Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Day in Dance History: December 15

Dec 15, 1879- Rudolf Laban, inventor of the labanotation system of dance notation, was born.

Also on this date in 1944- Ballet International performed Mad Tristan choreographed by Leonide Massine against a set painted by the surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Time magazine wrote of the performance: "When Salvador Dali's ballet, Mad Tristan, opened in Manhattan in 1944, it provided one critic with 'a 25-minute yawn.' Most other balletgoers yawned, too, if not so long-windedly, and Mad Tristan flopped."

And on this date in 1986-Serge Lifar passed away at age 81. "Universally dubbed one of ballet's greatest egocentrics (even by his admirers)," wrote Anna Kisselgoff, "he has also been recognized (even by his detractors) as the major figure in the renewal of 20th-century French ballet. Yet, perhaps in the long run he will and should be remembered for the ideas and actions that were forerunners of many of the premises we now take for granted in dance." (You can read the entire obituary by following the link above.)