A Pavarotti for dance?
Foot contributor Eva Yaa Asantewaa writes:
Hearing of Beverly Sills's death this summer, I wondered if the field of dance had or could have a world-renowned, charismatic figure who, in a similar way, might serve as a much-needed ambassador to the masses. The announcement of Luciano Pavarotti's death yesterday reminded me of those thoughts: a beloved figure, bridging the gap between aficionados and those who would not otherwise give the art of dance much attention, if any.
Do we have major, exciting figures who could use their personal appeal, accomplishments and dazzling celebrity to draw wider interest in dance? What do readers think?
Apollinaire responds: Hi, Eva! Well this reader's first thought was Baryshnikov. He crossed over--and didn't look back--not just to contemporary dance or to mainstream modern dance but to the most plainspoken sect of postmodernism, introducing it to whole opera houses. (I wonder if he ever converted them. He even seems to have grown tired of the spinach diet, turning to less puritanical fare lately.)
Eva responds: Baryshnikov was on my mind, too, but I think he's too quiet about the things he does for dance. It's still too limited. He's not quite the world ambassador....
Apollinaire: Yeah, quiet, and honest to a fault (if that's ever possible).
Eva: Judith Jamison is another choice, but she's focused on her company, which is what I think happens with dance--the inward focus, the keeping-body-and-soul-together thing. The late Gregory Hines had potential in this area, because his talents (and reception) transcended the dance field.
Apollinaire: I love this point--how "the inward focus, the keeping-body-and-soul-together thing" sets dancing and serving as a public figure at crosspurposes. As the Kirov ballerina Diana Vishneva told me last spring, her emotions and her dancing are so allied that she needs to conserve her feelings--not have them excited for the nonessential.
I can imagine a great dancer might not want to start world-ambassadoring until her career was over--though singing is pretty body and soul, too.
Okay, dear reader, who in the dance world would you nominate for the Pavarotti role? Who would be good at it and enjoy it, do you think?
UPDATE MONDAY: Interesting--and irritated--responses have come in. Keep them coming. Late this week, I'll post everything I will have received. Also, I will be getting back to "Mozart Dances'" strange and fulsome musicality--afterwards. (Sorry about the sparseness here. I have to give priority to my paying gigs--for obvious reasons.)
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