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Subject: "Ballerina status" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2396
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04-01-02, 12:44 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail AnnWilliams Click to send private message to AnnWilliams Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
"Ballerina status"
   Currently on Balletalert there's a fascinating thread called 'The ballerina - a swansong?' It follows on a piece by Tobi Tobias in the Tutu Review, which I posted here on Wednesday after spotting it on Balletalert:

So, what is your idea of what constitutes a 'ballerina'? Poise? Musicality? Authority? Other? And who, if anyone, posseses these qualities today?

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Ballerina status Tomoko.A 06-01-02 1
  RE: Ballerina status Shantrice 07-01-02 2
     RE: Ballerina status Kevin Ng 08-01-02 3
         RE: Ballerina status AnnWilliams 09-01-02 5
             RE: Ballerina status Emily 12-01-02 6
  RE: Ballerina status tortie14 13-01-02 7
     RE: Ballerina status Robert 13-01-02 8
     RE: Ballerina status sylvia 13-01-02 9
         RE: Ballerina status Helen 14-01-02 10
             RE: Ballerina status Brendan McCarthymoderator 14-01-02 11
  RE: Ballerina status Ted 15-01-02 12

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06-01-02, 00:23 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Tomoko.A Click to send private message to Tomoko.A Click to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #0
   There are so many ballet stars in the world. But I think "Ballerinas" are more than ballet stars. True ballerinas should have charisma on the stage. Maybe people who have ever seen Markova,Fonteyn,Sibley,Pontois, Plisetskaya dance can tell us what ballerinas should be.

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07-01-02, 04:25 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Shantrice Click to send private message to Shantrice Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
2. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #0
   My opinion is that the definition of perfect ballerina exists in everyone's thoughts. Each definition varies depends on the people's taste. However the only thing that all the great ballerinas have in common is their unaccountable fascination, which never stops to enchant the public. Their technics, actings, musicalities and physical beauties are the part of the
reasons that made them attractive but the most important factor can only make them superlative. Perhaps "originality" is the right word for it. Characteristic charm that can never be replaced by anyone impresses the public.

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Kevin Ng

08-01-02, 11:30 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #2
   Shantrice, your opinion is well-reasoned. I think that the Kirov Ballet currently has at least two ballerinas in Diana Vishneva and Svetlana Zakharova. The Bolshoi's Svetlana Lunkina is another ballerina, as is Alina Cojocaru.

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09-01-02, 05:25 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail AnnWilliams Click to send private message to AnnWilliams Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
5. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #3

Thank you, all, for these thoughts. Kevin , I agree completely with your list but I'd add Uliana Lopatkina; her performance in the slow movement of 'Symphony in C' alone would be enough to qualify her amongst the starriest ranks of ballerinas.

I've thought a lot about what makes a 'ballerina' different from a 'ballet dancer', and I have come to the conclusion that - if we take outstanding dance ability as a given - a very rare cocktail of qualities go into the making of a real ballerina. She must have a degree of physical beauty and a sort of glamour that has nothing and yet everything to do with sex, a certain aloofness that should never be seen as conceit (she could never be imagined as 'one of the lads', for instance), she must have a quality of gentleness so that she surprises us when she takes a feisty role like Kitri yet, at the same time, she must have utter authority and the ability to command the stage from the moment she steps on to it to the moment she takes her final curtain.

The only ballerina I can think of at the moment who seems to combine all these qualities is the exquisite Elisabeth Platel of the Paris Opera Ballet, sadly now forced into retirement by the POB's idiotic rule that female dancers must retire at 40. I recall her as Nikiya in 'Bayadere'; she sent shivers down my spine when she raised her slender arm and pointed her finger accusingly at Gamzatti before dying from the snakebite. The power and command of her small body reached into the the furthest recesses of the theatre, a true 'ballerina' moment.

When I saw New York City Ballet in Edinburgh in 2000, I thought Jennifer Ringer had echoes of the grandeur of a real ballerina with the generosity and expansiveness of her dancing, and, closer to home, I think both Alina Cojocaru and Zenaida Yanowsky of the RB have ballerina possibilities, the former for her dancing abilities alone and the latter for sheer glamour and old- fashioned grandeur. Soloist Nicholah Tranah, too, has a gentleness and sweetness which makes me wonder what she would have made of Giselle if she had been given the chance ( it's the touchstone role for ballerinas, I think).

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12-01-02, 09:32 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail Emily Click to send private message to Emily Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
6. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #5
>I think both Alina Cojocaru
>and Zenaida Yanowsky of the
>RB have ballerina possibilities

i think alina cojocaru definately is a ballerina

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13-01-02, 00:03 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail tortie14 Click to send private message to tortie14 Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
7. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #0
   LAST EDITED ON 13-01-02 AT 00:09 AM (GMT)

LAST EDITED ON 13-01-02 AT 00:06 AM (GMT)

From dancers I have seen I would add to Tomoko's list of ballerinas - Markarova, Eva Evdokimova and Elisabetta Terabust (Festival Guests) and Suzanne Farrell and Patricia McBride from NYCB, and Merle Park from Royal Ballet. Lynn Seymour was something special - but not sure if she was exactly ballerina - too much passion and rebellion! I only saw Beriosova coach but she was definitely a ballerina. As you say Ann it is so hard to define, but it has to do with glamour and charisma, as well as "doing the steps". As a child I remember Fonteyn's radiance and presence filling the Opera House and wowing the audience, and then at the stage door I waited for Fonteyn who gave another "performance" to fans packed into Floral Street which impressed me hugely because she came out looking so glamourous - very much a star in a gracious way. I did think perhaps the age of real ballerinas was past until I saw Alina - not just on stage but also at the Ballet Association. She has something special going with us the punters that has nothing to do with good PR! Yanowski (?spelling) has definite presence and style, only time will tell if she is ballerina status I would say.

Great to think about - thanks Ann.

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13-01-02, 01:51 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Robert Click to send private message to Robert Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
8. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #7
   Interesting to see Yanowsky mentioned, I do not think that is the opinion of Ross Stretton.
Incidentally I saw Beriosova lots of times,I thought she was very good but not the very very best, something slightly missing.

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13-01-02, 10:20 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail sylvia Click to send private message to sylvia Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
9. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #7
   I was a bit curious to see that Tamara Rojo wasn't mentioned. In spite of her mixed reviews so far this year, I'd still add her to the list of ballerinas using Ann's criterina. Of course it's purely a personal opinion. I do think Alina belongs here - she's certainly something special.

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14-01-02, 10:07 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Helen Click to send private message to Helen Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
10. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #9
   I feel I should be contributing to this thread, but Ann Williams has said everything that I would say - I agree absolutely with all of it. I was going to say a quality of "otherness" - not quite like us - and also mention physical beauty (though not of a bland variety, and stage beauty isn't necessarily the same as everyday beauty) in addition to the obvious qualifications of sound but unobtrusive technique, musicality and so on, but Ann has said it all for me. I also agree that Elisabeth Platel is the only dancer today who I could without the slightest doubt place in the "ballerina" bracket. Alina Cojocaru is a bit too young as yet, but she may well be the next one.

Dancers I have seen who were without doubt ballerinas are Markova, Fonteyn, Sibley, Platel, probably Makarova. Dancers who are generally considered to be in this category, but who haven't convinced me, are Suzanne Farrell, and Guillem - but admittedly I have only seen them a handful of times, so perhaps I shouldn't make controversial statements like that!

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Brendan McCarthymoderator

14-01-02, 10:23 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #10
   LAST EDITED ON 14-01-02 AT 10:25 AM (GMT)

Deborah Bull made a feature for Radio 4 last summer about the concept of the ballerina. At the time I reviewed it for the Ballet.co August magazine. Two quotes from her interviewees resonated with me then, and I remembered them when Ann started this thread. The first is from Alastair Macaulay

“The general image of a ballerina is a male made thing. I think a ballerina is a kind of dialogue between male and female in our society, between male expectations and women’s determination to be independent within this expectation. I sometimes wonder if, when we have a really equal society, if there will be a place for ballet – if in fact it isn’t actually something that belongs to a historical period – and whether the whole business of a woman rising on tiptoe in her blocked shoes will one day seem as curious as women binding their feet in China. And we’re lucky that we saw it being expressive and beautiful and seeing the good things of it. But it may one day have its sell-buy date”.

The second quote is from Sarah Wildor

“It doesn’t mean what it used to mean. It used to be about your nature, the way you dressed, the way you carried yourself, the way people thought about you. There was a time when you couldn’t even say hello to principals. You were always in awe of principal dancers whereas now it is as it should be. But there is something really great about how it used to be, when people came in their furs and their smart suits. But as far as I’m concerned I do take my clothes off when I get here and change them, so what’s the point really? Come in a baggy jeans and a t-shirt? It was probably more expected then, it came with the title in a way - and maybe it makes a statement as well. It is a job to be proud of, there’s no doubt about it. These days you don’t want to feel that you’re bragging…not that they were. It’s difficult to explain. I could give the title of ballerina to lots of people, but I’d never say it about myself”.

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15-01-02, 03:27 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Ted Click to send private message to Ted Click to add this user to your buddy list  
12. "RE: Ballerina status"
In response to message #0
   Forgive me if I have intrepreted the message wrongly. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a 'ballerina' is a female ballerino (Italian for dancing-master), a danseuse, especially one in a leading role. Hence, all the lady dancers are ballerinas. I therefore wonder if the topic "Prima Ballerina Assoluta and its equivalant" would have been more appropriate?
To me, a true Prima Ballerina Assoluta is not just technically strong and artistically perfect inside the theatre but can also 'inspire' the audience (not just ballet fans) and draw them back into the theatre again and again. I remember the days when Margot was dancing, most of the audience didn't really care what she was dancing so long it was Margot who was dancing. Her fans would queue outside the box office of ROH all night for a standing room ticket. To a lot of people, Margot Fonteyn is ballet just like Julie Andrews is the Sound of Music. To me that is a true Prima Ballerina Assoluta.

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