Diaghilev’s five great choreographers

Dance
We celebrate the exquisite legacy of the Ballets Russes, a phenomenal ballet troupe that debuted in Paris one hundred years ago. Theodore Kosloff, my subject in the Los Angeles Times and on arts•meme, was a first-generation member of Ballets Russes. Kosloff’s story piqued my interest (a polite way of saying “I’m obsessed!”) to attend the “Spirit of ...

Biblical love from BODYTRAFFIC 1

Dance · Music
The love story of Jacob and Rachel inspires a unique dance/music event at Wadsworth Theater next Tuesday May 19. It’s an occasion rich in Los Angeles cultural history. It’s also a joyous one — the delayed premiere of a colorful, full-bodied ballet score written by composer Eric Zeisl in 1954. The original performances in the fifties were an intended collaboration with ...

Theodore Kosloff, ballet instructor 3

Dance · Film
The photo above (click on it for detail) shows the talented and charismatic Russian actor-dancer Theodore Kosloff coaching a barre-ful of Paramount Studio chorus girls circa 1922. The ballet master is giving hands-on instruction to silent film star Betty Compson with whom he co-starred in The Green Temptation that same year. Kosloff’s ballet training of Compson led to this ...

Ailey guys fly 3

Dance
Doing the math is a bit frightening, but I’ve been viewing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for about 30 years. So going to an Ailey concert feels a lot like visiting an old friend. This proud dance company, with its sensational dancers, puts on a show like no other. The male corps de ballets, led ...

The devilish Madam Satan 6

Dance · Film
This is the amazing “electricity” dance sequence from Cecil B. DeMille’s early talkie Madam Satan (1930). A socialite costume ball is taking place — where else? — in a moored zeppelin. The floor show, pictured above, features the fearsome dancing of Theodore Kosloff, a former Ballets Russes star who lived in Los Angeles and acted in many DeMille silent ...

Ohad’s story 3

Dance
This photograph is from a dance work called Shalosh (Hebrew for “three”) by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. I love the photo. I like the skinny, long-legged girls. I like the nervous tension, the skewed angles, and the extreme tilt of the head. Here is a choreographer who has found new ways of moving. He has reinvented the ...

Jerome Robbins in your living room 3

Dance · Film
The buzz on the PBS American Masters documentary about our brilliant American choreographer Jerome Robbins is very positive. I’m looking forward to it so much. Air time: Wednesday evening, February 18 @ 9 pm. Apropos Robbins, while in Paris in 2002, I encountered, totally by accident, a dance-film festival taking place in the downstairs screening room ...

Nijinsky danced in Pittsburgh 5

Dance
Santonio Holmes’s game-winning Super Bowl pass reception for the Pittsburgh Steelers reminds me of ballet! It’s a very dancerly moment. He’s reaching up with all his might to catch the football. He’s reaching down with all his might to keep his toes in-bound. Santonio’s outstanding litheness is unsurprising in view of my recent discovery that brilliant Ballets Russes dancer-choreographer, ...

Girl Power 2

Dance · Film
The home-run event of the summer was Howard Hawks’s comic masterpiece, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), projected on the humongous screen of the vintage Los Angeles Theater (1931) on Broadway in downtown L.A. Viewed as oversized fleshy Amazons whose umpteen parts miraculously move together, MM and Jane Russell cruise through this nutty film, singing, dancing, and ...