I was a teen-ager when I started ballet lessons in New York in 1944; all it took for me to start was one performance of Ballet Theatre at the old Metropolitan Opera House on 39th Street. (I have written in more detail of that performance on my Blog "Ruminations".) My very first teacher was Lisan Kay who taught at Ballet Arts in Carnegie Hall. At the time she was a partner of Yeichi Nimura; she would shortly have a featured role in the musical "Lute Song". Ballet Arts was run by the indomitab
][attachmentid=18]Riabouchinska and Kriza in 'Les Sylphides'
This scratchy old photograph was taken during a performance of 'Les Sylphides' during the 1945 season of Ballet Theatre at the old Metropolitan Opera House in NYC. Riabouchinska's performance was legendary in this ballet; less known is the performance of John Kriza. He remains my favorite in the role and was the most Byronesque of anyone I have seen.
The Early Days
Listening to the clip of Maria Tallchief talking about how delighted she was to be a part of the Ballet Russe, together with all the excitement about the new "Ballets Russe" film set me to thinking about her early years with the Company. She had been in the Company a short time when I began seeing her in 1944--ah, we were both so young! She was a dancer you noticed right away; her innate musical sensitivity was evident even in her small solo roles. As she led the can-can in "
This is a photograph of Tatiana Riabouchinska in one of her most famous roles--performing the Prelude in "Les Sylphides". It was taken live during a performance at the old "Met" Opera House in New York during Ballet Theatre's 1945 season. It beautifully captures the dreaminess of her interpretation.
And--dreamy it was. One Sunday afternoon during this Season, I attended a performance which opened with 'Les Sylphides'--I was late in getting to the theater and managed to
This is a photograph of Alexandra Danilova and Nicholas Magallanes taken during a performance of the Denham Ballet Russe at the "City Center" in New York.,...about 1946. I think it's from "Raymonda".
A Personal Memory
To say that Hugh Laing was unique as a dancer would be a considerable understatement. No one performed as he did. The only other dancer of his generation who had the same impact on the stage as he---was Leonide Massine.
He had the same intensity and dynamism. As the Gypsy Boy in "Aleko" he was favorably compared to Massine and it was thought that he would be well suited to other Massine roles, i.e., the Young Musician in "Symphonie Fantastique" or as the Hussar in "Le Be
I am currently reading Deborah Jowitt's biography of Jerome Robbins---the third book I have read about him in the past three years. The other two were the Greg Lawrence biography, "Dance With Demons" and Christine Conrad's "That Broadway Man, That Ballet Man".
Whenever I read about Robbins my thoughts go back to Wilma Curley. I knew she had passed away but didn't know when. I found an obituary on the Web and learned that she had died on October 16, 1999; her married name was Harrison; she h
I have an anniversary, of sorts, coming up this month. It will be 60 years since I saw my first ballet performance on Saturday evening April 22, 1944. Accompanied by my sister Marie and her friends we went to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City to see Ballet Theatre. Our seats were in the first row of the balcony around the curve of the horseshoe shape of the theater---and 4 levels up. I had a fairly good view of the stage by leaning over the brass railing. The program was Fokine
My current favorite Swan Queens have come from the ranks of American Ballet Theatre, the Bolshoi and the Kirov and not from the New York City Ballet. Recently a poster on Ballet Alert enthusiastically wrote about Miranda Weese and I thought it was time for me to go back for another look at my video tape of Ms. Weese in the Peter Martin production. Martins has presented the ballet with one intermission; Acts 1 and 2, and then Acts 3and 4---since this appears to be the current trend, I offer no
Alicia Alonso had a diverse range as a Ballerina. She excelled in romantic, classical and contemporary works, and she was equally accomplished in performing Coralli, Petipa, Balanchine, Tudor or deMille. In this respect she outrivaled most of the ballerinas of her generation. When I ponder her technique, it is not the bravura that comes to mind, although it was profuse. Alonso was known for her rock-solid balances, dazzling footwork and fast, light floor skimming bourrees. It is her careful
Before there were glossy brochures for upcoming ballet seasons there were 'snakes'. They were long sheets of plain white paper approximately 5"X18" on which was printed, in two long columns, the programs for the coming season. They hung on a hook in the theater lobby. I still have the original 'snake' of the Sadler's Wells Ballet first American tour in 1949 in New York City at the old Metropolitan Opera House. It is somewhat smaller than the usual 'snakes'---5"X12", and as befits such a fin
When I began to learn about ballet, the period that held the most interest for me were the Diaghilev years. There was a vast amount of his ballets still being performed in the 1940's and 1950's. During my first few years of attending performances I saw 'Prince Igor', 'Les Sylphides', 'Carnaval', 'Scheherazade', 'Firebird', 'Spectre de la Rose', 'Petrouchka', 'Afternoon of a Faun','Le Tricorne', 'Apollo', and 'Prodigal Son'. Later I would see 'Les Noces', 'Parade', and 'Rite of Spring'. It is
"Degas: Dancers Practicing At the Barre"
The original painting is square in shape, approximately 36"X36", painted with mixed media on canvas, and framed with a clear glass covering.
It portrays two dancers in extended positions at the barre: the one on the left stretching in Arabesque, and the dancer on the right, with her back to us stretching forward in a Developpe. Their supporting legs are beautifully turned out at a 90 deg. angles, as are their extended legs. Impressive, also, is the
I recently acquired a DVD player and before buying a disc I have been previewing it by borrowing the discs from the New York Public Library. (I am fortunate to have such a good source.) I have had pretty good luck so far; I look up titles on Amazon and request them from the NYPL and then decide if they are worth buying. The most recent was a 'Swan Lake' choreographed by Nureyev, with Margot Fonteyn and the Vienna State Opera Ballet, recorded in 1966. I don't recall seeing this on a videotap
There doesn't seem to be much curiosity about Alicia Markova as a ballerina. The first time I saw her dance was my very first ballet performance, in April 1944 at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York. She performed 'Les Sylphides' with Anton Dolin. Since she was born in 1910 she was 34 years old--usually considered 'prime time' for a ballerina. At various times I saw her dance 'Giselle', 'Aleko', Tudor's 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Firebird' (the Chagall sets), 'Swan Lake Act 2', 'Nutcracke
Here goes--I don't know where this will turn up! There are many times when I start ruminating about all things related to ballet, and I guess it would be fun to see those thoughts in print. As I sit here writing this I have on my wall a 5x7 photo of Tamara Toumanova (Fred Fehl) taken many years ago at an outdoor arena in New York City (the Bronx) called Lewisohn Stadium--which was set up to look like a Greek theatre. Toumanova is in white practice clothes and not wearing makeup, and she never