Jack Anderson: “A Leap into the Unknown”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Six

Look in the Salon des Refusés of most periods
and there will hang the homosexuals
labeled by critics
“contrary to nature”.

Now, to use a familiar set of distinctions, what
exists but is not nature must be art;
yet art is also an imitation
of some process of nature: so art, too, is natural,
whatever its manner.

Art may evolve through accretions of tradition
or leap ahead into the unknown.
This form of expression, the gay life
so maddening and unimaginable to some,
necessarily involves a leap into the unknown,
for its traditions, such as they are, are shadowy.

Note how, on every side, images proclaim
and sustain the straight life. In parks and town squares
one may behold the monumental figures of, say,
Cohibere guarding his family from the Amplecti,
of Scruta and Amentia denouncing the barbarians,
or of the marriage of Turpa and Insulsus on the battlefield.

Images of the gay life, in contrast, are obscure, are
curiosities kept locked from the public in cabinets: in consequence,
gay lives must style themselves with craft,
with daring. Many fail. Even so,
some grow amazing and beautiful.

And since such triumphs are typically achieved
amidst general bewilderment and in defiance
of academic theory, the gay life
deserves to be ranked among
the significant examples of art, past and present.
And because it has disordered whatever may be
the accustomed ways of seeing in its time,
it is therefore avant-garde,
naturally avant-garde.

Jack Anderson, A Lecture on Avant-Garde Art, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, Editor Timothy Liu, 2000

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June of 1935, Jack Anderson is an American poet, dance critic and dance historian. He has contributed numerous reviews on dance performances for both the “New York Times” and “Dance Magazine”. Anderson is also known for his scholastic work on dance history and eleven volumes of poetry.

In his formative years, Jack Anderson studied piano and acted in theater groups before his departure to college. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Northwestern University with a major in Theater and minors in English Literature and Philosophy. Anderson completed his graduate studies at Indiana University where he earned his Master of Arts in Creative Writing. He pursued further studies at the University of California, Berkeley, until a position became available at the “Oakland Tribune”. 

Anderson joined the staff of the weekly news publication in 1959 as a copy boy. He was promoted after one year to assistant drama critic and, in addition to his work at the Tribune, began writing dance criticism for both the English periodical “Ballet Today” and America’s leading dance periodical “Dance Magazine”. After relocating to New York in 1969, Anderson was a member of the editorial staff of “Dance Magazine” until 1970, after which he continued to contribute reviews until 1978. 

While living in London with his partner, dance historian and writer George Dorris, Jack Anderson was deputy dance critic from 1970 to 1971 at the “Daily Mail” under critic and broadcaster Oleg Kerensky. In 1972, he became the New York correspondent for London’s “Dancing Times” magazine. Already writing and teaching dance history, Anderson along with George Dorris founded the scholarly journal “Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and the Related Arts”, which became one of the genre’s leading periodicals. In 1978, he joined Anna Kisselgoff and Jennifer Dunning as the dance critics for “The New York Times”, where he remained until 2005.  

Drawn to poetry throughout his adult life, Anderson published his first two collections of poetry in 1969: “The Hurricane Lamp” and “The Invention of New Jersey”. His subtle yet witty poems often explore themes of urban life and travel. Anderson has the urban sophistication and the alertness to create often lurid tales that in a strange way make sense. Among his many volumes are the 1978 “Toward the Liberation of the Left Hand”, “The Clouds of That Country” published in 1982, the 1990 “Field Trips on the Rapid Transit”, and “Backyards of the Universe” published in 2017. In recognition of his work, Anderson received a creative writing fellowship and a literary award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recognized as both an effective teacher and lecturer, Jack Anderson has taught dance history and criticism at the University of Adelaide in Australis, the University of Minnesota, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Oklahoma, and New York’s New School, among others. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Anderson has produced seven books on various aspects of dance. Among these are the 1979 “The Nutcracker”, the “Ballet & Modern Dance” available in three editions, and the 1981 “The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo” which won that year’s José de la Rorre Bueno Prize for best English-language writing in dance history.

Note: Jack Anderson and George Dorris, a dance scholar and now retired English professor, had known each other slightly at Northwestern University. They later met in 1965 on the Lincoln Center subway platform after a New York City Ballet performance. They have traveled together throughout the world and become friends with dance scholars in many countries. In 2006, they were married in Toronto and currently reside in Manhattan, New York.

A collection of six poems by Jack Anderson can be found at the Poetry Foundation website located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/jack-anderson#tab-poems  

The second edition, recently updated, of Anderson’s “Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History” is available through Amazon. 

Alina Noir

The Photography of Alina Noir

Born in Romania in 1981, Alina Noir is an visual artist, author and choreographer. Her education in literature and art history was internationally based with studies in Romania, Germany, France, Sweden and New Zealand. Noir studied classical and contemporary dance at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Lyon’s École Nationale de Musique de Danse et D’art Dramatique. This multi-cultural academic background has had strong influence on her work as a photographer.

Alina Noir maintains an artist studio in the Renaissance city of Lyon, France, where she works with a team of ballet dancers and actors. Her work is influenced by the city’s classical Renaissance and Baroque paintings, in particular the works of Michelangelo Caravaggio. Initially focused on color photography, Noir has incorporated black and white images and re-colored images into her oeuvre. She shoots both theatrical and nude photography with an emphasis on the interaction of bodies in a given space. A variety of emotions and situations, such as fragility, force, solitude, despair and connection, are expressed in Noir’s images. 

For each of her photographic projets, Noir shoots a series of images that often contain an autobiographical dimension. An early project entitled “I Turned My Blood Into a River” was a personal anthology of legends and myths. Noir’s “Cathedrals” was an exploration of her favorite artistic themes presented more mathematically in concept. This project examined the intricate ways , other than sexual or emotional, in which human bodies connect in space. During the winter months of 2018 to 2019, Noir created “Sculptures in the City”, a series of sixty digital photographs of random constructions and urban landscapes in Montreal. Based on the 1930s Surrealist art form of objet trouvé (found objects), the project’s impersonal images evoked sensations of both strangeness and displacement.

In 2019, Alina Noir produced a two-part project “La Bal-Act One” and “La Bal-Act Two”. The first part was a series of photographs taken during May and June of 2019 in which characters were involved in scenes both improvised and choreographed. In the images, references to art history and popular culture were combined with contemporary issues, such as gender, identity and body control. The shooting for “Act Two” took place in Lyon between July and September of 2019. These images were studies of choreographed movements that examined how desire, vulnerability, and intimacy become motivating forces in one’s life. The figural gestures portrayed in the photographs draw upon gestures exhibited in Renaissance paintings.

In January of 2020, Noir created “The Magic Square” series at the Institute for Contemporary Art during Lyon’s fifteenth Biennial for Contemporary Art. Inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s 1514 engraving “Melencolia I”, this series of photographs explored the notion of contemporary masculinity and examined its relationship to the male image in western art. In 2021, Noir created the series “Ships Anchored in Fog”, a set of nine self-portraits visually inspired by statues from classical Antiquity. These photographs translated certain aspects of mathematical set theory into the art of dance. The uniqueness of the dance movements, reinterpreted through the choice of statues, became static choreography which allied the subliminal creative idea with infinite sets. 

Alina Noir created a collection of twenty dance performances from 2018 to 2022 among which were “Keeping This Body Alive”, “Black Bird”, and “No Ghost Just A Bell”. Her “Chrysanthèmes” was a 2021 performance at Lyon’s Maison de la Danse that translated certain aspects of Ferdinand de Saussure’s Semiotics theory into dance movements. The Semiotics theory provides a framework for understanding how humans use signs to make meaning of the world around them; however, an important assumption of this theory is that signs do not convey meaning that is inherent to the object being represented. The performance piece is centered around the symbol of the chrysanthemum as seen in two different cultures, Alina Noir interpreted the chrysanthemum in Romania (a symbol of mourning, death and rebirth) and dancer Mio Fusho interpreted the flower in Japan (a symbol of light, hope and metamorphosis).

Alina Noir’s photography has been featured in many print and online  publications. She has exhibited her work in both collective and solo exhibitions in Lyon, Paris, Berlin, Potsdam, Prague, and Geneva. 

Alina Noir’s portfolio site, which contains contact information and images of her work including installations and performance videos, is located at: https://www.alinanoir.com/index.html

Note: An article describing Albrecht Dürer’s 1514 engraving “Melencolia I” can be found at the online site of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art located at: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/336228

Top Insert Image: Alina Noir, “Sculptures in the City” Series, 2018-2019, Color Print

Second Insert Image: Alina Noir, “La Bal-Act Two” Series, 2019, Color Print

Bottom Insert Image: Alina Noir, “Sculptures in the City” Series, 2018-2019, Color Print

Féral Benga: Film History Series

Carl van Vechten, “Féral Benga”, 1937, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in Dakar in 1906, François Benga, better known by his stage name Féral, was a Senegalese actor, cabaret dancer, artist’s model, and nightclub owner. Although his principle art form was performance in film and stage, he left an equal legacy in visual arts with his immortalization in the works of such artists as painter James A. Porter, sculptor Richmond Barthé, and photographer George Platt Lynes.

The son of a wealthy French colonial administrator in Dakar, Benga relocated in 1923 at the age of seventeen to Paris where he worked in odd jobs to support himself. For a brief period in May of 1930, Benga danced with American-born Mexican dancer Myrtle Watkins at the Enfants-Terribles Restaurant. After auditioning for the Folies-Bergère, Paris’s famous cabaret club, he quickly became noticed among the public through his dances and close friendship with Josephine Baker, one of the most celebrated performers to headline at the Folies-Bergère. Baker was also the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 “Siren of the Tropics”.

In the evenings, Féral Benga and Josephine Baker performed the “Danse Sauvage” to the delight of the French spectators, he wearing a loincloth and she dressed in a skirt of artificial bananas. The pair’s artistry and technical skill in dance was admired but also crudely exoticized  by some of their audiences. Like Josephine Baker, Benga understood the commercialization of black culture and body in the artistic marketplace as well as his own marketability as an object of desire. Due to his skill as well as his popularity in Paris’s artistic and homosexual circles, Benga was able to appear in many cabaret revues throughout the 1930s. 

In 1930, Benga had one of the starring roles in Jean Cocteau’s avant-garde film “La Sang d’un Poète (The Blood of a Poet)”, the first film of Cocteau’s “The Orphic Trilogy”. At this time, images of Benga began to appear as postcards, cabinet cards and other materials for consumption. British photographer Lucien Waléry, who had photographed many prominent people including Josephine Baker and Bessie Smith, took several photos of Benga including a portrait of him hoisting a machete in the air. This photographic pose inspired Harlem Renaissance artist Richmond Barthé to create his iconic 1935 bronze sculpture “Féral Benga”, a new and dramatic representation of the male figure. 

In 1933, Benga and his partner, anthropologist and author Geoffrey Gorer, took a trip to Africa where they studied native dances performed in the remote parts of Africa. Inspired by this trip, Gorer wrote a 1935 book entitled “Africa Dances: A Book About West African Negroes” which, in addition to its vast visual documentation, is one of few existing texts which details Benga’s life. In 1935, artist James A. Porter painted a portrait of Féral Benga, dressed in the khaki uniform of the Senegalese Tirailleur, entitled “Soldado Senegales” which is now housed in the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, DC. After the publication of “Africa Dances”, Benga and Gorer slowly drifted apart but kept in touch through letters. 

Until the outset of World War II, Féral Benga lived a lavish lifestyle with an apartment near the Champs-Élysées, a custom Delahaye convertible, and his own small cabaret. In 1943, he performed a personally choreographed dance in the ballet “Tam Tam” held at the Olympia Theater. Trapped in France as a result of the German occupation, Benga was aware of the Nazi’s hateful opinions of French-speaking black men and hid for some time in the countryside. Though his hosts treated him well, the hard living conditions took a toll on both Benga’s physical and mental health. 

From 1947, Benga owned, in partnership with bisexual filmmaker Nico Papatakis, a popular and fashionable cabaret-restaurant on Paris’s Left Bank called “La Rose Rouge”. Visited by the wealthy Parisian crowd, it featured over its eight years an African cabaret including drummers and dancers who, during the day, were African students studying at universities in the city. In 1951, Benga met his former partner George Gorer for the last time during Gorer’s trip to Paris. Due to changing times and bad business decisions, Benga was forced to close “La Rose Rouge” in 1956. 

At this time, Féral Benga’s family in Senegal decided to welcome him back into the family circle, from which he had been disinherited at the age of seventeen. Submitting to familial pressure, he traveled back to Senegal and unexpectedly married a cousin. However, Benga soon returned to Paris where he died of a pulmonary embolism on the fourth of June in 1957. He rests in the Saint-Denis cemetery in Châtecauroux, France. Due to cemetary regulations, Benga’s funeral concession will expire in 2028. 

Notes: In Manhattan, New York, Féral Benga was well known in the Harlem Renaissance artistic and social circles and seen by many as a gay icon. In 1938, the openly homosexual surrealist painter Pavel Tchelitchew painted a portrait of Benga entitled “Deposition”, a nude study of the dancer on his back. This portrait later was held by American writer and impresario Lincoln Kirstein, a co-founder of the New York City Ballet.

Jean Cocteau’s 1930 “La Sang d’un Poète” was produced by French nobleman Charles de Noailles; the cinematography was done by Georges Périnal, a renowned artist who also worked with, among others, directors Jean Grémillon, Charlie Chaplin, René Clair, and Otto Preminger. The film, a study of the main character’s obsession with fame and death, was a surrealistic work in which dreamlike states were intercut throughout the film. Its release was delayed a year due to rumors of anti-Christian messages and the threatened excommunication of its producer de Noailles from the Catholic Church. “La Sang d’un Poète” is available for viewing at the Internet Archive located through this link: https://archive.org/details/JeanCocteauLeSangDunPote1930

All Insert Images: Carl van Vechten, “Féral Benga”, Photo Shoot, 1937, Gelatin Silver Prints, Private Collections

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


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


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”.


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.


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