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kirovgal

Stage Names

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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).

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

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

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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!

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

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How do parents react when their son or daughter changed her name? I think my parents might be a little hurt.

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Now, "Jhora" has something going for it - it's distinctive and musical! smile.gif However, if your last name were Herpelsnonk or Thitherspurtle or such like, usually a change is in the offing. Although, come to think of it, those would definitely have distinctiveness going for them.

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Jhora, what a kind question smile.gif I think sometimes the stage name is suggested -- or insisted upon -- by the company or perhaps the dancer's agent. So that gets you off the hook. "But MOM, they MADE me do it" smile.gif

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I dont know if its courteous necesarily but pride in my heritage, but I guess being able to pass if off to your agent, or the director of the company might just be helpful.

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I'm not sure if hurt feelings would be justified for parents who saddled their daughter with the moniker Tula Ellice Finklea.

It should be noted that Cyd didn't go out of her way to hurt her parents' feelings, however. Her girlhood nickname was "Sid" and Sid happened to marry a Mr. Charisse....

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But Cyd had already had another name-change, because she danced in Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes (from 1939) under the name of Felia Sidorova! (She studied with Bolm). As we know, there is nothing new in this kind of name-change. One I like is John Cooper (c1575 - 1626), an English composer and viol player, who changed his name when he visited Italy; he became Giovanni Coprario, and kept the name when he returned to London. His pupils included King Charles I.

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Grace Archer, Michy? Now if you'd been in England you'd know that there is (or was) a long-running radio soap-opera called "The Archers" over there and, yes, there was a character called "Grace".

Too bad I don't have a good use for my own birth name, which I think would have been a great stage name: Karen Karman. Perhaps I can still become famous (or infamous) for something.

I knew someone who was asked to join the NYCB back in the 60s. She had 3 days to decide on her stage name. Now she had already used her own name on stage, as she had been a child actress and had appeared in several Broadway productions. Her real name was Betty Jane Siegle, and I guess it was thought to be "too Jewish-sounding" at the time. She changed it to Bettijane Sills, and became known in the NYCB as "BJ" (although someone once refered to her as "the girl with the initials".)

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I was thinking about this last night..hehe

Anyways, wow, I learned a whole lot just now, that is so cool. I think that I would change mine to Diana Day--I don't know why..lol!

gracieful

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There's also a union constraint on use of names. If, for example, there already is a, say, "Mel Johnson" in AGMA or Actor's Equity, then the performer has to take a variant or change it entirely, even if it's his own name. A recent example was Emma Watson, of Hermione Granger fame. Film historians were astonished to find that she had acted in films as early as 1914, and in 2001 had acted the part of a twelve-year-old in Harry Potter. The first Ms. Watson, however, had, by then, passed on to the great casting call in the sky, and the name wasn't "taken" anymore! An interesting possibility would be for the young performer to take the stage name "Abishag Hooplenoodle" and then announce they had changed it TO Abishag Hooplenoodle, and have the curiosity drive ticket sales. Of course that didn't work for Klinton Spilsbury, but.... wink.gif

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Wasn't it what happened to Stewart Granger, whose real name was... James Stewart? (A bit the same as what happened to Linda Merrill/ Merrill Ashley...)

There are at least two actors from Hong-Kong called Tony Leung: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, and Tony Leung Ka Fai. This is all the more complicated as they have approximately the same age, and have played in several films together, and sometimes just are credited as "Tony Leung"...

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