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May 312013
 

Q&A

Cynthia Harvey Kitri Cynthia Harvey answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ EditionWhen did you start dan­cing?
At age 8. A short time ago.

Why did you start dan­cing?
Appar­ently I pre­ferred it to walk­ing; actu­ally I still do. Music was fre­quently played at home. My mother loved music­als and I think she secretly would have wished me to be in musical theatre. BUT, I saw Rudolf Nureyev and Mar­got Fon­teyn on tele­vi­sion and wanted to be Mar­got. Fon­teyn seemed like a prin­cess. Once I began, I liked the serenity of it. Some­how the quiet and chal­lenge of mov­ing my body, albeit to music, was very per­sonal. It was some­thing that I could do in rel­at­ive peace.

Which dan­cer inspired you most as a child?
As I said, Fon­teyn ini­tially, but I also loved watch­ing per­form­ances of Ant­o­nio Gades, Maya Plis­et­skaya, Nat­alia Makarova, Carla Fracci, Car­men Amaya, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Eleanor Pow­ell, Ginger Rogers, Ant­oinette Sib­ley, and Anthony Dow­ell, whether live or on film.

Which dan­cer do you most admire?
Mikhail Bary­sh­nikov for his exact­ing stand­ard and for impart­ing that stand­ard to me.

What’s your favour­ite role?
My favour­ite role was Gis­elle. I loved dan­cing the entire bal­let but Act II was what was spe­cial to me. It is what I ima­gine being a higher spir­itual being could be like. The power of Giselle’s love tran­scends hatred and revenge. Her love is not dimin­ish­ing, thus allow­ing Albrecht peace, mak­ing a per­fect romantic ballet.

What role have you never played but would have liked to?
A Bond Girl

What’s your favour­ite bal­let to watch?
At this moment in time, any­thing being danced by Mari­anela Nuñez.

Who is your favour­ite cho­reo­grapher?
I can’t say I have a single favourite.

I have admired works attrib­uted to Petipa, and dances cho­reo­graphed by Ashton, Bal­anchine, Mac­Mil­lan, Tudor, Rob­bins, Gra­ham, Bausch, Rat­mansky, Wheel­don, Michael Corder, young Cameron McMil­lan, the tal­en­ted David Dawson, and most recently I saw a piece by Goyo Montero that I abso­lutely loved.

Who is your favour­ite writer?
Stephen Sondheim.

Who is your favour­ite dir­ector?
Pedro Alm­od­óvar for film, Peter Sel­lars for opera, Simon McBur­ney for his theatre com­pany, Com­pli­cite, the likes of which I have never seen bettered, and obvi­ously ALL the bal­let school and com­pany dir­ect­ors who hire me to teach and coach.

Who is your favour­ite actor?
Charlie Chaplin

Who is your favour­ite singer?
John, George, Paul and Ringo — one voice. Check this out: Because from Abbey Road on Antho­logy 3.

What is your favour­ite book?
Anna Karenina.

What is your favour­ite film?
I can’t name one. My top five are, It’s a Won­der­ful Life, Rear Win­dow, The Tramp, The Shawshank Redemp­tion, and The Skin I Live In.

Which is your favour­ite city?
It’s a toss up between San Fran­cisco and Melbourne.

What do you like most about your­self?
My reliability.

What do you dis­like about your­self?
My expect­a­tions, my cyn­icism and the fact that I still don’t know when to use a comma in a sen­tence or how to use an apo­strophe when writ­ing pos­sess­ive plurals.

What was your proudest moment?
There hasn’t only been one. Isn’t pride sup­posed to be a sin?

The première of Gis­elle I staged in Oslo for Den Nor­ske Bal­let made me weepy with pride, and the way the dan­cers in Hong Kong danced The Sleep­ing Beauty when I staged it there for The Hong Kong Bal­let had me com­pletely over­whelmed. Both these instances were far more reward­ing than any per­sonal dan­cing experience.

I was extremely proud when my son recently told me that he got a com­mend­a­tion in school for most improved.

When and where were you hap­pi­est?
In the theatre of my mind and in my dreams on a reg­u­lar basis.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
(I’m leav­ing this blank Gra­ham — can’t find an easy answer) - [I’m leav­ing this in, for it is in itself an answer — Gramilano]

Cynthia Harvey Wes Chapman Theme and Variations in Japan 1992 Cynthia Harvey answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition

Theme and Vari­ations with Wes Chapman

What is your greatest fear?
Not pro­gress­ing. That and being stuck in space when the line teth­er­ing me to the space­craft has broken.

If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be?
Just ONE thing? I’d like to be less sen­ti­mental. I cry at the most ridicu­lous things. After that, I’d like to change my nat­ural hair col­our as well as the aging process.

What do you con­sider your greatest achieve­ment?
Rais­ing my son to be the decent young man that he is.

What is your most treas­ured pos­ses­sion?
I’d def­in­itely grab my laptop if there was a fire.

What is your greatest extra­vag­ance?
My small col­lec­tion of ori­ginal vin­tage Beatles memorabilia.

What do you con­sider the most over­rated vir­tue?
Being virtuous.

On what occa­sion do you lie?
To myself; when I feel ill, when I am tired, or when I am unhappy.

If you hadn’t been a dan­cer what would you have liked to be?
I would love to have been a com­poser or songwriter,

What is your most marked char­ac­ter­istic?
I have a birth­mark on my right thigh.
Oth­er­wise, in my opin­ion it is empathy. In other people’s opin­ion, I’ve heard it’s “pos­it­ive energy”.

What qual­ity do you most value in a friend?
Aside from being alive it would have to be reli­ab­il­ity. But if I could choose other qual­it­ies I’d have to include good humour and good timekeeping.

What qual­ity do you most value in a col­league?
Same as above plus integrity.

Which his­tor­ical fig­ure do you most admire?
Joseph Swan, inventor of the light bulb (no, it wasn’t Thomas Edison). Without Swan, I’d still be in the dark about most things.

Which liv­ing per­son do you most admire?
Aless­andro Zanardi, the race car driver who in the after­math of a huge crash that res­ul­ted in los­ing both legs, returned to racing less than two years later. He then switched sports and took up hand­bik­ing (para­lympic cyc­ling) and com­peted in the Para­lympics in Lon­don 2012, where he won two gold medals.

What do you most dis­like?
Dirty fin­ger­nails and olives, though noth­ing irrit­ates me more than indol­ence and tardiness.

What tal­ent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to pre­dict the future, to stop the end­less rain that we’ve exper­i­enced this winter and spring, to be a tal­en­ted dip­lo­mat, to mul­ti­task, and to play an instru­ment well. If I could mul­ti­task, I’d be able to do all that!

What’s your idea of per­fect hap­pi­ness?
10 hours of sleep and wak­ing up in warmth and sun­shine — BLISS!

How would you like to die?
Quickly.

What is your motto?
If you stumble, make it part of the dance.

Cyn­thia Har­vey — a biography

Cyn­thia Harvey’s style marked her as one of the most ver­sat­ile and val­ued artists. Ms Har­vey danced vir­tu­ally every baller­ina role with Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre and also had the dis­tinc­tion of being invited by Sir Anthony Dow­ell to be a prin­cipal baller­ina of the Royal Bal­let — the first Amer­ican dan­cer to have that hon­our. Har­vey per­formed as guest artist with Bary­sh­nikov and Com­pany, Nureyev and Friends and numer­ous inter­na­tion­ally renowned bal­let com­pan­ies before retir­ing in 1996.

On video, Ms Har­vey appears as Kitri oppos­ite Mikhail Bary­sh­nikov in his pro­duc­tion of Don Quix­ote in a vari­ation from Paquita in Nat­alia Makarova’s The Baller­ina, the Waltz vari­ation in Les Sylphides,  and a vari­ation from Paquita (Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre dances Petitpa) and, in the doc­u­ment­ary, Tchaikovsky’s Women for Britain’s Chan­nel 4.  She is a fea­tured artist in the Fred Weis­mann doc­u­ment­ary on The Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre.

Co-author of Phys­ics of Dance & the Pas de Deux, she has been guest teacher for The Nor­we­gian National Bal­let Com­pany where out­side of teach­ing and coach­ing she helped re-stage a pro­duc­tion of The Sleep­ing Beauty in 2008 and where in 2009 she staged her own com­plete pro­duc­tion of the bal­let Gis­elle.

In Octo­ber 2010, the première of her full-length pro­duc­tion of The Sleep­ing Beauty for The Hong Kong Bal­let was met with acclaim

Ms Har­vey is in demand as a guest teacher and bal­let mis­tress. She has taught for The Amer­ican Bal­let Theatre, The Aus­tralian Bal­let, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, The Royal Swedish Bal­let and is a reg­u­lar guest bal­let mis­tress at the Sem­per­öper Bal­lett, Dresden, and The Royal Bal­let of Flanders. She has also taught peri­od­ic­ally at The Royal Bal­let School in Lon­don as well as the School for the Basel Bal­let, and as Prin­cipal Guest teacher for the Eng­lish National Bal­let School.

As a sought after teacher and jury mem­ber, Ms Har­vey has appeared at sev­eral com­pet­i­tions, among them, The Prix de Lausanne, The Rosetta Mauri,  The Tan­zolymp, the First Inter­na­tional Com­pet­i­tion in Sit­ges, Spain and, in 2013, the Dance World Cup Spain.

Ms Har­vey has been on the board of DanceEast, the national agency for dance in Eng­land and was a prom­in­ent mem­ber of the com­mit­tee that saw major bal­let dir­ect­ors and bal­let school dir­ect­ors from around the world gather to dis­cuss issues relat­ing to improv­ing life for bal­let com­pan­ies and schools. She stepped down as the stand­ards assessor for The Coun­cil for Dance Edu­ca­tion and Train­ing in the UK in 2010.  She has recently been made a mem­ber of the Inter­na­tional Coun­cil of Dance.

Cynthis Harvey with cat Cynthia Harvey answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition

  10 Responses to “Cynthia Harvey answers the Gramilano Questionnaire… Dancers’ Edition”

  1. I knew Cyn­thia in the 1970s and 1980s when she was with ABT. She was the most exquis­ite creature to watch and was always kind, funny, gen­er­ous and worked with such intel­li­gence, sens­it­iv­ity and integ­rity. Always thor­oughly pro­fes­sional. These qual­it­ies were among those which made her a great artist, a true Prima Baller­ina Assol­uta. I miss you, Cyn­thia. All the best!

  2. I’ve only seen Ms Har­vey in video, but she’s been an inspir­a­tion to be and as a young baller­ina I’ve learnt a lot from watch­ing her dance. Now I can appre­ci­ate her as a per­son too — she must be a good friend to have. Thank you Gram­il­ano, and thank you Cyn­thia Harvey.

  3. She’s my favour­ite Kitri of all time, but great to read she pre­ferred to dance Gis­elle. Me too — if I could only do the steps!!!!!!! But I’m learning ;-)

    • Julia — She was equally bril­liant in both roles. I saw her Kitri with Bary­sh­nikov and it was amaz­ing. They are both chal­len­ging in dif­fer­ent ways. Kitri requires such razor sharp tech­nique, pre­ci­sion and speed, while Gis­elle requires strength and a del­ic­acy of place­ment and move­ment that belies that strength. Merde to you in all the roles you undertake!

  4. Douglas, you are so lucky. I missed the Don Q, but the Gis­elles were some­thing. Mak­ing that 2nd act seem so effort­less, and con­vey­ing so much with so little, that is only for the greats.

    • I agree, David. She was always flaw­less and effort­less, par­tic­u­larly in the second act. What can I tell you about her Kitri? Same qual­it­ies. I saw the Don Q première with Gel­sey and Misha, which was a night I will never for­get — unlike any bal­let per­form­ance I have seen. So, Cynthia’s Kitri was dif­fer­ent, but just as riv­et­ing as Gelsey’s.

  5. I remem­ber Cyn­thia as a little girl. She is the younger sis­ter of a school friend of mine. Even as a very young girl Cyn­thia was full of grace in body and in spirit. It was fun read­ing her inter­view answers … I espe­cially agree with her answer about the one voice of the Beatles in ‘Because’ …

  6. Great motto!
    “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.”

  7. Bril­lant!

  8. […] over mul­tiple expos­ures to per­form­ances tele­vised on PBS. VHS was my best friend. I watched Cyn­thia Har­vey and Mikhail Bary­sh­nikov per­form Baryshnikov’s ver­sion of Don Quix­ote (on VHS) at least a […]

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