Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This Week in Dance History

Before we cover the events from this week in dance history, I want to remind you about Valery Lantratov's podcast, if you haven't had a chance to listen yet.

June 15- is the feast day of St. Vitus, patron saint of dance. Vitus is also the patron saint of young people and dogs. (If you are a dancing dog this is doubly your day.)

July 16, 1961- "My nationality is dance. My home is the stage," said Rudolf Nureyev, when he requested asylum in France while in Paris with the Kirov ballet. (Image to the left is Valery Lantratov, Rudolf Nureyev and Timour Faiziev taken during Nureyev's "Farewell" tour in 1991)

Incidentally, a new biography of Nureyev by Julie Kavanagh is slated to be published in the UK in September and in the U.S. in October. The link is to the UK version of which has an advance cover image and description posted.

June 17 1986-“Mummenschantz: The New Show” featuring the German performance art mime troupe premiered at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York. It would go on to run for 152 performances.

June 18 1918- The Zigfeld Follies of 1918 opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater. The follies were elaborate reviews inspired by the Folies Bergères of Paris conceived and mounted by Florenz Ziegfeld.

June 19, 1941-Natalia Bessmertnova was born in Moscow. For three decades she was the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. Robert Joffrey said of her: "Natalia Bessmertnova brings her special sensitivity to her dancing and we have all been enriched for it. Her romantic, lyrical Giselle and her spitfire Kitri in Don Quixote have illuminated the roles and shown us her true range as an artist. She and the Yuri Grigorovich choreography have been a perfect match, delighting audiences around the world."

And on this date in 2003- A fire broke out in the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater in downtown Moscow just before the start of a performance of the ballet Giselle. About 1,000 people were evacuated from the theater. No one was hurt.

June 20, 1956-Vasily Tikhomirov (above), ballet dancer and influential teacher of the Bolshoi Ballet, passed away. Tikhomirov was known for creating roles in a vigorous, athletic style that he later taught to students at the Bolshoi school. With his wife, Yekaterina Geltzer, he helped preserve classical ballets after the Revolution of 1917.

June 21, 1850- Dancer and ballet master Enrico Cecchetti was born in the dressing room of a theatre in Rome. As a dancer he was known for his amazing leaps, and multiple pirouettes. He created and performed the virtuoso role of the Blue Bird and the mime role of Carabosse in the premiere of Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. As a ballet master at the Imperial Ballet Theater, he guided such luminaries as Anna Pavlova. The Cecchetti method of ballet training prescribes a strict exercise routine using the five positions and seven basic movements of classical ballet. His technique was the basis of Britain's Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. The Cecchetti method has some differences from what is known in the U.S. as the Vaganova or Russian method.

Resource of the Day

If you live in a major city, or plan to visit one this summer, the online edition of Time Out can help you plan for dance viewing. Some cities, such as London and New York, include longer dance interviews and features. The current issue of the New York edition has an interview with Alessandra Ferri. The London edition has an interview with Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan among its many features. The Chicago edition has a dance blog that mostly covers local events, but also has some content such as book recommendations that cover dance in general.

New Classes

We have one new class to announce. We'll be in Wauseon, Ohio at the Stars Unlimited Studio on Saturday, July 21 from 5:30-7. (We'll be arriving earlier for some private instruction). More classes to be announced in the next few days.

Dance Quote of the Day

“In pursuit of contemporary ideals, our stage lost sight of what may seem a paradox but is a truth—that the ends of choreographic beauty are not always best served by perfect physical harmony. Some of Taglioni’s most exquisite poses had their origin in the fact that her arms were disproportionately long.”-Tamara Karsavina, Russian ballerina. (The video below is of Karsavina)