The Divine Diana
No matter how many twists and turnabouts Alexei Ratmansky sends her way, Diana Vishneva makes them flow. This is her gift. She’s a warm, charismatic dancer with the texture of plush velvet. And Cinderella is Ratmansky’s gift to her.
The Mariinsky Ballet, now resident at Brooklyn Academy of Music, is only giving three performances of Cinderella; the last is tomorrow and has a different cast.
In Saturday’s performance, which was the American debut of this three-act 2002 ballet, Ratmansky used Vishneva’s dramatic range beautifully. I was in rapture over her dancing, and its range gave me a chance to contemplate her artistry.
We first see her cowering in a dark corner. This ballerina can fill up the stage with a single gesture, but she also knows how to cede center stage to others. And Yekaterina Kondaurova certainly took command with her spiky, me-first Stepmother.
Vishneva’s sense of wonder at finding herself in the palace was a little oasis that gave meaning to her rags-to-riches rise. It wasn’t about how beautiful she looked to others, but how she was discovering the new environment. Her special quality of tenderness, seen in the tilt of the head or a rolling of the hands, lasts the whole ballet, not just at those touching moments. Just look at this YouTube of her dancing that section with Andrei Merkuriev.
One of the most delicious scenes is when Cinderella performs a tiny bit of shy dancing at the ball and the party-goers step forward to applaud her with elaborate politeness. It’s typical of Ratmansky’s humor, but it also shows the vulnerability of this Cinderella: She’s a girl who loves to dance but was never encouraged to show it.
I think Vishneva embodies Ratmansky’s vision of what romantic ballet is. It’s not big triumphant positions, lifts on high, and swooning dips. It’s a back and forth kind of thing, a simultaneous going and coming that requires trust. (You can see this churning kind of partnership in his Nutcracker too.) In the last act of Cinderella, the prince propels her leaps toward stage right but then she curves her left arm in front of her and now they are heading stage left. This boomerang effect adds dimension to the pas de deux.
I wouldn’t say that every bit of the choreography delighted me. As in Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet for National Ballet of Canada, there were revelatory parts, and other parts that were over-choreographed, for instance the ballroom scene.
But I did feel that every moment of Vishneva’s scenes were deeply responsive to Prokofiev’s sorrow-edged score. The illusion was that she was dancing steps she had made up herself. Vishneva fully realized Ratmansky’s vision of a gentle, neglected girl who finds herself through meeting her life partner—but not just because he’s a handsome prince who can lift her out of poverty, but because he’s a man she can dance with. She’s has found not only love but freedom too.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
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Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
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To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."