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Looking for information on Maria Swoboda!!!!!


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27 replies to this topic

#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 08:17 AM

She walked like a queen, saluted with extaordinary grace and bowed, but never should the knee touch to the floor ! And we tried to imitate her. We applauded after every class.
About the fish pond which was more of a frog pond, she had some beautiful water lilies. I hope someone out there is still reading me. There's still so much to know about her.

I've been following your detailed comments on Mme. Sowoda, gold comb. For once I always find fascinating how this old professors acted, either in class or outside. The detail about not kneeling while taking a bow is very interesting, which I knew about already via the autobiography of Danilova. I believe she said that only if royalty was present one would kneel. So yes, gold comb...please keep writing about Swoboda.

#17 dancer100

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 03:53 PM

Just in case there's someone still interested ...There's still so much to know about her.


Oh I have always been very interested in reading your recollections on Maria Swoboda. The personality and mannerism details you have written about intrigue me immensely. DO keep writing as I would love to learn as much as possible about this fabulous dancer and teacher. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge about her!

#18 gold comb

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 01:17 PM

Some spelling corrections...the Russian pianist could have been Mme Mikeshina (instead of Makisna) and Mr Katon or Caton (instead of Keaton) as I had written previously. I would like to tell, whoever is still out there, more about Mme Swoboda's physical appearance.Although I didn't know her as a young woman and, as many have written before me, you could not give her an age. But I did know her for many, many years; 15 to be exact. She wore no make-up, her hair always tied in a bun with sometimes a pale blue scarf worn as a kerchief, even during class. Of course, she never wore street clothes to teac, but changed into some kind of dark, grey or black, dress. She also wore heavy black shoes that we would always admire when she pointed her feet because she had incredible, natural, insteps. Amongst ourselves, in ballet language, we would say someone had, or did not have, "feet". She also, always wore her grey/blue collar of perles and her beautiful amethyst ring; her nails with red nail polish. She was extremely graceful but hated when she saw dancers flying their arms around that she called "chi chi". Unfortunately, dancers from the NYC ballet ,at that time, just loved "chi chi" arms. But not Mme Swoboda ! She insisted upon discipline and control. Should I continue ?...

#19 carbro

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 03:07 PM

Please!

#20 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 03:58 PM

Gold comb-- there are 4,150 viewings of this thread.

People are DEFINITLY interested.

#21 vipa

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 05:28 PM

She was extremely graceful but hated when she saw dancers flying their arms around that she called "chi chi". Unfortunately, dancers from the NYC ballet ,at that time, just loved "chi chi" arms. But not Mme Swoboda ! She insisted upon discipline and control. Should I continue ?...


I took her classes as a kid and young teen. I remember her saying to one dancer (I'm paraphrasing but think I'm pretty close)"

"You must do 3 pirouettes every time - you are machine."

and then to another dancer in the class

"You dance like piece of wood, what you think you are machine?"

She always got her message across!

I'll never forget the loveliness of her arms, head & neck when she demonstrated movement. And as has been stated before her feet were beautifully arched.

#22 duffster

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 07:34 PM

I took about three classes with Mme. Swoboda at the old ABT studios. From what I remember most of all was her very devoted following of dancers . Her barre,as I remember was set and not being one of the regulars, I felt quite out of the loop. She had a very soft voice, wore all black and scared me a bit . She reminded me of the nuns that taught me all through school. I heard her say ( High Legs !) at one point during the class. I think the center combinations were done frequently, as everyone seemed to know them perfectly. We did not face the mirror in the center, but did the steps side by side -everything flowed. I remember Roni Mahler leading the combinations quite beautifully. At the end we did a lovely reverence and applauded Mme. for the class and waited for her to depart. I'm glad to have these memories, I know its not much,but I hope it helps to post this.

#23 gold comb

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 03:36 PM

Thank you cabro and violin concerto. You keep me motivated. So here's some more. To vipa and duffster, and the others that are reading/sharing along with us, here are some other of madame's famous expressions. She told us we needed "cardination" which of course meant coordination. An arabesque with a sickled foot was called an "ironing board". Dancers that stayed in one place, trying to hold their balance in a piqué or relevé, she called "classroom dancers". To be called a classroom dancer was very humiliating.

#24 Hannahbella

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 02:02 PM

Gold Comb! I love your posts regarding Madame Swoboda. Almost every detail rings with accuracy from the red nails and black shoes to the "babies", "old ladies" and "gypsies." You bring up so many delicious old memories - in addition to the ones posted on my behalf earlier in this thread.

She was completely larger tha life in every respect. Unlike the divas of today, she had the substance - the training, the musicality, the culture - to back up her oversized personality. She was always, ALWAYS right. Really, she was. Which was why no one ever challenged her. We knew she was right, and that was that.

One thing you touched upon made me laugh. She had a great deal of expertise in music as well as dance, and as a musician who also danced, I was with her all the way when she had "discussions" with her pianists. The pianists were critical to her classes. She loved them one moment, hated them the next - how dare they not have read her mind? The oddest part was, at the end of the class, you "felt" her musicality in her choreography. After hours of her punctuating our classes with the familiar "Stop-stop-stop" to the pianists - they did not run away in tears. They loved her, beacuse they also knew she was always right.

#25 Hannahbella

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 02:48 PM

Does anyone remember her "Character Class"? If not, let me offer my impressions. While her barre was fixed and sometimes mechanical, her character class was a revelation. She wasn't fooling around when she took everything she had taught us - and then stood it on its head. Flexed feet instead of pointed toes. Tilted heads instead of royal carriage. Bent knees and odd ports de bras. We didn't realize it but this was the beginning of her intent to teach us choreography from the great ballets. LOVED IT!

#26 Hannahbella

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 06:36 PM

Here is a link to Madame's New York Times YT obit, which gives some information: http://query.nytimes...75BC0A961948260

The curious part is, the last line says "There are no survivors."

The truth is, there are thousands of "survivors." She had hundreds of dancers she called "babies" - and hundreds of those "babies" grew up and started dance schools of their own (just google her name and see who comes up - beginning with Roni Mahler...). And now - several generations later, her "influence DNA" is ingrained in dancers everywhere - even if they never heard of her).

#27 Aptadance

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:20 PM

Today while telling my students about this great woman, I googled her on my tablet and up came this tread. Although this topic has not been touched on in years, I feel compelled to add my experience with Madame. I was one among her last students. In a ballet world that in the seventies/eighties had few people of color, she built me up by telling me about Raven ( years later I would understand she meant Raven Wilkinson). One day while I was at the barre Madame stood beside me looking at me intensely, I started to sweat not knowing what I was doing wrong. As I waited for the correction , she spoke in a tone almost as if she was deciding my future "You will teach" she said. From that day on, with great pride she started to teach me to teach others.

I don't know if anyone is still out there but I want to thank you for the fond memories, and to gold comb, thanks after all these years you reminded me of why I do what I do and the way I do, from terms like ironing board , old ladies to "No chi, chi!". Even with my modifications through the years my style is still very much hers, and I as one of many survivors pass her legacy to my "babies".

#28 cwb

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Posted 25 June 2016 - 07:06 PM

I was a young teenager growing up in Philadelphia. The mother of one of my best friends arranged for Madame to come into Philadelphia every saturday to teach us ballet. I think from possibly as early as 1953 through 1960,   I loved it. I had studied with other  teachers but none like Madame. I still remember the black dress and babushka she wore. She never got my name  Cynthia or Cindy right and either called me Cynthie or Cindya.   One thing I liked about our classes was that we never had recitals just pure ballet with a pianist.

 
 But in 1959 (I think) The  Philadelphia Orchestra asked us to perform with them for one of their children's concerts. And we also performed on the local PBS station.  That meant trips to NYC for fittings and rehearsals. There were several of us in the advanced class who were all close to the same size and we were joined by one of the adult ballerinas from NYC. Since my mother didn't drive and was habitually late, I was late for one of the rehearsals at the Academy of Music with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Madame yelled at me and I started to cry. This very kind gentleman came over and started telling me jokes to make me smile again. My mother explained later that man was Victor Borge who I adored from that moment on. 
 
That was my last year of ballet since I was 15 and terribly embarrassed when my 9th grade class all watched me on TV. There was a great deal of pressure on my mom and subsequently on me to continue since I was breaking up the group, but I refused so I look back now with regret.  I still have my ballet dress that I wore for our performances. And my dad filmed the performance on TV which I might still have someplace. I will try to find it if anyone was in that group and would like to see it. 



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