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'A Loftier Flight'

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"The House of the Good Shepherd has been serving survivors of domestic violence since 1980. This continues the vital mission of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd who since 1859, have been carrying on the ministry of hope and healing in Chicago for women, girls and families wounded by life", reads the program for today's 95th Annual Brunch fundraiser which honored Gerald Arpino, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.

For The House of the Good Shepherd, the Joffrey's Pierre Lockett performed one of Gerald Arpino's works, and in the verbal auction, two sets of four Nutcracker tickets in Mr. Arpino's box at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre raised seventeen thousand dollars.

At this fundraiser I met Sister Mary Grace Swift, who wrote the first biography in English of Charles-Louis Didelot.

Mary Grace Swift, born in Oklahoma, entered the Ursuline Order in 1947 and was educated at Creighton University and Notre Dame University in history and Russian studies. Her first book 'The Art of the Dance in the U. S. S. R.' was published in 1968.

In 1973 her manuscript on Didelot was awarded the first de la Torre Bueno Prize for the best unpublished book-length manuscript in the field of dance.

In 1974 'A Loftier Flight, The Life and Accomplishments of Charles-Louis Didelot, Balletmaster' was published by Wesleyan University Press and Pitman Publishing.

From the jacket of the book: "Charles-Louis Didelot was one of the greatest figures in ballet in the period preceding the Romantic. He was a balletmaster in the fullest sense of the word: an exacting teacher-director, whose many contributions included dancing en pointe and mime; a highly imaginative choreographer, who often collaborated with his composers and even instructed the orchestra; an innovative scenographer, whose insistence on authenticity and realism in costuming and staging revolutionized the production of ballet. Above all, he was a perfectionist; and in Revolutionary Paris, in Regency London and in Imperial Petersburg Didelot singlemindedly pursued his career, ignoring royal imperatives and fighting court intrigues and theatrical politics to realize as fully as possible his larger vision of the dance."

From browsing the book I know it will go on my list of must reads. The little I have perused is engaging and accessible.

Sister Mary Grace Swift told me that the book can be found at Ebay and Amazon. Though she leaves for Ireland tomorrow, I hope to have my own copy for her to sign the next time we meet.

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