April 4th, 2017

Dueling virtuoso Don Q variations

Here are two male ballet dancers performing the same variation from Don Quixote. Which do you prefer? I know which one I’d choose.

Barani—whom I’ve never seen dance in person, nor even heard of–is very impressive, very athletic, one of the few I’ve seen to rival the great Barishnikov in the technical sense. But Barani seems to be posing and showing off here—hamming, to be exact. His line is also exaggerated.

Now, this role calls for showing off, of course, but in a self-contolled way—if that doesn’t sound like too much of a contradiction. Spanish dancing always has that self-contained, leashed-but-peacocky fury. Barani is too over-the-top. Maybe it’s not fair to compare him to Baryshnikov (maybe it’s not fair to compare anyone to Baryshnikov, who may have been the greatest dancer who ever lived, although there are others I think might be contenders, at least). But I love having the videos at hand to do so.

I bring you Jorge Barani, courtesy of YouTube:

And here’s Baryshnikov doing the same variation, but with some variations on the theme. There are many clips on YouTube of Baryshnikov doing this Don Q pas de deux male solo, but I chose this particularly ancient grainy black-and-white one (which is not from “The Turning Point,” as its labeled) because it shows the early, eager, exuberant, Baryshnikov and is well-nigh perfect, a seamless whole with great and uninterrupted flow despite the bravura dancing. He shows the poses, the flair, and the flamboyance, but stops short of making it herky-jerky or contrived.


7 Responses to “Dueling virtuoso Don Q variations”

  1. Brian E Says:

    I was trying to think of a joke about you going soft on the Russians, but gave up.

    I agree Baryshnikov’s routine was more connected, seemed to flow. But dancing alone you see it’s just ice skating without the skates.

    I saw him recently with Gene Hackman in an old movie, Company Business. He sure is short. I would think male ballet dancers would need to be taller than the women. Unless it’s a Michael J. Fox thing, where they always found a female lead shorter than him.

  2. Brian Swisher Says:

    OT, but I’m having issues with viewing posts and comments again, except now it’s on my laptop rather than the Kindle.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I am not knowledgeable but to my eyes, Barishnikov all the way. He is IMO on an entirely higher level than Barani. Whose gymnastic background I suspect is why his routine lacks the elegant flow that Barishnikov displays. Gymnastics tends to isolate each move and while they string moves together, more often than not they do not flow together in a seamless ‘dance’. This brings to mind your recent posts on Astaire and Kelly in which the same dynamic is displayed. An argument can be made that this is just another example of the path upon which the arts in the West have progressed, where flash all too often is substituted for substance.

  4. Uffdaphil Says:

    Barani has impressive height and airtime, but his poses are so matador-hauty. And I don’t care for the smug faces. Baryshnikov’s performance is a single beautiful movement where the elegance is maintained connecting the elements. Too bad we cannot judge his facial expression.

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    And a very famous ballet group/org/house/??? has returned to ny… 🙂

    and no, i am not referring to Ashley Bouder, who is also back from her engagement with the Stork…

  6. Artfldgr Says:

    Barishnikov a very famous Latvian dancer..

    Misha is often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Vladimir Vasiliev as one of the greatest ballet dancers in history.

    no one had hang time like Nureyev… wow

    he is citezen of russia, canada, usa, and latvia

    Mikhail Baryshnikov was born in Riga, then Latvian SSR, Soviet Union, now Latvia and he defected when we were still trying to locate family and get others out.. On June 29, 1974

    he is AMAZINg that he started so late
    Baryshnikov began his ballet studies in Riga in 1960, at the age of 11. In 1964, he entered the Vaganova School, in what was then in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Baryshnikov soon won the top prize in the junior division of the Varna International Ballet Competition. He joined the Mariinsky Ballet, which was then called the Kirov Ballet, in 1967, dancing the “Peasant” pas de deux in Giselle.

    And i was supposed to marry a woman who was a Dancer with him and others from Latvia, a ballet woman, almost 8 years older than i. met her when i was 13 and she was 21, and she was as kind as natasha hanging out with boris badenov… but was willing given my family history, two cousins in juliard and my entering Bronx science…

    On July 3, 1986, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States…

    and the soviets were not friends of his given they would have killed him given the chance, anything but the embarassment he (and lots of others who used athletics to escape) caused…

  7. Ben David Says:

    After those first 2 very impressive leaps, Barani is done dancing: what follows is a series of unconnected stunts.

    Baryshnikov may not leap as high but he seems to “float” more. Also he varies the speed of the pirouettes, for a more artistic effect.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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