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Information and Stories about Joyce Cuoco and Balesti Wanted!!

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Hello everyone!

I recently aquired a vintage professional tutu that has 2 names inside. The names are "Joyce Cuoco" and "Balesti". If anyone has information and or stories about these dancers, please post! I would love to learn more about the dancers. I would like factual information (D.O.B., what companys they were in, what they are doing now (if still alive), etc) and personal stories. Thank you so much, I appreciate it!

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Joyce Cuoco danced with a number of companies, including the Boston and Stuttgart Ballets. Have you tried searching Ballet Talk for her name? Should turn up a few topics. The name "Balesti" doesn't mean anything to me :angel_not: , but maybe other members know her.

Can you describe the costume? What color? What kind of adornments?

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The point of contact for Joyce Cuoco and Sandra Balesti was the Radio City Music Hall. I believe that Balesti succeeded Cuoco as a specialty act when the latter pulled up lame with a stress fracture.

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Thank you so much for responding, and please keep them coming! I will keep researching their names, but all of your help is wonderful. The vintage tutu is too beautiful for mere mortals to describe. It has a gold bodice with vintage rhinestones adorning it. The tutu itself has rhinestones scattered around it with larger ones hanging off the bottom of it. There is beautiful golden threads sewn onto the skirt and it came with a circular gold headpiece that looks like it would go around the ballerina's hair bun.

I am intruiged by their histories and would love to hear more. Thank you!

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Thank you so much for responding, and please keep them coming! I will keep researching their names, but all of your help is wonderful. The vintage tutu is too beautiful for mere mortals to describe. It has a gold bodice with vintage rhinestones adorning it. The tutu itself has rhinestones scattered around it with larger ones hanging off the bottom of it. There is beautiful golden threads sewn onto the skirt and it came with a circular gold headpiece that looks like it would go around the ballerina's hair bun.

I am intruiged by their histories and would love to hear more. Thank you!

I believe Joyce C. was a sensation in the 1960's she appeared at Radio City & was on the Ed Sullivan show when she was 12. I'm close to her age so I remember looking at her enviously as a kid. I was told by others that she tried to get into an American company with no success. She went to Stuttgart ballet and matured into a lovely dancer.

My husband remembered Sandra Balesti because he saw photos of her when he was young and thought her beautiful! I think she did some Broadway roles.

I hope others can fill in the blanks, I am curious.

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sounds like a wonderful garment, dancer100. You describe it with such zest, I can feel the magic it has for you.

Where did you find it? Were there others there that you selected this one from? DO you have a collection?

There was a fabulous exhibition here in SanFrancisco recently of costumes frmo hte whole range of SFB's stage life -- a couple from Bolm's dances from le Coq d'Or, danced here in 1933, made by karinska, just fantastic things to be able to stand right next to. A wonderful doublet for Romeo, made of several shades of blue velvet, with gold embroidery and rows of gold beads -- broad shoulders, incredibly narrow wais -- be still, my heart....

MANY wonderful costumes.

Actually, the de YOung museum here has on loan 4 of Pavlova's costumes, which I remember Millicent Hodson telling, she helped Robert Joffrey unpack from a crate back when she was a grad student at Berkeley.... THey belong to UC's Bancroft Library, as part of their Paget-fredericks collectin (he was a friend of Loie Fuller's, an amateur dancer with a great passion for it, and also a capable artist/draftsman, his drawing of Fuller become the model for hte Rolls Royce hood ornament.... The tutus are beautiful, but of course, they're also second-class relics, for some of us ranking with the chains of St Peter....

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It may be that the costume that you describe is shown being worn by Cuoco in a feature page in Dance Magazine in the mid- to late 60s. Use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature at the library to identify the specific issue.

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sounds like a wonderful garment, dancer100. You describe it with such zest, I can feel the magic it has for you.

Where did you find it? Were there others there that you selected this one from? DO you have a collection?

There was a fabulous exhibition here in SanFrancisco recently of costumes frmo hte whole range of SFB's stage life -- a couple from Bolm's dances from le Coq d'Or, danced here in 1933, made by karinska, just fantastic things to be able to stand right next to. A wonderful doublet for Romeo, made of several shades of blue velvet, with gold embroidery and rows of gold beads -- broad shoulders, incredibly narrow wais -- be still, my heart....

MANY wonderful costumes.

Thank you for the wonderful reply, Paul! I am glad to know there are more people who appreciate and love vintage costumes! My costume, nevertheless, ballet in general, does fill me with joy and happiness! I had bought this costume from a lady and this was all the information she gave me about it,

"It belonged to Drew Davis (she has passed away). She was a dancer, she was in Carousel and on the Gary Moore Show. She was also a choreographer for Broadway Shows and at Radio City Music Hall. She did choreography for the Christmas show in the 70's. She was given the tutu by a ballerina from a troup that came through NYC."

She did not tell me about the two names inside the costume! This greatly excited me when I discovered them and set out to learn more about it's history and the dancer's who wore it. Thank goodness this was the only tutu she had, because I could not afford another one or have to choose between two of them!

I do have a collection of my own, although this is my first "real" professional tutu. I collect mostly vintage ballet memorabilia such as signed photos, signed pointe shoes, vintage little girl ballet costumes, vintage books and programs, etc. It is my favorite hobby to collect ballet items, when I am not dancing myself!

Thank you everyone for you replies to my post, and please add more! I am always anxious to learn more about ballet's history. Have a great day!

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Joyce Cuoco was an amazingly talented, precocious young dancer in the 60s. She was a featured guest dancer on the Danny Kaye Show when very young. I remember watching her on television (as a young dancer myself) and being very impressed by her. I know (from reports from my husband who danced with her in LA) that she had a somewhat domineering Mom. I believe that she had a good career dancing in Europe, as has been mentioned. I wonder what she is up to now? If anyone knows, let us in on it!

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Joyce Cuoco is on staff at the Ballet of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. She also is the director of the ballet school of the company. I'm glad you brought up the Mom. She was a trip-and-a-half all by herself.

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Hello everyone!

I recently aquired a vintage professional tutu that has 2 names inside. The names are "Joyce Cuoco" and "Balesti". If anyone has information and or stories about these dancers, please post! I would love to learn more about the dancers. I would like factual information (D.O.B., what companys they were in, what they are doing now (if still alive), etc) and personal stories. Thank you so much, I appreciate it!

Hello, I worked at Radio City Music Hall in the late 60s and early 70s. I was in the ballet group there. I went there becaseu my ballet company was on a layover and I was out of work. So like many ballet dancers out of work, I went to Radio City Music Hall. Joyce was the lead in one of the shows. I believe it was the Christmas Show. I will have to get out my pictures and programs to be sure. She was really incredible. The music was live of course. Some days the orchestra leader was Paul Lavalle. What a trip to try to follow him. Most days, the conductor would follow Joyce but not Lavalle. Joyce would do these pirouettes on pointe....like an incredible amount...he would keep the orchestra playing and then quickly stop hoping to catch her. but she stayed up there just a turning and she always stayed with him. stopping on a dime in the most beautiful fourth postion. And smiling like crazy. After a few performaces like this, we learned to count the pirouettes. She would do like 12....at one time....after the show was over for that perfomance, we would go on stage during the movie to check out the circles where her shoes and rosin left marks. Neat. I always liked to turn so to me she was the best ever. I remember the name Balesti but not as clearly as Joyce. I think she was older and had dark hair. She was friendly. When I think of anything else I will let you know. I will look for the costume in my pictures too.

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Great first post, exbunhead, and welcome to BalletTalk. :shake: I'll bet you have a wealth of stories!

Cuoco does seem to have been the rare prodigy to successfully transition to a mature artist. I'm beginning to regret not having seen her more than once or twice.

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I remember Joyce when she was dancing with Stuttgart. I was a super both in NYC and Philadelphia. I was small and blonde like her, so I identified with her! I remember wonderful balances and of course, her pirouettes!

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Joyce Cuoco as several have mentioned was originally from Boston. As a child she trained with Harriet Hoctor, the acrobatic dancer famous in the 30's and 40's with the Zeigfield Follies. She then trained at Boston Ballet with E. Virginia Williams. The stories about her mother are infamous. She was tiny, and had an amazing ability for turning and balancing. As also said, she was the prodigy of Radio City Music Hall for many years but due to her rather stunted growth could not get a job in a ballet company in the US. John Cranko took her under his wing in Stuttgart, I believe with the stipulation that her mother was to no longer be involved in her career. There she flourished, finally developing into a beautiful young woman. When I was a student she would often visit in Boston and take class. We all idolized her! She was always very nice to us all. My one distinct memory was that a day or two after John Cranko's death she came home. She sat for the longest time with Virginia after class and was so grief stricken as was all the dance world. She later continued her career in Germany. A few years ago I saw a film of her dancing as a mature dancer. She still had amazing balance and turning ability but with the grace and subtleties of a true artist.

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John Cranko took her under his wing in Stuttgart, I believe with the stipulation that her mother was to no longer be involved in her career. There she flourished, finally developing into a beautiful young woman.

...

She still had amazing balance and turning ability but with the grace and subtleties of a true artist.

My memory of Cuoco comes from the early 70's when she was with Cranko's Stuttgart Ballet. Several posters have mentioned her balancing and turning ability and her amazing pirouettes.

When Cranko brought his Swan Lake to NYC, she stopped the show in the Neapolitan Dance in Act 3. She would pirouette 4 times, 5 times, etc...I had trouble counting. The audience would wait and then go wild.

She can be seen on video in the Nureyev/Seymour Giselle where she does Moyna or Zulna(I forget which) and does Olga in Cranko's Eugene Onegin in a German TV production (which hasn't been released commercially in the US, AFAIK)

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I grew up in the Los Angeles area and am, approximately, the same age as Joyce Cuoco. This is what I remember.

I first saw her on the Ed Sullivan show. Just a tiny slip of a dancer, but she came out and balanced prodigiously in an penche arabesque, and then did a promenade in it "en pointe"!!!! She threw in some pirouettes that were no fewer than 5-8 and managed to smile through all of it. Struggling with triple pirouettes at that time, my mouth was dropped open and I wrote down the next time she would appear.

After viewing her many times on television (the Danny Kaye Show included), she stayed in my mind as an image that I had to try to match. Come on now....ha.

I believe that she studied with Irina Kosmovska in Los Angeles, and perhaps a few other teachers, before leaving for Boston. The last time I saw her was when we attended a Bolshoi Ballet performance at the Shrine Auditorium, and I wondered at her rail thin body, translucent skin, and prominent veins sheathed in pastry thin skin. She was with her mother.

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Hello, debhig...I would send you a personal message, but I can't as you are new to the forum. I just want to briefly say that I enjoyed reading your first posts, especially the one in honor and remembrance of your childhood teacher. My husband, Gardner Carlson, grew up dancing in the LA area and briefly partnered Joyce (as I mentioned earlier in this thread) and I was wondering if your paths ever crossed?

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Gina, I know you from San Francisco Ballet. I just saw you and Gardner at the reunion! My name is Deborah Macejunas, now Higginbotham. I loved you and your dancing decades ago, and want everyone to know that Gina is as real, sweet, intelligent in person as she is in print. I remember now that Gardner was a student at Eugene Loring's school. It took me a while to jar my memory, though it is strange our paths never crossed.

Love to you and Gardner and your family! And it was so good to see your smiling faces last March.

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Wow, Deborah! Hello!!! :clapping: It was great to see you, too! This is really a good forum and you will enjoy it! I'm over on BT for Dancers, too, where teachers can share information as well as young and adult dancers.

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I danced in the RCMH Corp de Ballet with Joyce Cuoco. I have 2 lovely stage shots of her in a tutu and wonder if it's the one you have. I wish I could post them. She was a darling little talented girl. Her mother was unbelievable. I've never seen anyone so relentless in pushing a child to perfection. I just read the story about Paul Lavelle conducting. I had forgotten what a challenge it was keeping up with the tempos!

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Hello justdanz5678! Thank you for posting your tidbit about Joyce Cuoco. It is wonderful to read about everyone's memories about Ms. Cuoco. You are so lucky to have been in the RCMH Corps. I would love to hear more about your dancing career as well as any more recollections you remember about Joyce. I absolutely adore her tutu and I am striving to learn more about it's history and about the dancers who wore it. If possible, it would be wonderful if you could scan the photos of Cuoco you have and either email them to me or post them on BT. I would love to see if she is wearing the tutu I have.

Thank you so much for your memories and I can not wait to hear more!

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I remember Joyce when she was dancing with Stuttgart. I was a super both in NYC and Philadelphia. I was small and blonde like her, so I identified with her! I remember wonderful balances and of course, her pirouettes!

She is from Boston indeed. She & I crossed paths long ago in ballet class in Boston as children in the 1960s - before her Boston Ballet days. (I think it was Gertrude Dolan studios). I remember her vividly as a bright-eyed, effervescent young girl who showed off-the-charts promise (and the other posts jolted my memories of her mother). The rest of us were in awe of her and were glued to TV sets when she appeared on the Danny Kaye show. I have never forgotten her name and always wondered what direction her career took. It's been great to hear about her adult career.

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Inquiring Minds who want to know what happended to Sandra Balesti here is the scoop. That name was only used one time during her career and that was because Radio City Music Hall decided that her name was too long for the marquis. From 1970 through to 1980 her full name always appeared as "Sandra Balestracci" She has had a long and auspicious career dancing around the world and is considered a prima ballerina. Desmond Richardson called the a pioneer in dance as we know it today. Besides Radio City Music Hall, Balestracci spent most of her career as a principal dancer with the New York City Opera Ballet. She probably has had the most versitle of careers as a balerina, from classical ballet, her favorite work being with NYCO/ John Butler in Carmina Burana to John Jackson/Peter Genarro's production of Charlie Chaplin playing the title role. She reitred her pointe shoes at the age of 42 to begin her family and moved to Williamsburg Virginia. She is married and has two children. She is artistic director for the American Youth Ballet Company and owner and director of the Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts. She has won Outstanding Teacher at the YAGP in 2002, 2005, & 2008. For a full bio visit her website at www.evspa.org or www.capafund.org.

Hope this helps!

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