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.