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 Post subject: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 11:50 am 
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From another thread, the topic of "Baryshnikov vs. Bujones" came up. Apparently, both won the gold medal at Varna. Both are stellar dancers. I saw Bujones do Coppelia in mid-70's with ABT--incredible jumper, beautiful long legs and feet. <BR>From reading Misha's biography, I read that he was told at a young age that, due to his small stature, he would never be a premier danseur. (!) Only a character dancer. His teacher, Puskkin, thought otherwise. He took Misha under his wing, drilled him night and day, and generally believed in him. Fast forward to l97?; Baryshnikov, due to defection from Russian, received tremendous publicity. And of course he's an incredible dancer; but undoubtedly, Bujones, was on a par, technically, at least with him. Yet, Bujones has faded from the scene, while Misha is very much in the limelight. <BR>Question: would Bujones been more succesful if he changed his name to "Bujonovich" or some other "russianization"? Do Americans have pre-conceived ideas about the inherent superiority (?) of Russian ballet dancers? Or Eastern European maybe, even?<P><p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited March 04, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 12:38 pm 
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maybe at one time they did, but i don't think they have for some time now. putting aside the question of ability, i think it happened the way it did because of when it happened. at that point, being a defector was still a novelty. it wouldn't be that long before it wasn't, and soon after that, before defecting was no longer supposed to be politically possible. i think that regardless of his marvelous ability, baryshnikov should never have been compared to bujones in the way he was because they were so very different. but i think that the fact that baryshnikov got so much more attention was due to that. in addition, he has continued to perform, whereas bujones has gotten down to the nuts and bolts of running a company. he is less likely to receive spectacular publicity because of this. IMO, of course.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 12:49 pm 
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Maybe Bujones was ahead of his time; considering the superb crop of Latin male dancers around now, I don't think the Russians are considered superior any more. Perhaps we'll see some of the Russians taking on Latin names in the near future, to be considered in the same category as the likes of Julio Bocca, Angel Corella, etc. Only joking, but I think there were some major differences between Bujones and Baryshnikov beyond the defection and the Russian mystique.<P>Bujones was beautiful. He was an incredible technician, with extraordinary legs and feet. He was not into pyrotechnics, but had a refinement to his work, along with ballon. However, I found him to alternate between cocky and bland, and he did not have much acting ability. He hardly related to his partner, and seemed to view his ballerina as something to tolerate on the way to his own variation. Don't get me wrong. He was special, and I enjoyed watching him.<P>But then there was Baryshnikov, who may not have had a perfect body, but I never really noticed. He had an athleticism, a passion for dance. He created memorable onstage relationships with his partners. He had depth and personality and was fascinating. And his technique wasn't bad, either... While his Russian beginnings (actually wasn't he from Riga?) and explosion onto the Western ballet scene may have given him an early advantage, I feel he earned his place in the dance world. <P>Being Russian did not automatically confer a star in the dance cosmos. For example, I can think of dancers such as Godunov and Panov who did not have the "luck" of Baryshnikov.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 12:56 pm 
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i didn't mean that! i was trying very hard to be careful not to mention any comparison of ability. if baryshnikov had an edge at all, i have often felt that at the time this was where the edge was, since there were people on either side who felt that one or the other was better, all a matter of opinion when you get to that level, it has always seemed to me. and remember that godunov defected some five years later, and i don't remember when the panovs came. but that was the focus of my point, not comparing ability, but circumstance, in a case where you have two such stellar people. Image


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 1:03 pm 
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I think you stated that case very carefully and fairly, Trina.<P>I saw both Baryshnikov and Bujones at the height of their classical careers. At the time when a Russian defected to the West, that gave him/her instant fame a la Nureyev, Makarova and Baryshnikov. The idea that one had to be Russian to be a real star was ingrained from the Diagelev period and remained so up until fairly recently.<P>There were many wonderful English ballet dancers - Alica Markova, Anton Dolin, Lydia Sokolova come quickly to mind. All had to take Russianized names in order for audiences to accept them and not feel "cheated". That changed to some degree when the Royal Ballet (I believe they were still Sadler's Wells) came to New York, I believe it was in 1948. Those wonderful dancers led by Margot Fonteyn finally made it legitimate to be great and not have to be Russian.<P>Then came the Russian defectors of the 1960's and 1970's. Again, that old mindset that only Russians are great ballet dancers. But in all honesty the defectors were great!! Nureyev was spectacular in his youth. Erik Bruhn was technically better, but did not have the charisma of Nureyev, in my opinion.<P>I think that if you ask the ordinary person with no real knowledge of the ballet, you might still get the answer that the Russians are better. But anyone with any real knowledge at all knows that great dancers come from everywhere - or every color - and yes, different sizes too. <P>Thank goodness!!


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 1:14 pm 
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In response to statement about the Panovs - I was in class with both Galina and Valery Panov - several times. And I watched them rehearse too.<P>In all fairness it has to be said that they had to wait about four years before they were allowed out of the Soviet Union. Actually he was fired for wanting to leave the country and for being Jewish, too. She chose freely to join him - she was offered another chance with the company, but turned it down. <P>During the time they were unemployed, they lived in a very cramped apartment. During that waiting time Galina gave herself a barre everyday, Valery gave up after a couple of years. So he was not in shape when they finally were allowed to leave the country. He was also quite a bit older than she was. <P>He never thought of himself as a bravura dancer - but as a character dancer. However, that was played down and the bravura aspect played up - because that is what people in the West responded to. A tape of him dancing (all pyrotechnical stuff) was brought to the West and shown to influential groups and people here to try to get the Soviet government to let them go. <P>So, when they got here (he had to carry her to the airport - she was hemmoraging from a miscarriage), they - especially he - were not in good shape. She quickly regained her abilities - he less so. Still he was very good. <P>I watched her rehearse those famous fouettes of hers - she did every third one a double - and changed directions on every one. And smiled at the same time. She was incredibly strong. And a very sweet person - I got to talk to her a bit - language was still a barrier at the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 1:20 pm 
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Yes, Basheva, the Panovs were a very sad story. I read their book.<P>Getting back to our original topic. I never heard that Nancy, about Bujones. I always heard him to be an ideal partner, very cavalier with his ballerina. Also, heard him to be a perfect gentleman, with absolutely no "airs". What company does he run now..anybody know? Also, is his wife a dancer?


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 2:33 pm 
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Fernando was in Varna, Bulgaria in 1974 (I believe as a 19-year old) and won the Gold medal in the senior division. I was there with some other dancers, and it was very enlightening to watch the way his cousin Seda (sp?) drilled him.<P> At any rate, if my memory serves me right, because he won the Gold medal, he was required to stay an extra day and perform in the Gala. Which in turn, caused him to miss his ABT debut in the lead role of Don Quixote; which just happened to be filled that night by the ABT debut of the recently defected Baryshnikov.<P> One can't help but wonder what might have happened had Fernando performed that with ABT before Baryshnikov.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 3:30 pm 
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Word Fox I don't think it would have made much of a difference....everyone was taken with the romantic idea of a dancer defecting. The media coverage was spectacular.<P>I have a tape of the last performance of Gelsey Kirkland and Baryshnikov dancing together. They are doing Theme and Variations. For the man's variation Misha is doing triple tour en l'air, into pirouette - repeating this, I believe four times without a stop.<P>However, earlier on the same program (also on the tape) Bujones does the Don Q with Makarova, and for the man's variation Fernando does the exact same extremely difficult sequence - triple tour - pirouette. The story goes that Bujones found out that Misha had put this particular choreography into his variation so Bujones co-opted it into his. And Bujones appeared earlier in the evening's program - so by the time Misha did his - the combination had already been seen.<P>As I heard it - when Misha found this out he threatened not to go on stage - right before the performance. And it was a live from Lincoln Center production - live broadcast on PBS all over the country. Well, he did go on - but when you look at his face he is down right grim looking, dancing impeccably, but grim.<P>In any event this tape of them - Misha and Gelsey doing Theme and Variations, and Natalia and Fernando doing Don Q is really splendid. One of my most highly prized tapes.<P>Question - what does Fernando Bujones and Basheva have in common in their dancing?<P>Answer - we are both left hand turners. I wish I could claim more than that - but, that's it folks.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 3:42 pm 
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Wow, interesting inside information. Thanks everyone. Reminds me again of the role of luck, timing and having a great mentor, (ie Baryshnikov with Pushkin) in success. <BR>Sometimes the difference between being a superstar (Misha) and a star (Fernando) is having a great coach (at the right moment in your training) who has the vision to imagine what you are capable of, and figure out how to get it out of you.<BR>The other thing that's surprising to me is that BECAUSE they are so different (physical stature, coloring, temperment), one would think they wouldn't necessarily compete. There might be room for both of them?


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 5:21 pm 
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Wow, I was trying to post a reply earlier and my computer fizzled. I came back and there were these two great replies from Basheva and Trina. Basheva, is that tape you mention available for purchase? I don't have that one, I don't think. And Trina, it's funny, one of the things I was going to comment on was the fact that there was an immaturity to Fernando's presentation, and that he was a prodigious talent who could have been nurtured if anyone had taken the trouble (if he had had a Pushkin equivalent). But administration was busy elsewhere at the time. So was the press. Serious ballet-goers knew better, and Fernando had a loyal following. He deserved it. The thing was, from an audience point of view, there was room for both of them, and there were others, male and female, from many different backgrounds, also causing incredible excitement. It was a fabulous time to be part of the NY ballet scene. But I agree that Fernando was a star, and Baryshnikov was a superstar. <P>Trina, I don't know what the official word was on Bujones' personality. I just felt (my humble opinion) that, while he was never disrespectful to his partner, he truly came alive when the stage was his alone. And that his acting was not very strong. The Russians were definitely coached thoroughly in that field!


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 5:30 pm 
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Nancy - I don't know if that tape is available for sale.<P>However, I am willing to make a copy of it for you for just what it would cost me to do it. Tape, shipping container, postage. Are you here in the US? If so then I wouldn't have to have it reformatted which would have to be added to the cost. <P>It would be a copy of a copy, however.<P>There certainly was room enough in my heart for both Bujones and Baryshnikov. <P>I have nine tapes with Bujones, and twenty with Baryshnikov. Some of these are complete ballets. I also have the tape of "Vestris" which Baryshnikov did at his gold medal performance at Varna.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2001 10:16 pm 
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Basheva-<BR>With all due respect,you might want to view the T & V with Kirkland and Mischa. He's doing double tour en lair with single pirouettes. It's always a pleasure to view these performances over and over. <BR>D


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2001 2:38 am 
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going into librarian mode:<BR>that performance was broadcast on may 17, 1978. the entire performance included a complete 'les sylphides' with ivan nagy, eleanor d'antuono, marianna tcherkassky and rebecca wright, the don q pas de deux, theme and variations and a complete firebird with cynthia gregory and john meehan. it is not, unfortunately, available for sale. (though many people have it, as do i). it was (at this hour on one cup of coffee i can't be entirely sure without looking at it) part of the "live from lincoln center" series.


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 Post subject: Re: Baryshnikov vs. Bujones
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2001 3:50 am 
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from the "Live from Lincoln Center" website:<P>American Ballet Theatre <BR>Akira Endo, Conductor<P>(14) May 17, 1978<P> "American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera House"<BR>(in 3 acts) <BR>Robert MacNeil, host <P> <BR>Rebecca Wright, Marianna Tcherkassky, Ivan Nagy <BR> Chopin, LES SYLPHIDES (choreography by Michel Fokine)<BR> <BR>Natalia Makarova, Fernando Bujones<BR> Leon Minkus, Grand pas de deux from DON QUIXOTE (choreography after Marius Petipa) <BR>INTERMISSION <P> <BR>Gelsey Kirkland, Mikhail Baryshnikov<BR> Tchaikovsky, THEME AND VARIATIONS (choreography by George Balanchine) <BR>INTERMISSION <P> <BR>Cynthia Gregory (The Firebird), John Meehan (Tsarevitch), Leslie Browne (Tsarevna), Marcos Paredes (Immortal Kostchei)<BR> Stravinsky, THE FIREBIRD (choreography by Michel Fokine) <P>Live intermission interviews backstage with Makarova, Bujones, Erik Bruhn, (a principal dancer of the ABT); Kirkland, Bruhn.<BR>Program Length: 2:44:57<P> <BR>


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