Jump to content

This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Who's biography next?

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#16 Guest_Red Shoes_*

Guest_Red Shoes_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 05 August 2001 - 04:12 AM

Apparently Sylvie Guillem is bringing out a biography of some sort. Personally I would like to see one on Dowell and one on Farukh Ruzimatov.

#17 vagansmom


    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 635 posts

Posted 05 August 2001 - 08:28 PM

One group of dancers that's never, to my knowledge, been documented in book are the ballet dancers of Nazi Germany. There's an old woman who lives nearby me. She's always taken an interest in my daughter's dancing and one day told me she was a ballet dancer in the (don't know the official name) time of Hitler. As a child, she was chosen in school (17 girls chosen out of thousands) to take ballet lessons, akin to the Soviet system. She continued dancing on into her 20's.

She has all kinds of guilty feelings resulting from having received special privileges as an Aryan dancer for Germany. But what she comes back to over and over again in conversation is how much she just wanted to dance! They danced through WW2 just as in the stories of the British dancers, they scrounged for food, rushed to air raid shelters and some were later systematically raped when Russian soldiers (but not the Americans - they were "respectful of the women" according to her) arrived. I.'s stories are hair-raising and when my daughter was younger, I'd have to shush her. But her stories continue to spill over. I once took I. to my daughter's studio which was then housed in an old Victorian building. She wept walking through the halls because she said "it smells the same".

Recently I've begun plying her with questions because I'm realizing that she has a story to tell that might possibly have not been previously told, at least not outside of Germany. It's a difficult story because of the political machine that created and sustained it. But these dancers were the same as dancers anywhere in their love and sacrifice and their desire to continue dancing no matter what happened around them. I'd love to know if those dancing years are documented anywhere.

#18 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 05 August 2001 - 08:42 PM

That would be an interesting study! After all, ballet in the Nazi Era had to be more than dancing Rhine-maidens and Die Fledermaus! Didn't Werner Egk compose a ballet score for "Abraxas" that was performed during that era? Egk was blacklisted after the war for cooperating with the Nazis, so the music is not well-known.

[ 08-05-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

#19 Ann



  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 79 posts

Posted 06 August 2001 - 05:31 AM

Flight, could you tell us where you heard about this probable book by Guillem? Its the first I've heard of it and I'm very interested. She gives dozens of interviews but it seems to me the more you read them, the less you know about her! (As you, can guess, I'm a huge Guillem fan...)

#20 Sonja



  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 95 posts

Posted 06 August 2001 - 10:22 AM

Re. dancing in Nazi Germany - being German myself, I have mixed feelings about this... Since it's very difficult to get anything "authentic" from this dark time without getting into extremely "brown" (=neo nazi) company, I believe there is not much available here in Germany. Best source may be people like "I." who now live elsewhere and have a need or want to tell about this time. I am sure their stories can be extremely fascinating, but I feel it is very important to get the context right. (I am sure you will agree with me on that point!)

#21 Alexandra


    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,301 posts

Posted 06 August 2001 - 12:09 PM

Sonja and vagansmom, it would be an interesting book. I've emailed an Austrian colleague who's done a lot of research in German ballet and I'll post if he gives me any information. I remember about ten years ago, he told me of a dance historians conference he attended in Germany where questions of dancing during the war (modern dance as well as ballet) arose, and at first there was an uncomfortable silence. But there were many Germans there, and eventually, people began to talk -- about dancing, not politics. Yes, it is a subject that would have to be handled with sensitivity, but it could be done. History that pretends something didn't exist isn't real history.

Thanks to both of you for raising the topic. If there's more discussion on it -- information about German dancers during the 1930s and '40s or the problems related to telling their stories -- could I suggest the next person start a new thread? (If I learn anything from my colleague, I'll post that on a new thread.)

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases. (If it doesn't appear below, your computer's or browser's adblockers may have blocked display):