Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Recognition for A Child's Introduction to Ballet

We've just learned that A Child's Introduction to Ballet was selected by the American Book Seller's Association for their "Summer 2007 Children's Book Sense Picks."

This is how they describe it: "After an introduction to ballet history and basic positions, the stories of several ballets, from Giselle to Peter and the Wolf, are presented with accompanying music on CD. A lovely gift for young dancers or Angelina Ballerina fans who are a little older and want to know more."

One of my recent discoveries on YouTube is a collection of clips illustrating various ballet terms in action. You can see dancers performing tours a la second, cabrioles, pas de chat, assemble en tournant, etc.

This Week in Dance History

(I'm not sure how we got started with a Wednesday-Wednesday week, but here we go)

June 6 1968- Following a performance of Romeo and Juliet by Maurice Bejart's Ballet du XXieme Siecle of Brussles at the Coliseum in Lisbon, Mr. Bejart asked for a moment of silence in memory of Robert Kennedy "victim of violence and fascism." After the moment was observed, Bejart launched into a speech that began "Down with all dictatorships." The next day the Portuguese police expelled him from the country.

June 7 1928- Charles Strouse was born. Strouse was a composer, lyricist and arranger on Broadway musicals such as Dance A Little Closer, Bye Bye Birdie and Annie.

June 8, 1912-The ballet Daphnis and Chloe made its debut performed by the Ballets Russes with choreography by Mikhail Fokine and music by Ravel but this first ballet version of the mythological tale was a flop. In 1951 Frederick Ashton revised Daphnis for the Sadler's Wells Ballet with Margot Fonteyn.

June 9, 1923- Broadway producer Lore Noto was born. Noto was most notably the producer of the musical The Fantasticks which ran off-Broadway from 1960 - 2002 (17,162 performances) at the Sullivan Street Playhouse. Noto played Hucklebee (boy's father) in the show for 17 years (6,348 performances).

June 10, 1932- George Balanchine's Serenade was performed at the estate of Felix Warburg near White Plains, New York. It was the first ballet that Balanchine choreographed in the United StatesAlso on June 10, 1948- The Broadway musical Look Ma I’m Dancin’ closed after 188 performances. The production, choreographed and conceived by Jerome Robbins and George Abbott, was a comic story of a ballet company. The story goes like this: Beer heiress funds a ballet company so she can dance, but she’s so dreadful they demote her to dancing the thorn in Spectre of the Rose.

June 11 1996-Ulysses Dove, principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey company passed away. Dove was noted for his commanding presence, bright clarity of movement, and truthful dramatic intensity.

June 12, 1906-At Ellen Terry's Jubilee Matinée, Drury Lane, London, England, 22 members of the Terry family (including Sir John Gielgud
's mother, Kate) appeared in the masked dance from Much Ado About Nothing. The Guinness Book of World's Records notes this as most members of a single family to appear together on stage.

And on this date in 1908-Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova, (above) ballerina and renowned dance instructor, was born. Semyonova's great contribution to the development of Russian classical ballet was in the scope and epic nature of her style in movement and the quiet grandeur and strength of the classical repertory.

June 13 1940- Erick Hawkins (above) made his debut as a solo dancer at Bennington College Theater. H went on to be a soloist and the first male dancer in Martha Graham's company. He remained with Graham until 1950 and greatly influenced her work.

June 14, 1879-Sylvia , a three act ballet, premiered at the Palais Garnier choreographed by Louis Merante to music by Louis Delibes. It did not cause a sensation, but a 1952 revival by Sir Frederick Ashton popularized the ballet. Here you can see a clip of Darcey Bussel and Roberto Bolle dancing a pas de deux from Sylvia.