This is somewhat off topic, but since by far the most Balanchine energy is focussed on the Miami City Ballet at the moment, I would like to put it here. I was at the practice session of the nearby Lausanne (Switzerland) dance competition today. I saw 80 (!) dancers perform a solo of choice, twice!
One young lady stood out in my mind. It was not that she was necessarily superior to everyone else. I would say that the talent was uniformly very fine. What she did do was dance the only solo in, what I would describe as, a noticeable Balanchine style and she was Excellent !
If there is such a thing as a Balanchine purist, she must qualify. She is from Irvine, California, and she performed in the 15-16 year old group (the youngest of two groups).
She may not be (yet) a bundle of mega-energy and mega-warmth, like some of the Miami City Ballet dancers seen last week, but she is Very, Very Good ! She is perhaps closest to the Balanchine stylistic agility and dimension of the brilliant Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg.
As well as I can identify them, she performed one Balanchine trademark move after another and she did this flawlessly with a very fine sense of appropriate excitement.
A lady sitting next to me, who was watching all the dancers with a keen, critical eye, almost spontaneously jumped out of her chair, when Karen Johnson had finished. It wasn't just from excitement. It was from brilliant Balanchine style dance technique as well.
Karen Johnson was absolutely on top of everything that she was doing and what she was doing was distinct and outstanding.
I would think that she will do quite well in this competition, although since all the dancers have some very fine elements, it would be a job to settle on which element is to be the most important in grading a dancer. I myself was often of a different opinion from the lady next to me, simply because we were weighing the elements differently and I could certainly sympathize with her choices as well.
I would say that Karen Johnson is definitely someone for groups like the Miami City Ballet to keep an eye on.
I look forward to the day when I can say, "I knew her when she first appeared as a young teenage dance student in Lausanne!"
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