The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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Dancers I’ve Seen June 26, 2013

Filed under: ballet — theworstat @ 4:37 pm

Just read an article in the U.K.’s Guardian about seeing Nureyev past his prime, and various other dancers we wish we’d seen in their heydays.

I saw Nureyev once, in some kind of dance festival that a socialite used to produce in Chicago every year for about 5 years back in the ’70’s or early ’80’s.  He was panting, counting almost out loud, and barely made it though his variation (Le Corsaire or something).  I never did like Nureyev that much, and I suppose seeing him in his last moments as a dancer wasn’t the best way to change my mind.

I also saw Makarova almost fall off of Patrick Bissell’s shoulder (again, during this festival).  She let out a little scream.  He appeared to be in outer space.  It wasn’t a very pretty pas de deux.  It was the first and last time I heard a dancer vocalize on stage, however.  It was sharp, startling.  It made one realize that just a few feet away were actual human beings.

I remember watching Marianna Tcherkassky dance a pas de deux (not in the festival, but with ABT).  Don’t remember who her partner was; all I remember was that it was light and sweet, like Flower Festival or something. She sustained an injury during the pas de deux; we didn’t know about until later.  To this day I remember her big, gracious smile at our applause.

I was supposed to see Baryshnikov in the long-lost “Push Comes to Shove” (Tharp), but he was injured and I don’t remember who took his place.  Still do love that ballet, though.

I did see Anthony Dowell, who never went on dancing too long as I remember, in La Bayadere.  He was wonderful.

I haven’t seen any live ballet since, which I suppose is inexcusable, living as I do in a big city with a major ballet company in residence.

I’m wondering who my readers have seen, and when, and what their impressions were.  Is it worthwhile to see dancers who are pushing their bodies past their prime?  As for me, I always wondered why Nureyev went on so long.  I remember hearing at one point that he had earned a nickname from his colleagues: “Randolph Neveroff.”

At the other end of the spectrum are those who retire a tad too soon, like Darcey Bussell.  I have heard that her body was at the breaking point, however, so I don’t blame her.

As I get older…and older, lol…I fully realize why dance is for the young.  It’s nothing but sad when you see someone who was formerly great out on stage, hanging on with nothing but their name.  But that’s my opinion.  I’d like to hear what others think.

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2 Responses to “Dancers I’ve Seen”

  1. Jennifer S Says:

    Leave the stage before the stage leaves you, as the saying goes.

    I saw NYCB and ABT many times during thr 1990s. This was also when I started to follow and attend performances of Russian companies. Some performances are still very memorable. For example I remember watching the Kirov as it was known then, dance Paquita with a plethora of the purest Vaganova trained dancers before Vaganova turned for the worse today, I remember being impressed with Irina Chistyakova and Yulia Makhalina. I also vividly remember Alessandra Ferri as Juliet, one of the most naturally dramatic performances I’d ever attended, she was already in her late 30s then but she became Juliet onstage. So many too many memories of great shows and dancers. It seems like today’s younger stars care more about impressing or wowing the audience as opposed to showing them true art. Still attend shows regularly, and am always looking to find those rare gem artists who break the current mode of dancers.

  2. atlantic Says:

    I have to admit I haven’t seen as much live ballet as I would have liked. Mostly only a small regional (now defunct) company where I used to live. My undergrad had a good ballet program and put on several shows a year. I have never seen anyone famous. Most of the ballet I watch is on youtube or DVD.

    The undergrads were inexperienced but always energetic. The regional company had tired Russian dancers. I’m sorry to say it, but it was obvious they were on their last leg at times.

    I’ve often thought a talent for dance is really a curse. It consumes a person and is over when many of their peers are just starting their careers.


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