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Account of Capezio Award to Antony Tudor, 1986

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The newly published Grand Suprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman continues to be a jewel mine of memories of the days when New York City was the center of western culture in general and dance culture in particular. Several of us here date back a bit, so here's Lerman's account of the Capezio Award dinner honoring Antony Tudor's long career. The award was given in 1986, but the career -- and the people joined in celebration -- were the giants of the dance world from the 1940s on.

For some two hours, I forgot terrorism, nuclear warfare, and breakdown. I forgot the world of today. Age and time were annihilated. On a dais sat Antony (his face -- the granite look, the straight line from nose to chin tip, the humorous light lurking in the depths of his unblinking eyes; to his right, Nora [Kaye]; to his left, Hugh [Laing]; and, variously, Donald Saddler, Alicia Markova, Agnes de Mille, Bill Schuman, Oliver Smith, Jerry Robbins, Misha [baryshnikov], Natasha [Makarova], Paul Taylor, Martha Hill (she and I sponsored Antony when he was becoming a citizen, but he didn't becuase he would not swear that he would bear arms) and others.

Lerman talks about about the comments made by some of the speakers, and then ...

But none of this is as important as the pure love that was the atmosphere we breathed in that room. For almost two hours, this was the ballet world in all of its former glory -- that tightly meshed world of magical, dedicated people, ultimately as ill-fated as butterflies, the living symbols of transience, these dancers and even choreographers and historians. Memory opens cracks in time everywhere. Hugh kissed me, held me, and suddenly said, "But who are you?" I looked at him, at his thick white hair, his worn face, his ravaged looks, and said, "I'm Leo! Leo Lerman!" He grabbed me tighter, kissed my hand, and wept even more vigorously: "I've never seen you with a white beard! Never!" So that is how time was recaptured.

I recommend this book to anyone lived through those times, possibly knew some of these these people, or at least passed and recognized them on the street, bumped into them in restaurants, and observed them from a distance in the lobby. And to anyone who holds that phenomenonally creative generation in awe.

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I guess I am getting a little heavy-handed in my references to this book. :blushing: I swear, I am NOT acting as a a shill, and have no financial interest in Knopf or in whatever vast German or Australian conglomerate currently owns it. Many books and biographies -- ballet, modern, art, theater, etc. -- dealing with this period in New York are equally fascinating.

You, atm713 and a few more of us on Ballet Talk are fortunate to have been around -- some earlier in the history of this outpouring of dance creativity, others towards the end. Did we realize just how lucky we were? I wonder. Possibly every generation takes for granted what it has and complains more than it should about what it doesn't have.

I'm curious, are there any others here who remember these artists as living members of the New York (and international) ballet scene?

P.S. Hope you enjoy the book, Farrell fan, despite the inexplicable absence of a certain NYCB prima ballerinal from the index. :dry:

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When I was at UC Irvine in the 70s doing a second-Bac in Fine Arts/Dance the program was run by Eugene Loring. Antony Tuder came each spring to teach and set some performances. I was in awe of him. One day while looking for a quiet place to eat my lunch I saw Tuder sitting alone with his lunch. I was too frightened to actually speak to him and sort of slunk away to leave him to his solitude. But, it struck me that this world-renowned artist looked quite lonely and sad. Maybe I'm projecting and he was happy to be away from all those annoying young students. In 1984 I attended An Afternoon with Agnes DeMille - I loved her. I believe by then she had had a stroke and when the curtain parted she was seated on stage. She was so full of pee and vinegar, as my mother would say. I love her memoirs, Where the Wings Grow and Speak to Me, Dance With Me. I'd love to read Lerman's book, thanks for bringing it to our attention, Bart.

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