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Melissa Hayden has died

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regarding TCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX and its fouette sequence, this element was a variable over the years, certainly this was true in the last 12 years or so when i was seeing the ballet performed under balanchine's eye - i can't say for certain if they were there for verdy at the 1960 premiere, tho' i assume they were - )

They weren't. Per Verdy (said when she coached Jennie Somogyi in the variation for the Balanchine Foundation):

Verdy looks at the final part of the coda. “Really that hasn’t changed much.” Somogyi bourrées forward and does alternating single and double fouettés ending with a perfectly nailed triple. Verdy recalls the original version. “I did relevé [in back attitude] en tournant slowly off the music . . .[balanchine] said ‘Do what you want here’ . . .but then I changed it when I saw what it looked like. It was a nice idea but I don’t think any one would want to do it. It was counter the mood.” She asks Somogyi “just to try . . . just for the record. Keep your nice double fouettés.”
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In my opinion, a must-have is Dancing for Mr. B, which, unfortunately, is not available on amazon or through the NYCB gift shop. IIRC it included was a clip of Hayden in Stars and Stripes. (Am I having a hallucinatory Senior Moment?)

No Helene, you are not having a senior moment. I pulled out my copy of Dancing for Mr B yesterday basically to see

Hayden coaching students and there is a clip of her in Stars and Stripes.

It has that same made-in-the-studio-with-a-gauzy-overlay look as the Tallchief/Eglevsky Scotch Symphony clip. The Scotch Symphony pdd was a Bell Telephone Hour piece and has been released on a VAI disc devoted to Tallchief. So perhaps the Hayden Stars and Stripes clip is part of a longer excert from the ballet

that still exists in a vault somewhere.


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Sounds like it's time to convert those VHS tapes to DVD. :)
I burned DVD's of the VHS tapes I liked, with the VHS as backup, but, sadly, those puppies are in storage as I prepare to sell my apartment and try to make it look like a showroom, instead of a house crammed into an apartment. First to go are all of the CD's/DVD's that don't have professional covers and most paperbacks. (I drew the line at any dance paperbacks. They stay in the collection.)
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The Stars and Stripes pas de deux from the Bell Telephone is one of the pas de deux to be released on the D'Amboise DVD from VAI that I posted about. Here are the Hayden portions:

The Still Point / Love Duet

with/avec Melissa Hayden

Music/Musique: Claude Debussy

(from String Quartet, Op. 10 — transcription by Frank Black)

Choreography/Chorégraphie: Todd Bolender

Bell Telephone Hour • March 16, 1962/16 mars 1962

The Nutcracker / Casse-noisette

"Snow" Pas de Deux/Pas des deux -– Neige

with/avec Melissa Hayden

Music/Musique: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Choreography/Chorégraphie: Jacques d’Amboise

Bell Telephone Hour • December 19,1965/19 decembre 1965

Stars and Stripes (Excerpts/Extraits)

with/avec Melissa Hayden, members of the New York City Ballet

Music/Musique: John Philip Sousa, arr. Hershy Kay

Choreography/Chorégraphie: George Balanchine

Bell Telephone Hour • February 10, 1959/10 fevrier 1959

I'm not sure which one of these is going to be in color. The clip on the Mr. B video is in color, but when I saw a screening of it at MTR in 2004, it was in black and white. Again, this DVD is expected to be released in late August.

Re: the Stars and Stripes. It was one of my favorite clips in that film - Hayden was effervescent. Everything was so clean and crisp and musical and spontaneous. And utterly modern, for those people who seem to believe that dancers pre-90s danced like stiff boards.

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Everything was so clean and crisp and musical and spontaneous. And utterly modern, for those people who seem to believe that dancers pre-90s danced like stiff boards.

Great point, Dale, and thanks for making it. I suspect that some of the apparent stiffness in so much of that old tv studio footage had to do with poor floor quality, strict and awkward limitation of the dance space, and those mammoth tv cameras that sometimes got in the way quite noticeably.

On stage, Balanchine's 50s and 60s dancers -- especially his favorites -- were free, fluent, and full of spirit -- and, as you say, "modern" even in today's terms. :)

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A San Francisco footnote:

"Melissa Hayden and Jacques d'Amboise were the opening night guest artists (Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier) for Lew Christensen's 1967 premiere of his new "Nutcracker" with sets and costumes by Robert O'Hearn. I was a 16-year-old advanced Ford Foundation Scholarship student with San Francisco Ballet at the time and danced in the premiere as a "big" Snowflake and "Salmon" colored flower. These roles were a bit more coveted as there was more advanced work and more time on stage! It was an exciting time to be around Lew and SFB. It was a big deal that Ms. Hayden and Mr. d'Amboise were the guest artists. I remember her dancing as very strong and very bright... like a polished, faceted diamond. It's the only time I ever saw her dance in person."

--Gina Ness, former SFB Principal Dancer.

(Gina posted this on another board and gave me permission to post it here. Thank you, Gina!)

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If I recall correctly, her studio was on the top floor of 1845 Broadway (W side of street between 60-61st). The building is still there, but by the time I was studying with Gabriella Darvash ca 1985 (on the third floor - one below) that studio was an annex of Steps and Robert Blankshine taught there.

I remember it being in that building as well...

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A memorial and tribute for Melissa Hayden will be held on Sunday, October 1, at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Here are the details:


The tribute - organized by the arts school, where Hayden taught an estimated 6,000 students from 1983 until just a few weeks before her death - will feature performances by many current and former NCSA students whom Hayden taught.

The list of NCSA alumni who will be performing is impressive - Gillian Murphy and Maria Riccetto of American Ballet Theatre; Joseph Phillips of the San Francisco Ballet; Jared Redick of the Boston Ballet; and Deanna Seay and Kyra Homeres of the Miami City Ballet. Non-NCSA alumni scheduled to perform include Ashley Bouder of the New York City Ballet, and Marcelo Gomes and David Hallberg of American Ballet Theatre.

In many cases the dancers will be performing works choreographed by George Balanchine - Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Stars and Stripes, Serenade and Apollo. Balanchine, probably the 20th century's greatest choreographer of classical ballets, ran the New York City Ballet from 1948 until 1983, the year he died. He asked Hayden to originate many parts in his ballets or dance others in post-premiere performances. Hayden later staged many Balanchine works at NCSA, securing the rare permission to do so from the Balanchine Foundation.

Several of Hayden's friends will speak at next Sunday's tribute, including [Arthur] Mitchell; Jacques d'Amboise, who also danced with Hayden at the New York City Ballet; Susan McCullough, the current dean of NCSA's dance division; and Robert Lindgren, NCSA's founding dance dean, who hired Hayden.

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The Winter 2007 issue of DanceView has just arrived in the mail. I glanced through it on my way back from the mailbox and then stopped at page 26. Is "transfixed" too strong a word? Anyway, I stood there in the middle of the sidewalk, shaded by an oak tree on a warm, sunny Florida afternoon, first loooking at the photos, and then reading all the way through the 4-page "Tribute to Melissa Hayden" -- "America's Ballerina" -- by Dale Brauner, an account of the NYCB Seminar tribute to Hayden which took place on 12/4/06.

An on-line version of this article can be found in danceviewtimes:


The article includes remembrances of Hayden at different stages of her long career in ballet: by Jacques d'Amboise, Suki Schorer, Gillian Murphy, and Megan LeCrone. One of Schorer's early impressions struck me, because it reflects what I also saw in one of my first visits to NYCB.

That season when I was just here in New York, just looking because I was still a member of San Francisco Ballet, I saw her do "Swan Lake." "She could make me cry -- her port de bras was so beautiful. Those long incredible arms."
Decades later, she is still my gold standard for anyone taking on the role of Odette.
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This past weekend I saw two performances of Divertimento No. 15 in San Francisco, and probably because of the recent tribute to Hayden by d'Amboise, I thought a lot about her during the performances, and I judged the dancers by whether they conveyed any trace of Balanchine's snapshot of Hayden in their interpretations.

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The Winter 2007 issue of DanceView has just arrived in the mail. I glanced through it on my way back from the mailbox and then stopped at page 26. Is "transfixed" too strong a word? .....the 4-page "Tribute to Melissa Hayden" -- "America's Ballerina" -- by Dale Brauner, an account of the NYCB Seminar tribute to Hayden which took place on 12/4/06.<<

Thank you Dale for this beautifully detailed (and accurate) article, and thank you Bart for the computer link. I've only had a few minutes to skim this article while at work, but I'll read it in liesure when I get home. Still I'm already very impressed that Dale took the time to get/record the interviews from those who knew Melissa well at various stages in Melsissa's ballet career. The personal touch of each remembrance and those lovely pictures made this article so full of spirit, as was Ms. Hayden. Very nicely done!

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I just wanted to pay my respects, even if delayed, to the late grand dame Mme. Melissa Hayden :tiphat: ,whose presence and trayectory within the ballet world turns to be very special for us cubans being her, back in Havana in 1948, among the brave members to assume the non easy task of founding a small new ballet company to be named Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

R.I.P Mme. Hayden. :bow:

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