I am writing a new biography of the choreographer Jack Cole. Naturally, over time, I hoped to see film footage of Cole himself speaking. Despite deep digging, till now, none has surfaced. Cole plays a speaking role in MGM’s “Designing Woman” (1957), co-starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall. And I have one lengthy interview of him, sound only, culled from a substandard cassette recorder.
With the help of the intrepid Andrea Salvatore, assistant director of Center for Ballet and the Arts and and the Center’s assistant Courtney Sams, I was able to remotely access (from Los Angeles) NYU Bobst Library’s sizeable dance collection. Three clicks later, I found myself watching “Ruth St. Denis: The Dancing Prophet,” a 2010 documentary about the great modern-dance matriarch. Tucked inside, courtesy of the library’s mighty search engine, I found footage of Jack Cole speaking about Miss Ruth and Ted. For a researcher, this is solid gold.
I watched the snippet on my laptop computer with a pounding heart.
Cole tells a story I had heard before … but the version I heard had morphed as though by the children’s game, “Telephone.” But here it was from the horse’s mouth, told with dry humor and filling in some delicious detail that had gotten lost in the ‘game.’
It came as a jolt of possibility that alumni Fellows of the Center enjoy the privilege of this access. During my time in NYC on fellowship, in the Fall 2016, I spent most of my library time at Lincoln Center. I did not plumb the rich resources at NYU. Now I can. May I add that NYU has world-class film and dance programs so the resources are tailor-made to my subject!
Thank you, Center for Ballet and the Arts,
Debra + Jack