Curtain Up

August 26, 2008

When great Russian dancers
arrive in the West, we tend to swoon over them. There was Nureyev in 1961, Makarova in 1970, and Baryshnikov in 1974. For me it happened in 1962 when the Bolshoi came to the old Met and hired American teenagers to perform in their larger pieces. There I was, in a parade scene of Leonid Yacobson’s Spartacus, pointing and laughing at poor Phrygia, played by Maya Plisetskaya. Seeing her beauty and power from a few feet away, I can only tell you that pointing and laughing was not what I felt like doing. I wanted to soak up every little move. Watching her warm up, watching her blaze through her choreography onstage, I was hooked. I also fell in love with Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev. Plisetskaya’s fire, Maximova’s sweetness, and Vasiliev’s heroism were on such a big scale (“bolshoi” literally means big) that they became part of my—and plenty of other ballet lovers’—dreams.


The latest Russian ballerina to create an international buzz is Natalia Osipova—not so much by word of mouth as by word of YouTube. A whole generation is getting turned on by her amazing leaps and turns without even seeing her in the flesh. Read Margaret Willis’ “Delicate Dynamite” to find out more about this rising star.


As we return
from our summer gigs or vacations, we can feel a rush of energy while we look ahead to the coming year. This year we’ve stretched our usual Fall Preview to cover the whole ’08–’09 season. Allan Ulrich’s “Coming to a Theater Near You” will get you revved up for some serious dance-watching—or some serious auditioning.


No matter how talented
you are, it’s hard to know the right step to take to maximize your career. You can ask teachers and friends for advice, but the bottom line is that you have to make these decisions on your own. This month’s “Career Clinic” can help. Jen Thompson Peters tells us about dancers who have felt that sinking feeling of being “stuck” and how they pulled themselves out of it. And Theresa Ruth Howard gives us the lowdown on how to find and keep a teaching gig to supplement your income. These stories will inspire you to ask yourself the hard questions. Are you on the right path? Is there another direction you should be going in? How do you know what’s right for you? Of course, we feel that every issue of Dance Magazine gives you insight into your options, but the “Career Clinic” section focuses specifically on those questions. So read on, and your future may become brighter.