Hubert Julian Stowitts

The Photographs and Artwork of Hubert Julian Stowitts

Born in Rushville, Nebraska, in June of 1892, Hubert Julian (Jay) Stowitts was an American painter and ballet dancer. Raised in the Lakota Souix area of South Dakota, he moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1911. Upon his arrival, Stowitts enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where, as a gay student, he became a successful college athlete, captained the university’s track team, and acted in several student theater productions. 

Captivated by a ballet performance seen in San Francisco, Stowitts decided to begin private dance lessons. He became an accomplished dancer and performed both on the public stage and at private parties for  San Francisco’s upper class residents. Stowitts kept his dancing secret from his parents for much of his college years; he graduated from the University of California in 1915 with a degree in Commerce. 

In the summer of 1915, while dancing at the Greek Theatre, a large amphitheater owned by the University of California, Julian Stowitts impressed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who was in attendance. He accepted an invitation to join her dance company and dropped plans to attend graduate school at Harvard. Stowitts, the first American to star with a Russian ballet troupe, traveled as a successful dancer for six years throughout Europe and the Americas. Leaving Pavlova’s company, he moved to Paris and started a solo career with performances throughout Europe, including a starring role with the Folies Bèrgere in 1924.

During his solo career, Stowitts executed choreographies for other dance companies, designed sets and costumes, and continued  his painting. In 1925 at the age of thirty-three, he retired from dancing and pursued a new career as a painter and occasional film actor. Stowitts traveled through the Far East in the late 1920s, where he lived and painted  in Java for a year. After a stay in Indonesia, he lived in the southern part of Asia for several years and, during this stay, created a series of one hundred and fifty-five canvases entitled “Vanishing India”. After his return to Europe in 1931, Stowitts’s  painted depictions and scholarly studies of traditional Indonesian and Indian dance and costume enjoyed wide popularity in the 1930s.

For the art exhibition at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Julian Stowitts presented a series of fifty-five paintings depicting American male athletes in the nude, which caused a sensation among the attendees. While in Berlin, he assisted German film director Leni Reifenstahl on her “Olympia”, released in 1938 as the first feature film documentary of an Olympic Games, later used by the Nazis as a propaganda film. Due to her fame and influence, Riefenstahl was able to protect Stowitts from persecution for being gay; but his exhibition was closed by the Nazi regime because of their objection to the manner in which Stowitts depicted Jewish and African-American athletes. 

Returning to California in 1937, Stowitts struggled financially as his artwork began to lose public interest. He found, with the assistance of friends, some security with employment as a house caretaker in the Los Angeles area. Stowitts continued to lecture on Indian and Javanese culture and to paint privately for the remainder of his life. The last of his painting series, uncompleted due to illness, was “The Labors of Hercules”, in which actor and body builder Steve Reeves served as the model. Hubert Julian Stowitts died in San Marino, California on February 8, 1953.

The papers of American dancer and painter Hubert Julian Stowitts, including biographical materials, correspondence, and exhibition and performance related materials are available for research at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. 

Matthew Bourne: “Swan Lake”

Matthew Bourne, “Swan Lake”

Craig Schwartz, Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” (Dance Troupe), 2019

Johan Persson, Bourne’s “Swan Lake” (Matthew Ball and Liam Mower), 1995

English choreographer and director Matthew Bourne was born in Hackney in 1960. Leaving full time eduction in 1978, he received employment at routine positions in the arts field; in addition to this work, he directed various amateur dance companies. Bourne enrolled, at the age of twenty-two, in London’s  Conservatoire of Music and Dance, formerly the Laban Centre. For his final year, he danced with the center’s Transitions Dance Company, and at end of term in 1985 received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Theater. After graduation, Bourne spent two more years dancing with the Transition performance company.

In 1987, along with friends and fellow dancers Emma Gladstone and David Massingham, Matthew Bourne established the dance company Adventures in Motion Pictures, where he was AMP’s artistic director from 1987 until 2002. He  also became a charter member of the all-male dance company, The Featherstonehaughs, formed in 1988. Bourne danced professionally for fourteen years, including in his own productions, until his final performance in 1999, when he appeared as The Private Secretary in the Broadway production of “Swan Lake”. 

As a choreographer and director, Matthew Bourne’s work includes “Spitfire”, a highly colored mixture of the 1845 ballet “Pas de Quatre” and men’s underwear advertising, and “The Infernal Galop” which toys with British illusions about lower-class Parisians, both choreographed during the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he produced “Town and Country”, a humorous exploration of life on a small island,  and “Deadly Serious”, a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock films. His revised production of the “Nutcracker!” premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 1992, and returned the following year for a second sold-out season. In 1995, Bourne met and became partners with dancer and choreographer Arthur Pita, who has become a frequent collaborator and is a principle dancer at AMP.

Of Bourne’s work, some of the most acclaimed pieces are those updated from classical ballet’s repertoire, and often infused with contemporary themes. His groundbreaking 1995 “Swan Lake” was a contemporary ballet, based on the Russian romantic work, which became the longest-playing dance production in the history of London’s West End. The ballet took Tchaikovsky’s music and a broad outline of the plot and paired them with an all-male dance company. Bourne’s 1995 “Swan Lake” received over thirty international awards including the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production and  Tony Awards for Best Director, Best Choreography, and Best Costume Design.

In the 1995 “Swan Lake”, the roles of the white swan Odette and the black swan Odile, traditionally played by females, were danced by male performers and explored the issue of homoeroticism..Although the traditional story was changed for Bourne’s production, the central theme, the doomed, forbidden love and a protagonist who wishes to transcend conventional boundaries through that love, was still present. That theme had strong ties to the life of the ballet’s composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose homosexuality, although kept private, caused a number of complications in his life.

In 2002, Matthew Bourne founded the production company “New Adventures”. The first success of the new company, “Play Without Words”, premiered in 2002 and won the Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment and Choreography. The play was inspired by the 1963 film, “The Servant” in which the class system is chanllenged by the employer;s servant. Bourne’s revised “Nutcracker!”, also in 2002, received critical acclaim and embarked on a world tour. A Tenth Anniversary edition of “Swan Lake” in 2005 reached new audiences and its success led to an extensive international tour. These productions were followed in 2005 with a choreographed production of “Edward Scissorhands”. and revivals of classical musicals including: “My Fair Lady”, “South Paacific”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Olivr!”, among others. 

Matthew Bourne has worked with England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and the London’s National Theatre. He was knighted in the Queen’s  2016 New Year Honors for services to dance, and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, one of the most coveted honors in the world of dance, in recognition of his outstanding services to the art of ballet. Bourne was presented the Special Award at the 2019 Olivier Awards, in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in dance. This Special Award makes Bourne joint holder of the most ever Olivier Awards, alongside Judi Dench.

Top and Bottom Insert Images:  Johan Persson, Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” (Matthew Ball and Liam Mower) . Middle Insert Image: Johan Persson, “Liam Mower”, Photo Shoot

Harald Kreutzberg

Hans Robertson, “Portrait of Harald Kreutzberg”, 1931

Born in Liberec, Czech Republic in December of 1902, Harald Kreutzberg was a modern dancer and choreographer, known for his roles in both traditional ballets and expressive dance dramas. He played a major role in the development of the expressionist modern dance in Germany. 

Trained at the Dresden Ballet School, Kreutzberg studied under two of the most important figures in modern dance, Mary Wigman and Rudolf Laban, and was a critical link in the aesthetic lineage that gave rise to American choreographer and composer Alwin Nikolais, choreographer and dance educator Hanya Holm, and many other U.S. choreographers. 

In 1926, Harald Kreutzberg was in Swiss theater choreographer Max Terpis’s “Don Morte”, a version of Edgar Allen Poe’s novel “The Masque of the Red Death”.  A year later, he appeared in the plays “Turnadot and Jedermann” and as Puck for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, both directed by Max Reinhardt. Kreutzberg  accompanied Reinhardt to New York City where he began a tour of the United States, Canada, and Europe with the dancer Yvonne Georgi. 

While his impact on expressionist modern dance was sweeping Europe, in the United States, Kreutzberg was considered by many as a major force in the development of the male modern dancer. He was not afraid to challenge the gender norms in his time. Kreutzberg tended to incorporate feminine movements and costuming in his performances, especially alongside his dance partner Yvonne Georgi. He specifically inspired male dancers by breaking the stereotypical roles of princes, birds, and mythical gods. 

With their international tours from 1928-1931, Kreutzberg and Yvonne Georgi exposed the public to the style of expressionist dance. Many gay male dancers in Germany also pursued their careers during the years of the National Socialist government. He was the most notable among them as his long-term partnership with his accompanist and composer Friedrich Wilckens was an open secret. While other gay men were imprisoned and forced to wear a pink triangle, Kreutzberg was allowed to tour throughout Germany and abroad.

In 1943, Harald Kreutzberg appeared as a jester in Georg Willhelm’s film “Paracelsus”, in which he performed a modern hypnotic dance. Choreographer George Balanchine and writer Lincoln Kirstein invited him to share a program with the New York City Ballet in the late 1940s. Kreutzberg established his own dance school in 1955 in Bern, Switzerland, and retired from the stage in 1959. He continued to choreograph for others and teach at his school until his death in Bern on April 25, 1968. 

Insert Image: German photographer Hans Robertson, who specialized in the genre of dance, took this photo, on December 11, 1902, showing  Harald Kreutzberg wearing a headdress for a performance at the Volksbühne in Berlin.  

Paul Cadmus

Paul Cadmus, “Dancers Back Stage No. 1”, Date Unknown, Pastel and Charcoal on Gray Paper, 61 x 41.3 cm, Private Collection

The son of artists, illustrator Maria Latasa, of Basque and Cuban ancestry, and lithographer Egbert Cadmus, of Dutch ancestry, Paul Cadmus is widely known for his erotic and socially critical egg tempera paintings of social interactions in urban settings. His sister Fidelma Cadmus married Lincoln Kirstein, a New York impresario, philanthropist, and cofounder of the New York City Ballet. 

Throughout his career,  particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, Paul Cadmus produced many works on paper illustrating the subject of the dancer in the mediums of crayon, colored pencils, charcoal, and pastels . Most of these capture the dancer, not in the act of dance, but rather in the moment of rest, either before or after his practice and performance.

In 1965, Paul Cadmus met and began a thirty-five year relationship with former cabaret star Jon Farquhar Anderson, residing in Nantucket, Massachusetts until his death in 1999. Jon Anderson became Cadmus; muse and model for many of his works. Cadmus became close friends with many authors, artists and dancers including: novelist and playwright Christopher Isherwood, English-born poet Wystan Hugh Auden, New York City Ballet choreographer George Balanchine, photographer George Platt Lynes, painter George Tooker, and English fiction-writer and novelist Edward Morgan Forster.

Fabio Dolce

Photographer Unknown, Fabio Dolce: Underwater Dance

Born in Palermo, Sicily, Fabio Dolce started dancing at eleven years of age with ballroom dances. At sixteen, he began his ballet training and contemporary dance at the “Teatro Massimo di Palermo, later participating in several years of competitive Latin ballroom dancing. Dolce completed his studies of ballet at the National Academy of Rome. joining upon graduation the Cannes Jeune Ballet where he danced works by choreographers Jean-Christophe Maillot, George Balachine, Marc Ribaud, and Edward Cook. 

Joining the CCN Ballet de Lorraine at age twenty-one, Dolce performed for nine years, dancing a varied repertoire of works by Emanuel Gat, Merce Cunningham, and Vronislava Nijinska, among others. At thirty years old, he joined DeNada Dance Theater in 2017 for the company’s second national tour of  choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra’s seductive and provocative “Ham and Passion”, where Dolce  danced the roles of Anna in “Passionaria” and the role of Maria in “O Maria”. 

After working internationally for many years, Fabio Dolce is now a freelance dance artist, choreographer, and teacher, working in England and France. In France, he is a collaborative director with the dance company Antonino Ceresia, seeking funding for the new work “La Commedia Divino”. Dolce is also involved with the EU funded project “Lifelong Dancing”, a series of learning pathways about dance for adult educators.

Fabio Dolce’s website is located at: http://fabiodolce.com

Ted Shawn and Company

Ted Shawn and Company at Greek Theatre Pageant, 1918, New York Public Library Collection

“Know thyself deathless and able to know all things, all arts, sciences, the way of every life. Become higher than the highest height and lower than the lowest depth. Amass in thyself all senses of animals, fire, water, dryness and moistness. Think of thyself in all places at the same time, earth, sea, sky, not yet born, in the womb, young, old, dead, and in the after death state.”
Muata Ashby, Ancient Egyptian Proverbs 

Ted Shawn

Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers, “Kinetic Molpai”, 1935, Jacob’s Pillow, Music Added to Video in 1985 by Jess Meeker and John Sauer

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in October of 1891, Ted Shawn was one of the first notable male pioneers of American modern dance. While attending the University of Denver, he contracted diphtheria at the age of nineteen, causing him temporary paralysis form the waist down. During his physical therapy in 1910, Shawn was introduced to the art of dance by Hazel Wallack, a former dancer with the Metropolitan Opera. He relocated to Los Angeles two years later, joining an exhibition ballroom dance troupe with dancer and choreographer Norma Gould as his partner. 

Ted Shawn moved to New York City in 1914 where he met Ruth St. Denis, a teacher and modern dance pioneer. They married in August of 1914, with St. Denis becoming a dance partner and a creative outlet for Shawn. Both artists, believing in dance as an art form integral to everyday life, combined their artistic vision and business knowledge to open the first Denishawn School in Los Angeles in 1915. Renowned for its influence on ballet and experimental dance, this school became the first dance academy in the United States to produce a professional dance company. 

Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Davis established an eclectic mix of dance techniques including a freeing of movement in the upper body and experimental ballet, often done without shoes. With the additions of North African, Spanish, and Amerindian influences to St. Denis’ eastern style, they broke with the established European tradition. Their choreography ushered in a new era of modern dance, drawing from these indigenous, ancient, and international dance traditions. 

In the early 1930s, due to marital problems and finances, Ted Shawn left to form an all-male dance company consisting of athletes he taught at Springfield College in Massachusetts. His mission was to fight for the acceptance of the American male dancer and to present a male perspective on the dance art form. On July 14, 1933, Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers had their premier performance at Shawn’s farm in Lee, Massachusetts. This event, known as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, would transform into the now existing dance school, retreat, and theater at the former farm.

Shawn produced many innovative and controversial choreographies with His Men Dancers, which included performances entitled “Ponca Indian Dance”, “Maori War Haka”, “Hopi Indian Eagle Dance” and “Kinetic Molpai”. Through these creative dance performances, Shawn showcased masculine and athletic movement which gained in popularity. The company toured more than 750 cities in the United States and Canada, and achieved international success in Havana, Cuba, and London. Their final show was a homecoming performance at Jacob’s Pillow on August 31, 1940, ending a seven year tour. 

During the years of the company,, Ted Shawn’s comradeship and interactions with the men in his troupe evolved into a love relationship with Barton Mumaw, one of the leading stars of the company, which lasted from 1931 to 1948. Shawn would later form a partnership with John Christian, the stage manager of the company, with whom he stayed from 1949 until his own death in January of 1972. Ted Shawn’s final appearance on stage was at the Ted Shawn Theater of Jacob’s Pillow in “Siddhas of the Upper Air”, where he reunited with Ruth St. Denis for their fiftieth anniversary. 

Ted Shawn was a Heritage Award recipient of the National Dance Association in 1965 and was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Hall of Fame, located in Saratoga Springs, in 1987. His works, including his nine published books providing a foundation for modern dance, are now in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and in the archives of Jacob’s Pillow.

Many thanks to the Jacob’s Pillow site: https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org

Vaslav Nijinsky

N. Rimsky-Korsakov, “Vaslav Nijinsky in the Ballet Scheherazade”, 1910, Private Collection

Born Waclaw Niżyński on March 12, 1889, in Kiev to Polish parents, both touring dancers, Vaslav Nijinsky was a ballet dancer and choreographer, considered the greatest male dancer of the early 1900s. Praised for his virtuosity and intensity of the characters he portrayed, Nijinsky possessed the ability to dance ‘en pointe’, on his toes with feet fully extended, a rarity among male dancers at the time. 

In 1909, Nijinsky joined the Ballets Russes, a new ballet company started by ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who concentrated on promoting Russian arts abroad, particularly in Paris. Diaghilev became deeply involved in directing and managing Nijinsky’s career, eventually becoming Nijinsky’s lover for a time. Despite complications in both reworking existing ballets and financial issues, the 1909 Paris season of colorful Russian operas and ballets was a success, with Nijinsky displaying his unique talents and the performances setting new trends in dance, music and fashion.

Breaking against tradition, Nijinsky began choreographing in 1912 original ballets with new trends in music and dance, sometimes causing riotous reactions at the Théâtre de Champs-Élysées. His “Afternoon of the Faun”, set to music by Debussy, is onsidered one of the first modern ballets; though, the ballet’s sexually suggestive final scene caused controversy among its Parisian viewers. His ballet “Rite of Spring”, set to music by Stravinsky, which exceeded the limits of traditional ballet, music scores, and propriety, resulted in violence among the audience at the premier.

In September of 1913, while on tour with the Ballets Russes in South America, Nijinsky married Hungarian aristocrat and actress Romola de Pulszky, despite warnings to both parties by friends. They toured together with the troupe for the season, living in seperate rooms. Nijinsky realized he had made a mistake with the marriage; but the marriage was never legally ended. After the tour was ended, Nijinsky and troupe traveled back to Paris.

Relations, both work and personal, between Diaghilev and Nijinsky had been deteriorating for some time. Upon his return from the South American tour, Nijinsky was notified by an assistant to Diaghilev that he would no longer be employed by the Ballets Russes and also learned that none of his original ballets would be performed by the group. This was particularly devastating as the Ballets Russes was the pre-eminent ballet company and the only innovative modern-thinking one. An attempt was made by Nijinsky to form his own dance company, but he did not succeed.

Classified a Russian citizen and no longer with a military exemption from service, Nijinsky was interned in Budapest during World War I, under house arrest until his release was arranged in 1916. The complex arrangements for this included the agreement that Nijinsky would dance and choreograph for the North and South America tour of the Ballets Russes. The tour proved very stressful to Nijinsky, already in an unsteady position, resulting in anxiety and bouts of rage and frustration. His last performance was in Montevideo, Uruguay, for the Red Cross on September 30, 1917 at age twenty-eight. It was at this time that signs of Nijinsky’s existing schizophrenia became apparent to members of the company. 

In 1919 in Zurich, Nijinsky was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to Burghölzli, the leading psychiatric hospital in Switzerland. For the next 30 years, Nijinsky was in and out of hospitals and asylums, maintaining long periods of silence during his years of illness. From 1947 Nijinsky lived in Surrey, England, with his wife Romola who tended to his care. He died from kidney failure at a London clinic on April 8, 1950, and was buried in London, his body later being moved in 1953 to Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.

Nijinsky wrote his “Diary”, reflecting the decline of his household into chaos, during the six weeks in 1919 he spent in Switzerland before being committed to the asylum to Zurich. Discovering years later the three notebooks of the diary plus another with letters to a variety of people, his wife Romola published a bowdlerized version of the diary in 1936, translated into English by Jennifer Mattingly. She deleted about forty per cent of the diary, especially references to bodily functions, sex, and homosexuality, recasting Nijinsky as an “involuntary homosexual.” Romola also removed some of his more unflattering references to her and others close to their household. The first unexpurgated edition of “The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky” was published in 1995, edited by New Yorker dance critic Joan Acocella and translated by Kyril Fitz Lyon. 

Nijinsky is immortalized in numerous still photographs, many of them by British portrait photogaper E. O. Hoppe, who photographed the Ballets Russes seasons in London extensively between 1909 and 1921. No film exists of Nijinsky dancing; Diaghilev never allowed the Ballets Russes to be filmed because he felt that the quality of film at the time could never capture the artistry of his dancers.

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Vaslav Nijinsky in His Practice Outfit, Krasnoya Selo”, 1908

Second and Third Insert Images: Auguste Bert, “Vaslav Nijinsky as the Golden Slave in Scheherazade”, 1911

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, Vaslav Nijinsky, circa 1910, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library Collection

Barbara Morgan, “Martha Graham”

Barbara Morgan, “Martha Graham”, Performance “Letter to the World”, 1940

“Letter to the World” is an American modern dance piece created by Martha Graham in 1940 exploring the life and work of the poet Emily Dickinson, one of Graham’s favorite poets. It is an introspective work that, in Graham’s words, investigates Dickinson’s inner landscape. The main narrative rotates around the struggle of the One Who Dances and the Ancestress, who embodies the poet’s Puritan tradition and death, creating a combination of dances and spoken lines.

Reblogged with many thanks to a great site: doctordee. tumblr..com

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 29th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Trade

November 29, 1895 was the birthdate of choreographer Busby Berkeley.

Born William Berkeley Enos in California, Busby Burkeley, enlisted for service in the military during World War I. He oversaw military drills for both the American and French forces, an experience which would give him inspiration in later years. Taking advantage of his mother’s theatrical connections, Burkeley became an entertainment officer, directing and producing plays for the American troops in postwar Germany.

Taking the name of Busby Berkeley, he turned to the stage after the war, finding his forte was directing musicals. In 1927, Berkeley choreographed the Rogers and Hart musical “A Connecticut Yankee”, which was a tremendous success, making him one of Broadway’s most-coveted choreographers. Following that success, he choreographed, directed, and produced the 1929 musical “The Street Singer”.

Success brought Busby Berkeley to the attention of Hollywood. Samuel Goldwyn had him work on comedian Eddie Cantor’s film “Whoopee”, previously a production on Broadway by Flo Ziegfeld. Berkeley choreographed and directed the dance numbers in the film. He late worked on the Bert Lahr musical “Flying High” and the 1932 “Night World” with its night club scenes.

Busby Berkeley decided to move to the Warner Brothers Studio; this is where his most famous work was done. In 1933, he staged the dances for three musicals now regarded as classics: “Gold Diggers of 1933”, “42nd Street”, and “Footlight Parade”. All three films were backstage stories, concerned with the production of a Broadway show. The musical numbers Berkeley created were a opulent fantasy universe, using camera angles and movements that produced views unable to be seen by a sitting audience. Placing his camera directly above the action, he often showed his ensemble of performers moving in precise geometric formations.

In 1935, Warner Brothers made Busby Berkeley a full-fledged director, He produced one of his best works, “Gold Diggers of 1935”, an account of the events at a summer resort showcasing the musical number “Lullaby of Broadway” sung by Wini Shaw. This song won an Academy Award in 1936 and Berkeley was nominated for an Oscar for best dance director. He won his second Oscar for his work of choreography in “Gold diggers of 1937”.

Beginning in the 1960s, Berkeley’s films enjoyed a nostalgic revival, with both critics and film lovers showing renewed interest in his work. He himself returned briefly to Broadway in 1970 to supervise a production of “No No Nanette” with Ruby Keelre, the star of his three great 1933 films.

Paul Kolnik’s Photo of Chase Finlay

Paul Kolnik, “Chase Finlay as Apollo”, 2011, The George Balanchine Trust Studio

Dancer Chase Finlay played the title role in Balanchine’s 1928 ballet “Apollo”.   It was the third performance at the New York City Ballet on the night of May 5th of 2011, proceded by the Balanchine-Stravinsky 1960 “Monumentum Pro Gesualdo”  and the 1963 “Movements for Piano and Orchestra”.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 28th of August, Solar Year 2018

Smokin’ Guns

August 28, 1925 was the birthdate of American dancer, singer, and actor Donald O’Connor.

Donald O’Connor was born in Chicago to parents Effie Irene Crane and John Edward O’Connor, both vaudeville entertainers. He began performing in movies in 1937 at the age of eleven, making his uncredited debut in the Columbia Pictures’ film “It Can’t Last Forever”.  O’Conner, then twelve, signed a contract at Paramount Studio and appeared in two films in 1938: “Men with Wings” playing a younger version of Fred Mac Murray’s character, and in “Sing You Sinners” appearing as Bing Crosby’s character’s younger brother.

Donald O’Connor appeared in eight more films between the years 1938 and 1939. He appeared as Huckleberry Finn in the 1938 “Tom Sawyer, Detective” and in the 1939 “Boy Trouble” playing an orphan boy with ill with scarlet fever. O’ Connor received fourth billing in “Million Dollar Legs” with Betty Grable and played Gary Cooper as a young boy in the 1939 “Beau Geste”. In 1940, having outgrown child roles, O’Connor returned to the vaudeville stage.

On his eighteenth birthday in August 1943, O’Connor was drafted into the army. Before he reported for induction in February 1944, Universal Studio, with whom he had signed in 1941, already had seven O’Connor films completed. With a backlog of these features, deferred openings at the theaters kept O’Connor’s screen presence uninterrupted during the two years he was overseas.

In 1949, he played the lead role in the film “Francis”, the story of a soldier befriended by a talking mule. The film was a huge success. As a consequence, his musical career was constantly interrupted by production of one “Francis” film per year until 1955. O’Connor received an offer to play Cosmo the piano player in the 1952 “Singin’ in the Rain” at MGM. This earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical. The film featured his widely known rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh” and the notable scene during a dance number when he runs up a wall and does a flip.

The most distinctive characteristic of O’Connor’s dancing style was its athleticism, for which he had few rivals. Yet it was his boyish charm that audiences found most engaging, and which remained an appealing aspect of his personality throughout his career. In his early Universal films, O’Connor closely mimicked the smart alec, fast-talking personality of Mickey Rooney of rival MGM Studio. For “Singin’ in the Rain” however, MGM cultivated a much more sympathetic sidekick persona, and that remained O’Connor’s signature image.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 15th of July, Solar Year 2018

Summer Heat

July 16, 1911 was the birthdate of actress, dancer and singer Ginger Rogers.

Ginger Rogers had two films in the 1933 that have now become classics. The public was enamored by her in the song and dance “Gold Diggers of 1933”, She did not have top billing but the public remembered her beauty and voice. One song she popularized in the film was the now famous “We’re in the Money”. Rogers played the character of Ann Lowell in “42nd Street”, a musical film with big stage choreography by Busby Berkeley. The film became one of the most profitable ones of the year and received two Academy Award nominations.

Ginger Roger’s real stardom occurred when she was teamed up with actor and dancer Fred Astaire becoming one of the best cinematic couples ever to hit the silver screen. They first appeared in the 1933 “Flying Down to Rio”, a film with marvelous dance numbers, including a breathtaking dance number on the exterior of a formation of airplanes flying over the audience.

Rogers and Astaire did two films in 1935. The first was “Roberta”, an RKO production costarring Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott. The second film of that year was probably the best remembered of her films, “Top Hat”, a screwball musical comedy with a music score by Irving Berlin and the famous dance scene with Rogers wearing a white ostrich-feather dress.

Ginger Rogers made several dramatic pictures; but it was the 1940 “Kitty Foyle” that won her an Academy Award for portrayal in the title role of Kitty Foyle, a working girl facing life-changing decisions. Rogers followed this film with a comedy in 1941 “Tom, Dick, and Harry”. playing a woman who has to decide which of three men she wants to marry. Through the rest of the 1940s and early 1950s she continued to make movies but none of them near the caliber of those before World War II.

After “Oh Men, Oh Women” with David Niven in 1957, Ginger Rogers didn’t appear on the silver screen for seven years. In 1965, she had appeared for the last time in the film “Harlow”, a Paramount production about the life of Jean Harlow. Afterward, she appeared on Broadway and other stage plays traveling in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. After 1984, she retired and wrote an autobiography in 1991 entitled, “Ginger, My Story” recounting her more than sixty films including those with Fred Astaire. On April 25, 1995, Ginger Rogers died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 83.

Sergei Polunin Dancing to Luciano Pavarotti’s Singing “Caruso”

Sergei Polunin Dancing to Luciano Pavarotti’s Singing “Caruso”

Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin is a Ukranian-born ballet dancer, actor and model. He started out in gymnastics before switching to ballet at the age of eight and attended the Kiev State Choreographic Institute. He joined the British Royal Ballet School a the age of thirteen in 2003. He was awarded, among other awards, the Prix de Lausanne and the Youth America Grand Prix in 2006. In 2007 Polunin was named the Young British Dancer of the Year. At the age of 20 in 2010, he became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer.

Polunin is now pursuing a freelance career as a principal dancer, performing at various theaters such as the Bolshoi Theater, La Scala Theater, Teatro San Carlo, and the Royal Ballet. He is a permanent guest artist for the Bayerisches Staatsballet in Munich, Germany.

Anthony Liccione: “At the Edge, You Will Always Remember Me”

Photographer Unknown, (At the Edge: The Dancers)

“At the edge you will always remember me, at the edge you will last be remembered, where sanity and insanity come together, for the time, then separates. Like leaves on October trees, that color the world, but for a moment, then leave. At the edge, where life losses its edginess, and thoughts we will become one, someday. At the edge the sun drops, the ring falls, and senses of raindrops climb upwards to the gray sky.”

-Anthony Liccione

Los Vivancos : Extreme Flamenco Fusion

Los Vivancos : Extreme Flamenco Fusion

After receiving a long and complete artistic formation in dance, music and martial arts, and after collaborating with foremost national and international dance companies, Elias, Judah, Josua, Cristo, Israel, Aaron and Josue came together in 2007 to create what has been considered to be the musical scenic phenomena of this decade; Los Vivancos.With their first creation “7BROTHERS” produced, directed, choreographed by them and with their own musical compositions, the Vivancos brothers have appeared in more than 35 countries performing for over one million spectators worldwide.

Los Vivancos have also been invited to important international events by renowned figures and artists like Antonio Banderas or Princess Stephanie of Monaco, French singer and songwriter Mylene Farmer for whom they choreographed in her concert “Avant Que L’Ombre” performing in front of over 18.000 persons at the Bercy Stadium in Paris, or Dortmund’s Symphonic Orchestra with which they performed at the Konthertus Haus in Germany.

Great show, great dance, and hot guys also. Definitely go see them if they are in your city. Un show que se embed sí en su memoria.

Sankai Juku Dance Troupe

Sankai Juku

Sankai Juku (山海塾?) is an internationally known butoh dance troupe. Co-founded by Amagatsu Ushio in 1975, they are touring worldwide, performing and teaching. As of 2010, Sankai Juku had performed in 43 countries and visited more than 700 cities. Amagatsu Ushio maintains that “butoh is a dialogue with the gravity,” while other dance forms tend to revel in escape from gravity. He sees his dance, in contrast, is based on “sympathizing or synchronizing” with gravity.

The all-male company’s work is performed by as few as six dancers eschewing the movements typical of modern or other dance forms. The performances are characterized by slow, mesmerizing passages, often using repetition and incorporating the whole body, sometimes focusing only on the feet or fingers. Sometimes minuscule movement or no movement is discernible and one is presented a meditative vision of statuesque postures or groupings.

Occasionally recognizable emotive postures and gestures are used, notably contorted body shapes and facial expressions conveying ecstasy and perhaps more often, pain and silent “shrieks.” Frequently, ritualized formal patterns are employed, smoothly evolving or abruptly fractured into quick, sharp, seemingly disjointed sequences whose symbolism or “meanings” are obscure.

If you hear Sankai Juku is performing in your area, buy tickets and go see them perform. It is an event that will become etched into your mind.