rg

First soviet dancers to hit the States

30 posts in this topic

here are scans (front and back) of what i take to be a 1934 san francisco leaflet advertising the concert tour made by Vecheslova and Chabukiani to the States. i assume the first stop was NYC, esp. given the Jan. 13, 1934 review quotes on the back; i'm also assuming this tour was the first one to the USA by soviet dancers. note the copy that reads: IN DANCES FROM THE NEW RUSSIAN BALLET (no ref. the Soviet Union).

another point of interest is that the mention of "Marinsky Theatre, Leningrad" - since the name Maryinsky was dropped well before this date. guess the soviet censors weren't looking too carefully at the promotion.

also, the recent VYEK BALANCHINA (1904 - 2004) exhibit in st. petersburg included among its displayed items a note, presumably of congratulations, to the two dancers, written by pierre vladimirov and co-signed by balanchine - who wrote BALANCHIVADZE, perhaps to recognize some Georgian connection between himself and chabukiani.

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From John Martin:

"Their performance was one of the most hilarious events . . . "

". . . fittingly to be described as a riot."

I'm surprised the promoters featured these remarks. I do not take them as high praise.

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From John Martin:

"Their performance was one of the most hilarious events . . . "

". . . fittingly to be described as a riot."

I'm surprised the promoters featured these remarks. I do not take them as high praise.

No, neither do I. It's sort of surprising. I would have guessed that they would have pushed this tour as

high art.

But maybe the promoters couldn't decide to try to tell audiences they would see something good for them or instead something enjoyable. (Some things never change.)

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Is it possibly a mistake? Not actually what Martins wrote? Both words seem so out of place in their context. Their use is almost as if the blurb were written by someone for whom English was not the native language. Is it possible Martins was misquoted?

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TimesSelect subscribers can find the original here.

There are some elisions, but it's pretty much as quoted in the hand-out. Among the observations that were not repeated:

  • "Completely innocent of subtlety or style, the youthful pair threw themselves into their terrifically energetic program with such abandon and such forthright charm that even the most balse habitue of dance recitals would be hard put to it to resist enjoying himself."
  • "Yecheslova seconds him along the same lines, but a woman is always outdistanced in a program of this sort, which has all the characteristics of a contest in the Olympic Games. Judged as an artistic affair, the program inspires scant comment. The music, with a rare exception or two, is scarcely credible, and the style of the dancing suggests nothing so much as what the whole ballet might have been by now if Fokine had never been born. . . .
  • "Vecheslova and Chabukiani are perhaps not to be taken too seriously, but they are nevertheless an ingratiating team, and the performance is fittingly to be described as a riot."

There are interesting notes in the brief review, too, about the political implications of this pair's tour.

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my guess is that the unfamiliar forthrightness and 'innocence' of what appears to have been big, open-hearted performing took martin aback. but he also decided not to belittle it out of hand, so he grappled with it by noting its naive (as he saw it) aspects while commenting on its theatrical strengths. he also seems to have been affected by the direct, enthusiastic responses apparently displayed in the audience.

arlene croce once referred to the first bolshoi ballet seasons here in enthusiastic tones and emphasized one aspect in particular that thrilled her as she described the company's dancing as 'fearless.'

(i haven't seen the fulltext of martin's review however and am grateful for these further excerpts; somewhere on my shelves i have HT Parker's collected reviews, and i believe he too wrote of these appearances from boston.)

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to fill out the questions posed by this SF flyer and by the fact that martin's rev. doesn't really give many details, i've unearthed a few more clues.

reproduced in YA BALERINA, a 1964 soviet book authored by vecheslova, there is an illustration of the flyer prepared for the NYC debut performance and which uses the same photo as the SF version.

its copy differs from the SF version and goes as follows:

CARNEGIE HALL

FRI. EVE. AT 8:30 JAN 12TH

AMERICAN DEBUT OF THE FIRST

SOVIET DANCERS

GRANTED PERMISSION BY THE U.S.S.R. FOR AMERICAN TOUR

DIRECT FROM MARINSKY THEATRE, LENINGRAD

VECHESLOVA

AND CHABUKIANI

IN NEW DANCES

FROM

'CORSAIR' 'HUMBACKED HORSE'

'FLAMES OF PARIS' AND OTHER

SOVIET

BALLETS

TICKETS

$1.0, $1.65, $2.20, $2.75

(1000 SEATS AT $1.10)

NOW ON SALE AT

CARNEGIE HALL BOX OFFICE

[lower down after the management and address information the flyer reads: SECOND PERFORMANCE, CARNEGIE HALL SAT. EVE. JAN. 20TH]

furhtermore, the NYPL dance coll. cat. has the following notation under a CORSAIR heading:

Corsair (Choreographic work : Chabukiani). Cachucha.

Original title: Korsar kachucha. Chor: Vakhtang Chabukiani; mus: Isaak Dunayevsky. First perf: Leningrad, Kirov Ballet School, ca1928, Vakhtang Chabukiani and Elena Chikvaidze.//First New York perf: Carnegie Hall, Jan 12, 1934, Tatiana Vecheslova and Vakhtang Chabukiani. Performed under title: Kacuca.

this is somewhat confusing, given the CACHUCHA connection, esp. as the vecheslova book reproduces a photo of chabukiani and the ballerina showing the former bare chested and dressed, somewhat like a harlequin, in polka-dot printed tights, with white ruffed collar and cuffs, with vecheslova costumed in a little conical hat and a columbine-like tutu. the caption notes that this photo w/ vecheslova posed as if seated jauntily on chabukiani's hip shows the couple (undated) in KACHUCHA.

thus it would seem impossible to connect this CACHUCHA to CORSAIR.

perhaps the tour program included both CORSAIR and KACHUCA - and somehow the two separate numbers got mistaken put together for this entry. i know of any number of composers connected to CORSAIR but never dunayevsky.

as to the number depicted on the flyer's photo, knowing nothing of the repertory, i might have guessed 'diana and akteon' but that number was not put into ESMERALDA by vaganova until a year later. so

perhaps this photo shows what these dancers wore at the time performing chabukiani's CORSAIR.

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the recent VYEK BALANCHINA (1904 - 2004) exhibit in st. petersburg included among its displayed items a note, presumably of congratulations, to the two dancers, written by pierre vladimirov and co-signed by balanchine - who wrote BALANCHIVADZE, perhaps to recognize some Georgian connection between himself and chabukiani.

I do not know how close a relationship Georgians actually consider themselves regarding regional differences when they are from the Western Georgia as in names ending in adze or Eastern Georgia ending in illi as in Ananiashvilli or iani as in Chabukiani who was born in Tbililisi. George Balanchine had a Georgian father but was in fact Russian by birth not Georgian having been born in St.Petersburg. I think anyone born in the USA is considered American no matter where there family originally came from. Balanchine's father did of course return to Georgia and George Balanchine like many immigrants became American by what we would call in the UK naturalisation. I think Balanchine had his name changed for him by Diaghilev but I am not sure without checking.

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indeed diaghilev changed georgi balanchinvadze to georges balanchine (later george balanchine)

so by '34 g.b. was 'balanchine' for about ten years, and yet he chose to sign himself as BALANCHIVADZE on the little congratulatory note to chabukiani and vecheslova.

over the years balanchine spoke a good deal of his georgian heritage - yes, he was born in st. petersburg but he frequently seemed to accentuate his georgian-ness - there is a drawing by him in a book by richard buckle in which g.b. has depicted himself as a georgian 'toe' dancer complete w/ fleece hat and long, side-slit coat.

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I do not know how close a relationship Georgians actually consider themselves regarding regional differences when they are from the Western Georgia as in names ending in adze or Eastern Georgia ending in illi as in Aniashvilli or iani as in Chabukiani who was born in Tbililisi. George Balanchine had a Georgian father but was in fact Russian by birth not Georgian having been born in St.Petersburg.

Balanchine, who still must have felt the itinerant in those days, was probably eager to draw on whatever parts of his heritage might bind him with others. I think it is a very normal gesture of friendship.

When I was travelling in Europe about 30 years ago, my companions and I met a similar group. "Are you American?" we asked. "Yes," one replied. "From where?" "Toronto." I was unaware that that Canadian city was part of the US, but this was a case of people who were all far from home and drawing on whatever connection they could forge.

I think anyone born in the USA is considered American no matter where there family originally came from.
Much depends on the national or ethnic origin and the length of time the family and/or group has been in the United States. Yes, our primary identification is to the US, but the secondary identification is rarely absent altogether. Assimilation is a multi-generational process.

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Yes, our primary identification is to the US, but the secondary identification is rarely absent altogether. Assimilation is a multi-generational process.
It probably also depends a bit on whom your talking to -- and where. Saying "I'm Irish" or "I'm half-German and half-Italian" is common when at home in the US -- but a simple "American" is the most frequent and comfortable self-identifier when abroad.

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From John Martin:

"Their performance was one of the most hilarious events . . . "

". . . fittingly to be described as a riot."

I'm surprised the promoters featured these remarks. I do not take them as high praise.

Indeed, I am sure they weren't meant as high praise. At the time he wrote this, Martin was firmly in his "Ballet is silly; Modern Dance is profound" stage---where he remained for the next 20 years... :(

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here's another glimpse of these 'pioneering' soviet dancers on their debut US tour, the first of its kind.

this is a scan of the cover of the program for san francisco, soon to be 73 years old.

my guess is that the pair is shown in what H.T.Parker described (from Boston) as a "'Pirate Dance' that was brightly costumed" - perhaps from a CORSAIR suite that was part of the tour's repertory.

the s.f. program unfortunately does not include the suites from either DON QUIXOTE or CORSAIRE, which were part of the tour. the suite given in s.f. was from FLAMES OF PARIS.

i suspect the flyer photo (posted above) may show the pair costumed for MELODIE danced to Gluck.

the bolshoi ballet's asaf messerer has credit for a MELODIE to gluck from 1952, but his version might have been building on a related concert number from earlier in the century, arranged perhaps by a leningrad dance maker in the early 1930s.

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for some reason the above post hasn't registered on the 'current' posts radar.

hrmmmmmm.

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rg

Thank you so much for such and treasure pictures and notes.

As you know this year is 100 anniversary of great maestro Vaghtang Chabukiani.

Here is some : temporary page , that is yet unpublished on main page. You can find some rare videos in external links. By your desert , there was added text from your pictures.

I want to ask you, can we use this pictures on Main Wiki page of Vaghtang Chabukiani?

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yes, you may post this scan if you'd like, but kindly note that it comes from the collection of Robert Greskovic

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I think anyone born in the USA is considered American no matter where there family originally came from.
Much depends on the national or ethnic origin and the length of time the family and/or group has been in the United States. Yes, our primary identification is to the US, but the secondary identification is rarely absent altogether. Assimilation is a multi-generational process.

True...if you ask many young people that one find here in Miami speaking perfect "Cuban"-(yes...not Spanish, but "Cuban")- with none English accent whatsoever "Are you Cuban..?"...the answer being..."Yes, I am"...and so.."from where in Cuba..?" to finally get the "No, I'm Cuban but I was born here in Miami. My parents are from there". This is a very common thing to hear. There is a cute t-shirt that sells really well within the Cuban/American youngsters community that reads: "Made in USA with Cuban parts" :wub:

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the attached shows a publicity photo for the appearances of Vecheslova and Chabukiani - i'm not sure where this "Philharmonic Auditorium" is but it may be the West Coast of the US, perhaps the Los Angeles area.

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I know that "Philharmonic Auditorium" is a little generic-sounding, but Wikipedia did have this which sounded promising:

Philharmonic Auditorium

When the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra began its second season in 1920, it adopted Clune's Auditorium as its home, which became known as, "Philharmonic Auditorium." The Orchestra played there for many decades before the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was built in 1963. Philharmonic Auditorium stood until the 1980s, when it was demolished.

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rg

Thank you so much for such and treasure pictures and notes.

As you know this year is 100 anniversary of great maestro Vaghtang Chabukiani.

Here is some : temporary page , that is yet unpublished on main page. You can find some rare videos in external links. By your desert , there was added text from your pictures.

I want to ask you, can we use this pictures on Main Wiki page of Vaghtang Chabukiani?

Thank you for reminding us of Chabukiani's centenary on 27 February(12 March) 1910. This will be celebrated in Tbilisi and has been marked by UNESCO.

See: http://www.opera.ge/eng/ballet.php?page=ba...t_press_release SCROLL DOWN FOR DETAILS.

The first performance of a revival of Chabukiani's ballet "Laurencia", unseen for many years, is to be given at the Coliseum Theatre London by the Mikhailovsky Ballet on the 20th July.

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another recently acquired publicity photo from the historic Vecheslova/Chabukiani tour to the US.

the only bit of identifying information on the photo, which has only the dancers' names handwritten on the back, is an embossed mark noting the photo was was done in NYC.

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the following entry from NYPL dance coll. might help identify the number for which TV and VC are costumed.

as noted below, the '34 tour repertory for the soviet dancer couple included what seems to have been a 'pirate's(?) cachucha' to music by Dunayevsky.

certainly something Spanish seems indicated.

the confusion to dance history overall in the entry below is that the likely, automatic connection to CORSAIRE would be to the Adam, etc. multi-act ballet in which the now well-known 'pirate/slave' Pas de Deux (sometimes a trois) was a concert number made famous by VC.

this obviously is not THAT Corsaire.

Corsair : Original title: Korsar kachucha. Chor: Vakhtang Chabukiani; mus: Isaak Dunayevsky. First perf: Leningrad, Kirov Ballet School, ca1928, Vakhtang Chabukiani and Elena Chikvaidze.//First New York perf: Carnegie Hall, Jan 12, 1934, Tatiana Vecheslova and Vakhtang Chabukiani. Performed under title: Kacuca.

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another publicity photo, seemingly taken, impromptu, in NYC, and perhaps at the Barbizon Hotel rather than the "Barizon" named in the caption.

interestingly the theater connected to these two Leningrad dancers is the still called the Maryinsky in'34 in connection to these individuals, tho' perhaps it was the tour promoter's usage and not that of the dancers themselves.

again, i know no more of these circumstances than the caption says.

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I came across this on Youtube today; apparently video footage of Vecheslova and Chabukiani in the States. :)

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many thanks for the link.

except for the paper items (programs and fliers, etc.) and some still photos of Vecheslova and Chabukiani, the dating of the various items and film footage is hard to identify. i suspect the theater audiences might have been from sometime later, ditto that of the cars, streets, and awaiting photographers.

the performance footage could not be from this first tour, since the duo didn't bring supporting dancers and/or stage-fire effects as far as i can tell.

Russian speakers could say more about the occasion of the footage, but perhaps the clip of Vecheslova talking about her career was meant, originally, for a Chabukiani documentary.

whatever the clips and photos were meant to illustrate originally they are good to have in this youtube montage.

(i wonder if some of the fliers and programs included might have been downloaded from Ballet Talk as they are sometimes cropped above what might have been my watermarked credit line.)

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