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Tom47

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  1. The artist Dame Laura Knight was born in Derbyshire, England in 1877. At the age of 13 she entered the Nottingham School of Art with a scholarship. She painted a wide variety of subjects including those of ballerinas and circus performers. During the Second World War she produced a number of paintings depicting women in the military. According to an article from Sotheby's Auction house the artist “grew up impoverished” and “As a female, Knight was excluded from life drawing classes and only allowed to study the nude from plaster casts.” A controversy occurred over the artist's painting Self Portrait with Nude (1913) in which she shows herself in the process of depicting a nude female model. Sotheby's article called this painting “historically significant” in that it “challenged the widespread barring of female students from life drawing classes,” and that “The work proved too daring for the Royal Academy, who rejected it.” Furthermore, a critic described the painting as “vular.” Here is a link to the article: https://www.sothebys.com/en/articles/dame-laura-knight. The first picture is a portrait of the artist done by her husband, with the next five being ones produced by Laura Knight. I feel the painting of a ballerina (fourth down) is particularly good. The discouraging or forbidding of female artists from studying from the nude, both male and female, is one factor that hindered woman artists. It is generally felt that practice with the nude is necessary to fully understand and depict the clothed body. Second, historical paintings were considered the highest form of art and in many cases this required the depiction of the nude. Here is a 3 ½ minute video of Dame Knight’s paintings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz17hIt_y24. Self Portrait with a Model is shown in the video. This link goes to 43 of the artist’s work: https://www.wikiart.org/en/laura-knight/all-works#!#filterName:all-paintings-chronologically,resultType:detailed Of particular interest to me are: Les Sylphides, The Ballet Shoe, Romany Belles, Corporal Daphne Pearson, Corporal J. M. Robins, A Balloon Site Coventry, Ruby Loftus screwing a Breech-ring, The Nuremberg Trial, A Dressing Room at Drury Lane. The Gypsy (Romani). This last picture reminds me of Humphrey Bogart's, Charlie Allnutt from The African Queen. This link goes to an image of the artist's work “Physical Training at Witley Camp.” I particularly like the building storm clouds intensifying the conflict in the ring, the action shown as one of the boxers lean in, while the other pulls back and the contrast between the curves of the boxers and the overhead clouds with the white straight lines of the ropes enclosing the ring. And this one goes to an image of her work “Storm Over Our Town.” Here the artist dramatically shows the might and intensity of nature. If you are still with me here is a short (3 minute long) documentary of Dame Laura Knight’s wartime paintings, by Dr. Alicia Foster about the artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZCuQH_dLvY. Note A Balloon Site Coventry. Dame Laura Knight was a great artist. Tom,
  2. The plan for this topic is to be about female choreographers, dancers and others involved with all forms of dance, not just ballet. Katherine Dunham was a remarkable woman. It might seem strange that this choreographer would also have earned bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the University of Chicago, but actually her two careers fit together well. She was born on June 22, 1909 in Chicago. Dance and anthropology started coming together when Katherine Dunham started the Negro Dance Group, which performed A Negro Rhapsody, with the Chicago Opera Company. This resulted in her receiving a grant, the money of which she used to travel to the islands of the Caribbean to study the traditional dances there. According to the website of the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities, she “. . . revolutionized American dance in the 1930s by going to the roots of black dance and rituals transforming them into significant artistic choreography that speaks to all. She was a pioneer in the use of folk and ethnic choreography and one of the founders of the anthropological dance movement.” She and her dance company toured every populated continent. In 1963 she provided the choreography for a production of Aida at the Metropolitan Opera - the Priestesses’ Scene and the Triumphal March and in 1972 she directed the world premiere of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Katherine Dunham performed in and choreographed numerous stage performances, was a choreographer in nine films and appeared in eight and has received awards and honorary degrees. But Katherine Dunham also worked for a better society. In the 1970s she moved to East St. Louis, where she strove to encourage the young people of the community to be interested in dance and the heritage of black dance in the hope that this would keep them out of trouble. In 1979 she received the Albert Schweitzer Music Award “for her contributions to the performing arts and her dedication to humanitarian work. The following are videos of dances choreographed by Katherine Dunham: To start with is a 1 minute video from 1941 entitled Carnival of Rhythm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lTcPgmZoj8. Here is a 12 ½ minute long video from the Library of Congress entitled A Katherine Dunham Sampler, showing a series of her choreographed dances - 1943 to 1956. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Rf8k2tqG3w. Next is a 3 ½ minute long scene from the 1943 movie Stormy Weather: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W23MYjH92co. Stormy Weather has an all black cast including, in addition to Katherine Dunham; Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, The Nicholas Brothers, Dooley Wilson and Cab Calloway. This video is from a newsreel showing Katherine Dunham and her dance troupe performing Ballet Creole in 1952 (2 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSTuO5E9_1g. Here is a short video, one minute, of a clip entitled Washer Woman from 1956: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dryZ5HZ1G38. And lastly is a 3 minutes chlp in color from a 1961 movie called Im schwarzen Rössl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZdwCqSvkY0. Tom,
  3. According to the USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative report - Inclusion in the recording Studio? Examining 800 Popular Songs, during the eight years 2012 to 2019, only 12.5% of songwriters among the 800 popular songs covered by the report were female. That is 1 female songwriter to 7 male songwriters. Further, among those same 800 songs 56% had no female writers involved, 32% had only one female writer involved and less than one percent had only female writers, that is less than 8 out of the 800 songs. So more than half of the songs had no female writers whatsoever compared to less than one percent that had only female writers. I believe that women can write songs just as well as men. Here is a list of some historical female songwriters: Sappho was born c. 640 BCE on the Greek Island of Lesbos. Only fragments of her songs remain and none of her music remains. Her lyrics deal with the personal life and emotions as opposed to the epic poems of Homer. I can easily imagine her traveling to various festivals and possibly what would be the Greek equivalent to a coffee house, playing before an audience, much like a modern singer/songwriter might do. Here is a video (2 minutes long) of Andrea Goodman singing one of Sappho’s songs in ancient Greek and accompanying herself on a 7-string lyre to music by Eve Begiarian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOlIqozu3Fg. The trobairitz (female troubadour) Beatriz de Dia was born c. 1140 seemingly in the south of France. Her song “A chantar m’er de so q’ieu no voldria” (I must sing of what I do not want) was written in the Occitian language, an old language of southern France. Here is an 8½ minute video of the song being sung: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zah4VWPiNE. The lyrics speak of a woman who is betrayed by her lover. An English translation of the lyrics can be found here: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/chantar-mer-i-am-obliged-sing.html Next is a song that is a mystery as no one knows who wrote it, but ever since I first heard it, it seemed to me that it must have been written by a woman. It is "The House of the Rising Sun" and has been covered by many artists. To me the word “House” in the title is a clear reference to a brothel as in “a house of ill repute.” There is a claim that a house on St. Louis Street in New Orleans had been a brothel, between 1862 and 1874, run by a Madam LeSoleil Levant, which translated from French as “The Rising Sun” and when a house on St. Louis Street was renovated, a ceiling mural of a golden rising sun was found. Also, there was a women’s prison in New Orleans with an image of a rising sun. So, whether the writer was a prostitute or a female prisoner she was a woman. I feel that the song being sung by a male is somewhat silly. This link goes to a 1 ½ minute long recording of Georgia Turner singing “The House of the Rising Sun” in 1937. The lyrics that are sung and the written lyrics are somewhat different: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15VIDcUMQQI. Next is a song in a very different vein than the ones before. It is “The March of the Women” by Dame Ethel Smyth and was written in 1911. Dame Smyth was born in 1858 and composed musical works including symphonies, choral works and operas. She was also a supporter of women’s right to vote as the lyrics to the song and the 3 minute long video linked here shows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCtGkCg7trY. Elizabeth Cotton was born on January 5, 1895 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and wrote the song “Freight Train” in 1906 when she was about 12 years old, but it was only recorded in 1957. It has been covered by 80 artists. Here is a 3 minute long video of Elizabeth Cotton singing the song and accompanying herself on the guitar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUK8emiWabU. Born in Algiers, across the Mississippi from New Orleans, in 1897, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Douglas, later to be known as Memphis Minnie, moved with her family, at age 10, near to the city from which she received the name she is best known for. She was a blues singer/songwriter who played the guitar, made over 200 recordings and co-wrote the song “When the Levee Breaks.” Here she is singing “Drunken Barrelhouse Blues” (first released in 1934): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3GSv-ZbJ7o. Tom,
  4. Edmonia Lewis was born in Rensselaer County next to Albany, NY on July 4,1844, to a mother who was a member of the Chippewa also known as the Ojibwa tribe and a father who was a free man of African descent. She was given the name “Wildfire” by her mother. Starting in 1859 she attended Oberlin College in Ohio and in 1863 she went to live in Boston. While there she produced many sculptures including a bust of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the white leader of the all black 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Next she moved to Rome, Italy in 1865. In 1867, two years after the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery, Edmonia Lewis sculpted her “Morning of Liberty, Forever Free” This work show two former slaves with their chains broken. Both figures look up hopefully, with the male figure standing and the female figure kneeling as if praying. The man has his foot on a ball attached to a broken chain expressing a feeling of triumph. Other works by the artist include “Hagar in the Wilderness” (1875), “Hiawatha’s Marriage” (1874) and the “Old Indian Arrowmaker and his Daughter” (1866 to 1872), a depiction of an older parental figure passing on knowledge to his offspring. Here are photographs of six of Edmonia Lewis’ works: https://www.theartstory.org/artist/lewis-edmonia/artworks/. The following from Whitney Chadwick’s book “Women, Art and Society” third edition, page 30 indicates how much Edmonia Lewis wanted to avoid criticism that as a woman she was not strong enough to engage in the art of sculpture: “While most foreign sculptors in Italy hired native artisans to enlarge their clay and wax models in marble, Lewis for some time insisted on doing the carving herself. This hands-on approach greatly impressed the suffragist Laura Curtis Bullard, editor of the periodical Revolution, who wrote: ‘So determined is she to avoid all occasion for detraction, that she even ‘puts up’ her clay; a work which scarcely any male sculptor does for himself.” According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum Edmonia Lewis’ The Death of Cleopatra (1876) was “. . . exhibited to great acclaim at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and critics raved that it was the most impressive American sculpture in the show.” It is an impressive sculpture, but despite this, the work and the artist seems to have been soon forgotten. For a long time the sculpture was believed to have been lost, but eventually was found in a salvage yard. It is now, after being restored, in the Smithsonian. Here is a short 6 minute video showing The Death of Cleopatra in detail with a photograph of the artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK8Vj03U874. Tom,
  5. Mashinka, I looked up information on Barbara Strozzi and Marianna Martines and found samples of their music on youtube, but have not had a chance to listen to them yet. Tom,
  6. The plan for this topic is to highlight female composers, song writers, conductors, musicians and singers. Not too long ago I didn’t know of any female symphonic composers. However, during the past few years that changed. What I have realized is that by not knowing these women I have missed out on hearing a lot of very good music. Florence Smith Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on April 9, 1887. She learned to play piano from her mother and her general education was in the segregated schools at the time. After graduating from High School, Florence started studying at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. Upon obtaining degrees in teaching and as an organ soloist she worked as a teacher eventually becoming the chair of the music department at Clark University in Atlanta. In 1932 while in Chicago Florence Price composed her first symphony, this being her symphony in E Minor. The work was a quick success as in that same year it won the national Rodman Wanamaker composition competition for a symphonic work. Then on June 15, 1933 it was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. My favorite of her works is her Mississippi Suite (1934). It is just beautiful, with a serene beginning, perhaps reflecting the river before humans arrived, then referencing the historical events that occurred along its banks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfdvCrqzTm0. On top of this the piece is performed by the Woman’s Philharmonic and is conducted by a woman - Apo Hsu - who was born in Taiwan. The composer's picture is shown near the end of the video. Sometimes I get carried away when posting about an artist that I like, but here are two more selections: First, the 9 minute long Fantasie Negre No.3 in F Minor played on the piano by Samantha Ege: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8R-lxn-BQw. Second, the composer’s Symphony no. 1 in E-Minor, performed by the New Black Repertory Ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s4yY_A2A2k. The short third Movement, Allegro, is entitled “Juba Dance,” and according to the website of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “. . . evokes an African-derived folk dance that was popular among slaves in the antebellum South.” Tom,
  7. I have thought about starting this topic for a while, but hesitated because I felt that few people would respond to it and possibly some would be negative about it. However, I am very pleased that there have been so many comments. All positive. Also, I am happy that people have been replying to each other. So, I want people to know that even if I don’t reply to every comment I still appreciate them and that I read them all. Aurora, I was happy to read your comment that “Times have fortunately changed! More than half of the current authors/editors of Janson’s are women.” Also, I was happy to read your and Dirac’s conversation on Artemisia Gentileschi and other things. I hope that these improvements will translate into more female artists in museums and galleries and higher prices paid for the work done by female artists. Tom,
  8. California, thank you for the link. The photographer Alexia Webster from South Africa seems interesting. Drew, thank you for the link to Louise Fishman. Aurora, thank you for referencing Hung Liu, I looked her up. Tom,
  9. California, I don’t know very much about non-western art. Do you know of any non-western women artists? Quiggin, thank you for your input both in regard to Soviet women and the "women of Ninth Street.” I have not yet looked into your links, but I will. Dirac, Artemisia Gentileschi's life is interesting. That incident is reportedly what inspired her painting of Judith Beheading Holofernes, which is very dramatic and contains two active women. And thank you for the compliment on the topic. I’m pleasantly surprised at the response to this. Also, I tried to input the image of the Firebird’s back cloth, but it didn’t work. Can anyone tell me how to do this? Tom,
  10. The plan for this topic is to be about female artists - painters, sculptures and photographers primarily and I encourage people to contribute to this. In the past women and girls had been discouraged from becoming professional artists and even when they did so and even when they became well known in their own times, they were many times forgotten. For example, H. W. Janson’s “History of Art” was first published in 1962. It is described in a New York Times article as “a seven-pound, 750 page tome filled with pictures and prose, remembered by tens of thousands of liberal-arts graduates simply as Janson’s - the basic college textbook on the world’s great painting and sculpture.” Yet, “. . . no female artists were mentioned in earlier editions, except for an anonymous Greek vase painter.” The book was updated by the author’s son to include women in 1984. Natalia Goncharova, the first artist to be covered here, was born in Tula, Russia (less than 100 miles south of Moscow) on June 21, 1881. As a child she moved with her family to Moscow and at age 17 entered the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In September of 1913, in Moscow, the artist held a one woman exhibition. Three months before the start of the First World War Natalia Goncharova traveled to Paris where she designed costumes and scenery for the Ballet Russe “Le cog d’or.” She also did work for The Firebird ballet, as well as for Bronislava Nijinska’s Le Renard and Les Noces. Here is a 9 minute long video of 88 of Natalia Goncharova’s works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7J5dJ4N7a4, with music. This next link goes to an image of the artist’s back cloth for the 1926 revival of The Firebird: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O129761/backcloth-natalia-goncharova/. Finally here is a two minute video of excerpts from the ballet “Le cog d’or.” It starts with a short interview with the dancer Anna Volkova. The performance took place in Australia and is from 1940: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYRiHBzfkDU. Tom,
  11. Mille-feuille, thank you for mentioning the Jane Eyre ballet with some music by Fanny Mendelssohn. Now I know of a ballet with music by a female composer. I could have chosen a better word than spotlights. What I was referring to was the costumes the men wore as compared to what the women wore, as in regard to the male tights or being bare chested or wearing quite tiny garments such as those worn by the male dancer in Diana and Acteon and by the slave in Excelsior. The male dancers with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater also wear body revealing costumes at times. My belief is that women are just as capable in regard to choreography as men and by not fully utilizing women choreographers, not only in ballet but in dance in general, we are missing out on potentially great talent. It would be like only letting people born on an even day to be choreographers, but not people born on an odd day. Further, to the extent that women might have a different outlook on choreography than men, we are only seeing one point of view. I also found your views on partnering interesting. Tom,
  12. I was happy to see so many new comments. The quote I used actually has two parts. First is the part “The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers . . .“ This is somewhat surprising in that the male dancer is and has been an important part of ballet, however, this is the part that makes it fit in with this topic. The second part “. . . and man is the gardener” is much more important to me. It seems that the majority of dancers are female, but the overwhelming majority of those in charge - choreographers and artistic directors and composers of the music - are male. I know of no female composer of music for ballet. Let me know if there are any. As people may have noticed I like to challenge sex and gender sterotypes, this is why I refer to both men and women as beautiful, but another part of this is the challenging of who is in charge. It seems to me that ballet spotlights the male body and the form of the male body as much as if not more than the female body. Further, many ballet stories are about strong females who display agency, although in a number of those cases these women wind up dying - La Sylphide, La Bayadere and Carmen for example. But, in regard to who is in charge ballet and dance in general displays a great deal of imbalance. So whether or not the quote reveals Balanchine’s true feelings and beliefs, I believe that the quote accurately reflects the general feelings and beliefs of many people. Can you imagine someone referring to men as something as inert and delicate as a beautiful flower. I would like to read what people know or think about the lack of women in positions of control. Now I want to get back to something Helene wrote. I was inspired by your mention of “contemporary and modern ballet” to go look for some. The following appear to be contemporary ballet, let me know if I’m incorrect. This is a dance to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (3 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_dl4uqkw4s. The men are wearing pants/trousers, but the women are wearing bathing suits like garments. Others that I came across are Say Something by Sharon Chance, see here (2 mins): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKQfBegT0NE, The Golden Section and In the Upper Room both by Twyla Tharp, Waves Choreographed by Krista King Doherty and NY Complexion. If you or anyone else can help me out by directing me to other examples I would appreciate it. On Pointe, thank you for your information on recent developments in ballet and for the nude in ballet and for the video of Nureyev. California, thank you for mentioning Kammermusic No. 2. I read the article you linked to, but only could find short videos on facebook. And Canbelto thank you for mentioning Square Dance, I was able to find excerpts from it. Mille-feuille, thank you for helping out California and I like to find out who reads what I write. Tom,
  13. In the June 11, 1965 issue of Life Magazine, George Balanchine is quoted as saying “The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and man is the gardener.” This position severely and unnecessarily restricts ballet - male dancers can be seen as being just as beautiful as female dancers and I believe ballet would greatly benefit by having many more women gardeners. Tom,
  14. Helene, I completely agree with you, I would not want ballet to drop any qualities and standards to make people more comfortable. Actually I’m hopeful that the changes we are seeing, in regard to the way people feel about gender roles, will result in people in general being more comfortable with men in tights and I feel that ballet can help with that. Tom,
  15. On Pointe, I’m not sure what your point is. I know that swimsuits worn by male Olympic divers are revealing as are swimsuits worn by male water polo players. That does not mean that many people are not “put off” from watching those players. I agree with you about growing used to seeing male dancers in tights and I pointed out that happened to me. Also, it seems that the article I linked to makes the same point. So, here we agree. But it appears to me that many Americans, not all, have not grown used to seeing men in ballet tights and that seems to be supported by the article “Fear of Men in Tights.” As to female beach volleyball players, I believe that many people, both female and male, are acceptable to seeing the lower part of a woman’s body and so would not be put off by the female beach volleyball players, because they have grown used to seeing that. Beach volleyball is a good example of that. The Male players wear boxer-like loose fitting suits, while the women wear bikinis. In many swimming sports women’s suits sometimes turn into thongs, I have not seen that with men. Many times male gymnasts wear loose pants/trousers, but female gymnasts wear high cut suits. I go to the beach on the East Coast of the US and the bottom half of the suits worn by women, particularly young women, are almost always lots smaller than the suits worn by men. The situation with Beach Volleyball players suggests that is worldwide. As I see it, men's pants/trousers tend to be baggier than women's and the male suit jacket covers the backside of the wearer. So, people, at least in the US, have not grown used to seeing the revealed lower half of the male body to anywhere near the extent that they have grown used to seeing the revealed lower half of the female body. This is also the case with photographs in magazines, both in regard to articles and advertisements. I believe that if young men wore the swimsuits that male Olympic divers wear there would be fewer people put off by seeing male ballet dancers in tights. As to my statement “It seems to me that in most cases sports players wear loose fitting ‘modesty shorts’ or pants/trousers over any tight fitting garment” I was referring to tights instead of swimming suits. Tom,
  16. Canbelto and On Point thank you for your comments. You told me things that I didn’t realize before. But as I wrote in my second comment I wasn’t as clear as I could be in the original question, “my basic point was why do the costumes of male ballet dancers many times clearly reveal the form of the part of the dancer’s body below the waist including his genitals?” It seems to me that in most cases sports players wear loose fitting “modesty shorts” or pants/trousers over any tight fitting garment. American football uniforms may be the closest, but even they are less “clingy” than ballet tights, at least, in the sense that the football uniforms don’t usually show the separation of the gluteus muscles. The issue for ballet is that many people, primarily in the US, seemingly are “put off” by seeing too much of the lower half of the male body. This article, by Kathy Valin, from Dance Magazine entitled “Fear of Men in Tights” supports that belief. It is mentioned in the article that Victoria Morgan, artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet had heard a woman say “Oh, I am just so uncomfortable watching men in tights.” Ms. Morgan then commented that “I thought ‘Wow, I haven’t thought of it that way since I was a curious teenager.” And that “It’s a shame, but I feel there is a stigma attached to ballet in America that doesn't reflect the reality of the amazing physicality of today’s dancers. This makes it difficult to attract some audience members and boys for ballet companies.” Further, the article reports that Robert Weiss, a former Balanchine dancer, is presenting “accessible works in which men aren’t dressed in tights (or ballerinas in tutus) to first-time ballet goers.” Also, “Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch points out that very often male dancers themselves, regardless of sexual orientation, have trouble with tights.” See here for article: https://www.dancemagazine.com/fear_of_men_in_tights-2306861124.html. When first becoming interested in watching ballet I was uncomfortable with seeing male dancers in tights, but in a short time, I began to see them as being attractive. Here are two of my favorite dance scenes with male dancers, both from the Nutcracker, but from different companies. The Waltz of the Flowers (8 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOC36Qjug4U and Misty Copeland and Sterling Baca dancing the Pas de Deux (6 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga994lIm96A. What is particularly interesting to me is that in the Waltz of the Flowers the women’s costumes are long Romantic style tutus which contrasts with the form revealing men’s tights. My answer now to the question “Why Tights” (without any looser modesty garment over them) would be that the revealed form of the male dancer’s body is attractive, at least to me. How many people agree that the revealed form of the male dancer’s body is attractive? Tom,
  17. California, thank you for the reply and particularly for the links. I enjoyed reading both and learning about Nureyev. From what you wrote Nureyev would answer my question by saying tights allowed the dancer to better show off and lengthen his line and that wearing only tights showed off his legwork to better advantage. I enjoyed reading the New Yorker article, not only because of information on Nureyev, but also for information on Margot Fonteyn, so thank you again for that. Something similar is this: according to Bronislava Nijinska’s “Early Memoirs” (Chapter 34, Toward a New Life) Vaslav Nijinsky related that he was “. . . immediately dismissed from the Imperial Theatres for appearing in the presence of her Imperial Highness Maria Fedorovna in the ballet Giselle in an indecent and improper costume” and he was told if he apologized for his costume and asked to be reenlisted he would be given an increase in salary. Nijinsky replied they would have to apologize to him for him to consider returning. As he was already working with Diaghlev, Nijinsky left the Imperial Theatres. Some days later Vaslav was told by an official of the Imperial Court that the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna declared that she “. . . did not see anything indecent in Nijinsky’s costume.” There is a photograph in Nijinska’s Early Memoirs showing “Nijinsky wearing the traditional Imperial Theatres costume for Albrecht in Act I of Giselle in a studio photographic portrait posed in Paris, 1910. Nijinsky never wore this costume in a performance, though he appeared in it for rehearsals of Giselle with Anna Pavlova at the Maryinsky Theatre.” Link to photograph: https://www.schubertiademusic.com/items/details/16494-nijinsky-waslaw-%E2%80%93-original-postcard-photograph-in-giselle. As well as an image of a drawing of “The Benois costume that Nijinsky wore in the St. Petersburg performance on January 23, 1911, causing his dismissal from the Imperial Theatres.” Link to that image: https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200181847. The images are not directly from the book, but are the same as in the book. The quotes are from captions to the images in the book. Tom,
  18. On Point, thank you for your reply however I was not as clear as I could have been in my original post. I wasn’t so concerned about tights as opposed to bare legs, but as tights as opposed to looser pants/trousers, as is worn by male dancers in some other dance forms and even in some ballets or modesty shorts with tights or long tunics with tights as were worn in the 19th century. My basic point was why do the costumes of male ballet dancers many times clearly reveal the form of the part of the dancer’s body below the waist including his genitals? For example, are such tights more comfortable, warmer or give a greater feeling of support than looser pants/trousers? Also, looser pants/trousers would also cover “Sweaty, hairy bare legs” and would “allow the costume designer to continue the line of the design” as well as tights. So, why do male ballet dancers many times wear such revealing tights instead of looser pants/trousers? As to your statement that “Tights on men have become so mainstream that I see guys jogging and even strolling down the street in them” I feel this is a positive change that I have not been aware of before. Tom,
  19. A number of years ago a friend of mine asked me why ballet dancers wear tights. As I remember I feel she was asking more about the male dancers wearing tights than the female dancers. I sort of flippenly said “why not,” mainly because I wasn’t sure I could easily articulate my feelings on this. So, my question to the reader is why do ballet dancers and in particular male dancers wear tights? Tom,
  20. Here is a video 1 1/2 minutes long of excerpts from a dance production of The Firebird, with what appears to be a male firebird. It was choreographed by Maurice Bejart of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UxWPhxuNt4. Here is a question: would people consider this to be ballet or another form of dance. In any case it is well performed. This next video, 4 minutes long, is of Oksana Baiul skating to the music “The Swan.” Basically she is performing the Dying Swan ballet, but on skates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZVsSoyMXdU. Tom,
  21. Josephine Baker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906. Most people may think of her as someone who danced in a banana skirt and who made funny faces. She did do that, but did so much more and because of what she has done in November she will receive the honor of being entered into Paris’ Pantheon mausoleum, an honor reserved for heroes of France. Josephine moved to Paris in the early 1920s where she performed in dance reviews. That was her start. She soon opened her own business, a night club named Chez Josephine, starred in multiple films, both silent and talkies, was a singer, was part of the civil rights movement in the United States and later in life adopted children from many parts of the world. Most pertinent to her upcoming honor and perhaps most surprising to many people is that after getting French citizenship she took on the dangerous job of working with the French resistance against the invading Nazis, with the rank of second lieutenant and thus helped defeat facsim. For this she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance. Here she sings one of my favorite pieces of music “La Vie en Rose” a song written by Edith Piaf (some minor nudity): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk5yn8q6GNM. Tom,
  22. Imagine dancers portraying 24 birds arriving at a lake. Joining them a little later is another bird who appears to be their queen and with this queen is a young man who could be a prince. This young prince even follows the queen of the birds with his eyes as she lifts into the sky. It could be Germany by the Lake of the Swans with Odette and Siegfried but it isn’t, it is China and the birds are not swans, but Crested Ibis. The nice part is that Rothbart is nowhere to be seen. Here is the 11 minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEZrszAfNqE. Crested Ibis have all but gone extinct when 7 were found in Shaanxi Province, China and now the species is in recovery and even have been introduced into South Korea and Japan. Here is a short video, a little over one minute long, of the birds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr0ZQ0Bjo78. Tom,
  23. There seems to me to be two versions of the ballet “Bolero,” one which is set in some type of tavern or cafe and in which there are more interactions between the main female dancer and the male dancers (I suspect that this is the original choreographed by Bronislava Nijiska) and the second which is more abstract, with simply a circle table that a woman dancers on and which the men dance around with little or no interaction between the woman and the men. I have also seen the second version with a man dancing in the middle and with men dancing around. A new take on this ballet could be to occasionally have a man dancing on the table surrounded by women as a gender switch. Also, could anyone tell me if the first version of “Bolero” as described above is the original choreographed by Bronislava. Tom,
  24. It seems to me that various productions of The Sleeping Beauty assign various names and gifts to the fairies in the prolog. In Tchaikovski’s original score at the Tchaikovsky research website the names of the good fairies are given as: Candide, Coulante: The Fairy of Blooming Wheat, Breadcrumb, The Singing Canary, Violante and The Lilac Fairy. Most of these names give me only a vague if any idea of what the gift would be, but here is a website that gives an explanation for all of the names: https://expressionplatform.com/the-fairies-of-sleeping-beauty/. Candide (Candour) = Purity, honesty, sincerity and integrity Coulante: The Fairy of Blooming Wheat (Fleur de farine) = Beauty Breadcrumb (Miettes qui tombent) = Generosity Singing Canary = Lovely, melodious voice Violente (finger fairy) = Force, passion and temperament Lilac Fairy = Wisdom What is interesting is that Aurora never got the gift of wisdom. The website gives interesting, expanded explanations as to the connections between the names and the gifts and how they fit into Russian traditions. It also gives the names of the fairies from other productions of the ballet. In Perrsult’s story, the fairies are not given names and six of the young fairies give gifts of, beauty, wit, grace, dancing perfectly well, singing like a nightingale and to be able to play all kinds of music to the utmost perfection, while the seventh young fairy hid behind some hangings as she correctly suspects the old fairy is going do some harm. Tom,
  25. Diane, thank you for your kind comment that this information is “Intriguing!” and with an exclamation mark even. Also thank you Cuban and Volcano for your helpful information. I agree that the Ogre and boys is a weird number. According to the original score for the ballet, there are 558 bars of music between the start of Puss-in-Boots and the White Cat to the end of Tom Thumb. Of that a total of 228 (41%) is for Cinderella and her Prince, 75 bars (13%) for Tom Thumb, 68 bars (12%) for Little Red Riding Hood, 44 bars (8%) for Puss-in-Boots and the White Cat and 25 bars (5%) for the Blue Bird and Princess Florine. In addition there is a total of 118 bars (21%) for Adagio and Coda under Pas de quatre. I’m guessing that all four - Cinderella, her Prince, The BlueBird and Princess Florine dance together during those two sections. This means that Cinderella and her Prince were originally given the most dance time and the BlueBird and Princess Florine - which it seems to me now get the most - had relatively little dance time, particularly by themselves. In Bronislava Nijinska’s Early Memoirs there is a short chapter entitled “Nijinsky Dances the Blue Bird” (chapter 24, pages 207 to 210). It was pointed out that prior to Nijinsky dancing the role “Only the large rigid wings mounted on a wire frame served to identify the character as a bird.” These “. . . large wings extended upwards from the shoulder in a curved shape and covered the arms and hands.” The dancer also wore an “elaborate full-skirted coat.” It was further noted that “In the original costume a dancer could only perform the pas with his legs; his body was encumbered by the large rigid wings.” However, Nijinsky changed this. “The birdlike wings were part of his dancing body; his arms did not bend at the elbow, but the movement as in the wing of a bird was generated in the shoulder; the movements of the dancing body were the movements of a bird in fight.” According to this chapter “Nijinsky had created a whole new theatrical image of the Blue Bird.” This performance was in 1907. Nijinsky’s re-interpretation of this dance may have been the spark that shifted the emphasis from Cinderella to the Blue Bird. So, it may be the case that it wasn’t only that the Cinderella music was removed, but also some of Cinderella's music may have gone to the Blue Bird. I feel a similarity between the dance of the Blue Bird and that of the Spirit of the Rose, which Nijinsky originated. Tom,
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