Barbara Morgan, “Martha Graham”

Barbara Morgan, “Martha Graham”, Performance “Letter to the World”, 1940

“Letter to the World” is an American modern dance piece created by Martha Graham in 1940 exploring the life and work of the poet Emily Dickinson, one of Graham’s favorite poets. It is an introspective work that, in Graham’s words, investigates Dickinson’s inner landscape. The main narrative rotates around the struggle of the One Who Dances and the Ancestress, who embodies the poet’s Puritan tradition and death, creating a combination of dances and spoken lines.

Reblogged with many thanks to a great site: doctordee. tumblr..com

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 29th of November,  Solar Year 2018

Trade

November 29, 1895 was the birthdate of choreographer Busby Berkeley.

Born William Berkeley Enos in California, Busby Burkeley, enlisted for service in the military during World War I. He oversaw military drills for both the American and French forces, an experience which would give him inspiration in later years. Taking advantage of his mother’s theatrical connections, Burkeley became an entertainment officer, directing and producing plays for the American troops in postwar Germany.

Taking the name of Busby Berkeley, he turned to the stage after the war, finding his forte was directing musicals. In 1927, Berkeley choreographed the Rogers and Hart musical “A Connecticut Yankee”, which was a tremendous success, making him one of Broadway’s most-coveted choreographers. Following that success, he choreographed, directed, and produced the 1929 musical “The Street Singer”.

Success brought Busby Berkeley to the attention of Hollywood. Samuel Goldwyn had him work on comedian Eddie Cantor’s film “Whoopee”, previously a production on Broadway by Flo Ziegfeld. Berkeley choreographed and directed the dance numbers in the film. He late worked on the Bert Lahr musical “Flying High” and the 1932 “Night World” with its night club scenes.

Busby Berkeley decided to move to the Warner Brothers Studio; this is where his most famous work was done. In 1933, he staged the dances for three musicals now regarded as classics: “Gold Diggers of 1933”, “42nd Street”, and “Footlight Parade”. All three films were backstage stories, concerned with the production of a Broadway show. The musical numbers Berkeley created were a opulent fantasy universe, using camera angles and movements that produced views unable to be seen by a sitting audience. Placing his camera directly above the action, he often showed his ensemble of performers moving in precise geometric formations.

In 1935, Warner Brothers made Busby Berkeley a full-fledged director, He produced one of his best works, “Gold Diggers of 1935”, an account of the events at a summer resort showcasing the musical number “Lullaby of Broadway” sung by Wini Shaw. This song won an Academy Award in 1936 and Berkeley was nominated for an Oscar for best dance director. He won his second Oscar for his work of choreography in “Gold diggers of 1937”.

Beginning in the 1960s, Berkeley’s films enjoyed a nostalgic revival, with both critics and film lovers showing renewed interest in his work. He himself returned briefly to Broadway in 1970 to supervise a production of “No No Nanette” with Ruby Keelre, the star of his three great 1933 films.

Paul Kolnik’s Photo of Chase Finlay

Paul Kolnik, “Chase Finlay as Apollo”, 2011, The George Balanchine Trust Studio

Dancer Chase Finlay played the title role in Balanchine’s 1928 ballet “Apollo”.   It was the third performance at the New York City Ballet on the night of May 5th of 2011, proceded by the Balanchine-Stravinsky 1960 “Monumentum Pro Gesualdo”  and the 1963 “Movements for Piano and Orchestra”.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 28th of August, Solar Year 2018

Smokin’ Guns

August 28, 1925 was the birthdate of American dancer, singer, and actor Donald O’Connor.

Donald O’Connor was born in Chicago to parents Effie Irene Crane and John Edward O’Connor, both vaudeville entertainers. He began performing in movies in 1937 at the age of eleven, making his uncredited debut in the Columbia Pictures’ film “It Can’t Last Forever”.  O’Conner, then twelve, signed a contract at Paramount Studio and appeared in two films in 1938: “Men with Wings” playing a younger version of Fred Mac Murray’s character, and in “Sing You Sinners” appearing as Bing Crosby’s character’s younger brother.

Donald O’Connor appeared in eight more films between the years 1938 and 1939. He appeared as Huckleberry Finn in the 1938 “Tom Sawyer, Detective” and in the 1939 “Boy Trouble” playing an orphan boy with ill with scarlet fever. O’ Connor received fourth billing in “Million Dollar Legs” with Betty Grable and played Gary Cooper as a young boy in the 1939 “Beau Geste”. In 1940, having outgrown child roles, O’Connor returned to the vaudeville stage.

On his eighteenth birthday in August 1943, O’Connor was drafted into the army. Before he reported for induction in February 1944, Universal Studio, with whom he had signed in 1941, already had seven O’Connor films completed. With a backlog of these features, deferred openings at the theaters kept O’Connor’s screen presence uninterrupted during the two years he was overseas.

In 1949, he played the lead role in the film “Francis”, the story of a soldier befriended by a talking mule. The film was a huge success. As a consequence, his musical career was constantly interrupted by production of one “Francis” film per year until 1955. O’Connor received an offer to play Cosmo the piano player in the 1952 “Singin’ in the Rain” at MGM. This earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Comedy or Musical. The film featured his widely known rendition of “Make ‘Em Laugh” and the notable scene during a dance number when he runs up a wall and does a flip.

The most distinctive characteristic of O’Connor’s dancing style was its athleticism, for which he had few rivals. Yet it was his boyish charm that audiences found most engaging, and which remained an appealing aspect of his personality throughout his career. In his early Universal films, O’Connor closely mimicked the smart alec, fast-talking personality of Mickey Rooney of rival MGM Studio. For “Singin’ in the Rain” however, MGM cultivated a much more sympathetic sidekick persona, and that remained O’Connor’s signature image.

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A Year: Day to Day Men: 15th of July, Solar Year 2018

Summer Heat

July 16, 1911 was the birthdate of actress, dancer and singer Ginger Rogers.

Ginger Rogers had two films in the 1933 that have now become classics. The public was enamored by her in the song and dance “Gold Diggers of 1933”, She did not have top billing but the public remembered her beauty and voice. One song she popularized in the film was the now famous “We’re in the Money”. Rogers played the character of Ann Lowell in “42nd Street”, a musical film with big stage choreography by Busby Berkeley. The film became one of the most profitable ones of the year and received two Academy Award nominations.

Ginger Roger’s real stardom occurred when she was teamed up with actor and dancer Fred Astaire becoming one of the best cinematic couples ever to hit the silver screen. They first appeared in the 1933 “Flying Down to Rio”, a film with marvelous dance numbers, including a breathtaking dance number on the exterior of a formation of airplanes flying over the audience.

Rogers and Astaire did two films in 1935. The first was “Roberta”, an RKO production costarring Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott. The second film of that year was probably the best remembered of her films, “Top Hat”, a screwball musical comedy with a music score by Irving Berlin and the famous dance scene with Rogers wearing a white ostrich-feather dress.

Ginger Rogers made several dramatic pictures; but it was the 1940 “Kitty Foyle” that won her an Academy Award for portrayal in the title role of Kitty Foyle, a working girl facing life-changing decisions. Rogers followed this film with a comedy in 1941 “Tom, Dick, and Harry”. playing a woman who has to decide which of three men she wants to marry. Through the rest of the 1940s and early 1950s she continued to make movies but none of them near the caliber of those before World War II.

After “Oh Men, Oh Women” with David Niven in 1957, Ginger Rogers didn’t appear on the silver screen for seven years. In 1965, she had appeared for the last time in the film “Harlow”, a Paramount production about the life of Jean Harlow. Afterward, she appeared on Broadway and other stage plays traveling in Europe, the U.S. and Canada. After 1984, she retired and wrote an autobiography in 1991 entitled, “Ginger, My Story” recounting her more than sixty films including those with Fred Astaire. On April 25, 1995, Ginger Rogers died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 83.

Sergei Polunin Dancing to Luciano Pavarotti’s Singing “Caruso”

Sergei Polunin Dancing to Luciano Pavarotti’s Singing “Caruso”

Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin is a Ukranian-born ballet dancer, actor and model. He started out in gymnastics before switching to ballet at the age of eight and attended the Kiev State Choreographic Institute. He joined the British Royal Ballet School a the age of thirteen in 2003. He was awarded, among other awards, the Prix de Lausanne and the Youth America Grand Prix in 2006. In 2007 Polunin was named the Young British Dancer of the Year. At the age of 20 in 2010, he became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer.

Polunin is now pursuing a freelance career as a principal dancer, performing at various theaters such as the Bolshoi Theater, La Scala Theater, Teatro San Carlo, and the Royal Ballet. He is a permanent guest artist for the Bayerisches Staatsballet in Munich, Germany.