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Looking for Gene Marinaccio and Michael Brigante


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#1 g5pilot

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 07:40 PM

Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

My Mother trained at the American Concert Ballet Company in Los Angeles with Gene Marinaccio and Michael Brigante for many years. We are looking for Gene or Michael.

Thank you.

John

#2 carbro

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 08:05 PM

Welcome to BalletTalk, g5. You posted in a good place.

I hope readers who are not BT members will use the Contact Us button to send any info they have. I hope someone can give you good, solid leads.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 20 December 2007 - 08:06 PM

Hello and welcome! This is a fine place to ask your question.

Unfortunately, I can't help directly, but I did find this story on line that mentions Gene Marinaccio in June 2007. The author may be able to help:

http://independent.c...enzi-1918-2007/

#4 onetimehoofer

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Posted 25 December 2009 - 07:49 PM

With your consent, onetimehoofer, I will send Gina your e-mail address, and if she is willing (as I trust she will be :wink: ), perhaps we can get it to Mr. Marinaccio, so he can then contact you. You can also use the "Contact Us" link to relay your phone number to administrators, who will pass it along to Gina.


I, too, have been surfing the Internet for news of Michael and Gene. For two years I was in Michael Brigante's class just off Western Blvd. in L.A. with the deservedly legendary Gene Marinaccio, along with the wonderful flamenco and ballet dancer Barbara Sinclair. I was around when Gene started his ballet company and am among those very interested in any news of all three: Michael, Gene and Barbara. With Barbara I studied flamenco under Michael as well. I know she was in Gene's company, but not for how long. I'll rack my brains to dredge up any additional clue. (Barbara, I'd love to hear from you.) I glanced up to see Gene, as if it were nothing, turn ten pirouettes. He paused at the end of the last, checked his position in the mirror, made a last, rosen-squeeky adjustment to turn his still-pointed supporting foot a bit, shot a disapproving scowl at himself, and leisurely came down off point.

By the way John, if it's not indiscreet, what is your mother's name? I may have been in Michael's classes with her. --Douglas Chapman

In 1960, when I was 21 years old, Michael Brigante was about 60. He was an astonishingly convincing combination of the burly boxer he had been as a youth and the implausibly graceful ballet dancer he had become. I remember a day during a class in late summer, when Michael excused himself from class because of a commotion we heard coming from the tiny waiting room. He was gone only a minute, but after class we heard what had happened from some of the excited younger dancers who witnessed the confrontation. , Two belligerently drunk and muscled laborers had come to see the “pretty girlies.” Wiry Donald Eryck and tall, muscular Douglas Hinshaw, barred the way into the studio. Deeply impressed we listened to how Michael had simply grabbed the two by their necks, turned them and ousted them from the wooden steps of the studio.

Michael was a man’s man, with an ready, boyish sense of humor. It was easy to picture him fishing or sparring in the ring. There was relaxed authority in his voice as he relentlessly tapped his cane on the sprung wood floor. He was a kind and persistent seeker of good line and perfection in balance, less interested in historic style than centered foundations for graceful movement. His voice boomed encouragement rather than intimidation.

Gene Marinaccio made you wonder if Nijinsky was as good. If you can imagine the feline agility of a cat in human form, you’ve got an idea of Gene’s presence, whether performing or just watching (I heard Michael once say that “Gene at rest has more movement than most dancers at full gallop”).
Gene has gracefully masculine frog’s legs that come up to here, with an extension and point that was the envy of many a 14-year-old girl in class. I’ve never seen another dancer pause in the air as long as he did in a grand jeté or pas-de-chat—including Mikhail Baryshnikov (there is a similarity of the extreme a human soul's body may reach, and they were akin in projecting unapologetically masculine power).

The first time I saw Gene, he was practicing quarter-turns. I’d heard so much. I expected something spectacular. After several minutes of one quarter-turn after another, I turned away, bored, smugly disappointed. I happened to glance in the mirror when, as if it were nothing, he turned ten pirouettes, paused at the end of the last, checked his position in the mirror, and almost reluctantly came down off point. In 1960 Gene was 26. Now he’d be about 76.

Regardless of the years, I can still see Barbara Sinclair's dark and fiery sensuality filling Michael's unassuming dance studio. Her passionate gaze toward where her port-du-bras led the eye, her voluptuous beauty as she dramatically snapped her chin aloft and held her arms in classic line during a zapateo, brought the heat and grace of centuries of Moorish tradition into the studio. When she danced flamenco, Michael’s face always shone with delight and pride in her. Even in the most classical of center-of-the-floor combinations in ballet class Barbara’s femininity surrounded her.

As a dancer, Barbara’s moods were mercurial, flashing a kaleidoscope of emotions with the practiced ease of a veteran actress—girlish, ethereal, playful, dramatic or aloof. She was generous with fellow dancers, not taking herself too seriously, although clearly she was a star. She and Gene defined charisma. Although so different from each other—Barbara always at play, as if technique came naturally, and Gene, soaring somewhere beyond mortal man—they made audiences hold their breaths, joyously applaud, and go home filled with delight, longing, and perhaps personal regret for dreams gone dim beneath their pillows.

You should have been there . . .

#5 Brioche

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 07:50 PM

Thank you for your short memoir. Don Eryck was my teacher and more importantly my mentor until his death in 1990. Like so many he died too young.

I was lucky enough to meet Gene once when I traveled with Don to LA one Christmas.

Happy New Year.

D

#6 onetimehoofer

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 05:05 PM

I was lucky enough to meet Gene once when I traveled with Don to LA one Christmas.

Happy New Year.

D


D . . . What year did you meet Gene--did you see him dance?

#7 Gina Ness

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 12:27 AM

Gene is alive and living in LA. That's all I can tell you... I heard this fairly recently from someone who would know. Also, my husband is Gardner Carlson who worked with Gene in LA during the 60s. My first ballet teacher is Penelope Lagios who worked with Gene and also with Michael. I have heard amazing stories from them both about these two remarkable teachers!

#8 onetimehoofer

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 06:41 AM

Gene is alive and living in LA. That's all I can tell you... I heard this fairly recently from someone who would know. Also, my husband is Gardner Carlson who worked with Gene in LA during the 60s. My first ballet teacher is Penelope Lagios who worked with Gene and also with Michael. I have heard amazing stories from them both about these two remarkable teachers!

Thanks so much for the comment. I would love to contact Gene . . . Would you ask "someone who would know" if he has an Email address for Gene?

By the way, I also remember an amazing enormous blow-up photo of Gene in full flight in a gran jetée at Michael's studio. Does anyone know where I may find photos of him, Barbara Sinclair, anyone else at Michael's studio, and of me?

#9 Gina Ness

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 03:47 PM

Hello, Douglas...I just had Gardner read this thread. Gardner studied with Gene from 1966 to 1969, so he doesn't remember you as you predate him. Also, he said Gene is in Santa Barbara, not LA. Sorry I got that wrong...Gardner heard this about Gene at the SFB reunion in the spring of 2008 from a former dancing friend. I'm sorry I can't give you any more info about that due to respecting privacy. At least Santa Barbara is smaller than LA! Good Luck, Douglas and John! Maybe someone at State Street Ballet would know?

#10 carbro

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 05:18 PM

With your consent, onetimehoofer, I will send Gina your e-mail address, and if she is willing (as I trust she will be :wub: ), perhaps we can get it to Mr. Marinaccio, so he can then contact you. You can also use the "Contact Us" link to relay your phone number to administrators, who will pass it along to Gina.

#11 onetimehoofer

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 04:53 AM

With your consent, onetimehoofer, I will send Gina your e-mail address, and if she is willing (as I trust she will be :wub: ), perhaps we can get it to Mr. Marinaccio, so he can then contact you. You can also use the "Contact Us" link to relay your phone number to administrators, who will pass it along to Gina.


Thank you! My Email is: chapmanba@gmail.com

I have lived in South America for the past 27 years, 16 of them in Argentina, where I'm currently interpreter and translator for the UN and many commercial international companies. I was a war and terrorism journalist for 26 years, currently finishing a novel about my 9 years in Perú, where I reported on the nearly successful drive of the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) to overthrow the government.

(Gina, I seem to remember seeing you dancing somewhere, perhaps in Coppelia ???)

My passion for dance has affected the entire course of my life, perhaps most in discipline, resolve and the will to survive. Memories of the dancers I knew and those I observed from a distance—fellow performers and classmates, as well as those seen briefly at auditions—have bobbed up at odd moments in my life and literally saved me in at least two.

I was not a personal friend of Gene's, although I took class with him for two years. Seeing myself through his eyes, I think I was for him a late-starting, but doggedly determined question mark: would this passionately dedicated novice go on? He was always polite. All expression of his ego was somehow channeled into movement, never surfacing as a personal trait; he was always effective, never in affect. Like Bruce Lee, he was focused on one subject, and that subject drove him. As I remember, “The Dance” and gossip seemed Gene’s only topics of conversation. (I can just hear Gene snickering and saying, "Well, sounds good!")

My initial interest in ballet began in Atlanta, Georgia, where a Marine friend, Judd Bell, dragged me to a rehearsal of the Atlanta Civic Ballet, where his girlfriend was a performer. On sight, I fell in love with one of the other dancers, Jo Anne Rader, who went on to dance with the Royal Ballet. In one of those truly unlikely, but probably logical turns of events, a year later found me drawn to attend a performance in L.A. of, I believe, the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company, with Alonso herself and 46-year-old Igor Youskevitch as principals.

At intermission, I listened to three young men seated directly in front of me animatedly talk with obvious authority about the dancers and their performances. Still in love with Jo Anne, I tapped one on the shoulder and asked if they really knew those dancers on the stage. The three, Gene Marinaccio, Douglas Hinshaw and Donald Eryck, turned, eager to talk. Donald had toured South America with the Alonso company. He told me about how Miss Alonso had to be turned upside down and shaken by two dancers just before each of her entrances, to reset her optic nerves in place at least long enough for her to find her bearings once she was on stage. And, they corroborated what I had seen, that Youskevitch managed to find within himself movement and leaps that convinced me he was still a young man.

The three fellow watchers of the Los Angeles performance invited me to their dance studio. I remember thinking, yeah, sure! I politely said I’d “try,” as convinced that I wouldn’t go as my three fellow theatergoers were as their eyes shied politely from my lie. But . . . Dance is so physical, and so passionate. I went the next day. Michael wasn't what I expected a man teaching ballet might be. Dance in the classroom didn't fit my niggling prejudices. Something in me moved like the ocean tide answering the moon as the dancers gestured, turned and leapt. I went only to watch, but somehow was cajoled into borrowed tights and slippers for the second class.

Toward the close of my first year of study with Michael Brigante I began performing as soloist in the Wilson Morelli Ballet Company (later, the Los Angeles Opera Ballet), and danced in two movies. I met Bronislava Nijinska (Nizínskaya), a fellow tenant where I lived in Hollywood, who presented me with her brother’s worn costume from Petrushka after seeing me dance at Hollywood High School with the then Wilson Morelli Ballet Company. I never showed the tattered and torn, crimson costume to anyone, but kept it for many years. I remember once looking at it, then at a Photo of Waslaw Nijinski dancing Petrushka, then back at the faded material in my hands, suddenly overwhelmed by my own insignificance. Perhaps it is still among my things left with my younger brother, Arnold, in L.A.

For more than a year my brother and parents were politely noncommittal about my choice of caree. They saw me dance for the first time in Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo at the Greek Theater. I cannot express how much they warmed my heart when they appeared backstage after the performance to congratulate me, eyes shining with admiration and pride. Although I was nobody in the ballet world, that moment backstage meant the world to me. Sorry . . . MEANS the world to me.

Most dancers find they were absent when God handed out the right bone, muscle, proportions and hormones to begin an advantaged life as a dancer. Most of us didn't get light bones, long, powerful muscles, graceful arches, and hips that both turn a leg out and let toes point through the roof. While we turn a blind eye to our imperfections, and strive to transform our bodies into fleeting instruments of universal expression, a few, like Gene, are genetically blessed. Maybe you too are one of those whose arches are beautiful, whose naturally sculpted torso and limbs answer easily to emotional and artistic implulse. Or, like me, in spite of imperfections, were determined to go on anyway, just for a few moments of immortality in class and on the stage. A providential mishap prevented me from continuing as a dancer, but fortuitously led to my ongoing career in my other love: writing. (My, how I do go on!)

#12 ladyerayne

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 11:08 PM

Mr Marinaccio has recently lost his life partner. I have never seen him perform as some of you have, but I love to hear his stories of the ballet and travels. He is alive.

#13 carbro

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 08:58 PM

Thank you, ladyerayne, and welcome to BalletTalk!

#14 Gina Ness

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 10:43 PM

Hello, ladyerayne...I just heard about Gene's sad loss quite recently. I was very sorry to hear of it. Thank you for your post.


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