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Stage Names


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#1 kirovgal

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 02:32 PM

We all know the story of some of the greats' stage names, Suzanne Farrell(sp?)was once Roberta Sue Flicker, or something like that. I thought it would be interesting to talk about stage names? Do YOU have one? I've been looking for one...how does Anna (pronounced onna) Louise sound? confused.gif

#2 rg

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 02:42 PM

w/ regard to past stage names, fyi, and i am aware that this was misstated in at least one book w/ regrad to suzanne farrell: her original name was robert sue ficker, that 'l' slipped in once or twice before but it does not belong.
good luck w/ choosing a good one for yourself.

#3 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 04:52 PM

rg, you did mean Roberta, not Robert, right? smile.gif

#4 dirac

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 05:57 PM

Farrell's given name is famous, reminiscent of Robert Taylor's (for the benefit of our younger posters, Taylor was a movie star, genus MGM 1930s) switch from his natal moniker of Spangler Arlington Brough. Other NYCB examples I can think of are Allegra Kent, who was once Iris Cohen, and Maria Tallchief underwent a slight alteration from Maria Tall Chief, I think. In her book, Merrill Ashley notes that a name change was forced upon her since a student taken into the company just before her had changed her name to Linda Merrill, which also happened to be Ashley's given name. How thoughtful! (However, Ashley's final choice did propel her to the top of almost every alphabetical listing of cast members, so I guess there were advantages. )


It's interesting how attitudes toward stage names have altered. It used to be that ballet was identified almost entirely with Russia, so non-Russian types assumed more exotic names, Anton Dolin, for example, known privately as Pat. (Americans have other areas of , shall we say sensitivity, so Nora Kaye and Jerome Robbins underwent name alterations to appear less exotic, not more so.)


Nowadays it seems as if audiences and producers are more accepting of less than completely euphonious names, or names explicitly denoting "undesirable" ethnic antecedents. In the movie High Fidelity, an actress named Iben Hjelje made her American debut. Had Miss Hjelje been under contract to MGM in 1935, I think it's safe to say that the front office would have fixed her up with something more pronounceable.


Why change at all, unless you have to? Wouldn't Margot Fonteyn still be Fonteyn if she had kept her own name? (Hmm...Hookham and Nureyev....maybe not....)

Anyway, Anna sounds fine to me. smile.gif

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 06:52 PM

Nureyev and Hookham, though -- now there's a softshoe act for you smile.gif The Irish Washer Woman's Jig that Fonteyn wrote was her favorite dance as a child would have come in handy.

Julie Kent danced in Washington when a teenager as Julie Cox, and Hilary Canary, a Washington Ballet dancer who danced with ABT for awhile, became Hilary Ryan.

#6 glebb

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 07:20 PM

Violette Verdy was Nelly Gueillerm.

#7 dirac

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 09:21 PM

I forgot Melissa Hayden, who used to be Mildred Herman. And of course there's Balanchine, whose name was Frenchified by Diaghilev because he thought Balanchivadze was too difficult.

#8 rg

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 10:31 PM

um, errrrr, no doubt 'bout it, victoria proofs text far better than this robert does: YES suzanne farrell was born roberta etc. etc.
sigh.
i can see more clearly than ever now how that 'l' found its way into the spelling of ficker!

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 10:34 PM

And be honest now, if your name were Tula Ellice Finklea, wouldn't you change it to Cyd Charisse? wink.gif

#10 koshka_jete

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 12:08 AM

Henry Danton was once Henry Down....

#11 Estelle

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 06:03 PM

I think that Violette Verdy's name was "Guillerm", not "Gueillerm" (it's funny to see that it's almost the same as "Guillem").

Carole Arbo (former POB principal) was in fact Carole Arbonies. Emmanuel Thibault's real name is Emmanuel Conjat. Maurice Béjart was Maurice Berger (he took "Béjart" because it was the maiden name of Molière's wife). Jean Babilée was Jean Gutman (he had to change his name during WWII). Lycette Darsonval (former POB principal) was Alice Perron.

Among the "Russified" names, there's also Dame Alicia Markova (Alice Marks).

#12 Alymer

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 08:36 PM

Actually, she was Alicia Marks, Estelle. But how about Belton Evers, better known as Eric Bruhn.

#13 dirac

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 08:45 PM

Not to be pedantic, but wasn't Markova Lilian Alicia Marks?

#14 Guest_Michy_*

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 11:03 PM

A young girl at my studio is named Grace Archer. Isn't that just an amazing future stage name? Her older sister is a wonderful dancer, maybe she'll follow in her footsteps and get to use that name of hers? We can dream!

#15 Guest_alliecat93_*

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Posted 06 January 2002 - 09:29 PM

lol- I think it would be cool if all the people at my studio had stage names!! smile.gif


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