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Dance on American tv in the 50s: A useful summary of variety shows

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For those interested in the those early days of dance on American television, I just came across an article by Ann Barzel, "The Moving Image: dance and television," originally published by Dance Magazine.

Barzel gives a quick overview of the astonishing number of variety shows on t.v. in the 50s -- and a catalogue of a few of the dancers who appeared on them. For some it will jog memories. For others, it will give a glimpse of the a very different media world in which dancers, including ballet dancers, played a surprisingly big part.


Here's a bit from the article:

Choreographer [James] Starbuck of Your Show of Shows, an alumnus of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo often invited Alicia Markova, Maria Tallchief, and Frederick Franklin to guest on the program. But high art had to follow television's rules, such as "no men in tights"; when Starbuck danced the pas de deux from Les Sylphides with Markova, he wore trousers. Another TV no-no was bare feet; then modern dancers tripped into America's living rooms, they wore sandals.

The super host for dancers was Ed Sullivan. On his Toast of the Town (later called The Ed Sullivan Show), he introduced the American public to Margot Fonteyn, Nora Kovach and Istvan Rabovsky, Jean Babilee, Jose Greco, Roland Petit's Ballets de Paris, and the Royal Danish Ballet. Hosted by Sullivan, the Sadler's Wells Ballet danced Les Patineurs for an audience of eighteen million. A Sullivan coup was securing the Moiseyev Folk Dance Ensemble for his entire one-hour show. To satisfy public demand, he soon repeated the whole show -- an unprecedented encore.

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