Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Week in Dance History: September 20-27

September 20, 1967-The ballet Astarte created and choreographed by Robert Joffrey was first presented by the City Center Joffrey Ballet at the City Center, New York with Trinette Singleton and Maximiliano Zomosa. Described as “choreo-cinema,” Astarte featured acid-rock music, film segments and disco-style lighting.

And on this date in 1996- Paul Draper, the dancer credited with creating ballet-tap (a mixture of ballet and tap dancing) passed away. In a 1948 review, John Martin, dance critic of The New York Times, likened his feet to fingers on a keyboard. ''His touch is sensitive, full of dynamic shading,'' Mr. Martin wrote. ''His phrasing is beautifully free and rhythmic, and against the background of his carefully chosen music he invents the most delicate and rapturous counter phrases.''

September 21, 1998- Russian deputy prosecutor general Aleksandr Zviyaguintsev announced that Rudolf Nureyev was posthumously rehabilitated. The dancer had been sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison when he defected to France in 1961.

September 22, 1964-Fiddler on the Roof, a musical by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, based on the stories of Sholem Aleichem with choreography by Jerome Robbins opened at the Imperial Theater in New York City. Wallace Muro, a dancer who performed in the production said, “There was a rule about the bottle dance. Periodically one of the dancers had to drop his bottle… Jerry Robbins wanted it to be exciting. He felt that the audience needed to understand that those bottles weren’t glued on—they were really balanced.”

And on this date in 1996- Ludmilla Chiriaeff, the Canadian ballerina and founder of Les Ballets Chiriaeff and the Academy of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and L'Ecole Supérieure des Grands Ballets Canadiens, passed away at age 72. In October of 1993 she had received the Governor General's Award for performing arts in recognition for her exceptional contribution to culture in Canada.

September 23, 1996- Alberto O. Herrera, father and lawyer of ballerina Paloma Herrera of the American Ballet Theater, filed suit against designers Paloma Picasso and Carolina Herrera for the right to register his daughter's name as a trademark. Paloma Picasso launched her perfume bearing her name in 1984. Carolina Herrera introduced a perfume called "Herrera" in 1988. Both opposed the trademark.

And on this date in 1987-Bob Fosse passed away at age 60. Fosse’s choreographic style was heavily influenced by his early burlesque experiences. He toured with his own dance act, The Riff Brothers, when he was only 13. His stage productions as a choreographer include The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, Pippin and Chicago. His film musicals include Sweet Charity and Cabaret for which he won an Oscar. His last musical film All That Jazz is believed to be autobiographical.

September 24, 1932- Svetlana Beriosova the Lithuanian-born classical ballerina known for her 20 year career with England's Royal Ballet was born. Ballet Magazine said of the ballerina: "Tall, serene and beautiful, she danced the classics with a slightly remote, mysterious air, through which on rare occasions broke a wonderful sense of humour - she was for instance the great Swanilda of her generation; and towards the end of her career she created a series of roles which wonderfully used her maturity."

September 25, 1905
-Harriet Hector, known as "America's Most Cleverest Ballerina," was born. She was famous for her backbends and stunts like tapping up and down an escalator en pointe.

September 26, 1917-Vaslav Nijinsky danced with Diaghilev and Ballet Russes for the last time in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

September 27 2003
- Donald O’Connor the actor and song and dance man best known for the “Make ‘Em Laugh” number in the film Singin’ in the Rain passed away at age 78. He also appeared in such '50s musicals as "Call Me Madam," "Anything Goes" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." He also starred in the Francis the Talking Mule series.