About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dance - a collection of quotes and dancers

The quite surprising prefatory Quote: "We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. We should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh." -- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
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Carlos Aceituno (d. 2006) - Guatamalan/American founder of Fogo Na Roupa Grupo Carnaval, master and teacher of capoeira, the Brazilian blend of percussion, dance and martial arts, often called "physical chess".

Fred Astaire - an American film and Broadway dancer, choreographer, singer and actor.

George Balanchine - a choreographer credited for bridging classical and modern ballet. Put together numerous ballet companies, including Ballet Society, which became the New York City Ballet, with dancer R P Beard as a founding member.

Mikhail Baryshnikov - Russian ballet dancer.

Richard Park Beard (1925-2009) - trained by Balachine, Vladiminoff, Anatole Oboukoff, and Muriel Stewart. After joining Cuevas' Ballet International, worked with Bronislava Nijinska, Leonide Massine, Vera Fokina, and Boris Romanoff in ballet, often paired with Tatiana Riabouchinska. When the Company appeared in the Park Theater (in Manhattan), he was taken into the The Ballet Theater by the English choreographer, Antony Tudor, often partnering with Alicia Markova. Became a founding member with Balanchine's New York City Ballet, dancing with ballerinas Marie-Jeanne, Tanaquil Le Clercq, Yvonne Mounsey and Elise Reiman. Did choreography for Television and musicals (with stars Dinah Shore, Danny Kaye and Julie Andrews, as well as Cher, Mitzi Gaynor, Shirley Maclaine, and Doris Day).

"Burn the Floor" - contemporary Broadway production from the Gilkison Studio in Perth. Q.v.

Jean Butler -(born March 14, 1971 in Mineola, Long Island), American Irish dancer and choreographer. Began performing Irish dance at the age of four, trained by the widely respected teacher Donny Golden. Famous for mastery of a cheery step dance. QV. "Riverdance".

Jack Cole - American choreographer/coach and respected dance scholar with a large library. Died 1974 age 62. Product of fatherless home, born in New Jersey, schooled in modern dance ensemble run by Ted Shawn and Ruth St Denis Denishawn. Went on his own to study India's bharata natyam.

Revelations about the influence of Cole in the iconic images of his clients continue to surface. Genre-busting, fusion jazz-based supper club beatnik forms with signature floor work and slides. Moved from New York to Hollywood where he ran a resident dance group, and coached "bombshells": Rita Hayworth ("Mame" 1946), Betty Grable ("Meet Me After the Show" 1951), Mitzi Gaynor ("I Don't Care Girl" 1953), and Bacall, Russell, Ann Miller, Lana Turner, and Dolores Gray. He worked extensively with Marilyn Monroe who was a keen student -- six movies (including 1963 "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".) Her vocal coach Hal Schaefer recalls them working together:

"He [Cole] wanted her to make a move, and she put her arm out. It just kind of drifted. Jack said, 'No, wait. Sharp, I want it sharp!'/ 'But Jack, I'm supposed to be a sex queen,' she said./ And he answered, 'That's not sexy. That's like a limp fish. Put that arm out there, strong! That's sexy! That's life, that's alive, that's energy!" This ancecdote speaks volumes.

Dick Crum - American, prominent folk dance teacher. (Not to be confused with infamous cartoonist.)

Merce Cunningham - (American) - 2010 died in his sleep age 90. Dancer/choreographer, soloist in Martha Graham's company, then his own, with life partner John Cage (music composer). Established "modernism" -- its abstraction, decentralization, I-Ching quality of chance in dance. Cage said they were aiming at "the imitation of nature in the manner of her operation": a bird flies, a rabbit runs, their directions, different. Joan Acocella described his work: "You seemed to be seeing dance for the first time." [Critic, New Yorker 2009]

David Dassa (Israeli/US) - teacher of the ebullient and genial life-loving forms of community dances, including traditional and modern choreography. Israel remains one of the few places on earth with freshly commissioned folk dance masters.

Doris Day - singer and dancer.

Edward Denby - New York dance critic. Good reviews during Dick Beard's dominance in Balanchine's NYCB Company.

Isadora Duncan - Born 1877, San Francisco, school drop out, musician, teacher, now aka the Mother of Modern Dance. Devoted educator, started three schools across Europe (the "Isadorables"). Flouted tradition, became a red (Soviet citizen) with hostility to the "commercialism" of the arts, and declined into drunken-ness as she aged. As she stepped into a wasp-tailed Amilcar designed by a handsome mechanic she had nick-named "Bugatti", she declared "Je vais à l'amour" ("I am off to love".) She hoped to bed the mechanic. Unfortunately, her scarf caught in the rear wheel of the open car, and she was strangled. She had previously lost her two children to automobile accidents. Composer Percy Grainger called Isadora's autobiography a "life-enriching masterpiece". I think she was a delicious poet as well. Writing to one of her lovers, the poet Mercedes de Acosta (in 1927):
A slender body, hands soft and white,
for the service of my delight,
two sprouting breasts round and sweet,
invite my hungry mouth to eat,
from whence two nipples firm and pink,
persuade my thirsty soul to drink,
and lower still a secret place
where I'd fain hide my loving face....
Gosh. Questions anyone?

Agnes De Mille - Great Broadway and ballet choreographer. "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth, and it is yours for the taking."

Jean Erdman - Born in Hawaii 1916, dancer/choreographer, taught at Sarah Lawrence with her husband, Joseph Campbell.  Martha Graham influences.

Vladimir Estrin - "If ballroom tango can be compared to a 'seasoned relationship' that has withstood the test of time--sharp, clean, and precise--then Argentine tango is a 'sizzling love affair', passionate, unpredictable and insatiable." Instructor at 3rd Street Dance, Los Angeles.

Michael Flately - (Born 1958, Chicago) Irish-American dance prodigy, boxer, promoter, and flautist. Began dancing lessons at 11. Flatley was taught by Dennis Dennehy in Chicago, then went on to producing his own shows with his own school, on Chicago's Southwest Side. Began world tours with Green Fields of America, whose members included Liz Carroll, Father Charlie Coen, Jack Coen, Sean McGlynn, Mick Moloney and Bill Ochs, with a slightly less flamboyant Donny Golden dancing alongside Michael. Later he toured with The Chieftains in the 1980s. Co-designed / choreographed the "Riverdance" (qv) phenomenon with Jean Butler (qv). Quote: "I will be a dancer until the day I die."

Loie Fuller - Born in Chicago, 1891 - actress and burlesque skirt dancer, embodied theatrical Art Nouveau movement. Experimented with gas lighting effects on her silk costumes. Fuller developed a form of natural movement and improvisation techniques that were used in conjunction with her revolutionary lighting equipment and translucent silk costumes. She patented her apparatus and methods of stage lighting that included the use of colored gels and burning chemicals for glow and shadow effects. Toured with Duncan and St. Denis in "free dance" expression. Died of breast cancer, age 65, in Paris.

Mata Hari (Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod) - Dutch Parisienne, built up her own stage-spa-fashion house. Introduced oriental influences and a "natural" shape -- undistorted by corsets, bustles, etc. -- but revealed with diaphanous shadows and veils. Wrongfully accused by disappointed suitor of being a German spy, executed by a French firing squad, October 15, 1917. In the year 2017, the French army will release its court-documents about Mata Hari's trial and execution, to the Frisian Museum which has already investigated the charges and the life of this influential woman. There is evidence of injustice, but no evidence of spying.

Garity sisters, Caroline and Kimberly - "The beats and rhythms become stuck in your head, almost in your heart, when you are dancing". [CG] Performers with Kelly School of Traditional Irish Dance, often playing with live pipe and drum.

Mitzi Gaynor - American Motion Picture Actress and Dancer

Jason Gilkison - Australian director dancer choreographer, maternal grandmother having founded the famous family Dance studio in 1931 in Perth, known for raw, personal "edge" and grit. International ballroom champion. Now playing the Longacre theatre in New York, with "Burn the Floor", which aims to reinvent ballroom dancing on Broadway. When associate producer Peta Roby was asked what is the dance, she replied: "It's a cha-cha. It's traditionally an afternoon dance, not like the rumba or tango, which are more sensual evening dances. It's the kind that a young man could dance with his mother or auntie." (!)

Ailes Gilmour - Early Martha Graham dancer, socialist activitst, and sister of Isamu Noguchi

Alexander Godunov - Russian dancer who defected to the West

Jeffrey Golladay - American ballet dancer

Ginger and Fred -- Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

Betty Grable - American Motion Picture Actress and Dancer

Martha Graham - American dancer and choreographer

Yury Grigorovich - Russian dancer and choreographer

Audrey Hepburn - ballerina, stage dancer and movie star

Catherine Hepburn - stage dancer and movie star

Tame Iti - Maori dancer, male lead in 2011 Ponifasio (qv) production, "Tempest".

Joel Jacinto - (Philippine American) founder/teacher of Kayamanan Ng Lahi studio. "Our dancing is a means of cultural empowerment."

Michael Jackson (1958-2009) - singer, song-writer, choreographer and dancer. A prodigy at four, beginning with the Jackson Five, leading to multiple world tours and 40 years of intense performance, crossing generational, artistic, cultural and racial lines. Many technical innovations in hip-hop, pop, and R&B -- "moon walk", costume, and unique speed and hand gestures. "Thriller", "Off the Wall", "Bad", "Dangerous", "HIStory", "Beat it" and "Invincible" are all part of the transformation of multiple cross-over art forms around the core of dance. Died after the last rehearsal of a pre-sold 50-show "This is It" Tour.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival - In Massachussetts US, one of the world's legendary arts organizations, home to America's longest running dance festival, a US National Historic Landmark. Annually, visitors, dancers, choreographers, composers, teachers, experts, and novices converge to explore the art of dance, and themselves. In 2010, more than 50 dance companies performed on three Festival stages. Many photo and program exhibits, galleries, and more. 

Ted Shawn and Ruth St Denis bought 163 Acres in 1931 for the Arts.

Rocio Jiménez - (Mexico/American) dance leader of Jaliscience (1990), and De Colores Mexican Folk Dance Company. Cf qv. Sandoval.

Danny Kaye - forced to leave Russia, a great quintuple threat artist - singing, dancing, choreography, magic and puppetry acts, lyrics and acting.

Gene Kelly - American film and stage dancer, choreographer, singer, actor and film director

Theodore Kosloff - acting as if they personally invented the full-figured fouetté, in 1909 Ballets Russes debuted in France and redefined dance, with such superstars as Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova. Only one of these stars made his way to Los Angeles to achieve fame, and this was Fedor Michailovich Koslov, known as "Theodore" in California. He was also a character actor, fencing master, painter, pantomimist and violinist. (In Russia, dance masters accompanied on fiddle.) He abandoned the hierarchic world of Russian ballet to pioneer in LA. He franchised schools, performed in vaudeville and was a key producer in the Hollywood Bowl. He was the first coach for Agnes DeMille (qv) with whom he had an enduring association, and was able to teach the traditions of movement while introducing (and pilfering) new ideas. Married ballet dancers, three, sequentially, each bearing the brunt of his vodka tempers. The last, Natascha Rambova, left him for Rudolph Valentino after Theodore shot her in the leg. Died in 1956 age 74 with no heirs to his dream dascha deep in the San Fernando Valley. In 1957, his attorney sold the house filled with objets d'art for $175,000.

Rudolf Laban - choreographer, inventor of Labanotation

Louise Lecavalier - Icon of Canadian contemporary dance

Judson Lipply - Dancer "Evolution of Dance" in six minutes, viral video: .

Jung Im Lee - Korean American, teaches in one of the largest Korean dance academies, often combining traditional Korean dance, with hip-hop, ballet, and jazz.

Tracy Li - Chinese ballet dancer who is a senior principail in the Cape Town City Ballet, South Africa

Maude Lloyd - South African ballerina and dance critic

Lydia Lopokova - Russian ballet dancer

Shirley Maclaine - triple threat singing, dancing and acting. Also authored a number of books exploring "consciousness", spirituality, and self-awareness.

Sabrina Matthews - Canadian ballet choreographer and former ballet dancer

Donald McKayle - born in New York, a dancer in Martha Graham and in the original West Side Story, American choreographer. Founder of troupes, Contemporary Dance Group ("Games" 1951), Angelitos Negros. Director, California Institute of the Arts. "Donnie" to his UCI dancers.

Sulamith Messerer - founder of Japanese ballet

Barbara Mettler - founder of Tucson Creative Dance Center, theorist of language of movement and kinesthetic sense, dance as primary art. "Art is not an escape from daily life but a dimension of experience without which human life is incomplete."
[I took some of her classes, did some editing, and helped with the grounds/garden.]

Ann Miller - Great American Tap Dancer, Singer & Actress

Lin Hwai Min, the choreographer and artistic director of the Cloud Gate Dance company from Taiwan

Arthur Mitchell - American artistic director, educator, choreographer and dancer

Arthur Murray - a famous dance instructor and businessman, known for Arthur Murray Dance Studios franchise.

Music Visualization - this modern dance concept calls for movement equivalents to the timbres, dynamics and acoustic shaping in music, including the rhythmic bones. In 1916 Ted Shawn choreographed the first, as "Inventions and Fugues to Bach" as a heuristic exercise.

Natonal Museum of Dance - Saratoga Springs, New York, perhaps the only museum dedicated to professional dance. Associated with Jacob's Pillow (qv).

Vaslav Nijinsky - Russian ballet dancer and choreographer

Ivan Novikoff, Ballet master, founder of Novikoff School of Russian-American Ballet

Rudolf Nureyev - Russian ballet dancer

Leon Neshanian - Armenian ballet dancer; performed for Queen of England (1958); at Opera La Scala (1961); live on KCET - 10/67

Friedrich Nietzsche - (German author, faced with the struggle of the Gods to replace themselves): "I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance." After seeing Lou Salome dance and falling in love with her.

Anna Pavlova - legendary Russian prima ballerina, who brought ballet to the world

Shida Pegahi - traditional Persian dance, now outlawed in Iran under the heretical "fundamentalist" construction of the Quoran. Teaches an emphasis on The Dancing Face -- expressions -- integrated with the choreography and hip/leg/upper body movements.

Plato - (or Socrates, his mentor) In The Laws, Plato writes that dance should be taught to both boys and girls as an integral part of their education. Interestingly, he taught that the children should not only be instructed in the noble and aspirational forms, but also the comic and ridiculous; to show contrast.

Lemi Ponifasio - Samoan choreographer, founder of MAU, collaborator with Helen Todd (lighting). Produced "Paradise", "Requiem", "Bone Flute", and 2011 "Tempest: Without a Body" - he calls it a meditation on life after 9/11.  Features Maori chants, magical creatures, and "ordinary warriors":  He says "We are living in dangerous times. I don't propose solutions, but if we ever stop talking about the terrible things occurring, we are finished."  And "We are so paralyzed and frightened by the political disasters in the world that we are impotent and simply watch. I don't want our lives to be defined by the repetition of the horrors in our history. We have to do something about them. And we can."  He says, "I create to open people's eyes."  The Tempest is Inspired by Paul Klee's painting "Angel of History" (anguished angel unable to prevent evils' repetition), the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, and Shakespeare -- The Tempest' themes of institutional injustice.  Punctuated slow oceanic mythology.  Works with MAU, and the dancer Tame Iti (qv). 

Pearl Primus -

"Riverdance" - world tour of traditional Irish clog and step-dancing, notable for rapid line-syncronized leg movements under stationary arms and erect body. First performed in 1994, with Jean Butler and Michael Flately (to Celtic choral score written by Bill Whelan).

Wade Robson - contemporary Australian/US dancer choreographer, becoming a star at age 5, teacher at 12, choreographer at age 14. At 16 he was invited by Britney Spears to choreograph, write, direct, remix and co-design the world tour, "A Dream withina Dream", and with NSYNC, the PopOdyssey World Tour. EMMY in 1007 for "So You Think You Can Dance" entry, "Ramalama". Working with Cirque du Soleil. Signature dances are story-telling cross-overs.

Ginger Rogers - American film and stage dancer, singer and actress, most remembered as partner of Fred Astaire.

Gema Sandoval - (Mexican/American) Teacher/director of Danza Floricanto in Los Angeles. The passionate and coquettish Mexican folk dance.

Jerry Savin / Asteria Greek Dance - Teaches dance as a celebration of life's peaks and valleys, love and tragedy, the Greek troupe forms intricate lines that re-create Aegean village life.

Ted Shawn - Born Kansas City 1841, died age 80 in 1972, co-founder of Jacob's Ladder (qv), early notable male performer/choreographer of natural style free form modern dance. Partnered with St Denis (qv) to develop the principle of Music Visualization (qv), and Norma Gould, with whom he toured as "Interpretive Dancers". Taught M.Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman. QUOTE: "Dance communicates man's deepest, highest and most truly spiritual thoughts and emotions far better than words, spoken or written".


Dinah Shore - triple threat singing, dancing and acting.

Ruth St. Denis - born 1879. A famous pupil was Martha Graham (qv). Co-founded the school, Denishawn, with her husband Ted Shawn. They helped created the festival, Jacob's Pillow. Showcased modern dance solos in the program, "The Art of the Solo". Influenced by the actor Sarah Bernhardt and Japanese dancer Sada Yacco, developed her translations of Indian culture and mythology. Brought first full-length (8 hour) Balinese Shadow Puppet play to US. She became popular and toured extensively whilst researching Oriental culture and arts, often coupling spirituality.

Muriel Stewart - trained Pavlova.

Twyla Tharp - American dancer and choreographer

Agrippina Vaganova, founder of Vaganova method

Gwen Verdon - Broadway dancer and actress

Ben Vereen - Tony Award winning,Emmy Award nominated actor,dancer & singer

Dame Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet of London

Lula Washington - (Los Angeles / African) dancer, studio instructor - ballet, hip-hop, Senegalese, Caribbean. In 2004, she said "Dance is life. You came into this world moving. Dance can change your whole life."
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