Happy New Year from arts•meme!

Rambova’s Aztec costume for Kosloff 2

Dance · Fashion · Film
Ballets Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff and his protegee Natacha Rambova pose at left, costumed for their Aztec dance number on the Keith Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Kosloff brought to the stage the role in which he made his cinematic debut  — Guatemoco, the Aztec prince, in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Woman God Forgot” in 1917. Here’s a ...

Say a dance prayer for Gene Kelly in Pittsburgh 2

Dance · Film
Come on, home town! What’s this I hear about twenty years of fruitless effort to erect a statue of dancer Gene Kelly  — in a city where bridges, steel mills, skyscrapers, and sports stadia get built with ease? In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, retired entertainment columnist Barbara Cloud gripes that she’s grown despondent waiting ...

Not the Nutcracker 1

By now many of you will have seen the film from which this marvelous image is plucked — a mash-up of mesdemoiselles pounding the floorboards in Frederick Wiseman’s ballet documentary “LA DANSE.” They’re Paris Opera Ballet dancers hoofing it in Rudolph Nureyev’s version of Tchaikowsky’s “Casse-Noisette” or “The Nutcracker.” It’s my favorite scene in the movie. You gotta see these ...

The astronaut and the ballerina 1

Weightlessness has its rewards. In 1950, the ballerina was a featherweight slithering down her partner’s body and marching on her highest pointes as Balanchine’s snaky Siren in “The Prodigal Son.” In 1969 the astronaut, seen at right, clocked in at 35 pounds while padding around the moon’s soft terrain like a stuffed doll. Los Angeles County ...

Anna Halprin, Bill T. Jones, Hofesh Shechter

Dance · Reviews
The big event of a busy fall season has been the historic reconstruction of Anna Halprin‘s “Parades & Changes,” an influential landmark of postmodern dance dating from 1965-67 featuring a soundscore by electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick. The piece builds on improvisation on a set of movement  “scores” — a Halprin key word that she ...

“La Danse” discount tix 2

Dance · Film
Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles offers arts•meme subscribers a generous discount for  “La Danse,” Frederick Wiseman’s acclaimed ballet documentary. Film is now playing at Laemmle Theaters in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Encino. Read the interview with director Frederick Wiseman. Update: Sorry, no more discount coupons. This once in a lifetime opportunity has expired! Maybe in your ...

Frederick Wiseman’s love letter to ballet 5

Dance · Film · Reviews
“I love ballet,” admits 79-year-old documentarian Frederick Wiseman, whose rigorous films on hospital management, meat processing, and public housing have given way to late-life examinations of art and the artistic process. “Dance is the creation of something absolutely beautiful,” he says. “Yet it’s not a fixed form. It’s ephemeral. It’s evanescent.” “I’m no expert,” he ...

Red hair, red shoes 2

Dance · Film
I recently attended a screening of The Red Shoes, the 1948 Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger classic lovingly restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive, Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, British Film Institute, and others. This film’s huge blast of technicolor transforms red-headed Moira Shearer into an unspeakably firey, unearthly creature … her neat figure, fair complexion, and carrot top ...

Ballerina’s beautiful beach birthday bash 1

Dance · Film
Last year I wrote an article about former New York City Ballet ballerina Yvonne Mounsey coaching a young dancer, Melissa Barak, in the lead role of George Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son.” Mounsey danced the role in the early 1950s. By all accounts, she was an amazing, full-blooded dancer. She went on to become a great ballet ...