BryMar1995

Important Women in Ballet

71 posts in this topic

I believe that Barbara Fallis, who was married to Richard Thomas and taught in New York CIty was an Important Woman in Ballet. She was the nicest, most helpful teacher I ever met. She had been a soloist in England and with the New York City ballet. She and her husband created the US Terpiscore which toured the US with young people.

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In spring 2012, the Colorado Ballet presented a program called "Tribute" with choreography by three female choreographers (Emery LeCrone, Jodie Gates, Amie Seiwart), in honor of the two women who founded the company, Lillian Covillo and Freidann Parker:

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_20290901/review-from-colorado-ballet-three-new-dances-knowing

Gates is the new director of the USC Kaufman School of Dance: http://kaufman.usc.edu/

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Thanks for reviving this thread, Christine and California. It's an important and interesting topic, and there has been a lot of development since the thread last flourished in 2001.

PLEASE, everyone, tell us about the "Important Women in Ballet" that you feel deeply about. (I'm working on my list right now.)

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Rather than individual dancers or choreographers, I think more in those whose strong will and determination have propelled significant forces within the art form. Ninette de Valois, Lucia Chase and Alicia Alonso are three of those. Current important cornerstones of the ballet world are basically and definitely radiations from their efforts.

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Allegra Kent, a true artist.

Allegra Kent in that, in my opinion, she had tremendous influence on the Balanchine look and style (for want of a better word). Her port de bras and way of moving, I believe had impact on the school and company.

I would also add to the list Rebecca Harkness. She poured a tremendous amount of money into her school and company. Whatever one's opinion is of the quality and outcome,many influential teachers taught at her school, and many great dancers were developed in her company.

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Yes, Harkness has become almost a forgotten name. It would be fascinating to construct a detailed outine of the influence of her school, company, and extended patronage. I suspect that the late, lamented Ballet Florida would probably not have existed and flourished for so long without the Harkness connection. Someone should really document this story for the country as a whole.

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Martha Swope - photographer - when it comes to captivating dance in a single moment whether it's on stage during a live performance, behind the scenes during rehearsal, or at a photo studio no one has ever had a more profound influence on dance photography quite like Swope. IMO she made it an art form.

Arlene Croce - critic - founder of Ballet Review, longtime dance critic of the New Yorker Magazine and author of several books about dance, Ms. Croce is one of the towering figures in the art of dance reviews. I think her influence is HUGE.

Joan Acocella - critic - yet another gifted and superb writer of dance.

Isodora Duncan - dancer - yes she's a legend in modern dance but from the things I've read about her, she left an important imprint on several legendary giants in 20th century ballet. Her freedom of movement, her passion and her style of dancing in which she made it appeared the music was coming directly within herself, and that dance didn't have to beholden to strict storytelling, had a huge influence over choreographers like the Russia's Mikhail Fokine and Britian's Frederick Ashton.

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About Daniel's nomination of Allegra Kent ("a true artist"): I don't think many remember just what an extraodinary and original dancer Kent was, or the impact she made on stage especially in the late 50s and early 60s.. Coincidentally, I'm just reading Robert Gottlieb's review (in NY Review of Books) of Elena Tchernichova's memoirs. Tchernichova, then a young dancer at the Kirov, saw Kent dance the Sleepwalker in Balanchine's La Sonnambula when NYCB came to Leningrad in 1962:

I saw every performance she gave; I wanted to somehow impress irrevocably on my brain every single step of hers.

Tchernichova's experience of Balanchine's company changed her life. "By the time Balanchine was gone, 'I was ready to follow him to New York.'" Eventuallyi, she was able to get an exit permit and arrived in NYC in 1976. This is where the connection with Harkness comes in. Among her first jobs in NYC was to work privately with her old friend and schoolmate Natalia Makarova, often in the Harkness studies. After that, she went to ABT.

The book, Elena Tchernichova with Joel Lobenthal, Dancing on Water: a Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT, is available from Northeastern University Press.

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The book, Elena Tchernichova with Joel Lobenthal, Dancing on Water: a Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT, is available from Northeastern University Press.

It's available in a Kindle edition as well. For any newcomers reading, I'll mention that both paper and electronic editions can be ordered through the Amazon box at the bottom of each Ballet Alert page. So doing helps fund BA.

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Clicking that box is the way I ordered it -- as well as the new Markova biography. Every little bit helps keep Ballet Alert on line and technologically up to date. Thanks, kfw, for reminding us.

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Marcia Haydee is a woman for all seasons (dancer, stager, choreographer, artistic director)

Twyla Tharp for her crossover choreography

Alexandra Danilova - for everything.

Jennifer Tipton has lighted some of the best ballets of the 20th and 21st century.

Claude Bessy (the little dictatress of the POBS) for keeping the French style going.
Violet Verdy for her dancing, staging, and PR friendly personality, what a great ambassador for the artform

Sulemith Messerer in Japan for her work to develop the artform.

Nina Ananiashvili will be on this list eventually. She was a wonderful dancer, beloved by her ABT family, and is keeping the flame alive in Tblisi.

Virginia Johnson of DToH, for her dancing, and willingness to revive the company in difficult economic times, I hope she succeeds!

I think we English speakers will never know the contributions made by former Soviet ballerinas who go on to coach future generations in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Many of them kept their companies going by hook and by crook through the stormy times after the collapse in 1989 - 91. God bless them all.

.

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I don't think many remember just what an extraodinary and original dancer Kent was, or the impact she made on stage especially in the late 50s and early 60s..

I think Kent's influence is generally acknowledged (?) It would probably be more widely acknowledged if she'd committed herself to Balanchine and dance more intensely than she did. She also has a larger place in cultural memory than many of the other Balanchine girls. There is her book, her appearance in Six Balanchine Ballerinas, the photographs of Bert Stern which are regularly reproduced, and she gets mentioned in Vogue and Vanity Fair. Not bad.

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Having developed an interest in ballet only 3 years ago I of course missed Ms. Kent's live performances. But I have seen video of her in the 2nd movement of Symphony in C (from the infamous Berlin 1973 filming), and part of the pas de deux from Agon with Arthur Mitchell (with a german announcer's voice-over!). I thought her autobiography was also very interesting (and fun) to read.

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Peggy van Praag, Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet, and choreographer. Author of the The Choreographic Art

Writers Katherine Sorley Walker, Lynn Garafola and Mary Clarke.

Tamara Karsavina, Mathilde Kschessinska, Olga Preobajenska for their inspiration and their teaching in Paris and London.

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If we're including critics, I'd want to add Deborah Jowitt and Marcia Siegel. And Parmenia Migel.

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I would add:

Karole Armitage

Rosina Galli, who ran the Metropolitan Opera Ballet through the 1920s - this was essentially the only resident ballet company in the US at the time

Gisella Caccialanza and Ruby Asquith, important ballerinas and teachers in San Francisco

Has anyone mentioned Agnes de Mille already?

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The wider influence upon ballet across the world in modern times has to begin with Anna Pavlova.

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If we're including critics, I'd want to add Deborah Jowitt and Marcia Siegel. And Parmenia Migel.

Please don't forget the many excellent female critics and dance historians. A few of my favorites (along with those already mentioned): Arlene Croce, Anna Kisselgoff, Selma Jeanne Cohen. And several female philosophers are publishing important work on dance (e.g., Barbara Montero at CUNY, Anna Pakes at Roehampton in the UK). Anna Hutchinson Guest (theory and notation) should also be noted.

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I would like to refer back to the first post and tighten the title to a somewhat more detached view in the following.

Internationally speaking I would only include most significantly of all Anna Pavlova, Lucia Chase(Co-Founder of American Ballet Theatre), Ninette de Valois and the Russian Agrippina Vaganova as having had a truly wide world affect upon the 21st century performances of Academic Classical Ballet. The other women mostly did sterling work but, if you are talking about the world stage of ballet even Marie Rambert(mostly in dance) or Mary Day (ballet) both of whom I have spent some short time discussing the art who I admired, do not reach the influence of the above named artists. There are of course some very distinguished women dancers from the world of 'Dance' and that would certainly begin for me with Martha Graham and Bronislava Nijinska but they are outside the world of Academic Classical Ballet. Perhaps a greater influence upon “Important women in ballet” has been the legendary list of academic classical ballerinas and of course the great influence of academic classical male dancers who have attracted enormous audience around the world defying Balanchine's dictum that “Ballet is woman.” Arlene Croce wrote,” His pet peeve in the theatre was the kind of emotionalism that aims at exciting false empathy in the spectator—the opposite of classical art. Mentions Hegel and Coleridge. For Balanchine, art was not something created de novo but a refashioning of hand-me-down material in such a way that it becomes new. He subscribed to the Hegelian view of history as a spiral: everything recurs, but in a different form. For this reason, he saw no harm in appropriating: he stole and was stolen from—that was the way of art. One of the great Balanchine statements is a definition of what tradition means to the artist: “You must go through tradition, absorb it, and become in a way a reincarnation of all the artistic periods that have come before you.”

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Please don't forget the many excellent female critics and dance historians. A few of my favorites (along with those already mentioned): Arlene Croce, Anna Kisselgoff, Selma Jeanne Cohen. And several female philosophers are publishing important work on dance (e.g., Barbara Montero at CUNY, Anna Pakes at Roehampton in the UK). Anna Hutchinson Guest (theory and notation) should also be noted.

That's a great point. Liebling already mentioned

Nancy Reynolds- for her Balanchine Foundation projects- which gives some dancers a chance to work with the closest direct links to Balanchine, and then preserves the rehearsals for generations to come.

Of course she also wrote everyone's favorite Balanchine Bible, Repertory in Review. And then there is Nancy Goldner, who has written two wonderful volumes of Balanchine criticism and description, Balanchine Variations and More Balanchine Variations.

I'd love to read more about Montero, Pakes and Guest on the Writings About Ballet forum.

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It's been fun rereading this thread, which asked us to to "list as many influential women we could think of who have had a profound impact on ballet in the 20th century." Inevitably, a topic like this leads to accumulation, as posters think of more and more figures who have had importance in the field. So far we have done a commendable job of reminding ourselves about just how many significant women in ballet there have been.

Now, leonid suggests a re-focusing or narrowing down of the topic..

I would like to refer back to the first post and tighten the title to a somewhat more detached view in the following.

Internationally speaking I would only include most significantly of all Anna Pavlova, Lucia Chase(Co-Founder of American Ballet Theatre), Ninette de Valois and the Russian Agrippina Vaganova as having had a truly wide world affect upon the 21st century performances of Academic Classical Ballet.

This is quite a challenge. The new criteria are that the person have a "truly wide world affect" on ballet as we know it in the 21st century. In other words: an influence that is international, transformational, enduring.

About Pavlova, I can't see any doubt. She was ballet to most of the world for a long time.

But Vaganova, Valois, and Chase? I find myself wondering. Much of this is my own ignorance, especially as it relates to the influence of the Vaganova method in international ballet training today. I also tend to see, possibly erroneously, Valois and especially Chase as figures of national rather than world influence.

But I'm willing to be persuaded (or dissuaded).wink1.gif

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Bart your courage is amazing! flowers.gif As my late husband (an acclaimed ballet master who was trained in East Germany and in Russia as well as made his USA career in a highly recognized American ballet company) would say, "oh Vikula, you really do not want to open that can of worms". Somehow I always did want to open that can so I could learn more. I will take a crack at the Vaganova question. Of course, you knew I would!

Prior to Vaganova, there was no written/codified method of teaching ballet from the beginning to the development of a professional dancer. Cecchetti and the Danes had a written/codified method however, it was for professional dancers only. It was only after Vaganova, with help of many others who are not given the distinguished recognition Vaganova is given, wrote/codified the methodology that others began to put down in ink how to do this and that from the beginning. The French to this day do not have a written program of study that details how to do this and how to do that.

As the Russians began to perform through cultural exchange programs as well as defect, the world was able to see the work that had been going on behind that large curtain. It was astounding not only mechanically but also artistically. Artists and audiences alike opened their eyes with eagerness for more. Ballet professionals wanted to know the hows and whys of what they were seeing. Not only did the Russians study ballet from the age of 10 in special schools that functioned as grammar, middle and high school, as we American students were unable to do, they also were trained methodically in music, character, duet (partnering), men's work, pointe, variations and repertoire. In short, they were far more educated in the art of classical dance than we. Europe also opened its' eyes to a higher level of technique and artistry. The Europeans had the educational system in place, but they did not have a program of study that had produced continuously dancers of a high caliber as consistently as the Russians. In the early 1980's through 1995, my husband (who defected in 1974) was asked to help to develop the teaching level of not only the Royal Ballet School in London but also the Australian Ballet School, ballet schools in Japan and the Philippines. The Russians had been quite busy setting up methodology clinics influencing the teaching in China, Cuba and many South American nations. The Russians had also been accepting international teachers to their methodology programs at GITIS (Moscow) and The Vaganova Academy ( St. Petersburg). Many of the teachers trained in Vaganova schooling as teachers were now out and about spreading the word, so to speak. In the 1980's and 1990's, the ballet teaching world was abuzz, discussing what the heck was it that Vaganova schooling was doing. Everyone has their opinions of what they like to see in students, so generally people were not in agreement about what they saw, liked nor understood, however people were talking and opening their eyes and minds to Vaganova schooling. Various small teachers courses began to pop up here and there. Some were qualified to pass along the information they learned in school but only those who had done additional studies as a teacher had the full program at their fingertips. My late husband alone was employed to train teachers in the Vaganova methodology on 3 continents. If this is not worldwide impact, I do not really know what is.

The influence of Vaganova and "her" methodology continues to shine through the dancers who continue to delight audiences worldwide. One will find the influence of Vaganova schooling in all of Europe, China, Asia, South America and in the USA. I know of someone setting up the teaching program for the national School in Guatamala! One might add Central America to the list. While not everyone likes what they see nor agrees on the topic of the schooling, every professional ballet person knows a well trained Vaganova dancer when they see one. Unfortunately I must also say, they also know a poorly trained one as well. There continue to be many people hiding behind the name Vaganova.

Please keep Vaganova on the list of most influential women in ballet in the 20th and 21st centuries. toot.gif

.

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vrsfanatic, I was sort of hoping that my post would lure you into speaking up in defense of Vaganova. One aspect of the Vaganova story that I had forgotten while writing to leonid was the simple fact that ...

The Europeans had the educational system in place, but they did not have a program of study that had produced continuously dancers of a high caliber as consistently as the Russians.

Vaganova provided a template for what was missing outside Russia, and this was especially important in the years when the Soviet Union was more or less isolated from the larger world culture.

You convince me! Let me add my own sincere toot.gif for Vaganova and all the teachers who keep it alive.

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But Vaganova, Valois, and Chase? I find myself wondering. Much of this is my own ignorance, especially as it relates to the influence of the Vaganova method in international ballet training today. I also tend to see, possibly erroneously, Valois and especially Chase as figures of national rather than world influence.

But I'm willing to be persuaded (or dissuaded).wink1.gif

I leave the Lucia Chase recommendation as to being an " Important Women in Ballet" with ABT;s record of productions, let alone their visits to at least 42 countries.

Her American recommendations can be found as follows.

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/19/arts/dance-view-lucia-chase-helped-create-the-ballet-world-we-know.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar

Lucia Chase - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.danceheritage.org/chase.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-nash/lucia-chase-americas-ball_b_386658.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/10/obituaries/lucia-chase-of-ballet-theater-is-dead.html

http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/BWW-Interviews-Hilda-Morales-An-Extraordinary-Career-with-Pennsylvania-Ballet-American-Ballet-Theater-Antony-Tudor-and-the-Hartt-School-of-Dance-20140512-page2

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D06E5D91039E732A25756C0A9679C946890D6CF

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/26/arts/a-memorial-for-lucia-chase.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar

http://123movies.tv/biography/Chase,_Lucia

PS You will have to wait for me to get round to de Valois and Vaganova.

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