Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Latest News from Moscow

You may also notice that we've added a new feature to the right, a listing of our ballet school friends. If Valery Lantratov has taught at your school, or will be teaching at your school, and you have a Web page that is not listed here, please let us know.

I spoke briefly to Valery Lantratov by phone in Moscow, and he told me about the Russian National Ballet Foundation's world premiere production of "The Snow Maiden," now in dress rehearsals in Moscow. It is being produced with the Natalya Sats Theater, or as those rather formal Russians like to say it: "Moscow State Academic Children's Music Theater named in honor of N. I. Sats."

Within the next few days I should have pictures, video, sketches and all kinds of information on this exciting new production. I will share the information with you as it comes in. We have just reserved a booth at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference in New York this January. This is where the folks who produce and present performing arts of all kinds gather to show their "products" to prospective buyers.

It is very much like a conference for any other industry, but the products and services are orchestras, modern dance, jugglers, educational shows for kids and Buddhist chants. It's a lively environment and we will be there to present the foundations new Snow Maiden and the ever-popular Nutcracker. Valery Lantratov may be convinced to come out of (semi) retirement to reprise his critically acclaimed role as Drosselmeier for U.S. audiences. Stay tuned. As I write this, Valery is preparing The Nutcracker for another tour of Cyprus in December.

On the homefront, we've gotten into the holiday spirit. We created some holiday greeting cards to send to our friends, and we decided to share them with you. The cards are based on an etherial charcoal rendering of a Russian National Ballet Foundation ballerina in Swan Lake costume, bathed in green and red holiday light. (Shown below) You can buy them as post cards, greeting cards, or note cards. All are blank inside. Available at our on-line store. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to order)

If you do plan to order copies of A Child's Introduction to Ballet for the kids on your Christmas list, we hope you will consider ordering books directly from us. Our contract on this book does not give us royalties. So if you do plan to buy, please think of us before Amazon. Thanks! (There is a link to the right to order)

This Week in Dance History: October 22-31

October 23, 1932: The Dancing Teachers Business Association of New York City met for the first time. It would later evolve into the organization known as Dance Educators of America.

And in 1972: The musical Pippin, with choreography by Bob Fosse, had its Broadway premiere. The clip below is from a more recent touring production of Pippin.

Oct 24, 1989: The Serge Lifar international ballet competition was held for the first time in Paris, France. The first winner was Vladamir Malakhov.

Oct 25, 1996: Dancer Eugène Polyakov passed away at age 53. Trained at the Bolshoi Ballet, he left for Italy in 1973, and assisted Rudolf Nureyev at the Paris Opera Ballet from 1983. His brief New York Times obituary is available on line.

October 26 1656: A law was passed in New Amsterdam (now New York City) forbidding dancing on the Sabbath.

October 27, 1892: Vicente Escudero, a gypsy dancer widely respected for his mastery of flamenco dance, was born.

Oct 28, 1928: Florence Klotz, Six-time Tony-winning costume designer, was born. Her designs were featured in such productions as Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, On the Twentieth Century, Rags, City of Angels, Kiss of the Spider Woman and dozens more Broadway shows.

Oct 29, 1919: The Trinidad-born American modern dancer, choreographer, scholar Pearl Primus, who combined African, Caribbean, and African-American styles passed away at age 75. She is featured in the PBS documentary Free To Dance. The link above is to her biography on the PBS web page.

Oct 30 1924: Russian-born French ballet dancer/choreographer, Serge Golovine, was born. He was remembered by Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times as "one of the greatest dancers of his generation.. As popular as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov in later years, Mr. Golovine was known for the airborne quality, lightness and virtuosity of his dancing. His best-known roles were the Blue Bird in 'The Sleeping Beauty,' where the articulation and elegance of his footwork were seen to their best advantage, and the title role of 'Le Spectre de la Rose.' He was also greatly praised for his poignant portrayal of Petrouchka, which he danced at the Paris Opera in the 1970's." He became a leading teacher at the ballet school of the Paris Opera.

Oct 31 1956: The Royal Ballet, formerly Sadler's Wells, was granted a Royal Charter.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This Week in Dance History: October 15-22

October 15, 1581- The first production that resembled ballet as we know it today was commissioned by the Queen of France, Catherine de Medicis to celebrate the wedding of her sister Marguerite de Lorraine to the Duc de Joyeuse.

October 16, 1942- Agnes De Mille Choreographs Rodeo, the first "Americana" ballet successfully performed by Ballet Russe. After the success of Rodeo, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein invited de Mille to choreograph their new musical, Oklahoma! She would go on to be known as one of Americas most prominent choreographers. "If it is possible for all movement, growth and accumulated power to become apparent at one single point," she once said, "then my hour struck at 9:40, October 16, 1942." If you would like to use this ballet as a teaching tool, New York Kids Arts put together a curriculum guide originally designed for the American Ballet Theater production.

And on this date in 1997- German dancer and performance artist Lotte Goslar (pictured below) passed away in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. After leaving Germany in the wake of Adolf Hitler's rise to power, Goslar collaborated with Bertolt Brecht and created "The Pantomime Circus" which toured extensively.

October 17, 1933- George Balanchine arrives in the United States.

And on this date in 2001- Twenty-Six years after the musical Jeeves debuted in London, its American version By Jeeves begins Broadway. The musical would go on to have a 10-week run, Webber's shortest on Broadway.

Oct 18, 2000- Actress and dancer Gwen Verdon passed away. Upon her death, Broadway dimmed its lights in tribute. The daughter of a vaudevillian and an MGM studio electrician, her legs were misshapen by a childhood illness and she had to wear corrective boots. She quickly overcame this obstacle and appeared on stage as a tap dancer at the tender age of 6. She got her big breakin Bob Fosse's "Damn Yankees" in 1955. She married Fosse in 1960 and separated from him, although never divorcing him, in the mid 70's. Verdon won four Tony Awards over her three-decade stage career, for Can-Can in 1953; Damn Yankees in 1955; New Girl in Town in 1958 (in a tie with Thelma Ritter); and 1959 for Redhead. She was also nominated for her portrayals in Sweet Charity and Chicago. Verdon and her daughter, Nicole, created the current stage musical "Fosse".

Oct. 19, 1927- The first American ever to become the première danseuse étoile at the Paris Opéra Ballet, Marjorie Tallchief, was born in Oklahoma the daughter of a leader of the Osage Native-American tribe. While, perhaps, not as well know as her sister, Marira, she was a legendary ballerina in her own right. While still in her teens, Marjorie became a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre and at 19 became a ballerina of the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. For 20 years she danced throughout Europe along side her husband, the dancer and choreographer George Skibine. She was also the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Also, on this date, in 1976- U.S. President Gerald Ford signed copyright legislation that for the first time specifically recognized choreography and pantomimes.

Oct 20, 2000- In a landmark decision by the U.S. Southern District Court in Manhattan, it was ruled that the use of the term "pilates" could not be restricted by trademark. Thus you can use the term freely as you would "aerobics", "yoga" or "sit-ups" without paying a royalty to anyone.

October 21, 1858- The famous Can-Can dance was performed for the first time in Paris.

And on this date n 1892- Lydia Lopokova ballerina with Diaghalev's Russian Ballet, was born. On this same date in 1940, Kirov and American Ballet Theater star Natalia Makarova was born.

October 22, 1883- New York's Metropolitan Opera House opened.

Resource of the Day

You can find a variety of interesting historic photos of dancers and ice skaters on the Virtual Film History web page.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This Week in Dance History: October 8-14

Oct 8, 1961: Jerome Robbins Ballet USA, which consisted of The Concert, Afternoon of a Fawn, and New York Export: Opus Jazz Moves, opened on Broadway at the ANTA Playhouse. It ran for 24 performaces.

October 9, 1972: Broadway premiere of "Dude" The Motorcycle Musical.

October 10, 1684: Birth of artist Antoine Watteau, whose work reflects the influence of the opéra ballet. (The link takes you to his biography on the Web page of the Metropolitan Museum of Art where you can also find an essay on the theme of ballet in art.)

October 11, 1918: Jerome Robbins was born. He went on to choreograph thirteen Broadway shows including On the Town, The King and I, Peter Pan, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof and to directed, and choreograph the musical and film West Side Story and the quintessentially American ballet Fancy Free. (The clip below shows a performance of a scene from West Side Story at a Tony Awards telecast)

Oct 12, 1892: Imre Kiralfy creates a "grand dramatic, operatic, and ballet spectacle" to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in America.

Oct 13, 1998: Victor Ullate's Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid becomes the first Spanish ballet company to present the full-length "Don Quixote" in the United States.

October 14, 1939: The film "On Your Toes" is released. The film is the story of a vaudevillian who convinces a visiting Russian director to compose a ballet called "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Resource of the Day: Dance Channel TV

A few days ago I wrote about a New York Times article which lamented the lack of classical ballet on television. It's the Internet to the rescue! If you long to see the Kirov on a screen in your house, but your cable company isn't cooperating, try your computer screen.

We've just discovered Dance Channel TV. It features free, high quality videos. most of which you can watch for free. Right now their offerings include performances by ABT, The Joffrey, Los Angeles Ballet, An Evening of Balanchine, Eifman Ballet and the Kirov. There are short documentary clips on Vladimir Vasiliev in Spartacus, on Rudolf Nureyev and (for a fee) you can rent a documentary on Alexander Godunov. There is also a section with interviews of ballet stars. If you run out of ballet, you can view other "channels" with different dance styles. Recommended!