureyev.

Later we saw Fonteyn and Nureyev in Giselle, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty.

I also cut school and went in to get standing room for a big gala that night where F&N danced Le Corsair pdd and Pelleas and Melisande .

It sure launched my days as a ballet fan!


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It's fascinating to read these posts and to realize the long, rich history of ballet in America during our lifetimes. Ballet history resides in the memories of the collective, dance-loving audience.

Of couse, some of us are older than others. My first ballet memory -- other than my mother jeteing around our suburban house, doing housework -- was around 1950. I was taken to an outdoor Central Park performance of (I think) one of the Monte Carlo touring groups. All I remember was the Black Swan pas de deux with Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch (the exotic names impressed me, especially "Igor"). I recall how odd yet glamourous and fascinating the grand ballet movements and gestures were. And I learned my first (not entirely beneficial) lesson that "black" in our culture meant bad, while "white" meant good.

My first ballet on my own was as a very young adolescent. City Center/ NYCB. I remember "The Cage" with Magallanes and (I think) Tallchief. VERY scarey from the 5th row center. It bacame my favorite for years. Also on the program: Firebird with Melissa Hayden. For the first time I realized that watching movement helped me hear the music in entirely new ways. Incidentally, it was the opportunity to come to know and love these very accessible story ballets that prepared me to appreciate the abstract Balanchine ballets when I got older.

Edited by bart
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My first ballet memory -- other than my mother jeteing around our suburban house, doing housework -- was around 1950.  I was taken to an outdoor Central Park performance of (I think) one of the Monte Carlo touring groups.  All I remember was the Black Swan pas de deux with Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch (the exotic names impressed me, especially "Igor"). 

Oh, jealous, jealous, jealous! :huepfen024: I was in the womb, not to emerge until late September of that year, but I still wish my mom had gone! I will never forget the Giselle Act II pdd I saw them do at an ABT gala, she in her 60s, he around 70. :angry2: What a partnership! And I've seen film of her electifying Black Swan, also unforgettable.

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Like alot of other posters, my first ballet was a Nutcracker(N.Y.C.B-1969) But my first ballet that I wanted to see was anything with Nureyev. In 1973, my mother

wanted me to see Rudi at the Met with the Canadians. Of course, being a teenager

and "very dumb" and young, I told my mom that "I dont want to see those fa---ts dance". Well, several months after I made that stupid statement, I saw pictures of RN in Life magazine, in lower outer-space. ( God, that man could jump!!!!!) :beg: So I asked my mother if he used a trampoline to get up so high. :huh: :blush:

She said, "No dummy! That was the dancer I was going to take you to see! He jumps like that on his own!! :o I then said that I had to see him the next time he came to NYC. Well, I saw him in 1974 in Sleepng Beauty with the Canadians and Veronica Tennant!!! I have been hooked ever since !!!!:excl::):D

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I was first taken to the ballet in Spring of 1979. My sister bought a subscription to the New York City Ballet. We had tickets to four Saturday matinees. I was able to go with my sister to the first three. The first ballet that I saw was "The Cage", followed by Act II of "Swan Lake", and then I don't remember the third ballet.

During that Spring of 1979 (I was 10 years old), I had the opportunity to see Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins in "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux". Even back then, I knew that I was seeing something special.

There is an interesting story about the matinee that I was unable to go with my sister. I think I went to a graduation party instead. Anyway, my sister invited her best friend and on that last matinee, Mikhail Baryshnikov was dancing in "The Prodigal Son". My sister's best friend was notorious for being late and "Prodigal Son" was the first ballet on the program. By the time my sister's friend arrived and they were seated, Baryshnikov's character already had his legs broken. So my sister's one and only chance to see Baryshnikov dance did not happen. My sister almost killed her friend.

One question - that Spring I saw a comic ballet. I don't remember the name, but it has something to do with people coming to a park to hear a piano player. One ballerina made her entrance very dramatically and then sat down with her hands on the piano and her feet on pointe. A man takes her chair away from her and she is still in the sitting position on pointe. The audience gave her a huge hand! What is the name of that ballet?

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My first ballet was Manon (National Ballet of Canada).

I recently took a friend to see his first ballet, it was a mixed program with James Kudelka's Desir and Stanton Welch's Madame Butterfly. I thought it would be a good mix of narrative/abstract, and I think he enjoyed it.

I also took my sister to her first ballet performance, it was another mixed program- an All Stravinsky Program (one of her favourite composers) consisting of Apollo, John Alleyne's Septet, and Kudelka's Fairy's Kiss. She has since come to the ballet several other times :shake:

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