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Edward BigelowBalanchine associate and dancer


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#1 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 09:50 AM

I was saddened and shocked to read that Edward Bigelow, who was 93, was killed tragically in a car crash in CT.

Here is the link. I hope that the Company will pay tribute to him in some way. He worked with and helped Balanchine in many capacities, starting as a dancer.

Anatole Chujoy first reports Mr. Bigelow's association with Mr. B. in the fall of 1943, with "American Concert Ballet," organized by Mary Jane Shea, William Dollar, Todd Bolender and Douglas Coudy (page 149.)



Edited to correct age.

Edited by ViolinConcerto, 05 April 2011 - 10:35 AM.


#2 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 10:19 AM

:crying: :crying: :crying:

On my first visit to New York and my first performance of the New York City Ballet, as I wandered about the theater marveling at everything before the performance, I met Mr. Bigelow as he was fussing with a piece of camera equipment and chatted very nicely with him. He was filming the afternoon's performance, which was Jewels. He asked me where I was sitting and I showed him my starving student's ticket, upon which he invited me to sit with him as he filmed the performance, in a box seat. I never knew who he was until I described him to a company member a few years later, who said that it was Mr. Bigelow. What a nice man.

#3 bart

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 06:07 PM

Thanks for that memory, Mme. Hermine. It reminds me of something I just read in Jacques d'Amboise's new memoir. (The occasion is Balanchine's funeral.)

Eddie Bigelow was at my shoulder. Stuffed into a tall, bony frame with a surly exterior was the heart of a caring, loving man. I reflected -- Eddie was there, in thrall to Balanchine and Lincoln, from the earliest days of Ballet Society in 1946. Eddie performed in anything and everything, and was a lifelong servant to dance and dancers. Eddie -- filling in for injured corps de ballet dancers; acting the character roles, the monster roles; holding a banner at the back of the stage in Firebird; fixing costumes; running errands; dyeing shoes; carrying injured dancers to the hospital -- Eddie could always be counted on. If you needed a moving man, Eddie carried your furniture up and down stairs. A chef? He would cook giant pots of spaghetti, supply the vodka, Chianti,k or scotch, and argue with you incoherently for hours, rambling off lots of words that sounded like they meant something, but we never could zero in on what his subject was. We loved to play cards together .... canasta, poker, bridge. God bless him. In service his whole life! Behind the scenes, Eddie and the self-effacing Betty Cage gave their love, labors, and most of their lives to the ballet company. They should have their Oscars, along with Balanchine and Lincoln.

-- d'Amboise, I Was a Dancer, pp. 353-4

Bigelow is a part of so many NYCB stories. It seems as though he is always remembered with real affection. Not a bad legacy.

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 07:29 PM

Such a shocking end to a wonderful life. May he be reunited with all the great figures in NYCB history, starting with Lincoln and Mister B. God rest their souls.

#5 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 07:43 PM

Bart, thank you for posting that story. Mr. Bigelow was a kind, faithful and hardworking person. I also spoke with him at times, and found him shy, but happy to talk.

In reference to Mr. B's funeral, in Suzanne Farrell's book, ("Holding On to the Air") she talks about the day of the burial: She had not been "officially invited" but Eddie Bigelow drove her out to Sag Harbor -- they missed the others in the funeral party by a short time. But she did get to throw a white rose into Mr. B's grave (pages 266-267).

#6 Marga

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 08:09 PM

What a tragic end to a wonderful human being! I've read so much about Balanchine, and Eddie Bigelow's name comes up so often that by dint of association I've learned to 'know' him since the early days of NYCB.

The first mention of the accident (April 4th) had the following comment after the brief item:

"Elderly man dies in Sharon accident"

" The man who died was 93. He was my mother's husband, one of the most wonderful, generous, kind hearted, honorable men you will ever meet. At the time of his death he was planning an incredibly elaborate surprise for my mother of 85. He had been diagnosed with cancer but he was unflinching in his desire to take care of her and make her happy. He likely fell asleep at the wheel. We will miss him forever. "



#7 Helene

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 10:10 PM

What sad news. As bart posted, there are a lot of mentions of Mr. Bigelow and his importance to Mr. Balanchine and New York City Ballet in Jacques d'Amboise's recent memoir, which made me admire how he was the rock on whom so many people depended.

Rest in peace, Mr. Bigelow, and my sympathy to his family.

#8 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 05:49 AM

There is no formal obit in the Times, but Ballet Society and NYCB have posted in the paid tributes. This is from NYCB:

BIGELOW--Edward. The New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet mourn the passing of our long-time friend and colleague Edward Bigelow. Eddie began his studies at the School in 1941 and went on to dance with several of the early companies created by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein prior to the formation of New York City Ballet in 1948. He originated roles in works by Balanchine, Robbins and others, including both the Mouse King and Mother Ginger in Balanchine's legendary production of "The Nutcracker." After leaving the stage, Eddie joined the NYCB administration, becoming an indispensable associate to both Balanchine and Kirstein. Throughout his life Eddie was a devoted and dedicated friend and supporter of both NYCB and SAB, and will be deeply missed by generations of artists who so greatly benefited from his unwavering compassion and commitment over the years. All of us extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Carla, family and friends.



#9 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 06:23 AM

Sad, "another one gone." He was pointed out to me around the State Theater more than once. I never actually met him, but I remember his kindly expression and humble body language, which fit the reminiscences here.

This may seem overdramatic or something, but this skeptic used to wonder whether some design is to be read in these events. Lately I've come closer to the view that God does not need to prove His existence by rewarding the good and punishing the bad. It's up to us to do what we can here.

The best I can make of this is that "Eddie" Bigelow made good use of his time here contributing to a noble and ennobling enterprise, and he went quickly, purposefully active to the last, apparently.

#10 dirac

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 10:13 AM

Farrell's book also mentions that Bigelow was the one deputized to escort her home when Mr. B couldn't do it himself. Plainly, the definition of his duties was a broad one. :) RIP.

Hi, Farrell Fan.

#11 Farrell Fan

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 04:54 PM

Thanks for the "hi," dirac. Although I'd heard and read much about "dear Eddie Bigelow," as Suzanne calls him in the "Elusive Muse" film, I didn't meet him until relatively recent times. We were seated at the same table on opening night of Suzanne's revival of Balanchine's Don Quixote by her company. It was a thrilling evening. I wish I had an appropriately thrilling anecdote about it, but all I can muster is the memory of a couple of shy old guys being polite to each other and saying nice things about Suzanne. I, for one, did not calm down for days.

#12 kfw

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 06:16 PM

Although I'd heard and read much about "dear Eddie Bigelow," as Suzanne calls him in the "Elusive Muse" film, I didn't meet him until relatively recent times. We were seated at the same table on opening night of Suzanne's revival of Balanchine's Don Quixote by her company. It was a thrilling evening. I wish I had an appropriately thrilling anecdote about it, but all I can muster is the memory of a couple of shy old guys being polite to each other and saying nice things about Suzanne. I, for one, did not calm down for days.

I was at the performance that night, and it would have been a pleasure to meet you. Wasn't Bigelow also something of a bodyguard to Farrell, not literally, but giving her privacy by signaling by his demeanor that she was unapproachable? I think I read that somewhere. In any case, he sounds like such a wonderful gentleman that my appreciation for the company's history has been enriched.

#13 atm711

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:04 AM

I guess I am one of the few who remembers 'Eddie' as a young man...and he had the same loving attributes then. He had the reputation of always being "There" for whatever had to be done.

God bless.

#14 abatt

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 05:47 AM

There is an obit of Bigelow in today's NY Times.

#15 Dollie

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 05:45 PM

I was one of Eddie Bigelow's many friends and neighbors who attended the memorial service for him held in Cornwall, Connecticut last Saturday. His nephew, Hal, spoke of how Eddie was his "second father," describing the many occasions on which his Uncle Eddie, ever the caring friend and counselor, helped him find his path in life. The music was just right. We all sang "Lord of the Dance" and Psalm 150, rich with musical references. These occasions are often called "celebrations of life" and in this case that sentiment seemed appropriate. What a life Eddie Bigelow had. It was a deeply moving tribute to a beloved man.


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