Shelley Duvall, in her special dance as Olive Oyl, recalled by Sharon Kinney, her choreographer

Dance · Film

Seen above, a personal photo published with permission. It is a beatific pose by the recently deceased actress Shelley Duvall dancing as Olive Oyl in director Robert Altman’s “Popeye” (1980). Duvall (1949-2024), who recently passed away, led a long and memorable career primarily as a character actress, but in this case she played a full leading role countering Robin Williams as Popeye. Her indelible outing in a winsome solo number, “He Needs Me,” to a song by Harry Nillson may be enjoyed here:



Sharon Kinney. a good Friend of Artsmeme (F.O.A.M.), the creator/choreographer/coach of Shelley’s special dance, tells us that Duvall did her own singing in the number. She was not dubbed which would be common in this circumstance.

The dance world reveres Sharon for having been one of choreographer Paul Taylor‘s original dancers in his iconic dance company. But since retiring from performance, she has led a fruitful career as an instructor at Cal State Long Beach, as a filmmaker and indeed as a dance-film choreographer/coach living in Los Angeles. Sharon shared with Facebook friends her memories of working with the lanky Ms. Duvall in staging a solo song “He Needs Me,” in the Altman film.

Sharon reminisced,

She was so professional, so invested and really wanted to personify Olive Oyl and her love for Popeye! She did great things before with Altman and had just finished the Shining with Stanley Kubrick! She then went on to do some other great work with Faierie Tale theater!

Shelley Duvall’s inscription to Sharon Kinney on the glossy photo is good natured. “Think I’ll ever make New York City Ballet?” she mused. Dance “people” will recognize the innate beauty of her pose that is rooted in the cartoon version of OO as gangly. Even in her clodhopper shoes, this Olive Oyl is luscious.

sharon kinney left, coaches shelley duvall movement in song

artsmeme sends a big oyly ‘muah’ to sharon kinney for permission to publish her photos.

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Mexican-born, American-trained Isaac Hernandez to join ABT as Principal Dancer

Dance
Isaac Hernández. Photo: Erik Sawaya.

Our friends at American Ballet Theatre, which under the guidance and decision-making of new Artistic Director Susan Jaffe seem to have awakened from a long Sleeping Beauty-like slumber, have stirring news to share. The company’s highest ranks will have a new addition. It’s a long, slim, classically trained dancer of Mexican origin — and that is a first. Isaac Hernández most recently of San Francisco Ballet, has joined as American Ballet Theatre’s first Mexican Principal Dancer.
 
A dancer of talent and versatility, Hernández has garnered international acclaim for his technical prowess and dramatic abilities. Jaffe states, in a press release, “He is a dancer of remarkable skill and artistic depth, and his ability to convey profound emotion through dance makes him a truly unique and compelling performer.”
 
Hernandez’s career has been marked by numerous standout performances, most recently at San Francisco Ballet as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Prometheus in the world premiere performances of Mere Mortals, Prince Guillaume in Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella, and his dynamic interpretation of Albrecht in Akram Khan’s Giselle at English National Ballet. He has received numerous accolades in his career, including the prestigious Prix de Benois de la Danse in 2018.
 
Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Hernández trained under his father, Hector Hernández, in the backyard of his house in Mexico before continuing his studies at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hernández participated in ABT Summer Intensives as a National Training Scholar from 2003-2007.

I cannot imagine that Southern Californians will not see Isaac Hernandez appear on the Segerstrom Center stage in ABT’s just-announced performances of Christopher Wheeldon’s balletic treatment of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” in April 2025.

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REVIEW: Easily distracted? Hopelessly romantic? Try ‘Touch.’

Film · Reviews
by 
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Architecture & Design · Travel
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Travel
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A shuffle away from democracy in prescient ‘Shiraz’ at Montpellier Danse

Dance · Reviews
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To south of France, for ‘Montpellier Danse’

Dance · Travel
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Don’t be superstitious! Buy Jeff Beck-tribute guitar.

Music
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Film
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It’s been ‘a hard day’s night’ — for sixty years!

Film · Music
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