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Nora Kaye

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scan of undated Ballet Theatre publicity photo of Nora Kaye.

Kaye, Nora, 1920-1987. Ballet dancer; b. Nora Koreff, married 1st Michael Van Buren, 2nd Isaac Stern, 3d Herbert Ross.

Gala performance: Chor & lib: Antony Tudor; mus: Serge Prokof'ev (1st movement of Piano concerto no. 3 and Classical symphony); scen & cos: Hugh Stevenson. First perf: London, Toynbee Hall Theatre, Dec 5, 1938, London Ballet.//New production: London, Arts Theatre, June 28, 1940, Ballet Rambert.//First U.S. perf: New York, Majestic Theatre, Feb 11, 1941, Ballet Theatre; scen & cos: Nicolas de Molas.//Perf: Canada: Ontario: Ottawa, Capitol Theatre, Nov 18, 1953, National Ballet of Canada; scen & cos: Kay Ambrose.


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I have fond memories of Nora Kaye in this role. The first time I saw her in this role was during BT's '44-'45 season which also featured the guest appearances of Toumanova. We balletomanes, at the time, felt that she was mimicking Toumanova's excesses, which made the performance even more delicious.

I recall reading somewhere that her first husband was James T. Farrell ( of Studs Lonigan fame). She was in her teens at the time, and it was short lived.

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I think it's interesting that at a time when dancers were still Russifying (is that a word?) their names, she Americanized hers...

Kaye was born Nora Koreff in Brooklyn, New York to emigrant parents from Tsarist Russia, but later Americanized her surname
~ Wikipedia (as of 5/21 11:44pm)
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Kaye seems to have been a real character in life. She certainly was a riveting performer in ballets of a certain kind. And she shows up as friend, lover, coworker, and muse in the memoirs and biographies of so many important dance, theater, and movie people.

Does anyone know whether there has been a biography of Kaye? If not, I wonder why not?

The only video I could find of her dancing was a 1960s Bell Telephone Hour Pas de Quatre with Alonso, Hayden, and Slavenska.

I think we posted this on BT a year or two ago. 19th-century Romanticism was hardly one of her strengths, though she does give it a good try. Wouldn't it be great to have videos of Pillar of Fire -- or (even better!) The Cage?

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She had a wonderful relationship with Jerome RObbins -- very hot, from the accounts I've read, completely absorbing.

This is a wnoderful photo.

It's such a hilarious ballet. I saw ABT do it on tour in the era when Baryshnikov had just taken over and the company was so beautiful.

Susan Jaffe did this role; later on in hte program, she also did hte ballerina in Ballet Imperial -- in both of which ballets she makes tremendously grand exits, walking nobly into the wings. In the Tudor, of course, she's sending up the "Russian ballerina" pretentiousness -- but in Imperial, there was a carryover as she walked off with more than usual dignity -- she didn't fade away, and it somehow suggested that she was taking hte ballet into another space entirely, with brighter lights, loftier ceilings, wittier courtiers, heartbreaking poets....

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I think it's interesting that at a time when dancers were still Russifying (is that a word?). . .
Why not?
. . . their names, she Americanized hers...
Well, it seems that changing aspects of one's identity was part of the point, and being Jewish, Nora's Russian name had a different connotation than, say, Markova's. Jews were Anglicizing their names well into the 1960s, and in the '30s and '40s probably more than dancers were Russifying theirs.
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there are clips of Kaye on the swedish tv docu. about Tudor, which as been released commercially tho' i'm not sure if it's still available, as follows:

Antony Tudor / a Gava production in association with NOS Television, Netherlands, Music Department, and SVT 2, Sveriges Television ; a film in English by Viola Aberlé and Gerd Andersson ; produced by Måns Reuterswärd.

1985. (57 min.) : sd., col.

Includes commentaries by Margaret Craske, Agnes de Mille, Nora Kaye, Martha Hill, Sallie Wilson, and Airi Hynninen.

Documentary on the life and career of Antony Tudor. Tudor discusses his childhood, early dance study, influences on his work, the making of his ballets, and his work with Marie Rambert, Ballet Theatre, Nora Kaye, and the Juilliard School.

Film excerpts include Pillar of fire, Jardin aux lilas, Dark elegies, Echoing of trumpets, Leaves are fading, Kinderszenen, and a clip from "Modern ballet: a time to dance", telecast on WGBH-TV, Boston, 1958, in which Nora Kaye, Hugh Laing, and Tudor appear. Tudor is also shown in rehearsal with the Royal Swedish Ballet, and with Nora Kaye.

there was also a much compressed film/kinescope? of GISELLE, as follows in the NYPL cat. entry below, but this has not come on the commercial market, so far as i can tell.

GISELLE 1950. 59 min.

A condensed version, telecast by NBC-TV. Commentator: Ben Grauer.

Choreography: Anton Dolin after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. Music: Adolphe Adam. Decor: Trew Hocker. Cast: Nora Kaye (Giselle), Igor Youskevitch (Albrecht), Diana Adams (Myrtha), Dmitri Romanoff (Hilarion), Mary Burr (Giselle's Mother), Edward Caton (Duke), Norma Vance (Bathilda), Michael Lland (Wilfred) and artists of Ballet Theatre, including: Lillian Lanese, Virgina Barnes, Ruth Ann Koesun, Barbara Lloyd, Jenny Workman, Irma Grant, Isabel Mirrow, Liane Plane, Dorothy Scott, Charlyne Baker, Lila Popper, Jack Beaber, Kelly Brown, James Hicks, Vernon Lusby.

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