Ballet & blistering jazz-dance collide in Paris


Youtube, you’ve done it again! And again and again. That’s how many times I have watched this wonderful newsreel clip, clearly an excerpt from a longer British Pathe story concerning … la danse.

It takes place in Paris, which is always an excellent start. The cameraman seems be following a haughty prima ballerina, Ludmilla Tcherina, as she barges into a ballet class being taught by her former instructor, the lady with the unpronounceable name, Olga Preobrajenska.

Preobrajenska (pronounce it here) is a miniature lady nearly knocked down by the vibrant Tcherina. The old lady proceeds to teach class, after preparing the floor with her watering can; faltering with her balance while demonstrating a combination, and holding the attention of the class pianist who has a magazine propped on her music stand. Classic!

Then! to the beat of the bongo/congo, we see a real woman, dancing. That’s Jack Cole dancer Valerie Camille putting her sweating, writhing students through the rigors of a grinding, twisting exercise at the barre. Then, in floor crossings, they slither through a slo-motion jazz-dance walk. You just feel the ghost of Jack Cole cracking the whip in the background!

The two dance styles are apples and oranges! Des pommes et des oranges! It leaves us wanting more. The three ladies, Preobrajenska, Tcherina, and Camille below.

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