Magazine article Pointe

A "Ballerina" Is

Magazine article Pointe

A "Ballerina" Is

Article excerpt

In a recent editorial in The New York Times, dance critic Alastair Macaulay wrote that "the lesson of history is that ballennadom has been continually redefined." I believe it is time for a new definition, one that does not hold up Old World glamour or a dancer's nationality as criteria. The greatest female dancers today are bringing their own vitality and originality from all over the world to the universal language of ballet.

To be clear, every balletomane and professional dancer has his or her own concept of the ideal ballerina. For some, it's about clarity of form and the seamless execution of choreography. For others, it's about dramatic range or stylistic versatility. To some degree, these attributes are prerequisites. Yet the most fundamental characteristic of my ideal ballerina is someone whose depth of character and generosity of spirit makes her a leader not only in her performances but in class and in the rehearsal process.

Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom once wrote that one of the most remarkable things about the character of Juliet is that she exudes both exceptional virtue and an exceptionally sparkling personality. To me. this rare balance is also the aim of a ballerina.

In real life these are difficult ideals to live up to. but I have many colleagues who are a daily inspiration. At American Ballet Theatre. I am continually struck by Stella Abrera's unwavering discipline, integrity and intelligence in both art and life. Her versatility as a dancer and actress is complemented by her graciousness onstage and to her colleagues. Similarly. New York City Ballet's Wendy Whelan is a goddess onstage, but down-to-earth in real life. …

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