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 aspiration followed Cagney’s role as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, released by Warner Brothers in 1935 and choreographed by guess-who’s sister: Bronislava Nijinska. ) The Nijinsky bio-pic, starring Cagney, never came to fruition. Surely cinema’s great lost opportunity!
Cagney’s ballet exposure is undeniable in the video (which dates from 1937, according to the youtube poster). He’s a completely different dancer than we see in Footlight Parade (1933).
I cite Cagney’s pulled-up comportment, his petits jetés descending the staircase, and the number-closing enchaînement of petit allegro.
*(one essay of several in “Experiment” vol. 20, a journal of the Institute of Modern Russian Culture, University of Southern California, Nov 2014).
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