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Todd Bolender has diedHe was 92 years old!


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#1 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 05:33 PM

Google alerted me to this sad news. Bolender came to New York during 2004 and participated in several events during the Balanchine centenary. At Symphony Space, a reconstruction of his Stravinsky ballet, "Renard" was presented, and he was at the Guggenheim for a Works and Process evening, coaching the role he originated in "the Four Temperments." I remember his "Souvenirs" from City Center when I was a kid. It must have had a silly streak because I remember really enjoying the 1920's-ish bathing suits, and laughing a lot.

Here is the link:

http://www.kansascit...nt/15742712.htm

.....and a short quote:

KC ballet icon dies
By PAUL HORSLEY
The Kansas City Star


"Todd Bolender, the legendary American dancer and choreographer who led the Kansas City Ballet to prominence from 1981 to 1996, died today in Kansas City of complications from a stroke. He was 92.

Born at the dawn of World War I, Bolender was one of the last surviving members of a generation of dancers who worked with George Balanchine during the pioneering Russian-born choreographer’s American work, considered the foundation of contemporary dance."

#2 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 07:43 PM

And a guestbook has been created as a tribute to Mr. Bolender here:

KansasCity.com guestbook for Todd Bolender

This Guest Book has been created as a tribute to Todd Bolender.

We encourage you to share your memories or express your condolences.



#3 Drew

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 12:08 PM

I saw Souvenirs as a kid too--with my Mom. It was the closer on a program danced by the Harkness ballet. It definitely had lots of "silly" and we loved it!

#4 Amy Reusch

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 07:46 PM

I just passed the sad news on this evening to a former Harkness dancer who remembered working with him on Souvenirs. (She was a wall flower, apparently... sounded like fun.) I wish someone would put together a memorial tribute DVD of his work. Does Souvenirs exist on video? I'd love to see it again.

#5 sandik

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 08:00 PM

It's not on any commerically available tape from here, but PNB has the work in their rep -- it's quite charming.

Amy, thank you for posting the link to the Kansas City obit. There are several heartfelt comments in the guestbook section from former dancers and students.

#6 Helene

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 08:42 PM

Unlike Villella, McBride/Bonnefous, Hayden, Tomasson, and Russell/Stowell, who've gotten recognition in the last decade, Bolender was of the pioneer generation working between coasts when New York was the practically the only recognized place on the US dance map, and the descriptions "regional" and "second-rate" were considered synonymous.

It's great to see the tributes to Bolender from the dance community he nurtured in a national news vacuum.

#7 bart

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 10:22 AM

I recently saw Bolender dancing the Rich Boy in a DVD of a 1954 tv peformance. (Jacques d'Amboise DVD). The role is small, and the Boy is overshadowed by his hyperactive and rather drunk Rich Girl friend, Janet Reed. But he was very nice to see, his flowing movements very easy on the eye. Even this small part confirmed the following, from the obit:

But it was as a Balanchine dancer that he was revered in the dance world. Many observers commented on the similarity of Bolender's body and style of movement to Balanchine's. Historian Doris Hering in the International Dictionary of Ballet called Bolender "a superb comedian with a penchant for high camp."

"There was a facility in my body, a looseness, a rubbery quality," the 5-foot-8-inch dancer told The Star in 2003.

I also remember Bolender's "Souvenirs," but from NYCB's old City Center days. He also choreographed a funny, jazzy story to "Creation du Monde" which was a lot of fun and had a super role for Villella. Arthur Mitchell was a sly, sexy, seductive Serpent in the Garden. I still remember the huge and enthusiastic audience reaction to both.

I think that "Still Point," in a more serious vein, should definitely be more widely revived. Melissa Hayden's comments on working with Bolender on that can be found in Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review. Here's a sample:

He was very detailed, very subtle. My whole body was to express my feelings -- if I was pained, it should be through my whole body in a physical sense, rather than just on my face, which I would say was physical but very superficial. He noticed shoulders, hands; he was very constructive."



#8 Gina Ness

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 11:19 PM

The ballet in which he played the "Rich Boy" is Lew Christensen's (SFB) "Filling Station." Mr. Bolender came to SFB in the 70s to stage his delighftul "Souvenirs". I was the "Wallflower"...I remember enjoying working with him. I'm sorry to read of his passing. I hope "Souvenirs" lives on...It's an American classic.

#9 Helene

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 09:30 AM

The ballet in which he played the "Rich Boy" is Lew Christensen's (SFB) "Filling Station."

Bolender's performance, with Janet Reed as "Rich Girl," is included in the new DVD "Jacques D'Amboise: Portrait of a Great American Dancer/Portrait d'un grand danseur américain."

#10 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 09:50 AM

The New York Times has finally posted an obit - and though I imagine it's been posted in "Links," I'll include it in this thread as well, since it's relevant:

http://www.nytimes.c...r=1&oref=slogin

What a rich life he had!

Here's a juicy quote:
"Mr. Bolender became part of ballet history through his memorable performance in “The Four Temperaments,” the 1946 experimental ballet Balanchine choreographed to a commissioned Hindemith score. Kirstein summed up the physical image projected by Mr. Bolender’s dancing in his book “Thirty Years: The New York City Ballet” when he described his performance in the ballet’s “Phlegmatic” solo: “Todd Bolender, whose supple body and tubular limbs were remarkably serpentine, made a powerful impression as a fluidly sluggish acrobatic mendicant.”

Although Mr. Bolender’s dancing had a dramatic tinge that was felt in the 36 ballets he choreographed for City Ballet and elsewhere, Balanchine also used him early on in one of his purest plotless neo-Classical ballets, “Symphonie Concertante.” Balanchine created the work for his School of American Ballet and cast Mr. Bolender as the sole male and sole professional. When the work was transferred to Ballet Society, in 1947, Mr. Bolender continued in the role. "

The obit is credited to Anna Kisselgoff.

#11 sandik

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 01:23 PM

Another nice obit, this one by Deborah Jowitt in the Village Voice

Bolender obit

There is a memorial gala with Kansas City Ballet scheduled for December 7.

#12 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 08:07 PM

Another nice obit, this one by Deborah Jowitt in the Village Voice

Bolender obit

There is a memorial gala with Kansas City Ballet scheduled for December 7.


Thanks, SandiK -- when I read Jowitt's piece, I realized that when I started this thread I thought that Bolender had choreographed Renard, when, in fact it was Mr. B.
(I knew that -- once!)

#13 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:10 AM

Google also sent me this interesting portrait (with photos) of Mr. Bolender:
http://www.kansascit...nt/15856996.htm

#14 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 06:20 PM

In Mr. Bolender's honor I've put the conversation we had about Agon close to a decade ago up on my blog.

#15 sandik

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 09:44 AM

In Mr. Bolender's honor I've put the conversation we had about Agon close to a decade ago up on my blog.


Thanks so much for doing this.


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