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Rosella Hightower


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 09:44 PM

I'm intrigued about this ballerina and the reasons behind the absence of more info about her online. I don't find anything from Alonso's BT recollections, whereas she always speaks at large about Kaye and Markova. Can someone direct me to any reading source on her...? Does anybody has any recollections of her dancing back in the days..?

http://www.ballerina...ic/highto01.jpg

Thanks in advance! Posted Image

#2 aurora

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 12:42 AM

I'm intrigued about this ballerina and the reasons behind the absence of more info about her online. I don't find anything from Alonso's BT recollections, whereas she always speaks at large about Kaye and Markova. Can someone direct me to any reading source on her...? Does anybody has any recollections of her dancing back in the days..?

http://www.ballerina...ic/highto01.jpg

Thanks in advance! Posted Image


I know nothing about it personally, but I found a book on 4 of the American Indian ballerinas, by someone who knew them and interviewed them. You can see a preview of it here:

http://books.google....epage&q&f=false

hopefully that will work. If not it is
American Indian Ballerinas

by Lili Cockerille Livingston

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:28 PM


I'm intrigued about this ballerina and the reasons behind the absence of more info about her online. I don't find anything from Alonso's BT recollections, whereas she always speaks at large about Kaye and Markova. Can someone direct me to any reading source on her...? Does anybody has any recollections of her dancing back in the days..?

http://www.ballerina...ic/highto01.jpg

Thanks in advance! Posted Image


I know nothing about it personally, but I found a book on 4 of the American Indian ballerinas, by someone who knew them and interviewed them. You can see a preview of it here:

http://books.google....epage&q&f=false

hopefully that will work. If not it is
American Indian Ballerinas

by Lili Cockerille Livingston


Thanks, Aurora. I read the available fragments on the website and so I could have a global idea of Hightower's whereabouts during her dancing years. She seemed to have shifted continuosly between companies-(de DeCuevas, Massine's, Denham, etc...)-and had a predilection for Nijinska's work. There also seemed to have been an impressive amont of works created by the choreographer for her back in the days which seem to be now sadly lost.

#4 bart

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:27 PM

There are a number of references to Hightower in Edwin Denby's Looking at the Dance, a compendium of reviews and essays from the 1940s. These essays can also bae found in his Dance Writings.. A quick check of the index shows brief references may give you a sense of her qualities and her rep with Ballet Theater.

Hightower was in her early twenties at the time of these performances. Other young ballerinas at Ballet Theater during the war years included Alicia Alonso, Ruthanna Boris, Nora Kaye, May Ellen Moylan and Maria Tallchief, all praised by Denby. Markova ("the queen ballerina") and Toumanova (possibly her "successor") were Ballet Theater's biggest female stars..

In 1943 Hightower danced in Antony Tudor's Dim Luster (Ballet Theater, Met Opera House), with Tudor, Kaye, and Hugh Laing.

Nov. 1943: Danced in the Nutcracker Pas de Deux (Ballet Theater) with Andrew Eglevsky, a performance of "exceptional brilliance and classic finish."

This time her poses were completely plastic and her timing of the dance phrases was sure. She gave the sense of finishing one phrase before the next: of fulfilling one impulse and completing it before the next impulse alters the figure of the dance. It is astonishing how rarely dancers are able to have so clear a control; a control which Miss Markova, of course, possesses to a remarkable degree.

Because of Miss Hightower's technical brilliance, her naturally forthright manner of dancing was more than ever attractdive. And Eglevsky, her partner, was at his very best, too; not only technically superb and magnificently simple, but with that large open-heartedness that he alone brings to classic dancing. His warm and loyal manner toward Miss Hightower added a great deal to the freshness the whole dance had; and in her spontaneous delight, Miss Hightower looked really radiant. It was a great pleasure to see her in this final triumph at the close of a season in which she has been so remarkable.

The Hightower/Eglevsky Nutcracker was their signature pdd at this time. To give you an idea of BT's repertoire at that time, Jerome Robbins danced the role of Petrouchka that same evening.

1944: Danced the role of Papillon in Fokine's Carnaval (Ballet Theater). Denby descrdibed her as "impetuous."

May 1944: The "white" acts of Swan Lake.

Rosella Hightower, blossoming into New York's favorite among the younger classical dancers, gave a quite exceptionally fine performance as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake at Ballet Theater's Saturday matinee at the Metropolitan.

October 1944: Danced Myrtha to Tamara Toumanova's Giselle and Anton Dolin's Albrecht. Denby praises were "magnificent leaps, beautiful arm gestures" and says that she was "at her best." The same month Denbyi criticized Ballet Theater, "our strongest dance company," as follows: "As a company it still needs more of the physical sincerity, the warmheartedness that it admires readily and generously when it sees its own home-grown ballerina, Rosella Hightower, dancing."



[Dimitri Romanoff was the Prince; John Kriza was Benno.]

Miss Higihtower was superb in the great adagio, better than she has ever been in it efore. Her phrasing was sustained, classical and lucid. All through the piece her slow gestures had a beautiful repose. The quicker ones, at which she usually excels, seemed to hasty by contrast. But in her second allegro solo she was again very brilliant indeed. It is a great pleasure to watch her growing into a complete ballerina.


Other roles:

-- one of the trio of bathers in Massine's Aleko;

-- "a very funny hoyden" in Lichine's Graduation Ball;

-- the Lucille Grahn role in Pas de Quatre (with Alonso as Grisi, Janet Reed as Cerrito, and Markova as Taglioni.) -- "Miss Hightower impersonates a majestic Grahn";

-- The Street Dancer (Nijinska's role) in Petrouchka

-- Les Sylphides: "Miss Hightower ... excelled in Sylphides, particularly in the two ensemble numbers. While Miss Alonso keeps the gestures of her limbs academically depending on the torso, Miss Hightower has a fine flinging abandon; it is difficult for her to phrase so much energy with delicacy, but one loves the spontaneous warmth of it." (Given Denby's description of Hightower's performance, I was amused to see that Fancy Free was also on that bill, October 10, 1944).

#5 duffster

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 07:35 PM

Christian, I do not know of Rosella Hightower's performing career however she did teach some of our company classes ( Harkness Ballet) in Monte-carlo, Monaco. She was living in Cannes at the time and had a ballet school there. Her classes were very difficult technically but made you stretch yourself to accomplish more . She demonstrated everything , making it look very easy . She had a great eye for your faults - In my case rolling in on my ankles. Once she gave you that correction , she always was watching you and kept after you until it was corrected I'm glad now that I had the opportunity to work with her..

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 07:50 PM

Thank you all for your responses. I'm really interested in the early BT ballerinas, and all of them seem to have lots of material on the Internet, aside from books-(Tallchief, Kaye, Alonso, etc..). Hightower seems to have always been praised for her technique. I would love to hear from someone who got to see her dancing.

#7 atm711

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 01:04 PM

Thank you all for your responses. I'm really interested in the early BT ballerinas, and all of them seem to have lots of material on the Internet, aside from books-(Tallchief, Kaye, Alonso, etc..). Hightower seems to have always been praised for her technique. I would love to hear from someone who got to see her dancing.


I guess that's me Christian---I saw her in my early years of ballet-going---the 1944-45 season of BT. Unlike the other "Indian ballerinas" she was a full fledged ballerina at the time---her name was ABOVE the title. She was my first Myrtha and I knew early on that this was a Ballerina role---not a soloists.....She had a beautiful classical line and was an impressive Odette and has been properly praised for her Nutcracker PDD. I was so sorry to see her emigrate to Europe........

#8 Jane Simpson

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 01:20 PM

The only time I ever saw her was when she danced the Black Swan with Nureyev at his first appearance in London - I think it would be fair to say that she was not the centre of attention that afternoon. She took it very well, though - I remember admiring her (apparent) acceptance of the situation.


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