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Will the Real MYRTHA Please Stand Up........?


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#1 Yvonne

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Posted 12 March 2001 - 10:50 PM

Just finished (again), watching my well-worn copy of ABT's Giselle and, of course, Martine van Hamel was wonderful as Myrtha. At some point last night, I started thinking about the recent thread on Cynthia Gregory, where there were a few interesting comments about her performances as Giselle. What I would like to know is; did Gregory ever dance the role of Myrtha? If so, did she come across better as Myrtha than she did as Giselle?

Robert LaFosse once described Gregory as the most chilling Siren he ever danced with in Prodigal, so I think I could picture her as Myrtha as well.

van Hamel is often praised (and rightly so), for her strong performances as Myrtha - who else do YOU feel was, or is now, effective in that role (or is van Hamel pretty much the "ultimate"?)

Who was dancing Myrtha the last time that ABT was performing Giselle?

#2 liebs

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Posted 12 March 2001 - 11:26 PM

Gregory did dance Myrthe but I remember an interview with her which quoted her as saying that she did not enjoy the part because she did not like to jump.

I saw a tape of an ABT Giselle with Fracci and Bruhn. Toni Lander danced Myrthe and was terrific.

I understand that Monica Mason of the Royal Ballet was also a distinguished Myrthe.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 12 March 2001 - 11:38 PM

I didn't see Gregory's Myrtha and always wanted to, because she could be so icy and imperious. ABT, and many other companies, downgraded the role of Myrtha to soloist in the late 1970s. They don't cast it as a ballerina role (originally it was the "classical" ballerina contrasted with the "romantic" ballerina).

I was lucky enough to see Van Hamel many times and I loved her Myrtha (still do) but when I saw Mette-Ida Kirk in Copenhagen, it changed my idea about the role. Kirk was small and fragile and a demon. An absolute demon. (Myrtha has become a "tall girl" role, probably because the part needs authority, but it wasn't originally.) She had a huge jump, was really like an arrow shot through the air every time she jumped. But she was also vulnerable; you could sense that under the ice.

#4 Drew

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 01:59 AM

I saw a Fracci-Bruhn Giselle in which Gregory danced Myrthe, but what fragmented memories I have of that performance do not include Gregory. (I do remember that I liked her in the role, but -- though opinionated -- I was a child.) At ABT two seasons ago, I saw Gillian Murphy in the role and thought she was excellent -- not (yet) Van Hamel/ballerina quality -- but a fine performance.

[This message has been edited by Drew (edited March 13, 2001).]

#5 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 02:16 AM

Tatiana Terekhova of the Kirov Ballet also gave us a different (and very memorable) Myrtha. She, too, is small, thin and wiry, possessing the most wonderful jump, and dancing with chilling precision, nothing sloppy. The authority of her Myrtha came above all from the quality of dancing.

#6 Kevin Ng

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 03:29 AM

The young Maria Alexandrova of the Bolshoi is a great Myrtha, dancing the role with the requisite grandeur. She travels like a javelin in her space-devouring jumps.

[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited March 13, 2001).]

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 10:21 AM

I'd forgotten when I posted yesterday that Alexandra Danilova was one of the great Myrthas of her time. Not a success as Giselle, I've read, but absolutely wonderful as Myrtha.

I also saw Silja Schandorff in Copenhagen when she was very young (19). It was still a bit sketchy dramatically, but beautifully danced. When the Danes dance Giselle, especially the act, oddly it looked more French than Russian -- more bound than free, in the few words of "effort/shape" that I can use with any confidence.

#8 Andrei

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 01:39 PM

Marc, I'm backing you on Terehova. Probably, she is the best Mirtha I ever saw. Perfection, which doesn't know the word mercy, humanity dried out by the wish of revenge.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 02:07 PM

Now I'm sorry I missed Terekhova! I think what Marc said is important -- that the authority comes in the quality of the dancing. It's now the custom to give the role to a tall young soloist, because the "star" dances Giselle. Grrrr.

When Myrtha is danced by a star (and Giselle and Albrecht too, of course) then you get high drama!

#10 atm711

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 02:57 PM

Alexandra, I'm so glad you mentioned Danilova'a Myrtha. When I read comments about this and that ballerina and their interpretations of Myrtha--I have never commented--because I really hate to say---"You should have seen......" I only saw her do it once and it was near the end of her career---but her TOTAL command of the stage is something rarely seen today in Myrtha.

#11 Manhattnik

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 03:05 PM

I never saw Danilova, but Van Hamel will always own Myrtha, as far as I'm concerned.

The first time I saw Irina Dvorovenko she was dancing Myrtha, a couple of years ago, and I thought she was tremendous -- the epitome of the short, jumpy, angry Myrtha as opposed to the tall, queenly and angry Myrtha of Van Hamel.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 04:36 PM

atm, never fear saying "You should have seen." It keeps us all in our place Posted Image

#13 Yvonne

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 04:58 PM

Such great posts, thanks everyone! The role of Myrtha has always been my favorite in Giselle and I'm sorry to hear that many companies have "downgraded" the role to that of a soloist (not that there's anything wrong with being a soloist) - it's always just seemed like a very "meaty" ballerina role to me.

Alexandra, I never really thought about Myrtha's vulnerability underneath all that ice - but you are SO right! Once upon a time Myrtha must have had her heart broken very badly to come back with such a vengence - you know what they say about a woman scorned! Posted Image

#14 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 05:12 PM

Andrei, did you ever see Yulia Makhalina as Myrtha? She danced it early in her career at the Kirov (it was one of her very first soloist roles) but somehow never really developed it. I thought she gave Myrtha nobility and a lot of feminine grace, and I somehow always felt that the role suited her better than Giselle which she took on later (although Makhalina herself thinks quite different about this Posted Image)

#15 4Ts

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Posted 13 March 2001 - 05:52 PM

I know it's history now and I should get over it, but Tatiana Terekhova was one of those let go from Boston Ballet along with the 9 dancers. Even though I've only seen here on tape, it's painful to think the folks who run the BB could throw away such a resource. If there were justice in the world....


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