Vaslav & the Tramp 2

Dance · Film
Los Angeles, 1916: An encounter between two great body-artists — Vaslav Nijinsky and Charles Chaplin. Never saw Nijinsky looking happier. Like this? Read more: The Tramp meets the Dying Swan Charlie Chaplin in China

James Cagney studied ballet with Kosloff 5

Dance · Film
In my soon-published long essay, “Theodore Kosloff and Cecil B. DeMille Meet Madam Satan,”* I write as follows: James Cagney, too, studied ballet with Kosloff, or so the actor-hoofer let drop to the Los Angeles Times in January 1938. Cagney confessed that he was training for a pet project: playing Nijinsky in a bio-pic. (This ...

Specter of Nijinsky haunts Republic Pictures’ “Specter of the Rose”

Dance · Film
The photo captures the marvelous opening scene of “Specter of the Rose,” a ballet movie from 1946 and a precious artifact of high-Hollywood dance-schmaltz. Dame Judith Anderson, seated at left, knitting, plays “Madam La Sylph,” the ballet mistress whom Ben Hecht, in his at-once overheated and acerbic screenplay, refers to as “the remains of a ...

Nijinsky’s costume for “Spectre” was ‘sixties’ pink

Dance · Fashion
For our Thanksgiving post, no turkeys; instead, a spectre; a sixties-pink spectre of the rose. The precious togs at right were worn by Vaslav Nijinsky in the infamous Ballets Russes production of the Michel Fokine ballet circa 1911. Now they hang on display at the Vaganova Ballet Academy Museum. They come to arts·meme courtesy of Lorin Johnson, who snapped ...

Creative team behind Music Center triumph: Joffrey Ballet in Nijinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” 1

Dance
Lorin Johnson, Artistic Advisor for LA’s Rite; Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director for The Joffrey Ballet; Renae Williams Niles, Programming Director for The Music Center; Thor Steingraber, Vice President of Programming for The Music Center; Stephen Rountree, President & CEO for The Music Center; Millicent Hodson, Dance Historian; Kenneth Archer, Dance Historian. *     *     *   Read my ...

Twentieth century’s greatest male dancers

Dance
I was born mid-century. So I wasn’t around for the first half. I missed Nijinsky. But here are my candidates for the four most influential male dancers of the twentieth.

A dancer’s shoes

Dance · Fashion
  Zaldy, the trendy costume designer for Michael Jackson’s aptly named  “This is It” tour, speaks in the film’s DVD-extras about the custom loafers he created for the singer-dancer. The designer describes how he knocked off the cut and dimension of [hundreds of] loafers that [Jackson told Zaldy], “I can dance in.” Michael Jackson was ...

Hoppé’s impromptu Nijinsky photo session 1

Dance · Visual arts
This dapper fellow is E.O. Hoppé, Great Britain’s German-born society-and-arts photographer (1878-1972) whose current show at London’s National Portrait Gallery has spawned very positive reviews. [Click on E.O.’s photo for better view] And it all has a Los Angeles connection. arts·meme friend, Graham Howe, who divides his time between Sydney and Pasadena, is a distinguished photography ...

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 ...

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 ...