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November 25, 2012

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I liked the piece but yes, it was a fluff promo piece. It reminded me of the video that is on NYCB's website, with Peter Martins saying how unique NYCB is, etc. (Which I agree with.)

One overstatement that I guess was inevitable was the comment about how Martins was trying to equalize the status of the sexes in ballet to compensate for Balanchine's "ballet is woman" ethos. And the example was Apollo. But of course, Apollo was choreographed by Mr. Ballet is Woman, in 1929, 83 years ago. It would have made more sense if they had given an example of Martins' choreography showcasing a guy. That is the kind of illogicality that always annoys me.

Nitpicks aside, it was nice seeing NYCB showcased on a major news show.

I just watched the extra piece on Balanchine technique. Look, to a lot of non-ballet fans it all looks the same. They could not tell the difference between a Danish dancer, a Bolshoi dancer, a Paris Opera dancer, and an NYCB dancer. So show us the difference, guys. What does it actually mean when Balanchine wanted "more"? In Farrell's book she describes how Balanchine pulled that wide fourth position out of her, which seemed at the time ridiculous. She thought she couldn't do it, and she kept widening and widening more....and she didn't fall. Show us this. As well as the diff between heels down and not.

No use talking about a dance step. We need to see it.

Hi Diana. There were some brief technique comparisons, but there should have been more. The "journalist" should have at least pulled her fan hat above her eyes.

Ankle and tendon injuries are in your future if you always jump without putting your heels down.

It's actually possible to land soundlessly from a jump and still put your heels down. You have to come down through the foot, from toe to heel, rather than landing smack on the whole foot at once. At 100 years old, I can still land soundlessly and get my heels down. On the other hand, there's a whole lot I can no longer do, alas.

I took a few (but enough) classes from Melissa Hayden one summer and she said in her unique matter of fact way that Balanchine never instructed dancers not to put their heels down when jumping and that the story that he did was #@!_#!

That just may be another Balanchine folktale like the one where the dancer developpes the left leg to second and then simply turns the head to the right to make first arabesque.

The Balanchine folktales are only going to grow the longer he's gone.


You're right Haglund, I was hasty and wrote my comment after only seeing half of the footage. That's a habit of mine- flying off the handle. But I do think the differences weren't well described. Anyone can speed up a turn.

I've heard that debunking about Balanchine and heels, etc. What I heard was that Carole Sumner just didn't put her heels down naturally. It was a quirk of hers, and for a while he was suggesting this to all his dancers but that it was never a rule.

And of course it's true that you can land soundlessly while putting your heels down. That's the point...! They made it seem as if every other dancer from every other company was some kind of clodhopper in boots.

Regarding Balanchine folktales, another one is the Balanchine bow. Unless my memory is playing tricks, I remember Patricia McBride, the most modest and least show-bizzy dancer ever, bowing very grandly after a performance of Coppelia. She had an unmistakable way of sweeping her right arm towards her partner, as if gathering him in. It drove the audience nutz. That was half the performance.

Thanks, Diana.

The saving grace is that so many of NYCB's dancers arrive for their final year or two at SAB with years of sound training from traditional schools throughout the country. Good beginning and good intermediate teachers can instill good habits that last a lifetime and will survive any balletic dialect. On the other hand, if you are a six year old being taught not to put the heels down on jumps or encouraged to over-cross your fifth position, there isn't much hope.

Of course, one of the things you are not supposed to notice is that very few of NYCB's dancers are trained from the school from day one. The overwhelming majority come from somewhere else & SAB is their 'finishing school'. In fact offhand do you know of any of the dancers who have studied there from the beginning? (I mean, current roster.)

PS, I have to add that it seems Martins has mellowed a bit. He's showing some charm and warmth. And I think he is, for the ballet world, an enlightened employer.

Hi Diana.

Off the top of my head, I believe that Jennie Somogyi started at SAB very young and was Marie in the Nut. Not sure who else.

Yes, I would agree with you that Martins has been showing charm, warmth, and smarts in his senior years.

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