Saturday, September 6, 2008

This Dance in Dance History: September 6-12

September 6, 1954-Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston, an operetta about Johann Strauss headlining the great Boston Jubilee of 1872, had its premiere at the New Century Theater in New York with music by music by Robert Stolz & Johann Strauss and choreography by George Balanchine. Time Magazine’s verdict: “Far from conveying any of the devilish Strauss charm it babbles about, the book doesn't even billow with good lush operetta sentiment; it is just crushingly dull.” It closed eight days later.

September 7, 1954-Western Symphony had its premiere at the New York City Center. Performed by the New York City Ballet and choreographed by George Balanchine to music by Hershey Kay, it was first presented without d├ęcor and danced in practice clothes. Costumes and sets were added the following year.

September 8, 1935- Prokofiev’s score to Romeo and Juliet was completed soon after the composer’s return to Russia from Paris. It was first performed at a concert in Moscow in October of the same year.

And on this date in 2007-Alex Romero, a dancer and choreographer who directed Elvis Presley’s dancing for the movie “Jailhouse Rock” and also worked with Presley on three other films, passed away at age 94. “A gracefully athletic dancer,” in the words of the Los Angeles Times, Romero got his start in movies in the early 1940s. He was a featured dancer in “On the Town,” a 1949 film that starred Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. He also performed in the 1951 film “An American in Paris,” which also starred Kelly. In addition to Jailhouse Rock, Romero choreographed the Elvis movies Double Trouble, Clambake and Speedway.

September 9, 1958-Waltz-Scherzo choreographed by George Balanchine to music by Tchaikovsky had its premere at the New York City Center performed by the New York City Ballet.

September 10, 1896- Adele Astaire was born. Adele Astaire had a successful vaudelville act with her younger brother Fred Astaire.

And on this date in 1970-The film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Starring Jane Fonda, was released. The film focused on a group of dancers at a grueling dance marathon and was based on a 1935 novel of the same nameby Horace McCoy who worked as a bouncer at several marathons in California.

September 11, 1850- Swedish soprano Jenny Lind was born. She was so popular that many dances were created in her honor: The "Jenny Lind Polka" and "Jenny Lind's Set of Waltz Quadrilles" are two such dances published in an 1858 dance manual. "The Jenny Lind Polka" is believed to be the music New York dancing master Alan Dodsworth played in 1844 when he introduced the polka to America.

And on this date in 1964-The ballet Cinderella to music by Sergei Prokofiev was presented in the United States for the first time by the Kirov Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York with Irina Kolpakaova and Yuri Soloviev.

September 12, 1905- Dancer, director and choreographer Agnes Demille was born. In 1939, she was invited to join the American Ballet Theatre's opening season. Here, she created her first ballet, Black Ritual, in 1940. This ballet became the first ever to use black dancers. In 1942, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a company that came to the United States because of World War II, invited de Mille to choreograph a ballet for their repertory. She created Rodeo, a highly energetic work with a uniquely American spirit that captured its opening night audience so much that it received 22 curtain calls. One critic called it "refreshing and as American as Mark Twain." De Mille went on to choreograph some of the biggest Broadway hits in the 1940s and 1950s, such as One Touch of Venus in 1943, Carousel in 1945, Brigadoon in 1947, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949, and Paint Your Wagon in 1951.