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said to be an American Ballet trio from the '30s

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the attached scan has the following minimal information handwritten on the back:

<<American Ballet at Met 1935 - 38>>

there's also a rubber stamp indication of "Met Opera Archives."

there is no further information.

my wild guess would be, perhaps Balanchine's DREAMS, but tho' the silhouette is similar, in detail these do not look like Derain's designs for SONGES, so i'm at a loss to suggest the photo's subject - or the dancers depicted.

any insights from BT members with an sense of American Ballet history, etc. would be much appreciated.


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i quite agree with the energy in the photo - plus the sheen on the pointeshoes is notable - this was the blissful age before pancaked and otherwise dull and dingy pointeshoes.

overall it's reminiscent of a Brodovitch photo minus the artful blurs.

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yes, it says 'Richard Tucker,' and the prodding above sent me to the Dance Collection cat. where there are some 40 entries for Richard Tucker, photographer, of various ballets in the '40s - none identified in the library's collection have descriptions that easily fit this photo.

so the unknowns continue...

the NYPL listing doesn't say much:

<<Tucker, Richard.

Photographer, Boston, 1937. >>

(not sure what the date means, except perhaps the date the earliest work in the Dance Coll. archives)

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Arlene Croce has suggested REMINISCENCE, before adding: "we can only guess."




Music: By Benjamin Godard, orchestrated by Henry Brant.

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Production: Scenery and costumes by Sergei Soudeikine. Scenery constructed by New York Studios; costumes executed by Helene Pons Studio.

Premiere: March 1, 1935, American Ballet, Adelphi Theater, New York. Conductor: Sandor Harmati.

Cast: Brighella, Eugene Loring; ENTREE: 12 women; PAS D'ACTION: Kathryn Mullowny, Charles Laskey, 4 men, 12 women; VALSE CHROMATIQUE: Leda Anchutina; BARCAROLE: Elena de Rivas; CANZONETTA: Sylvia Giselle [Gisella Caccialanza]; FRAGMENT POÉTIQUE: Annabelle Lyon; TARANTELLA: Ruthanna Boris, Joseph Levinoff; SATURN: Paul Haakon (guest artist); PAS DE TROIS: William Dollar, Holly Howard, Elise Reiman; FINALE: Entire cast.

Note: A classical divertissement set in a ballroom: A welcome to the audience is followed by the entrée of the corps, principals in variations, coda, grand finale.

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When did Martin write that? I'm wondering which version he used to make the comparison. In the original "Serenade" there were many solos. According to the Balanchine Catalogue, in 1936 a man was added to the waltz, and in 1940 for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, all of the female solos were given to a single soloist, with a "supporting female dancer" and the Scherzo a la Russe was added. There were also multiple versions as the solos were redistributed:

Although the steps have remained basically the same, solo measures have been allocated in various ways, most frequently to three ballerinas and two male dancers (New York City Ballet variations have included, among others, five ballerinas [1950, London], four ballerinas [1953, 1955, 1958], three ballerinas [1959]).


The original version with changing soloists throughout might have seem less structured and coherent, while the single ballerina version may have imposed a hierarchy that the current version does not, especially when the current version ties together the three female leads in the last movement.

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When did Martin write that?
Cited in Duberman, The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, p. 183. This was at the time of the dress rehearsal prior to the premiere of both works in February, 1935.

I believe that this was the period in which Martin was generally rather negative and obtuse about Balanchine -- and about ballet, which he believed to be out-of-date and no longer relevant to modern society -- before he saw the light. :wacko:

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overall it's reminiscent of a Brodovitch photo minus the artful blurs

I hunted through Brodovitch too -- even his ballet proof sheet outtakes -- and thought it might be Septieme Symphonie because of the laurel leaves in one of the dancers hair, but I couldn't match the ribboning on the dress and SS seems too robust a ballet. Could it be the Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda?

The photo itself is indeed very well thought out and more sensitive to the choreography than most and does have a touch of the Brodovitch style to it. And Irving Penn's style too -- his Bacchus and Ariadne.

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Off Topic

before he saw the light

John Martin begin liking Balanchine in the late forties, but it was the premiere of Agon in 1957 that changed his critical life. He was then able to see the co-billed Apollo -- which he had picked away at for years -- in a totally new way. Such is human nature and its messy U-turns.

But I think Martin was just following the other critics, and it seemed fairly fashionable to be dismissive of Balanchine in the thirties. Anatole Chujoy, Arnold Haskell ("Balanchine's ballets were ingenious and intensely personal distortions of classicism that promptly dated as none of the earlier Diaghileff ballets had done") and Adrian Stokes had great reservations about Balanchine. (Stokes loved Cotillon and wrote at length about it and its intriguing to and fro tennis court movements but said, "if the majority of the pieces in the repertoire belonged to the Cotillon type ... modern ballet would die".)

What Caryl Brahms said in 1936 seems to echo the sentiments of the other critics:

The problem of Georges Balanchine is the problem of Peter Pan -- the problem of the child who does not want to be a grown up ... the toys of Balanchine's nursery days were the gymnastic movement, the angular line, and the italicised group ... He finds it hard to put away these nineteen-twentyish baubles ... Yet the exciting and very lovely groupling in Appollon Musagettes made that otherwise rather arid production a notable work ... Whatever the defects of a Balanchine work, it will still bear the unmistakable imprints of a master's touch. It cannot be said of Balanchine that he has never found his true collaborators, for he seems happy enough in any company that he is called upon to keep. Can it be that he has never really found himself?
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The photo itself is indeed very well thought out and more sensitive to the choreography than most ...

I agree about the 2 dancers to the left. They seem captured in the midst of actual movement, which was rare (I think) at the time. The center dancer, reaching out, conveys great feeling.

The position of the dancer to the right seems strange to me: the flat foot, etc., I assume she was on her way to something. Is she leading the other two? Her headdress has a look of the Statue of Liberty's, in this light at least, which can't be possible ... CAN it? :wacko:

Does anyone have any guess as to what these three women are actually doing? They seem to be connected, and in a significant way, not just 3 dancers caught at random in a single frame. Reminiscences had a pas de trois, but it consisted of 2 women and a man.

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