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Balanchine's APOLLO; the Messerer siblings; three 1940s ballet womnewsphotos and captions


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#1 rg

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 02:20 PM

only half of this quartet of mid- to late-20th c. ballet-related photos come dated, or for that matter, in the case of Balanchine's American Ballet, with much by way of captioning. my guess is that this might from '37 with Stewart Chaney's? designs for the Met. Op. run of the ballet and that the dancers are Lew Christensen and Elise Reiman, but, with the possible exception of Christensen, i'm not at all sure of the facts here.
i'd always thought Chabukiani and Vecheslova were the first Soviet dancers to tour to the States but the photo of the Messerers indicates they were the first. (i've looked in vain for any note of the Messerer tour indicated by the photo's copy but found nothing.)
the trio of women mid-air from '40 fails to note the organization with which they'd be appearing. I understand from a quick check that Rita De Leporte was a member of the Metropolitan Opera's ballet troupe.
the Soloviev photo is more or less the best documented with regard to captioning.

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#2 sandik

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 04:47 PM

In the trio of women for the Lewisohn concert, Ruthanna Boris (on the left) was trained at the Met Opera and danced there for awhile, but then joined the Ballet Russe, and eventually NYCB. She was one of few female ballet choreographers -- Cakewalk (1951), which was a balleticized version of a minstrel show, to music by Gottschalk, was probably her best known work. Eventually, she came to Seattle, WA where she taught at the University of Washington. There were outdoor performances in the summers at Lewisohn Stadium, and if I understand it correctly, they often had a mix of dance groups, rather than a full program by a single company.

#3 rg

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 04:57 PM

thanks, S. forgot to say that Boris was more than familiar to me, the other two women were not.
Lewisohn Stadium is a well known NYC venue, the odd thing here is that time of year, February.

#4 Dale

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:06 PM

Just making a stab in the dark here... Is it possible that the blonde in the trio is Daphne Vane?

#5 rg

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:16 PM

i have no reason, Dale, to question the handwritten caption identifying the third dancer in the jumping trio as one Louise Formaca - if i read the handwriting accurately.
we know who Boris is and i've found references to De Leporte but none to Formaca, which doesn't mean that that isn't her name, i guess.

#6 Helene

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 09:35 PM

I searched for "Louise Fornaca ballet" and found some references and reviews references to her work in "Oklahoma!":
  • "Broadway," listed as a replacement for "Dancing Ensemble, One of Jud's Postcards, Sylvie", 1943-1947.
  • "Theatre Guild," , Seattle, 1946. (Unfortunately, the link to "Theatre Guild" is broken.)
  • "Boston!," "Louise Fornaca Is Leading Comedy Dancer in "Oklahona!" Company", "Boston Globe" 1947.
  • An article in the "Tri City Herald," about her husband, a "wandering bricklayer" with her on tour.
  • A link to a group photo in the "Berkeley Daily Gazette."
  • Another handful of Google archives reviews/references to her in the "Oklahoma!" tour.
  • It looks like she's referenced (with regard to "Oklahoma!") in "The Girl Who Fell Down: A Biography of Joan McCracken."
She was also in "The Wizard of Oz." From the "St. Petersburg Times":

One of the reasons for the operetta's success is Louise Fornaca, as the Sorceress. She is a capable ballerina, as much at home on her toes as in ordinary dance steps.


There are paid articles where the search results mention her in Agnes deMille ballet(s) ("Christian Science Monitor"), as a replacement in "Porgy and Bess" ("New York Times"), and one that suggests she appeared with Alicia Markova ("New York Times").

From 1934, an article in the "Border Cities Star" that reads:

Rose Bennett, Edith Grant, Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, Mrs. William Dafoe and Louise Fornaca, are shown back stage at the Radio City Music Hall, New York City. The quintuplets' doctor was much interested in back stage mechanics. The girls are members of the Radio City Rockettes. Dr. Dafoe is now en route to his beloved north.


This is a link to a .pdf of a 1943 mention in the "The New York Sun" in "The Youngest Profession" column:

the Corpe de BaUet dance the complete, exciting four-part ballet from Gounod's opera "Faust" with Muriel Gray, Nicholas Dak* and Louise Fornaca in solo roles


bing searches bring up other references in the search results summary text, but her name is missing from the text on the linked page.

#7 sandik

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:54 PM

Oh, this is fun -- the Tri-City Herald is from Pasco, Washington. The Seattle Times doesn't show anything about "Theater Guild" in August of 1946, but there are a couple other local papers I can search later...


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