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i was wondering if anyone could recommend some great "dance actors"... I'm not sure what to really call this kind of dancer, but I don't mean character artists. I mean dancers who do more than get the technique right, but inhabit the role as well.

 

Primary example, Zenaida Yanowsky! I'm a huge fan because she builds layers of depth into every role, where a lot of other dancers seem to just stop at what's in the synopsis. And I love Ed Watson too just cos I've seen what he can do in Mayerling.

 

So I'm looking to explore other dancers who can move me just as much, and consistently too, regardless of the role. Any suggestions..?

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I suspect the comments will give you pretty much all active dancers.

You've already mentioned Edward Watson who would have been my first choice, other male dancers from the RB I would single out in that respect would be Johan Kobborg and Thiago Soares.

For female dancers, Tamara Rojo would often qualify (some roles can prove an exception), Alina Cojocaru, Lauren Cuthberson, and Yuhui Choe (even if she hasn't been given as many roles); I'm also curious to see how Beatriz Stix-Brunell's career will develop, she was the best Alice, and I also found her very good in Las Hermanas.

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I would like to put forward names like Marcia Haydee, Richard Cragun, Martine van Hamel (by far and a way the best Nikiya I ever saw in Makarova's production of La Bayadere - including the good woman herself), Gelsey Kirkland, Lynn Seymour, Nicholas La Riche, Muhamedov and with NO hesitation, the late and very great Erik Bruhn.  

Edited by Meunier
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Both Birmingham Royal Ballet and Northern Ballet have a knack of choosing dancers who can act.

 

What a shame if you never had the chance to see Michael O'Hare or Robert Parker dance as they were both exceptional (both BRB).

 

One of my favourite actors on the current scene is Kenneth Tindall from Northern Ballet.  I'd always enjoyed his performances but I suppose I only realised how much he inhabited every role when I saw him in his created role of Sydney Carton in Cathy Marston's Tale of 2 Cities.  Martha Leebolt is also very special indeed.

 

Over at BRB I find that Jamie Bond is getting more under my skin every time I see him dance.  For me, he is the definitive Edward II in David Bintley's ballet. I also love James Barton for the roles he inhabits no matter how small.  Of the ladies, I always get carried away by Nao Sakuma, Ambra Vallo and Victoria Marr.

 

Over at the Royal Ballet I would have to put a word in for Alex Campbell.  I've not seen him dance with the Royal yet but saw him many times with BRB. His performances as Will Mossop, Cyrano, Prince Florimund and Romeo were outstanding.

 

As I said at the start of this post both BRB and NB are full of dance actors.  NB are at Sadler's Wells next week with Great Gatsby.  You may be able to get a return.  BRB are there in October with a mixed programme and Sleeping Beauty.

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I only really know the current crop of RB dancers, so i'd say:

 

Mara Galeazzi - gets me every time.

Alina Cojocaru - her Giselle is extraordinary!

Zenaida Yanowsky - for everything

Johan Kobborg - always thinks a lot about what he is doing and why

Edward Watson - mania a specialoty it would seem (but in a good way)

Beatriz Stix-Brunell - successfully made Alice her own, and was very convincing in Prince of Pagodas, so have high hopes

 

in MacMillan's ballets, I love the way the corps all have their own stories - it can be worth watching the likes of Leanne Cope (actually, I'd add her to the list above!) doing their thing

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I would agree that greats are miniscule.

 

Ooooooooo Gedemina Taranda!

 

I would also like to add Jiri Bubenicek and Thomas Lund.  JB is still dancing, if you can get a chance to see him.

 

I always put the Danes in a separate category, every one is an outstanding dance actor; after all starting on stage so early they get most of their lives to perfect their craft.  The character dancers that have left dancing behind astound me, a few years back Jiri Killian created a work for Jette Buchwald and Flemming Ryberg called Uden Titel # 1, it was just acting and a bit of movement from two very senior company members and was one of the most memorable things I've seen in the past decade. Last year I saw Ryberg teach mime to a group of students here in London - a privilege to watch such a superb artist.

 

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For those who do not know of him, Gediminas Taranda was a Bolshoi soloist in the 1980s/1990s. He was (is) not only incredibly handsome but he had a quite extraordinary stage magnetism and ability to 'become' the character he was playing. I'll never forget his playing of Abderakhman in Raymonda Act II at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993 when the Bolshoi danced three acts from different ballets each night. His character  was sitting right at the back of the 'stage' when Raymonda entered and, although he only lifted his head and sat more upright, he lit up the vast auditorium, his body language telling us clearly that she was the most desirable woman on earth. As Hans (Hilarion) in Giselle, also with the Bolshoi, his talent and looks made it almost inconceivable that Giselle would want to reject him. I believe he won a readers' poll in the Dance and Dancers Review of the Year in 1989 but I cannot remember the category.

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I only really know the current crop of RB dancers, so i'd say:

 

Mara Galeazzi - gets me every time.

Alina Cojocaru - her Giselle is extraordinary!

Zenaida Yanowsky - for everything

Johan Kobborg - always thinks a lot about what he is doing and why

Edward Watson - mania a specialoty it would seem (but in a good way)

Beatriz Stix-Brunell - successfully made Alice her own, and was very convincing in Prince of Pagodas, so have high hopes

 

in MacMillan's ballets, I love the way the corps all have their own stories - it can be worth watching the likes of Leanne Cope (actually, I'd add her to the list above!) doing their thing

Ooh, I forgot about Cojocaru's Giselle!

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For those who do not know of him, Gediminas Taranda was a Bolshoi soloist in the 1980s/1990s. He was (is) not only incredibly handsome but he had a quite extraordinary stage magnetism and ability to 'become' the character he was playing. I'll never forget his playing of Abderakhman in Raymonda Act II at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993 when the Bolshoi danced three acts from different ballets each night. His character was sitting right at the back of the 'stage' when Raymonda entered and, although he only lifted his head and sat more upright, he lit up the vast auditorium, his body language telling us clearly that she was the most desirable woman on earth. As Hans (Hilarion) in Giselle, also with the Bolshoi, his talent and looks made it almost inconceivable that Giselle would want to reject him. I believe he won a readers' poll in the Dance and Dancers Review of the Year in 1989 but I cannot remember the category.

Oh - yes! Yes! I have a tape of him dancing Raymonda - Wow!

 

Handsome and magnetic (be still my old heart) -- in spades. And neither of those attributes takes away from his dance ability.

 

Even the sound of his name when spoken aloud brings up subconscious memories of moonlit nights, a rider on a white horse galloping closer, a castle on a hill.......

 

Ok - back to my knitting.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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For those who do not know of him, Gediminas Taranda was a Bolshoi soloist in the 1980s/1990s. He was (is) not only incredibly handsome but he had a quite extraordinary stage magnetism and ability to 'become' the character he was playing. I'll never forget his playing of Abderakhman in Raymonda Act II at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993 when the Bolshoi danced three acts from different ballets each night. His character  was sitting right at the back of the 'stage' when Raymonda entered and, although he only lifted his head and sat more upright, he lit up the vast auditorium, his body language telling us clearly that she was the most desirable woman on earth. As Hans (Hilarion) in Giselle, also with the Bolshoi, his talent and looks made it almost inconceivable that Giselle would want to reject him. I believe he won a readers' poll in the Dance and Dancers Review of the Year in 1989 but I cannot remember the category.

 

Even as one of the shepherds in the orgy scene in Spartacus he stood out from the crowd!

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I think I will have to add Koen Onzia to the list of alumni.  Who could ever forget his performance in the original cast of Swansong (Christopher Bruce) and he is probably my favourite Lensky of all time even though I only saw him do it twice.

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I saw Las Hermanas recently and the whole cast of that including Cojocaru (who I love in anything just about) were brilliant.....really got the mood of Lorca.

A word for Fonteyn in Marguerite and Armand and any piece where she had to portray joy or ecstasy!

And Nureyev not so much for acting but just pure stage presence I don't think anyone can just run onto a stage like he did.

Anyway this has got me thinking now........

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I think she’s been around the top of our list for a long time Tony. Even in tiny cameo roles such as Effie’s friend in La Sylphide, whom Madge reveals to be pregnant, her comic timing was brilliant, running the gamut from mischievous excitement to nervous embarrassment. A real scene-stealer. It was a total joy tonight, to see her centre stage, where she belongs. Especially so, as the other female lead was the peerless Laura Morera, who would top my list of truly great actor dancers any day. :)

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I had the privilege of sitting in the middle of the front row tonight and was able to see everything involving Leanne. When she was locked in the cage she still held my attention and I noticed that the lady sitting next to me could not take her eyes of her despite what was going on centre stage. A truly wonderful dance actress

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Think I would add Marcia Haydee too from Stuttgart.

Also Markarova in Giselle was mesmerising especially in the mad scene.(I missed Fonteyn in this role but she was noted for it)

More recently have noticed Itziar Mendizabel standing out....another one excellent in Las Hermanas.

Some dancers seem to be generally good at acting too(Cojocaru) and others shine in particular roles.

Even in light hearted ballets like Fille Ive been moved to tears by a particular performance like Acosta/Nunez......which reminds me of course Alexander Grant as the idiot farmers son.....I hate saying this but no one has bettered him in this role.....yet....his humour had such a gentle touch.

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Morera for me. All her performances are terrific- one that springs to mind is Manon, equally good as Lise, fantastic in my Brother, my Sisters etc etc.

 

And David Brewer's extraordinary performance of Scrooge with BTUK in their production of Christmas Carol. (and its not just me, several reviews mentioned it!)

 

Which brings to mind Jeremy Kerridge with Northern, sadly retired from dancing now but that company is full of terrific dance actors!

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Natalia Markarova as Odette in Swan Lake - her arms ARE wings. Galina Ulanova in pretty much everything she did. I have a DVD of her in Giselle and it's an incredible portrayal. I will also never forget a performance I saw of Ekaterina Maximova with ENB as Tatiana in Cranko's Onegin. It was in 1989 when she was 50 and she was totally believable as a young girl with a crush on a sophisticated gentleman.

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I echo the suggestion of Alexander Grant - and I agree with you that he is unbeatable in Fille.  I also suggest Lynn Seymour - unforgettable as Juliet and, in a very different way, as the Girl in Two Pigeons and the fan in The Concert.  Ashton in Cinderella.  Fonteyn.  Definitely Robert Helpmann, though I only saw him at the end of his dancing career - the Tango in Facade and Cinderella again in particular.

 

From abroad - Roland Petit, and most of the principals in Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century.

 

I think Stephen McRae is getting better and better as a dance actor - his last Bayadere was extraordinarily good.

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I agree about Stephen McRae he is getting a very good stage presence and is very believable.....I am going to see Acosta in Bayadere next week but if had the money would have liked to see him as well!

 

And I remember Bejart's company vividly with Maina Gielgud and a wonderful piece to Bachs St. John's Passion??

 

Out of interest does Bejart 's company still exist I'm sure they haven't been to UK for years now if they do.

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LinMM - yes, the Bejart company does still exist - based in Lausanne now, and called the Bejart Ballet Lausanne.  The Artistic Director is Gil Roman, who was one of  the last 'stars' who actually danced for Bejart himself.  The company school is still in existence too, so I assume the style will be preserved.  They still dance some of the Bejart rep, but not the big works.  Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see the company over the last few years because, as you say, they don't tour here and I haven't managed to get to Switzerland to see them.  They were always something of a controversial company, as Bejart was such a divisive choreographer in this country - you either loved him or loathed him on the whole - and therefore the financial risk for the company in coming here was considerable.  But I do wish they would take that risk!!

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Well, if you want to see a Bejart work without travelling to Switzerland you can see Song of a Wayfarer performed by ENB at the Coliseum this July. I don't know whether Maina Gielgud is staging it, as she did for NBoC last year when Zdenek Konvalina (a principal with ENB) took one of the two roles and was, apparently, terrific in it. I have no information about ENB's casting. Fingers crossed that Zdenek, who has been out for months with an injury, will be dancing in it.

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