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Roger Pryor Dodgeformer dance critic and Nijinsky buff


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#1 kfw

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 04:18 PM

Reading Lorraine Gordon's memoir "Alive at the Village Vanguard: My Life in and Out of Jazz Time" last night, I ran across a reference to Roger Pryor Dodge, a "dance critic" I'd never heard of. The passage may jog a few memories and provide a little amusement.

Roger had the best collection of Nijinsky photographs in the world -- you can see his collection today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Roger actually gave me two huge blowups, "Afternoon of a Faun" and "Scheherazade." I was a great fan of Nijinsky's, though I never heard him dance, of course. My mother was impressed with Roger's ankles. He'd been a ballet dancer, and when he crossed his legs, my mother would say, "I've never seen such handsome ankles on a man."



Ankles? OK, never mind.

Judging from what I can find online, I think Gordon is mistaken about the Met, and Dodge's collection is actually in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center. Also, while Dodge danced ballet, vaudeville and jazz himself, as a critic it seems he mostly devoted himself to jazz dancing. He began writing in the 20's and died in 1974.

I wonder if anyone has read Dodge's writing, or remembers it from back in the day and can tell us which publication(s) he wrote for.

#2 bart

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 04:31 PM

I'm looking forward to hearing what people share in response to your inquiry, kfw. In the meantime, here's a link to the NYPL:

http://www.nypl.org/...d/55/node/33836

Other material seems to be at Rutgers University:
http://newarkwww.rut...Descriotion.pdf

Curiosity led me to the following, from the NY Times:

Roger Pryor Dodge, the dancer and jazz enthusiast, was an eloquent, committed writer on this topic. As he explained in ''The Dance-Basis of Jazz,'' a 1945 essay, jazz's ideal state of health is to have three overlapping columns of fans: those who like to listen to it, those who like to dance to it and those who like to do both. Though he acknowledged that jazz must grow beyond the dance hall, he sensed in jazz a virility that needed grounding in rhythm, and the most natural, organic source of rhythm was, of course, dancing.

It was a nuanced view with some strong prejudices stirred in. Writing in the age of the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, Dodge frowned upon the public jam session: he felt it was too much a soloists' medium. ''When inspiration leaves the player,'' he wrote, and the dance no longer supports him, he becomes ''a screwball player.'' He continued, ''When inspiration leaves a dance man, his middle-of-the-road playing will be better than that of the uninspired jam-session man gone frantic.''

http://www.nytimes.c...t-together.html

Off topic: I admit to being intrigued by the following statement of Ms. Gordon's

I was a great fan of Nijinsky's, though I never heard him dance, of course.

Huh?

#3 kfw

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 05:55 PM

Off topic: I admit to being intrigued by the following statement of Ms. Gordon's

I was a great fan of Nijinsky's, though I never heard him dance, of course.

Huh?

:rofl: My apologies, Bart. The book is very much an as-told-to memoir, in this case, as told to Barry Singer, and much of it reads like unedited transcription. But don't blame Singer. What he he actually reports Gordon as saying is

I was a great fan of Nijinsky's, though I never saw him dance . . .




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