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About Quiggin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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    San Francisco
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  1. In her memoir America's Prima Ballerina, Maria Tallchief affectionately recounts her five year course of study with Bronislava Nijinska in Los Angeles before Tallchief joined one of the American ballet Russe companies. Also her part in a Nijinska ballet that featured Cyd Charisse. Camilla Gray's pathbreaking Russian Experiment in Art 1863-1922 (1962), an inexpensive Thames & Hudson paperback, is a great source book for the Russian artistic & cultural background that Nijinksa, Balachine, Diaghilev and Natalia Goncharova came out of, which is often given scant mention in US biog
  2. As a gay white male (and a one time member of New York Act Up) I would say that the greater social inequity would be the lack of Black leading men in Amercian ballet companies than the lack of gender-fluid members. In the art world, with the exception of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Black artists were not shown at galleries until around 2010 (for which see Stanley Whitney's interviews at Brooklyn Rail and elsewhere; Whitney was part of a distinguished class at Yale, white members of which got a 20 year head start). Ballet is more conservative than the rest of the arts and it would seem that now would
  3. Thanks for the link, canbelto, to the Gottlieb review in the Atlantic. I followed it to the Nolan and Marmorstein biographies and found this reminiscence by Leonard Spigelgass about the world Lorenz Hart moved in – Gottlieb says that R&H songs were "not as jazzy as the Gershwin songs." But they did indeed become the basis of many great jazz standards. Frank Sinatra first, then Chet Baker and Miles Davis recorded famous versions of My Funny Valentine (Baker 100 times). Bix Beiderbecke started the ball rolling in 1928 with Thou Swell in double time, followed by Lester Young, Blossom
  4. Nice story, dirac. about the Cole Porter bio – sort of like the Lorenz Hart lyric about marriage being the short interval between divorces. Great photo of Balanchine and Hart. I think Hart's long-lived sister-in-law and biographer Dorothy kept the lid on any speculation about his sexuality. I remember hearing there were a pair of twins Hart was mad about, so maybe the twins in Words & Music are something of an in-joke. Of the W&M clips on YT, I especially liked June Allysion in the Vivienne Segal Thou Swell role and Ann Sothern in Where's the Rainbow. Some of the biting irony of
  5. Yes, the City Ballet dancers look slightly like columns in a temple (even though they were supposed to look like "one of those orange groves you see in California"). I do like the sculptural simplicity black and white photography brings to dance, the way it eliminates distractions and bores down to forms. My favorite Serenade part (too?) is where the man enters and the three of them make a little vehicle together to move around the stage and then he turns one of the dancers while lying on the floor, like slowly turning pages in a book (my memory may be a little untrustworthy since I haven
  6. Came across the Museum of Performance and Design's images of Serenade from San Francisco Ballet performances of 1952, 1960 and 1962 with Sally Bailey, Janet Sasson, Richard Carter and Roderick Drew. Less streamlined costumes than City Ballet's productions, but interesting peek at past versions. https://mpdsfdance.omeka.net/items/show/2997 https://mpdsfdance.omeka.net/items/show/283 Complete list of images: https://mpdsfdance.omeka.net/search?query=serenade&query_type=keyword&record_types[]=Item&record_types[]=File&record_types[]=Collection&submit_search=
  7. Thanks for that. According to your Wikipedia link, he worked with both Merce Cunningham and James Waring and contributed to Ballet Review and the Encyclopedia of Dance and Ballet. Not a stringer! Here's an excerpt from Miami Ballet's Bugaku, only 10 years old. But in 10 years things have changed an awful lot. If the "Chinese" variation in Nutcracker is controversial, what would a general audience today think of the seemingly coyly obsequeous way in which the women hold themselves on stage (– and their orientalizing makeup)? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QomyCafiWhM OT: Regard
  8. miliosr, who was the writer of the 1984 Dance mag article? A staff member? a stringer? pherank: Respectful or playful references are ok – like the ones Degas, Van Gogh and the Nabis (Vallotton, Bonnard, Denis) painters made to Japanese woodblock prints. Which became major innovations in European painting, lessons on flattening the surface plane and activitating the edges of the picture. Or the give and take among filmmakers; for example between the 1960 Magnificent Seven and Kurosawa's Seven Samarai and before that between Kurosawa and John Ford. Bugaku doesn't seem to
  9. Thanks for posting Ratmansky's Winter Season. Intriguing to watch several times over. I didn't know the composer was Glazunov at first and kept thinking it was Tchaikovsky when it was strongest, as during the section where the gnomes are starting fires and playing with flames. Ratmansky's choreography seemed such a strange take on traditional ballet, a little like Ikebana seems to a traditional western flower arranger, with bits of this and that, shorts stems and fat colored leaves or like the mixture of things birds build nests out of. Sometimes Winter looked like Serenade, sometimes Symphony
  10. Film writers seem to want to project a lot of cliched ideas onto non-verbal art practices – the sadism they depict perhaps is their own at a remove. Before Black Swan there were also Ballerina (Yvette Chauviré, Mia Slavenska) and the Red Shoes. The real life anxieties of dancers – dancing too little, dancing too much, who is getting what parts – are probably too mundane to dramatize in a film. (Megan Fairchild's interview with Jock Soto touched on all sort of interesting details – like the boys bowing and the girls curtseying in the hallways whenever Balanchine would pass by – but were the kin
  11. I like the part where Doubrovska reenacts her part as the Siren in Prodigal Son in the small space to the side of her coffee table, standing straight up and then folding herself up on a small patch of floor. The film was made by Virginia Brooks whose name only appears in the tail end credits – and lost as these things are on YouTube to those who post them. According to her bio at Dance Films Association, Brooks has written reviews for Ballet Review and other dance periodicals, was coordinator of Robbins Film Archive at New York Public Library and has been video editor for the Balanch
  12. Hal Foster in Conversations About Sculpture with Richard Serra (Yale 2018) talks about how the modern, at least in sculpture and architecture, doesn't date. "You know how modern architecture still looks modern, while everything else – the people, the clothes, the cars – don't," he says. You could say the modern – Luis Barragan, Mies van der Rohe, Serra's sculpture, and Balanchine and Agon – doesn't date because it's all structure and essence, whereas postmodernism was about skin and coverings. It feels to me that Pam Tanowitz is trying to burrow down to the bone and structure of movement.
  13. Balanchine's work went through an iffy period in the 1990's when it was thought that the repertory might be lost due to bad management and deteriorating quality of performances – maybe Helene and others remember. There was lots of press and soul-searching from Arlene Croce at the New Yorker and elsewhere. Balanchine's success in America – and ballet's – was in part a result of the cold war, when the US and the Soviet Union were competing in the arts. There was money from the Ford Foundation for ballet (as there was from the Rockefeller Brothers (&CIA) fund for MoMA to send abstract e
  14. What worked for me photographically in "Thank you, New York" is that the backgrounds were "ordinary" and visually calm and the camera moved slowly and in parallel with the dancer. The equivalent of small stage and proscenium was created most of the time (Mearns' scene in Chinatown was handheld and had a different value). They were all one-shot take scenes which seems to make a big difference in immediacy. Reminded me slightly of Fred Aistaire's solo in the original Penn Station, "I'll Go my Way" in the Bandwagon or one of many Gene Kellys.
  15. I liked the key shot but I'm less and less into montage – cutting – effects and side shots these days. But I was quite taken with Ana Turazashvili's Emeralds, posted a few years back, the quiet lassitude of it. A little like when a fisherman lets out a line. There was also a tutorial with her in it on a World Ballet Day past. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsAO05roO6M
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