A Dancing Doll Essay Research Paper The

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A Dancing Doll Essay, Research Paper The Dancing Doll On December 29, 1952, a little girl was born into this world with no production or splendor in the small town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She was awkward and a little overweight, and didn?t even speak until well after her second birthday. She lived in a fantasy world of fireflies and princesses, converting the animals on her small farm into mystical creatures inside her mind where nothing could harm her. Little did anyone know at the time that this clumsy and unpolished girl would rise to become arguably the best American ballerina of this century, and then fall to destruction at her own hand. As a young girl, Gelsey Kirkland?s mother enrolled her in ballet classes, mostly to keep her out of the trouble she was inclined to

get herself in. Her older sister Johnna was already enrolled at the School of American Ballet, so it was natural that Gelsey would follow. When she was eight years old, Gelsey auditioned and was admitted to the school. The School of American Ballet, as well as the New York City Ballet, was founded by and under the direction of ballet legend George Balanchine. His school focused more toward short cuts through traditional ballet training. Balanchine was schooled at the Imperial School of Theatre and Ballet in St. Petersburg before the Russian Revolution. He later described the program as an accelerated version of his own training. He claimed to have simplified and speeded up the training process by stripping it of unnecessary elements. (Grave 23) His dancers were pushed to go above

and beyond the previous standards of classical ballet in their execution of technique, but asked to leave their thoughts and emotions at the door of the studio. Many critics compared his dancers to robots — that they were all shaped to fit the same mold of the Balanchine dancer. Physical memorization was encouraged through countless sessions of drill and grill. We learned how to imitate the teacher, not how to create the step?In a certain sense, by strict conformity to his demands, it was possible to dance for Balanchine without knowing how to dance. (Grave 24) Over the years of her training at the School, she developed many physical ailments, including bunions and tendonitis, that attempted to cut short her. Kirkland?s own determination and strong will kept her going through

all of this, as well as a fierce and unhealthy ongoing competition with her older sister. It was this energy, strength of spirit and perfectionism that drew Balanchine?s eye to the development of this little twelve-year-old girl in his school. Eventually, after her father died when she was sixteen, he became almost a surrogate father to her. By the time she was fifteen, she was asked to join the company of the New York City Ballet, and she quit school to devote her time to the ballet. At sixteen she landed the coveted principal role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and only months later, Balanchine favored her enough to cast her in the title role of his new reproduction of Firebird, the pre-World War I Stravinsky ballet. Kirkland began to interpret for herself the music

of Firebird, bringing a classical ballet element (not to mention personality) into the production. As she comments in her autobiography, ?Every time I attempted to bring drama into my performance, Mr. B[alanchine] tried to thwart me. I interpreted this as a personal attack? (93). This was the first of many conflicts between Kirkland and Balanchine that led to her eventual defection from the New York City Ballet. Shortly after this first encounter, Kirkland refused to take any more classes from Balanchine because the technique he taught was taking its toll and destroying her body. She sought instruction outside the realm of the New York City Ballet that taught her a technique that would slowly reverse the strains she had placed on her body by attempting to conform to Balanchine?s