Gina Ness

George Zoritch

43 posts in this topic

Marc Platt was a very impressive presence in the "Ballets Russes" film.

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While not a dance major, I was fortunate to be allowed to take those classes from him at the University of Arizona. Mr. Zoritch was beloved by his students not least because of his courtesy and gentlemanly behavior. One morning, following a student performance, he addressed our class: "I was a professional dancer, and I am not as critical as most of *you.*" He went on to say that the things he had overheard the students say about one another's performances were far too harsh; in the future, he expected them to look for the positive and support one another's efforts and successes. Not a bad lesson, for dance and life.

Around that same time, I came across an old article describing Mr. Zoritch as "the Most Beautiful Man in the World." I couldn't resist making a copy of the article and sneaking it onto his desk with a cupcake.

He had a wonderful way with a phrase, and a great sense of humor. At the memorial service there will no doubt be many great stories.

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Around that same time, I came across an old article describing Mr. Zoritch as "the Most Beautiful Man in the World." I couldn't resist making a copy of the article and sneaking it onto his desk with a cupcake.
Arizona Native, you've made me curious. How did Mr. Zoritch respond to the article? And to the cupcake? :angry2:

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Ah -- I hope he smiled at the article and ate the cupcake! But I do not know, as it was an anonymous act of admiration.

The Tucson paper obit, which seems to have a new link, has a charming picture of him in stylized cowboy outfit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tucson/ob...p;pid=136270410. The comments are beautiful, with remarks from important figures in the development of Arizona dance education, including Frances Cohen, Sandra Noll Hammond, and John Wilson. I believe Ms. Cohen began the University of Arizona dance department, and Mr. Wilson furthered developed it, bringing particular recognition to the modern program. Sandra Noll Hammond was a long-time ballet faculty member and author.

As noted earlier on the board, Mr. Zoritch died after a fall. Ms. Hammond quotes her daughter as suggesting that it was perhaps "a fall into heaven."

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Thank you very much Richka for keeping us all posted on the memorial for Mr. George Zoritch. It certainly seems that he was very loved by his Tucson dance community as well as by all his many fans over the years...I saw him dance when I was perhaps nine or ten years old at the SF Opera House when he was touring with Ballet Russe. The first teacher of my youth danced with this company, so we were very familiar with the ballets and the dancers of the Ballet Russe. I remember thinking at the time that I was seeing a really famous person! My memory (it was a long time ago and I was quite young!) tells me that he danced with Nina Novak...

The memorial I arranged happened last Sunday. Sadly, the video only produced a blank tape and nobody took pictures. I wrote a report and so here I am glad to copy what I had written. People came from near and far.

December 6th 2009. The memorial celebration for George Zoritch was held in the studio where he taught for 14 years at the University of Arizona, a little over a month after his death on November 1st.

Close to 75 people arrived as The Prelude to “Afternoon of a Faun” was playing.

Among the speakers were Richard Holden (organizer of the event), Phil Sharper (master of ceremonies) Rochelle Zide and Howard Sayette (former dancers with Ballets Russes) ), Douglas Turnbaugh (a producer of the documentary film, Les Ballets Russes) and Norman Walker (a modern choreographer).

Tributes and Messages of condolence from Frederic Franklin, Mlada Mladova, Nina Novak, Yuri Grigorovitch, Vladimir Vasiliev, Michael Lavrovsky, Andrei Konkin, Valery Kosarukov, Taina Elg and others were read.

Beside the speaker’s table was a beautiful bouquet of roses, reminiscent of Zoritch’s signature dance, “Le Spectre de la Rose”.

Interspersed among the memories were DVDs projected on a giant screen. First was a ballet from the film “Escape Me Never” with Zoritch and Mlada Mladova. Zoritch was then 29. Richard Holden pointed out that this was the first glimpse of a male ballet dancer that he saw as a youngster of 14 and which inspired him to become a dancer himself.

An endearing scene from the film “Ballets Russes” of Zoritch and Natalia Krasovska, both then in their 80s, recalling a pas de deux from “Giselle”.

There was a slide show done on Zoritch’s 90th birthday celebration presented by Kasem Sedigh and a

delightful film of a massive tribute to Zoritch by the University Dance Dept in 2007.

The closing music was appropriately, ‘Le Spectre de la Rose”.

Richard Holden

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The Tucson paper obit, which seems to have a new link, has a charming picture of him in stylized cowboy outfit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tucson/ob...p;pid=136270410.

In case you are interested, as you mentioned that picture, I placed that obituary and picture and it is one George gave me from the movie "Night And Day". I even have the original costume design from Warner Brothers. It does look Southwestern, and that is why I used it for the obit.

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Thank you very much, Richka, for your words about the memorial for Mr. Zoritch on December 6th. I wish I had been able to attend, but I was thinking about you all...I am sorry about the tape and photo problem (I can really relate to this...but, that's another story!), but you will all forever have the memory of the gathering and the wonderful thoughts and words about Mr. Zoritch's life and his passion for dance. It is wonderful that this event happened in the studio where he taught for so many years....I feel certain that you all could feel his presence! This event reminds me very much of the memorial we had for Alan Howard (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo) at his beloved Academy of Ballet in San Francisco. Howard Sayette attended Alan's memorial, as well. I will never forget that event as you all will never forget your honoring of Mr. Zoritch...

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My wife, Joan Purvis (then Joan Cauvin) took Ballet from George Zoritch in the early 1960's. She was always a big fan of his.

She also took from Alexis Dolinoff. Anybody have a link or something concerning him would appreciate a post.

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Thank you very much, Richka, for your words about the memorial for Mr. Zoritch on December 6th. I wish I had been able to attend, but I was thinking about you all...I am sorry about the tape and photo problem (I can really relate to this...but, that's another story!), but you will all forever have the memory of the gathering and the wonderful thoughts and words about Mr. Zoritch's life and his passion for dance. It is wonderful that this event happened in the studio where he taught for so many years....I feel certain that you all could feel his presence! This event reminds me very much of the memorial we had for Alan Howard (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo) at his beloved Academy of Ballet in San Francisco. Howard Sayette attended Alan's memorial, as well. I will never forget that event as you all will never forget your honoring of Mr. Zoritch...

Good news! There was a video recording made after all. So we do have a record of the event. I brought my digital camera along but then with the multi tasking, I forgot to take any pictures. Maybe someone else did. Then the guest book that peple were signing in has disappeared.

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Thank you very much, Richka, for your words about the memorial for Mr. Zoritch on December 6th. I wish I had been able to attend, but I was thinking about you all...I am sorry about the tape and photo problem (I can really relate to this...but, that's another story!), but you will all forever have the memory of the gathering and the wonderful thoughts and words about Mr. Zoritch's life and his passion for dance. It is wonderful that this event happened in the studio where he taught for so many years....I feel certain that you all could feel his presence! This event reminds me very much of the memorial we had for Alan Howard (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo) at his beloved Academy of Ballet in San Francisco. Howard Sayette attended Alan's memorial, as well. I will never forget that event as you all will never forget your honoring of Mr. Zoritch...

Good news! There was a video recording made after all. So we do have a record of the event. I brought my digital camera along but then with the multi tasking, I forgot to take any pictures. Maybe someone else did. Then the guest book that peple were signing in has disappeared.

Yes, the memorial for Zoritch was indeed held in the studio where he taught for 14 years. I'm so glad I chose that place and Jory Hancock and Melissa Lowe (heads of the Dance Dept) were very helpful in arranging it. Jory was the teacher who replaced Zoritch after he retired. But George Zoritch continued taking class, (only the barre portion) for several years after retirement. Melissa did a very touching gesture at the memorial. After she spoke she placed 3 red roses on the floor where Zoritch always stood at the barre.

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My wife, Joan Purvis, took Ballet from George Zorich in Augusta, GA when she was starting ballet He was a major influence in her life by helping create a lifelong love of Ballet. She later took courses from him one summer in Detroit.

Ed Purvis

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Thank you, Mr. Purvis, for writing on behalf of your wife. Mr. Zoritch passed his art along, creating ripples that continue to move outwards, in ever expanding circles, to enrich ballet well beyond his lifetime.

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My wife, Joan Purvis (then Joan Cauvin) took Ballet from George Zoritch in the early 1960's. She was always a big fan of his.

She also took from Alexis Dolinoff. Anybody have a link or something concerning him would appreciate a post.

I know thqt this is an old post from time of Mr. Zoritch's death......i, also took classes w/him in detroit in outside school theatre for several summers.....your wife and i were probably in class together (early 60's).....wonderful opportunities to be in presence of such a great artist and learn from the very best. I remember how cold it was for our evenig outside classes with temps in 30's. Wonderful memories of those days. Email me

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We continue all to be surely saddened by Georg Zoritch's passing. I danced with ballets russes as an awfully young man and remember mr Zoritch's elegantly distant support of all of us newbies. He, and oddly the recipient of the blow, was the only one to suggest the humour in my first appearance as one of the shah's harim guards in Scheherezade. The lady dancers did not want to rehearse with us much but the in and outs as shown by Vadim Sulima were serpentine as we proceeded to weild our large wooden scimitars as they ran over dusty couches and pillows in vain escape attempts. I, of course, bonked away and hit not only the first, but third and fifth girls on the noggin. Light taps, to be sure, and possibly more painful to my spirit than the recipients wigs. One who bellowed "Hey Ya Watchit" later became Bat-Girl on the telly and we worked together without a bonk between us.

Mr. Zoritch, as a marvellous slave, let out a hoot, that calmed the moment.

I am now writing about another Dance Great, Walter Gore, who has passed and whose work's have evaporated for some unknowable reason. A name that I encounter there in research is Svens Norrlander, Norrlander apparently worked with Mr. Gore in a number of countries, staging Gore's and other choreographers works for them. This level of trust is remarkable as is the fact that he apparently had some sort of licensure from them to, update is not what I really want to say but which must do, make changes. His term in trade was "I know what he meant here", that apparently was always supported later on by the choreographers. This is surely trust.

The reason I am bringing this up is that I can find so little about Svens Norrlander(or Sven Norlander) in his early formative years. Does anyone from Padova, Madrid, Lisbon, Munich, Australia, Israel, Buenos Aires, Santiago, San Francisco, New Zealand, New York, Montreal, Winnipeg, places where I have confirmed he has worked or who knows where else that I can confirm he appeared, have anything to share? I would like to consider writing on this fellow's and any other such trusted interpretor's interesting history. There is at least one film of him dancing in a Dances Concertantes with a Ms N. Robinson that I have seen and have a still from. The choreographer is unknown as is the company, but the work is exquisite from both. There are as well stills from what appears to be a Graham work. Is there more out there? One wonders, there may be a fellowship of such trusted staging interpretors that would be fun to discover and write up.

Thanks Friends

Thanks folks.

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Hello, Sr. Lukas... This is indeed interesting to me. I didn't know what Sven was up to after he left SFB. I've known Sven since I was quite young. He is older than I am by a few years. We danced together when I was a kid at Ballet Celeste in San Francisco during the late 50s early 60s. Sven went on to dance at SFB, as did I later, although we didn't work together at SFB. He left before I arrived... Our paths may have crossed when I was studying at SFB school (mid sixties), but I'm not certain... The ballet you speak of is by Lew Christensen... Sven must be pictured with Nancy Robinson, a principal SFB dancer during the sixties. I don't know where he is now. I believe (I heard from a reputable source) he was in a very serious car accident quite a few years ago. He has dropped off the radar. He did not attend the SFB reunion in 2008. P.S. I have a few photos of a very young Sven as Franz in Coppelia with Ballet Celeste...

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Hello, Sr. Lukas... This is indeed interesting to me. I didn't know what Sven was up to after he left SFB. I've known Sven since I was quite young. He is older than I am by a few years. We danced together when I was a kid at Ballet Celeste in San Francisco during the late 50s early 60s. Sven went on to dance beautifully at SFB, as did I later, although we didn't work together at SFB. He left before I arrived... Our paths may have crossed when I was studying at SFB school (mid sixties), but I'm not certain... The ballet you speak of is by Lew Christensen... Sven must be pictured with Nancy Robinson, a principal SFB dancer during the sixties. I don't know where he is now. I believe (I heard from a reputable source) he was in a very serious car accident quite a few years ago. He has dropped off the radar. He did not attend the SFB reunion in 2008. P.S. I hAve a few photos of a very young Sven as Franz in Coppelia with Ballet Celeste...

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Hello Mlle Gina Ness,

What a genuinely remakable and gracious person are you to have such an arresting history and to be willing to share all. Thank you so for the informations. I now have new avenues of research from yourself and from another named Richka who was also very gracious and informed.

This fellow Sven Norrlander becomes at least slightly more interesting. At the outset he was a mere aside to my research on Walter Gore and Paula Hinton. Then came the bit about his work on Summerspace with Cunningham, and that work at, I think, the London Contemporary and then the bits about Theatro Colon and New Zealand and Lund and a travelogue of theatres worldwide. Many people have worked some of these venues, to be sure, but there just seems something special here. And then the suggestion that he may have been an arch criminal, as a secret ballet stager, put a new colour and humour on it. Now I have, from you, a sweet bit about him early on. What a story this might be, or not.

The goodest part, so far, has been the dearness of people such as yourself; sharing the knowing so graciously.

Thank you so.

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