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THE BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS, 1942

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f.y.i. scan of unfamiliar (to me) photo of THE BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

post-848-0-43412700-1370699923_thumb.jpg

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Golly -- I count at least 29 elephants. They don't come to Seattle, since the city doesn't want live animal entertainment like this, but I'm wondering how many elephants they tour with today.

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can't answer 'bout today but the '42 number was said to feature FIFTY! pachyderms!

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Not just fifty, but FIFTY!

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and I think it said, "FIFTY ELEPHANTS, FIFTY!!"

however many there were, it made history for ballet and elephants.

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I think as recently as a few years ago they (Ringling) got in trouble for mistreating elephants. I hope they have stopped and gotten better trainers. These are magnificent creatures and surprisingly intelligent supposedly. My late sister did date an elephant trainer at Lion Country Safari years ago, and he ended up getting stepped on. He lived but I don't know the extent of his injuries. I hope he is okay. I think we should leave them in the wild or in wildlife sanctuaries.

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And here's the choreographer...

balanchinewithelephant0015.jpg

...and La Zorina with Modoc

50619672-circus-performer-vera-zorina-standing-with-an-gettyimages.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=OCUJ5gVf7YdJQI2Xhkc2QJqKSb7vkolCd84CNT%2BXw4AYru7t6IhcH7Ii1lLR%2BQsIwS8O50y2I0yjikcNrsy6Tvyoa92P6yo9G8O46d3wcao%3D

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Good question, to which I don't have a good answer. Robert?

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i've not heard of any film footage of the presentation.

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The Constance (Connie) Clausen chapter of Mason's I Remember Balanchine talks about the Circus Polka. It's quite a fascinating read. Clausen was one of the "elephant girls" riding on the elephants. She wrote an autobiography of her experiences at Ringling Bros., which *may* include more information on the elephant ballet, but I haven't been able to get a copy myself to confirm that.

I Love You Honey, But the Season's Over
by Connie Clausen

http://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Honey-Seasons-Over/dp/B000NX73CM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372647280&sr=1-1&keywords=i+love+you+honey+but+the+seasons+over

There is a short Russian documentary on the subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zc9Zmol3Z8

[EDIT] I recalled that this polka was the reason behind one of Stravinsky and Balanchine's more famous exchanges -

"I wonder if you'd like to do a little ballet with me," Balanchine said, after Stravinsky answered the phone, "a polka, perhaps."
"For whom?"
"For some elephants," Balanchine said.
"How old?" asked Stravinsky cautiously.
"Very young," Balanchine assured him.
There was a pause. Then Stravinsky said gravely, "All right. If they are very young elephant, I will do it."

The score that Stravinsky subsequently delivered--Circus Polka, it is called--bears the dedication: "For a Young Elephant."

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I think as recently as a few years ago they (Ringling) got in trouble for mistreating elephants. I hope they have stopped and gotten better trainers. These are magnificent creatures and surprisingly intelligent supposedly. My late sister did date an elephant trainer at Lion Country Safari years ago, and he ended up getting stepped on. He lived but I don't know the extent of his injuries. I hope he is okay. I think we should leave them in the wild or in wildlife sanctuaries.

Ringling Brothers has most certainly not gotten better and actually, as I understand, to train elephants for the kind of life they lead with circuses (which, for them, is horrific) requires that they be mistreated--that is, beaten. And of course the trainers run risks, because...well...they are training elephants.

I love seeing elephants, and was taken to the circus once or twice as a child; I don't blame Mr. B. for not knowing much (or anything) about this issue...but, yes...I think we should leave elephants and other wild animals in the wild or in sanctuaries. Indeed, elephants need closely guarded sanctuaries because of the poaching problem.

The elephant ballet is a notable or, at least, oft noted episode in Balanchine's career, but good for Seattle that it doesn't permit this kind of show anymore.

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I think as recently as a few years ago they (Ringling) got in trouble for mistreating elephants. I hope they have stopped and gotten better trainers. These are magnificent creatures and surprisingly intelligent supposedly. My late sister did date an elephant trainer at Lion Country Safari years ago, and he ended up getting stepped on. He lived but I don't know the extent of his injuries. I hope he is okay. I think we should leave them in the wild or in wildlife sanctuaries.

Ringling Brothers has most certainly not gotten better and actually, as I understand, to train elephants for the kind of life they lead with circuses (which, for them, is horrific) requires that they be mistreated--that is, beaten. And of course the trainers run risks, because...well...they are training elephants.

I love seeing elephants, and was taken to the circus once or twice as a child; I don't blame Mr. B. for not knowing much (or anything) about this issue...but, yes...I think we should leave elephants and other wild animals in the wild or in sanctuaries. Indeed, elephants need closely guarded sanctuaries because of the poaching problem.

The elephant ballet is a notable or, at least, oft noted episode in Balanchine's career, but good for Seattle that it doesn't permit this kind of show anymore.

Sad! I can't imagine wanting to harm these animals!

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1942 publicity photo of Balanchine's BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS.

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