Saturday, April 3, 2010

One More for the Road

Modern dance has never been one of my great passions.  Like modern art, I appreciate the extreme talent of the artists who create it, but I've just always preferred the more traditional, classical versions.

Then Twyla Tharp, a modern dance choreographer, decided to create several dance pieces accompanied by Frank Sinatra tunes. My interest was peaked. On top of that, she made the brilliant decision to pursue the incomparable ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov, to perform several of the numbers in this piece.  I was in!

Younger audiences will remember Baryshnikov best from his appearance as Russian artist Aleksandr Petrovski in Sex in the City's last season.  He's the guy who relentlessly pursued Carrie Bradshaw and brought her to Paris in the final episodes.

But us older folk know Mikhail only for his outstanding dancing ability.  In the ballet world, there is still none greater. From his infamous thirteen-pirouette execution in the movie White Knights, to his countless show-stopping appearances with American Ballet Theater in NYC, the man is a legend.

This performance of "One for My Baby" (inconceivably, only HALF of the dance is available!  Doh!!), is perfect.  Twyla wanted to capture the heartache of a drunk, late at night, mourning the loss of a relationship.  Baryshnikov expertly executes the inebriated, loose choreography with precise, extreme control.  Check out, around 2:07,  how he (seemingly) effortlessly comes out of a quadruple pirouette without even placing his second foot on the ground. That's REALLY hard!!

When I watch this piece, I totally GET modern dance.  If this number had been performed in traditional ballet dress, with traditional ballet moves, it never would've captured the raw emotion that Twyla's choreography displays.  I'd really like to know if you agree with me.  Take a look...

54 comments:

Sylvia K said...

I am a passionate Baryshnikov fan and have been for years! My youngest daughter was with a ballet company in California for several years until stress fractures in her feet caused her to leave ballet and become a Pilates instructor and personal trainer. I think Baryshinkov is one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time. So, needless to say I enjoyed your post tonight very, very much! Thanks for the memories, Joan!

Sylvia

Bossy Betty said...

Soooo....I've been doing "Just Dance" on Wii and feeling pretty good about my moves. That's all over. I believe I have perspective now.

KathyB said...

He is untouchable as a dancer.... only dancer to ever bring me to tears. Loved seeing what you wrote about him. :)

Kakka said...

Beautiful - he certainly is a dancer right down to his soul. I don't mind some modern dance and this is great.

Being Me said...

He is very charismatic, which adds to the appeal and watchability imo. I also think that the camera work contributes to capturing the emotion of this piece. The close-ups of his face made me realise how much a dancer (or MB anyway!) also acts their feelings through their dance. If that makes sense.

Thank you for this, most enjoyable!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Just found you tonight and really enjoyed reading some of your post will have to come back later and read more.
Glad I found you and looking forward to being your newest follower
Maggie

Feeling Just Right said...

Joan! I love how your blog always has a post on something i've never seen! It's gorgeous!

You know what i was thinking? About all of the weight i'd shed if i tried any of that. Or do you think the mass on my rear will land me with a fracture instead? Just a thought.

Beautiful dancing! (i want to dance too. i will learn. someday.)

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

Utterly exquisite. I adore this man, and hence understood Carrie's lust for Petrovsky. What a man, what a dancer - what choreography and staging. Thank you for sharing!

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Love it! Have a great weekend!

JennyMac said...

He is absolutely fabulous.

Have an awesome weekend. :)

Teresa Evangeline said...

I've always loved modern dance, especially the work of Twyla Tharp. You think of the coolest things to share!

Kaloula said...

Beautiful..

Allison said...

Yeah, I think traditional ballet attire would've killed that one! It was good.

Delana said...

He was my hero when I was young. I've never seen him do anything like this and it's fab. Thank you for sharing...as always.

Eternally Distracted said...

I had never really taken much notice of dance before... except drunken men trying to breakdance... but this is cool :0)

ReformingGeek said...

Ah, so very, very graceful. He makes it look easy!

Ally said...

I loved the 80s movie White Nights.

FourthGradeNothing.com

Mimi Lenox said...

He is perfection and grace and masculinity and brilliance and beauty and ahhhhh....all wrapped into one. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

Now you're talking my language! :)

This vid just oozes cool moodiness. Shows you how a great ballet foundation + emotion can put you in so many different dance pieces!

I first saw him in the usual Nutcracker movie with Gelsey Kirkland. Part of my admiration was because he wasn't the typical leading man - shorter like me and he looked so goshdarn happy to be on that stage.

His technique is amazing - and I'm thrilled that he's had such a long career!

Thanks for posting this - what a treasure!

(P.S. Your take on Nureyev and Fonteyn? :)

Momma Fargo said...

Totally agree! This version captures the emotion and story better for me.

Kelly L said...

I do remember the old days of Baryshnikov - The Turning Point is the movie that made me fall in love with him - he was around 25?
But he still was pretty hot in Sex in the city - would love for my man to compose a song... lol

Love to you and Happy Easter.
Kelly
http://www.amazingsalvation.com

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Oh my! I do love him! When he was on Sex and the City, some of the younger people at my office said, "wait, he's a dancer?" I wanted to cry.

He did a book signing at the Kennedy Center and my boss let me leave work to attend. I felt like one of the few not getting my ballet slippers signed.

Brenda Susan said...

Oh Naked....I love this! Pairing Sinatra & B was a genius idea! I could watch it again & again! I am not a dancer, but I am mesmerized by watching others. Love Gene Kelly because his, like B's is so athletic & strong!
Thanx for sharing!

Six Feet Under Blog said...

I remember him in Sex in the City.

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Jean said...

You know, I can't help but think about how much of a shame it is that the younger generations will associate Baryshnikov only with Sex and the City and not as the legendary dancer that he is. I'm not frowning up Sex, I'm just a little disappointed that credit won't be given where credit is due.
Great post though! Loved the video!

Jean Maurie (angelsloveyou) said...

I really like that dance and what you wrote. It was very sensuous too.

I just found your blog and wonder why you hate the Hallmark channel. Just curious :)

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Interesting as always! Thanks for sharing :)

Kat said...

I love Baryshnikov. As usual, great blog!

Barbara E Brink said...

He's still great! Thanks for sharing the video.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm with you! That was beautiful!

starnes family said...

I remember White Nights and loved it!

Kellyansapansa said...

Oh, the video isn't working for me :o(

I totally agree about his dancing though. It is just perfection and makes me wish I had pushy stage parents when I was younger!

Red Shoes said...

A fantastic dancer... I never thought about the fact that many would remember him only from 'Sex In The City'... how sad...

What a great post!

~shoes~

Rianna said...

The man was one of the all time best dancers in the world. The other comments are really insightful - his charisma coupled with his incomparable technique was and will always be utterly lethal. Thanks for posting!!!!! xo

LauraS said...

sometimes i wonder if there is ANYONE who was better at ANYTHING than barishnikov was at dancing. i got to see him live once...they added a performance to sold-out giselle and HE danced the lead. like kathyB, he made me cry! i used to feel sorry for the other male dancers on the stage with him. they looked like complete amateurs next to him. thanks for the video...just perfection.

Heatherlyn said...

I enjoyed your post and actually watched the video. I'm a sucker for really incredible dancers. :)

Miss Eve said...

It's beautiful! I love dancing and I adore Sinatra's music!

Hope you having a fabulous Easter!

Cheers: Evi

Missy said...

I just love Baryshnikov. Period.

Kakka said...

I have given you an award at me blog, one that is well deserved. Enjoy

http://menopausalmumma.blogspot.com/2010/04/awards-thank-yous.html

Velvet Over Steel said...

That is so interesting and what an amazing video you added! I love dancing! Thanks for sharing and teaching me today!! Hugs, Coreen

Simply Me said...

new follower :)

lori said...

That was beautiful. He made it look so effortless. I love watching people do contemporary routines. It's moving and inspiring. Thanks for sharing that!

Cate P said...

Brilliant, have always been a fan of his though not into ballet in general. Loved White Knights, probably my fave dance-type movie ever :)

SonyaAnn said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I can't imagine being that smooth, I can barely walk.

Melissa @ Cellulite Investigation said...

Thanks for bringing a bit of the arts to my workday :)

Jenny said...

You are just a complex and fascinating writer. Thank you.

Erin said...

AHHH! I can't seem to access any of your video postings out here in Singapore but I'm sure it's amazing. I have been a fan my whole life! (I started ballet at 4 years old)

Thanks for posting this!

suenosdeuomi said...

Baryshnikov brings so much presence and feeling to the stage and has such charisma! Never understood why any one might favor Nurejev? Not me, ever, but I am not an expert on classical dance, I did though study performance art informally in the seventies. Thanks for sharing this magical moments.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Simply amazing.

Tracie said...

I loved him in SATC - even if his character turned out to be a jerk. I remember him in the movie White Knights - back in the day.

Snooty Primadona said...

In case you didn't know it, I'm a Mikhail fanatic. Thanks for the great post. Here's mine:

http://snootyprimadona.blogspot.com/2010/02/if-you-missed-saturday-nights-olympics.html

Lee said...

okay, I am showing my age, but I remember when he defected to the US...thanks for the memory!

kate said...

wow, i had no idea. thanks for sharing.

Maria Karolina said...

there had something entertaining dance event by men classic. i am very exited to find this post. thanks to share this post.

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