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Walking past History - Ballet landmarks in NYC?


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 28 October 2002 - 01:28 PM

[Note: silly, I has missed the second page of the thread and was replying to Alexandra's post...]

Also having a map would make it easier for non-new yorkers to understand the discussion :D

By the way (sorry if it's getting a bit off-topic) I think it might be a bit interesting (even if somewhat morbid) to have some list of ballet-related cemeteries... A few years ago, the French magazine "Danser" had made an article with photographs of the graves of many ballet people buried in or near Paris. Are there some famous graves of ballet people in NYC? For example, is Balanchine's tomb there?

Perhaps we could even start an "online ballet graveyard" with scanned photos of tombs or urns... The only one I can offer is that of Isadora Duncan's urn at the Pere Lachaise (last spring my husband's friends organized a weird "bachelor's day" (like a bachelor party) for him which started near the urn of Georges Perec at the Pere Lachaise, and since he noticed Isadora Duncan's name not very far he took a photo of it).

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 04:31 AM

Leigh, you are correct about SAB being where the New York School of Ballet was, right above a Schrafft's. I always thought it was funny that a ballet school was located directly above a chain restaurant known for its confections. The older SABs were part of a moveable phenomenon called "ballet alley" which in the 30s was on Madison Avenue. After WWII, it relocated sort of spontaneously to 57th St. I don't know when they moved to the 80s, but they were far away from the rest of the schools in NYC, whether by accident or design, I know not.

The old Met was at 39th and Broadway, and was beloved as the Yellow Brick Brewery by us old denizens. That's what it looked like! The studios at the Met were used by various and sundry renters, and there were also offices where the likes of Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker used to have their mailing addresses. Benchley said of his office with Parker, that "one less cubic inch of space would have constituted adultery"! Legend has it that they spent the first couple of weeks in the office being witty at one another, then realized they were driving one another crazy, so Benchley repainted their door - to read "MEN". They soon had many visitors! The building management objected to this practice and they were ordered to repaint the door - so Benchley renamed the office "Utica Drop Forge and Die Corp."

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 08:43 AM

I forgot, and Victoria had to remind me, that Ballet Russe was also on 57th St. down from Carnegie Hall, and the "industry spying" between there and Ballet Theater was something intense! People who didn't want to get caught in the crossfire went to Ballet Arts, or other small studios at Carnegie Hall itself, or even Vincenzo Celi's on 56th St. near the stage door to City Center.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 09:35 AM

Leigh, The Black Crook opened at Niblo's Garden, which was at 537 Broadway, near the corner with Spring Street. The building was torn down for offices in 1895.

And of course, the Joffrey School is still at 434 6th Ave. at the corner of 10th St. The uppermost stories, which were the company's country, are no longer used by the school.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 05:46 PM

You're right on that, Leigh. It fits the book research I was doing here on the D'Oyly Carte Opera performances of Gilbert and Sullivan. They were playing the Adelphi, while nearby, "The Hot Mikado" was playing the Martin Beck. This led to an exchange gag on the original script between the Mikado and Ko-Ko, trying to provide a cover story for Nanki-Poo.

Ko-Ko: He's gone abroad!

Mikado: Gone abroad? His address!

Ko-Ko: The Martin Beck!

Martyn Greene, the Ko-Ko in that exchange positively identifies the theater being played by the Savoy company as the Adelphi, and notes that the Adelphi is now (1962) the 54th St. Theater.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 October 2002 - 03:47 PM

There are still new burials in New Trinity Cemetery which is above Riverside Park 'way up on the West Side. Riverside Drive overlooks part of the burial ground.

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 October 2002 - 06:29 PM

Thanks, Leigh, those were nice trips to nostalgia-land for me!:D

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 12:49 PM

This is a fascinating thread. Is anyone artistic and ambitious and would like to do a map with these sites noted?

If so, I'll put it up on the main site :D

#9 atm711

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 04:25 PM

I think the High School of Needle Trades was in the West 20's (maybe 26 St??). I should remember, I was there for the first performance of 'Four Temperaments'. It was a barren, big barn of a place.

#10 atm711

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 04:39 PM

There was also a well known Dance Bookshop run by Sally Kamin which was on 6th Avenue between 55 and 56 Street. Aside f rom the "Gotham Book Mart" down on 47 Street (which had a very limited selection) Sally Kamin's was the only bookshop in New York to have such a wide selection of Ballet books.

#11 atm711

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 04:49 PM

Leigh, most of the performances were either at the old Met or the City Center. I do remember a theatre at Columbus Circle called the Park Theater. It was renamed the International Theater for its new tenant. Ballet International, a Marquis de Cuevas Company. It had some good dancers, Viola Essen, Marie-Jeanne and Eglevsky. I saw it a few times because my teacher at the time, Edward Caton, did a couple of ballets for them. I am sure the wrecking ball hit it well before Donald Trump's new fiasco.

#12 kfw

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Posted 31 October 2002 - 05:53 PM

Lincoln Kirstein lived at 128 E. 19th, or 126, or whatever one door west of 130 is. 130 is the number I can just barely make out, with a magnifying glass, on the snapshot I took.

I knew he'd lived on East 19th, but no one in the neighborhood seemed to know where and I only discovered it by accident a few months later while on vacation in Massachusets. I'd made arrangements to see few pieces at Harvard's Fogg Museum that weren't then out in the galleries, and one was an Elie Nadelman sculpture. After we viewed them, the curator asked if we'd like to see the papers pertaining to each piece. Well, sure. And there in the Nadelman papers was a letter to Kirstein. Oh happy day!

#13 Manhattnik

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 08:23 AM

Didn't Balanchine live in the Hotel des Artistes?

It's sad that so many of these landmarks are gone -- the old NYCB/SAB/New York School of Ballet studio, the Empire coffee shop, the Ballet Shop. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

It's sad that Ballet Alley is pretty much gone. In a few years nobody in the theater will even be able to afford to live in the Theater District. Well, that's progress.

#14 Juliet

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 08:19 AM

Now *this* is what I would like:

a map. Spots designated. A walking tour.

Just the sort of thing a researcher with extra time ought to be able to put together for a BA Walkabout....

Now, who has extra time?

I am really enjoyig reading this.....

#15 glebb

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Posted 27 October 2002 - 05:31 AM

And there is the Harkness Theatre that was just across the street from Lincoln Center. I believe it is now called One Harkness Plaza?

Finis Jung had a wonderful studio on the 2nd floor at 77th and the east side of Broadway.


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