I was struck by a passage in Natalia Makarova‘s biography, “A Dance Autobiography,” (Knopf, 1979) edited by Robert Gottlieb (“What did ballet ever do to deserve this?”) when he was editor-in-chief at the New York publishing house.
The text recalls an indignity Makarova suffered at the Kirov Ballet soon before she defected to the West in 1970.
I rebelled only once, when I was asked to make the film of Swan Lake which was later seen in the West with Elena Evteyeva. The director turned out to be a terrible nonentity who had no taste whatever. I looked at some of the filmed material and was horrified: it was a tasteless production, pure frippery, with some kind of clouds wafting around tiny swans. More important, the director understood nothing about ballet, having previously filmed only some Russian fairy tales for children.
He undertook to teach me how to dance Odile: “Dance as if you wanted to seduce me.”
At this point, I lost patience. “I haven’t the slightest desire to do that to you,” I said, and walked off the set. I refused point-blank to go back on — let others work with this blockhead.
Sound familiar? I thought so too. Reminds me of the tasteless “Black Swan” movie now contaminating the world of ballet. My review, “A Raw Deal for Odile” here.
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Separately, please enjoy this video of Makarova rehearsing the Act II pas de deux from “Giselle,” with the lovely Sasha Godunov as Albrecht.