Unreal Nature

July 31, 2016

You Always Come Back to Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… You felt its private individual life, its life before and after the glimpse of it you were catching.

This is from ‘Ashton’s ‘Ballet Theatre; Graham’s “Punch and the Judy” ‘ [1942] found in Edwin Denby: Dance Writings, edited by Robert Cornfield and William MacKay (1986):

… The other star ballerina, also new to the Ballet Theatre [the first was Markova, whom Denby loves], is the sumptuous Baronova, who used to be a very fine dancer indeed. Of her present style I can find nothing good to say. She hams with a heartlessness that is frightening. She ogles, flounces, capers, and cuddles, jumps, turns, and stands, slapping down each effect like a virago operating a cash register. She seems to want the title of “Miss Ironpants.” I hope so intelligent a dancer as she is will quickly get over this phase, or else team up with the Three Stooges, where her present manner properly belongs.

Next is from Denby’s piece ‘Carmen Amaya; Isadora Reconsidered; Dance Photographs; “Punch and the Judy” Revisited’ [1942]:

On the Carmen Amaya question, it was her comic “Hay que tu” number that convinced me she is an extraordinary dancer. A gypsy girl sings to her lover, “You can’t make me jealous; you go on pretending to make love to others, but you always come back to me and say, ‘There’s only you, beautiful, there’s only you.’ ” Amaya was wearing the typical flamenco dress, with its many flounces and a long train, but she looked like a girl of thirteen, angular as a boy, in her first evening gown.

[line break added] She fought her train into place like a wild-animal trainer. Her voice was hoarse and small, her gesture abrupt and awkward. All this with the defiance of the song made the dance comic. But the figure of the tough slum girl Amaya suggested was as real to you as the stranger sitting next to you in the audience. You felt its private individual life, its life before and after the glimpse of it you were catching. And there was nothing pathetic, no appeal for help in it.

CarmenAmaya
Carmen Amaya

[ … ]

… even in disappointing numbers Amaya has first-rate personal qualities. She has sometimes for instance a wonderful kind of rippling of her body in movement, more like a young cat’s than a girl’s; she has an extraordinary cutting quality in her gesture, too, as if she meant: here only, and never elsewhere. She has a thrilling speed of attack.

[line break added] But these impressions of real moments were confused by others when she seemed to be faking: forcing her “temperament,” or driving her dance into the floor, like a pianist who pounds too hard. Or she would lose control of the continuity of her dance, put all her fire into half a minute of it and not know what to do with the remaining two minutes, so they went flat.

[line break added] Sometimes she seemed determined to cow her audience, and I had the feeling I was watching not a dancer but an ambitious person. On the other hand, that in the course of her first recital she could adjust herself to the glum expanse of Carnegie Hall and finally take charge was a proof of her personal stage power. But Amaya’s unevenness does not bother me anymore.

My most recent previous post from Denby’s book is here.

-Julie

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