Monday, May 26, 2008

This Week in Dance History: May 25-31

May 25, 1878- Dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was born. Robinson became the vaudeville dancer called the "King of Tapology." He danced in films and on Broadway and earned a reputation as the greatest tap dancer of all time.

May 26, 1914-Premiere of The Ballet Russes Le Rossignol (The Nightingale) with choreography by Boris Romanov.

May 27, 1878- Isadora Duncan, the dancer who shocked audiences with her revealing costumes and unique style, was born. With her flowing costumes, bare feet and free flowing hair, she is considered by many to be the "mother of modern dance."

May 28 1924- Composer Mikhail Nosyrev was born in Leningrad, USSR. In 1943 he was arrested and sentenced to death by firing squad for the "treason against the Motherland.” But the charges were reduced to a 10 year sentence which he served in full. The ballet "The Song of Triumphant Love" written by the composer to the short story by Ivan Turgenev ran at the Voronezh State Opera and Ballet Theatre for about twenty seasons.

May 29 1912- Vaslav Nijinsky's first work as a choreographer, L'Apr├Ęs-midi d'un Faune, debuted. The tale of a boy-faun contained vivid adult imagery. The reaction to the program was decidedly mixed. Supporters rose and shouted "Bravo!" and "Encore!" while others booed and jeered. Fights Broke out in the audience. A year later on this date, The ballet Le Sacre Du Printemps, music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky made its debut at the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris

May 30, 1912- Le Figaro printed a front page review of Nijinsky's L'Apres-midi d'un Faune. The review, by Gaston Calmette, blasted the ballet for its "shamelessness." calling it a tale of an "incontinent" faun. Rumors spread that the police would shut down the next performance. The next day the sculptor Auguste Rodin wrote an editorial in praise of the ballet, and Calmette countered with his own review. The controversy sparked an explosion in ticket sales.

May 31, 1931-Juan Carlos Copes was born. The Argentinian was planning to pursue a career in electronic engineering when he decided to enter a dance contest. He beat out 300 other entrants to win the top prize and went on to become one of his country’s greatest proponents of the tango.

And on this date in 1975
- “Do it!” Van McCoy's "The Hustle" tops the Billboard charts.