32tendu

Famous Ballet Goers

49 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,

I am researching for an upcoming television pitch and I am wondering what famous/celebrities are often seen support ballet.

I know SJ Parker and Kevin Klien made appearances on the Balanchine Celebrations. Are there notable others? Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post

Joanne Woodward, Jackie and (now) Caroline Kennedy, Chelsea Clinton (and her parents at one time). Chelsea is even on the Board of Directors of SAB.

Share this post


Link to post

Susan Sontag, Tommy Tune (two alliteratives! :FIREdevil: ) were two I used to see regularly at NYCB. Not together!

Most recent First Ladies have, at one point or another, been Honorary Co-Chairs of NYCB's or ABT's Annual Gala.

Wasn't Princess Diana (a former ballet student) a patron of ENB?

There was a story a while back about the excitement generated in London by the Beckhams' presence at the ballet.

Wendy Wasserstein was a ballet devotee. She composed the libretto for . . . I forget which ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

I've seen Renee Fleming at ABT. Wasn't Andy Warhol a big Heather Watts fan?

Share this post


Link to post

From the newsrooms, Lesley Stahl and Robin MacNeil, formerly of the NewsHour. I think he was on the Board as well, and may still be, in any case, I think it was early or mid 90s when he hosted a series of PBS specials and I believe interviewed Peter Martins in one of them.

Share this post


Link to post

I've seen Bette Midler, Isabella Rosselini, Patrick Stewart, the late Claudette Colbert & Kurt Vonnegut,

Share this post


Link to post
Susan Sontag, Tommy Tune (two alliteratives! :FIREdevil: ) were two I used to see regularly at NYCB. Not together!

Most recent First Ladies have, at one point or another, been Honorary Co-Chairs of NYCB's or ABT's Annual Gala.

Wasn't Princess Diana (a former ballet student) a patron of ENB?

There was a story a while back about the excitement generated in London by the Beckhams' presence at the ballet.

Wendy Wasserstein was a ballet devotee. She composed the libretto for . . . I forget which ballet.

She was a NYCB fan, BIG time. Poor gal.

I'll think of more, slowly.

Share this post


Link to post

Gong back a ways, Charlie Chaplin was both a fan AND an accomplished dancer.

Many of the British Royal family love the ballet; the late queen mother was a personal friend of Ashton's, as was Princess Margaret. QE2 is said to love to dance, and Prince Charles is a good Scottish country-dancer (saw him once on some video, was impressed), and of course, they're patrons of hte Royal Ballet.

Can't think of anybody living tht hasn't been mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post

If we add in living royalty, Princess Caroline of Monaco has filled her late mother's shoes as a sponsor of the ballet and for ballet scholarships.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is a devoted balletomane.

Share this post


Link to post

I read somewhere that Joanne Woodward is a fan. I think the Newman's Own Foundation may have even made some charitable donations...

Share this post


Link to post

Don't forget that the aforementioned Ms. Clinton is a former student of our own Victoria Leigh.

Share this post


Link to post

I remember Jimmy Carter at the opening night of Baryshnikov's Don Q at the Kennedy Center.

Paul Newman and Joannne Woodward were often seen at dance in LA. Eliot Feld's Company, ABT, Nederlands, etc.

Sat in front of Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters at an ABT performance.

Nancy Reagan was at the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty in 1978

I'm sure someone who lives in LA can detail the celebs who now attend. I go back to the days of Herb Ross who cross pollinated the dance and movie crowds. I used to run into Herb and Nora Kaye at almost every performance of major companies in LA and they always were with dancers and actors.

I remember Christoper Isherwood coming backstage after a performance of Roland Petit's company.

David Soul used to hand out with some of the corps ladies of ABT...I presume he saw some performances.

Share this post


Link to post

Being in L.A. I used to see NUMEROUS movie stars attend ABT at all the venue's during the '80's: Music Center, Shrine, and then OCPAC. My favorite memories are of...

Jessica Lange watching Baryshnikov from the aisle stairs in the cavernous balcony at Shrine (why no one found her a seat I don't know? Baryshnikov couldn't have sold out all 5600 could he?)

Bumping into Martin Sheen and family in the entrance door (was it revolving?) at Shrine.

Seeing Jackie Bissette trying to protect Alexandre Gudonov (sp?) from the crowds at the stage door at the Music Center.

And much more recently at an ABT gala, Caroline Kennedy (of course), Isabella Rosselini, Lance Armstrong, and Robert De Niro whom I was pushed against by the crush of people, and after noting my shocked recognition, did murmer an apology.

However...

IMHO: Tendu32, if you need to show that celebrities come to ballets to gain support for it, I feel very sorry. I have never considered "stars" the arbiters of taste, (though their monetary support will mitigate that opinion somewhat), but rather, believe it is the general audiences who come night after night, or sell out large AND small houses across the nation (or world) who truly matter, because for them, the expense to attend is a much larger share of their limited resources.

Share this post


Link to post
I read somewhere that Joanne Woodward is a fan. I think the Newman's Own Foundation may have even made some charitable donations...

Yes, Joanne Woodward is a fan and has acted on the boards of several smaller CT companies, I think.

Paul Simon and Donald Trump had children at SAB. Ivanka Trump has tried to parley that into her publicity.

Don't forget Rudi and Barishnikov!

Share this post


Link to post
...Boris Godunov...

Only shortly before my time. Alexander Godunov, now him I remember. God only help the company Boris supported!

Share this post


Link to post

Bernadette Chirac, the wife of former French president Jacques Chirac, is said to be very interested in ballet (and she was involved in the organization of some ballet festivals).

Share this post


Link to post

Princess Diana was a regular visitor to the Ballet at the Royal Opera House.

Princess Margaret was too - though she never used the Royal Box. She preferred to sit in the centre of the stalls circle; no-one thought to point out that she shouldn't take her gin and tonic with her. And I don't recall anyone telling her that she shouldn't smoke, either. Not sure who provided the ashtray. And that was only about ten years ago.

Share this post


Link to post

Mary Tyler Moore, Grace Kelly, Picasso, Steve Wright, Edward Gorey and some major economist, was it Keynes?

Does being married to a dancer or having a dancer girlfriend count as being a fan?

Parents with kids in the ballet, I don't know if they are fans themselves, but Michael Jordon's daughter took classes with Ken von Heidecke.

I think Martin Scorcese might be a fan,

Are you only looking for living celebrities?

Share this post


Link to post

At this stage, all of this information is being used for research material for potential future script writing. Living and non-living are all welcomed!

If the program were to get off of the ground, I would certainly welcome all ballet fans. Not just the famous!

Share this post


Link to post

The original question is about celebrities who are "seen [to] support" ballet. I've been wondering about what constitutes "support." For many celebrities, just showing up in lovely clothes and walking around the lobby offering photo ops may be quite as much support as they are interested in giving. The relationship between ballet and celebrity -- whether its genuine admiration, mutual exploitation, artistic influence, or whatever -- wouldl make quite an interesting story.

Did anyone mention Jaqueline Kennedy (Onassis) and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.? Or Edward Gorey. You could fill several screens with the names of celebrities -- including actors, writers, musicians as well as socialites -- who liked to be seen at ABT and Balanchine's company in New York.

[ ... ] and some major economist, was it Keynes?
Keynes was married to Diaghilev ballerina Lydia Lopukova, who eventually became "Lady Keynes" after he was knighted.

The Bloomsbury Group and its contemporaries became fans for a while when Diaghilev came to London before World War One. According to Lynn Garafola, Keynes's interest in the Diaghilev ballet pre-existed Lopukhova. He travelled to London from Cambridge to see, he claimed, Nijinksy's legs. Lytton Strachey sent Nijinsky flowers. E.M. Forster was impressed by Nijinsky's portrayal of the Faun; George Bernard Shaw was passionate about Karsavina. Later, Harold Action, Cyril Connolly, Anthony Powell and all three Sitwells were among the younger generation of writers who frequented the ballet. As did Cecil Beaton, Lady Cunard, Lady Diana Cooper and other socialites and fashionistas.

In Paris, how about Proust, Cocteau, ee cummings, John Dos Passos? Or Coco Chanel and the fashion crowd after WWI. Picasso was a big groupie for quite a while, during his haut bourgeois period; he went to far as to marry the ballerina Olga Koklova and to dress up quite richly and elegantly for a while. Among expatriate Americans in Paris: Gerald and Sara Murphy, Jannet Flanner, Zelda Fitzgerald (who was inspired to become a kind of ballet dancer herself).

Garafola's book, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, is brim-full of celebrity citings and quotes from that period. How many actually came for the ballet -- or stayed after the initial rush of fashion died -- is hard to say. By the way, Garafola is very good in describing the way that fashion marketing -- clothing, perfume, etc. -- entered into the mix very early on -- precursors of the Blackgama mink "Legend" ads with Fonteyn, Nureyev, and Graham.

Share this post


Link to post

Several have mentioned Jackie Onassis. She and sister Lee Radziwill were very close friends of Nureyev, and obviously major ballet attendees. I don't know if Lee still is, but probably.

I just remembered that, during her Viking Press days in the 70s, Jackie wrote a long paean to Nureyev in the New York Times Magazine. It was considerably more inspired than the other one I read of hers in that publication-about Diana Vreeland; although that one was very good too, because, on looking back, she stuck strictly to reportage rather than her own opinions.

Share this post


Link to post

And then, of course, there was Louis XIV. You couldn't keep him OFFstage. (It's good to be the king) He and Prince William III of Orange danced together in a "Ballet de la Paix" in 1668. I suppose that the only thing that kept King Charles II of England from being there too were all those girlfriends, oh, and being a relatively-recently-restored sovereign kept him pretty occupied, as well.

Share this post


Link to post

I saw Donald Rumsfeld at a NYCB performance 4 or 5 years ago.

I'm glad someone mentioned Edward Gorey. Why, one could write a whole book about his enthusiasm and support of the NYCB! I believe they still sell the famous"Gorey Five Positions [of ballet]" on NYCB T-shirts, mugs, etc. Much of his artwork and books for children reflect his devotion to ballet, and the NYCB in particular.

Share this post


Link to post