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From Rodford Barrat:
This is a personal website that I started in 2002, long before Facebook and other social media took over and made it a lot easier to meet people from one's past. And in its small way it reconnected me and a small group of fellow performers together, for the first time for years. It's amazing to think there were very few websites at the time on men and dance. It doesn't get updated much now but I hope you enjoy reading some of these words from the recent past.
26th August 2012
Just heard, via Robert Arditti, that the dancer, Louise Clarke, has died of a heart attack. Shocked to hear this! I worked with her when she was only 15 years old at the London Palladium in the pantomime, "Aladdin". Louise later became a member of the iconic group, Pan's People. Really saddened to hear of her death. I've added her name to the In Memoriam page on this site. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Links and other information are also listed on this page below. Please scroll down.
GUY-PAUL RUOLT DE ST. GERMAIN
writing on the death of ROLAND PETIT, July, 2011:
Another great choreographer has left us a few days ago. Roland Petit.
I was very fortunate to work under his direction from a very early age as he was the director of the school at the Marseille Opera house where I trained. During those years I had many occasions to witness creation of plenty of his ballets as we had our classes in the same studios his comapny was using so the little boy that I was would arrive early and sit down in a corner... and learn.
A few years later, I was even part of that same company (Ballets de Marseille) and experienced the thrill of working with "Le Maitre" himself. He was very demanding and didn`t accept mediocrity even from his leading dancers. During all these years I rubbed shoulders with so many great names, Makarova, Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Gainsbourg, Dupond, Pontois, Kain. but most of all... his wife Zizi Jeanmaire. The most delightful lady I ever met. So simple and elegant. Hard working, humble... I still worship her to this day.
For the first time this week end, a programme of Roland Petits works (Carmen, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, L` Arlesienne) will be danced by the English National Ballet without the presence of the Maitre himself. This sure will be a very emotional time for his assistants who worked so hard for weeks with the company to make sure everything was respected to please him (even the lights are set up by the same person, following his demands).
I`m sure a lot of people here have seen the revues he made for Zizi at the Alhambra and later at the Casino de Paris in the 60s and 70s. Not to mention his work for Hollywood such as Hans Christian Andersen and Daddy Long Legs.
These are such sad times when a chidhood hero goes away...
writing in the newsletter:
"...I Foleyed the taps for the monster in Mel Brook's "Young Frankenstein".
Puttin' on the Ritz was the number, with Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle as the Monster. Alan Johnson was the choreographer..."
Ed: To "Foley" means to dub the sound.
Randy Doney is currently appearing in The Palm Springs Follies.
writing in the newsletter in 2010:
Thanks to Jack Moore for his candid memories about growing up in 1940s and the changes he has seen. When I first wrote, I did not mean to concentrate on men's sexuality. It was my poor attempt to talk about men's "Guyland" ratings. In Guyland, being an athlete wins the "dude" rating, from our peers and, more difficult yet, from our fathers. In the USA, being a man is all about your sport skills. Your words, Jack, about not being picked for teams are on that very subject. I could never come up to my father's hopes for me in sports.
Nearly every famous American male dancer I can recall constantly battled that "sissy" thing: Gene Kelly, Patrick Swayze, Jacques d'Amboise, all of the men in ballet and most of them in popular dance. To this day, John Travolta does not want to be called a "dancer" - continually turning down PDS' and other organization's honors. Fred Astaire is the only icon I can recall that never talked or wrote about discrimination. Perhaps he was "Above" it, as he was "Above" all mere mortals.
American men are sports crazy, to them it defines "masculinity." There is a new book about Mickey Mantle which tells about his serial womanizing, lack of guidance to his sons - 3 of whom got into substance abuse and died early - and the lifelong shame and alcohol addiction his wife lived through, But Hey! Mickey was a Sports Monster: "One of the greatest baseball players in History!" Same with Tiger Woods. All is forgiven and overlooked by the guys out there in the stands, guzzling beer, painting their faces and whooping it up.
Trying to figure out what exactly is the male code, I read a fascinating book called "Guyland" by Dr. Michael Kimmel. I saw a review of it several years ago and purchased it to try and help me navigate the struggles to become "Men" that we male animals all go through.
If any of our European menwhodanced can add to the discussion that would give us other perspectives. And our ladieswhodanced can add their observations and help figure this all out.
So, what makes a man? A dancing man?
Practice, dude. Practice.
Ed: Larry Billman founded the Academy of Dance on Film.
writing in reply, 2010:
Larry's words bring up many questions but this one sentence strikes a chord:
"...the guys out there in the stands, guzzling beer, painting their faces and whooping it up...."
The guys out there in the stands, it is often forgotten, are not the players.
The vast majority of men, of any age, are sports spectators. They sit. They watch. They do not play. This no more makes you a footballer than dancing at a party or a club at the weekend makes you a dancer. But being only an enthusiastic supporter, apparently helps many guys feel they themselves possess the attributes they see on the field of play: strength, skill, power. Attributes that are also developed in dance, especially classical ballet.
The professional players on the field (because usually it'll be a team game) have far more in common with professional dancers than any supporter in the stands. Dancers and athletes train. And daily. Some male supporters guzzling beer may think it is unmanly to leap to music, but then, they usually don't know how to leap.
Pete, was a member of the Performing Warriors newsletter list on this site. It is with regret that we heard of his untimely death in 2007. The words and thoughts he contributed were welcomed and read with enthusiasm by his colleagues in the performing arts here. He is still missed.
Wear your baggies and dance on, Pete.
from all the guys and girls...
THE STARDUST, LAS VEGAS
PERFORMERS AND CREW REUNION 2006
From Las Vegas, Nevada, USA:
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMANN
In the immortal words of Noel Coward, "I have been to a marvellous party....................."
The Stardust reunion was a truly wonderful event with dancers, acts, crew and creative teams represented from 1958 to the present! It's really difficult to describe what happened because I spent the entire evening talking and laughing to people I hadn't seen for years, (with the occasional glass of vino thrown in, which could possibly account for my lack of cohesive recollections).
The evening began with a cocktail reception which was a log jam of laughter and ''Oh my God, is that really you?" and "Darling, you look fab. Who's your Dr.?" Many familiar faces, some old, some completely brand new!
I saw my old boss, Fluff Le Coque, in a corner quitely puffing away on a fag...(to the American's reading this...a cigarette) She looks fantastic and was so happy to see so many of her former dancers. Breck Wall had a picture of Fluff, Jillian Hrushowy and myself for Call Back magazine so look forward to seeing that. I think around 6 pm the doors opened and we flooded into the ballroom as 'This Joint is Jumpin' from Enter the Night was re-created by Terry Lovern and Sandi Ross. (the dancers were actually from ETN, and they were very agile!!).
The food was delicious and the Mariano Longo Quartet played whilst we stuffed ourselves, in between photo ops and much chatter. Lou Anne and Terry Loverne welcomed everyone (I believe there were almost 700 people) and Jen Paige and Austin Ray sang "We're Still here." The 'Notorious' fashion show number was also recreated and among the performers were Heather Victorson,Valerie Chapman Elliot, Liz Larkin and Pam Langevin. They all looked so beautiful. (note to show directors.....please can we have some more elegance like that on the Strip....this 'in your face, bump and grind' is getting OLD!).
The 5 decades of entertainment were represented by guest speakers:
Gillian Kabet, Jim Hodge, Jill & Lenny Raider, Wayne Albritten & Heather Victorson, Stan Melvin & Shirley Allen and The Volontes Don Thompson & Scott Beldin, Barbara Beverly, Dawnie Sachs, Gordon Cornish (at piano), Carl Lindstrom & Kenny Maslow (of Beach Blanket Babylon fame), Aki Levin, Austin Ray and Kenny Kerr (who was in fine form!), 'Little' Peggy March sang and the Chairman of Boyd Gaming Group, Bill Boyd made a lovely speech about the contribution that all present had made to the growth of Las Vegas and to it's future.
I don't think he mentioned the contribution of 'Lefty' Rosenthal and Tony 'the ant' Spilotro but I have friends who remember certain performers being marched out of the casino at gun point, and of course, the lovely moment when Frank Rosenthal told Miss Bluebell to put the "fat British cows back on the plane to England!" Yes, she did have a tendency to the more buxom lasses from the Yorkshire moors now didn't she?
From then on the night remains a bit of a blur save for Sal Angelica passing me and saying, "Why is everyone talking so lovingly about Donn Arden? They all hated him when he was alive!"
Congratulations to Lou Anne. She made it a night to remember and let's hope we do it again soon! Lesley Anne Bandy won the raffle....an original Terry Ritter painting. And my pal Su Kim Chung was there from Special Collections at UNLV (ed: University of Nevada, Las Vegas). She has been so instrumental in cataloging, caring for and championing the great showgirl collection in the library. That era is a large part of our culture and history. I know that some of the proceeds were being donated to this collection.
(ed: amongst her credits, Liz, was principal dancer at London's Talk of the Town,)
View photographs of all past Reunions here:
From our Newsletter: September 2006
Edward Scissorhands in Tokyo
Reviewed by Larry Billman
(Currently in Japan for Disney and President of the Academy of Dance on Film in Los Angeles)
On Saturday, Sept. 2nd, my wife and I saw a matinee performance of Matthew Bourne's "Edward Scissorhands" in Tokyo. The choreography? It must have been perfect as it created moods, delineated character, told the story, made me smile, laugh, sigh and cry, and appeared seamless. I was never suddenly awed by a "trick" or "exercise." I would pay money to see Bourne stage the telephone book and feel that "Scissorhands" should be required viewing for every dancer, actor, choreographer and director.
And now for the questions...which I would love to hear responses/reactions to. Warning: there are SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk.
Like all of his work, it is brilliant, but for me has some conceptual disconnects. As most of my life has been spent working in the vernacular of musical theater, I believe it should have been a musical, for it cries out for song and some dialog. I feel it would have had been a more ultimately successful piece if all the other characters sang and spoke and only using Edward as the mute dancer. When "Finian's Rainbow" included a character who did not speak ("Susan the Silent") it was revolutionary. This production could have used and benefited from the same impact.
The show is constructed in actual musical numbers, which are classic "musical theater." In a Japanese newspaper interview, Matthew stated that the original writer and director of the film, Tim Burton, did not want it to be a musical. Matthew is also a very clever businessman and knows that all dance pieces need no translation and can be successful all over the world. It is sold-out in Japan.
The cast is incredible, creating detailed characters through all sorts of movement: jazz, tap, ballet, character, social dance. Bourne and Burton also rewrote the back story, which, at first, my wife and I had a difficult time grasping as we recently watched the film to refresh our memories. This new Prologue (which contains the first four scenes of the show) ends when Edward leaves his lonely mansion and wanders into town, where "Peg Boggs" (who was originally a slightly ditzy Avon Lady) finds him rummaging through trash. Again, this may be a purposeful choice when Burton and Bourne asked themselves if international audiences would know what an "Avon Lady" is. For us, it lessened the importance and spiritual generosity of her role, as she seems to arbitrarily invite him into her house and the family.
The meeting of Edward and Kim (played by Winona Ryder in the film) is also not as well defined as in the film. He sleeps in her room, participates in a delicious dream ballet with images of Kim as a cheerleader coming to life, creates Topiary gardens, and they finally meet at a backyard barbecue! "Where was she this whole time?" I kept asking myself. Anyway, I think there are some confusing story points, but it is obvious that Burton and Bourne intended to "re-invent it."
Where it finally works is the Dream Ballet that closes Act One. Edward loses his scissorhands and can actually dance with Kim in the "Topiary Ballet." Agnes DeMille would be proud, as it is everything a "Dream" ballet should be. This fanciful dream has them dancing with Living Topiary - a great idea.
Like all of Bourne's endings, he is the ultimate showman and he "gets" you at the finale. Kim - now an old lady - is wandering the night, remembering, and Edward is seen in shadows. As she swells with memories, it begins to snow. Get out the hankies. It received a standing ovation, which is very rare for Japanese audiences. "Unrequited love" is a theme that the mostly-female audience deeply understands.
Not being certain which dancer was performing which role (arggh) the young man who played "Edward" (Sam Archer or Richard Winsor) truly evoked the innocent pathos of the character and channeled Johnny Depp. I know that "Kim" was played by the miraculous Kerry Biggin, whose face I memorized when I saw her in "Highland Fling." To see her playing an almost-ordinary American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman - after having had her break my heart as the quirky, sexy and doomed "Sylph" in "Fling" - convinced me of her talent and versatility.
There was a young boy sitting next to my wife who got very confused during the seduction number in which "Joyce Monroe," the red-headed desperate housewife, tries to get Edward into her bed. He kept asking his mother (in Japanese) what was happening. For what Bourne calls "A Family Friendly" show, it is much too long and graphic. We "Get" it, but Bourne drags it on and has it end with her sitting on a washing machine having an orgasm. Hey - I work for Disney and our family-friendly guidelines stop short of bodily functions. For the adults in the audience it is rude and funny. For young children, it takes what was only suggested in the film and presents very "Adult" nuances, probably making them squirm in their seats. It also makes "Joyce's" role more prominent that I think it should be. Again, not knowing exactly which actress played the role at the performance we saw (Michela Meazza or Mikah Smillie) whoever she was, she was incredible.
He also softens the villain, "James," by not having him hunt down and try to kill Edward. Instead, Bourne's version has Edward mistakenly stab him at the climactic "Annual Christmas Ball." I'd love to hear what the musical and movement inspiration for Bourne for this number was, as I found it to be a direct lift of "Sluefoot" from the Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron film version of "Daddy Long Legs," with the composer, Terry Davies, even quoting the song. It didn't bother me, as I am the only person in the audience who probably ties the two numbers together. And my feelings are that if you are going to "lift" to tap into collective memories, do it from the best. Bourne has publically stated that his youthful dreams were all driven by the Movie Musical. The choreography and staging of the number also reminds us of "Dance at the Gym" from "West Side," so it is a complex and energetic mix-and-meld of characters and story illustrated through dance.
No, no more harping. It is mostly moments of brilliance, an incredible cast of dancing actors, Lez Brotherson once again creates a unique world of design, projections and magical effects and it is thought-provoking and emotionally entertaining. Bourne seems to have assembled a unparalled creative and performance company. What more could we ask for? It comes the closest to the innovative impact of "West Side Story" because of the non-stop dance performed by a cast of brilliant people.
I strongly suggest that you all see it. A ballet? No. Perhaps a "Dance Scenario"? A "Movement Musical"? Bourne is my "Great Hope." Not Twyla Tharp.
Newsletter Quotes: March 2006
From: "David Wright,dancer, dies 17th March, 2006"
David Wright had a career that stretched from the West End stage to the biggest show in Las Vegas in its time: Hallelujah Hollywood!
in the 1970s. Many people contributed words on David in the newsletter; here are a few excerpts:
JOCELYN CASSIA in Newcastle, England:
The lovely David Wright I knew at the Casino de Paris (in Paris) in the sixties - well, I am truly so so sad he was such a lovely gentle person...
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA:
...I have such great memories of him both in London and in Hello Hollywood Hello in Reno.
ADRIAN LE PELTIER in Ocee, Florida, USA:
...Then there was the life of his youth that he lived with such a wonderful abandon and dare the devil attitude. Handsome, handsome, handsome with the most compelling blue eyes. Always loving, caring and concerned about others but very passionate about his beliefs. In his gentleness there was a strength and firmness...
Other contributors included: Cindy Goldenberg in Laguna Niguel; Hans Suderee in Amsterdam; Leon Draper in Auckland; Rosita Korda in Reno; Alex Poor in Perth and Jeffrey Scott Adair in Redwood City.
Newsletter Quotes: February 2006
From: "Ian Robertson"
Sadly we have just heard of the death of Ian Robertson on January 1st.
Ian's name went onto the Men's page (then called Old Boys) over three years ago when there were only about four or five names on it. He wrote me an e-mail with such enthusiasm it was a joy to read. And I remember his encouraging words with a grateful thanks.
In the early days of the newsletter he also sent in some interesting comments and will not be forgotten. His entry on the site read:
National Ballet of Canada, 1950s
London's Festival Ballet, 1960s
Walter Gore's London Ballet, 1960s
Les Grand Ballets Classiques de France, 1960s
Ballets International de Paris, 1960s
Zurich Opera Ballet, 1960s
The Music Man
both in London's West End; and appearances on BBC TV, 1960s
It is sad to transfer yet another name onto the In Memoriam page.
Newsletter Quotes: January 2006
From: Being Shot in Black and White...
"I finally saw "Hootenanny Hoot" all of the way through for the first time. It was on one of the film channels and don't you know, Both of my VCRs were busted at the same time and I couldn't tape it. My friend of 40 some years who is appearing in a show here, Ruta Lee, was one of the stars of it. All those dance numbers. Gene Nelson directed the movie - it was a "quickie". We'd rehearse a number for a couple of days, then be rushed into wardrobe and makeup, they'd stop shooting the book, wheel in the cameras and we'd shoot it in an afternoon. Next day = new number. Sort of like TV or summer stock! All of this at MGM after they fired everyone who knew how to make musicals. It is black/white and was done to cash in on the Johnny Cash/ hootenanny craze on TV."
JACK MOORE in Palm Springs, writing about the MGM movie, "Hootenanny Hoot!" in which he danced.
From: Ride a Wild Pony!
"...the individual air tanks that made the horses go up and down, also made a noise that gave you the feeling the horses or riders were farting."
ERIC BRANDT NIELSEN in Valdosta, writing about Holiday On Ice in Amsterdam.
Alan Bird, actor and writer
7th January 2006
It is with sadness that I write to let you know that, Alan Bird
, an actor and writer, who contributed his words to this newsletter in its first two years, died yesterday, at his home in Llangollen in Wales at the age of 83.
Alan was born in the North East of England but his home base for many years was a village in Lancashire in the North West of England. He had an impressive knowledge of classical theatre and (for someone who was not a dancer) the history of ballet and opera in the 20th and 19th Centuries. If you needed to know who performed with Beerbohm-Tree? Or danced with Serge Lifar? Alan almost certainly would be able to recall some anecdote or story.
He also had an extensive knowledge of Russian art and had many articles published and contributed to a few books on the subject. He was also a fluent Russian speaker.
But his first love, was always the theatre and acting. As an actor he performed widely in the regional theatre in the UK. He was also part of the group that set up the Unity Theatre and later the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool.
He was a notable King Lear at Liverpool's Everyman in a production that included Jonathan Pryce starting out on his own career. One of the critics at the time describing Alan's performance as the best Lear he had ever witnessed.
In later years he worked mainly in front of the camera. His television appearances included parts in: Badger 2; Breeze Block; The Royal; A Small Mourning; The Cinder Path; Steel River Blues; The Man From the Pru and others. He appeared as various old Geordie codgers in adaptations of Katherine Cookson's novels, including: The Moth and A Dinner of Herbs.
His films included: Blonde Fist and Terence Davies's iconic, Distant Voices, Still Lives.
Alan also spent some time in Hong Kong where he appeared in a few Kung Fu movies.
At home, Alan was a keen gardener, and somehow found time to take a law degree in his 70s and qualify to work as a solicitor (but as ever, he stuck with acting).
Alan contributed his words to this newsletter in its first two years. He enjoyed mischievously throwing in his own mildly controversial viewpoint at times. And can I say he was a gentleman in the old form of the word. Unfailingly polite. And for me personally, a voice of unfailing encouragement. It is with dismay that I find it is his name that is the first name from this website that I am announcing the death of.
He was one of my closest friends. I will miss him.
Some of Alan Bird's contributions to the newsletter appear on this page and on the Archive and other pages.
From Palm Springs, California, USA
2nd December, 2005
JACK MOORE writes:
Just saw something in the Sunday LATimes that set me to reminiscing. (Not that that is hard to do!)
As part of a 90th anniversary celebration for Technicolor in December they are showing some films in Technicolor with Jack Cardiff (91) to speak a couple of times. They will be at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
One they picked is "Music Man" because it was done in a new process. How I'd love to see it in a theatre again. After it was finished in 1961 I saw a sneak prevue at a theatre in Burbank - missing the whole first number with the salesmen on the train (didn't know it was there until the next year) because I had a flat tire on the way and changed it myself in the dark (on a '53 Ford convertible - aqua - my "I've gone Hollywood" car!)
When I finally got to the theater they let me in because I was so dirty they believed my story. I was put up in the mezzanine. When the lights came up after I discovered I was with all of the Warner Brothers big shots - it was the only seat left!
The next year a friend took me to see it, again in Burbank, and I was surprised to see the opening number. So that was 1962.
I saw it on TV a number of times in the ensuing years. Neither Onna (ed: White) nor I had seen it on widescreen since it opened. I was working at AFI when they took over the LA FilmFest. One year had a number of small festivals incorporated into the big one. One such was a widescreen festival which had to be held in Long Beach because they had the equipment to show widescreen. (Today's ratio is not the same as Cinemascope and all of the others of the time.)
They wanted to do an homage to a choreographer. Someone came and asked if I'd ever heard of someone named Robert Fosse. I allowed as "yes" I had but what ever they had in mind didn't happen. They next tried for Michael Kidd who had just had one in New York and wasn't interested in another. They were desperate so I said I could get Onna - explained she was the only woman ever to get an Oscar for Choreography. So I became co-producer for the evening.
There was no clean, good print of "Oliver" at that point so they picked "Music Man". There was to be a question and answer after so Onna gave me a list of stars wanted including Ronnie Howard and Helen Reddy - never heard personally from either of them!
Shirley Jones was on a concert tour in Australia but sent a fax (New then) and Ann Margret sent a long letter to Onna (she was just starting a movie for TV. Mickey Rooney was in Toronto doing "Sugar Babies" but his wife Jan, a singer, learned and recorded at her own expense (we had no budget) Irving Berlin's "Choreography" for me (and Onna) to use to open the Q&A session.
We got one star, Janet Leigh who was leaving bright and early the next morning for a book tour. She said there was not another person in the world she would have done it for but Onna. So we saw "Music Man" in a clean print in widescreen about 10 years ago.
Onna insisted on bringing her dog along so she carried the dog and I the Oscar.
We sat sort of by ourselves to the side and kept saying "Oh look, there's Barbara Pepper, there's Larri Thomas, Doesn't Bob look swell and slim in his ice cream suit, I don't remember that sign on the side of the barn, etc. until some man shushed us! Then Janet joined us so I had Onna and dog on one side of me and Janet, whooping and hollering all through he the chase scenes on the other side. of me
Before the Q&A Janet was introduced to the narrator and leaned over and said, "Don't worry, honey, I talk!" There was supposed to be another dancer but he was sick so I filled in. Onna said to me before we went out, "You talk - you remember more about me than I do!". We had a ball! And that's where Janet and I became friends.
Well, ten years have gone by and both Janet and Onna are gone. Having seen it with them and the Warner Bros. suits, I'd love to see it again in widescreen...
Ed: Jack Moore danced in a number of Hollywood musicals, including: The Music Man, Bye, Bye, Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, Inside Daisy Clover, Hootenanny Hoot and My Fair Lady.
From Palm Springs, California, USA
12th October, 2005
RANDY DONEY writes:
Just returned from seeing the great, Chita Rivera at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Run = Don't walk to see her and her amazing company. I've worked with and been a long time friend of Chita. I guess I'm a bit biased in my accolades, but still, she was great! My friends and I who have worked with Chita and the stars and choreographers in our lives, almost kept us in tears of joy throughout her show.
She does a piece from "Chicago" - She's in one spotlight, and Gwen Verdon in the other - of course, it's just an empty spotlight. If that doesn't tug at your heart....... Whew... That was tough to get through. But what a wonderful tribute to Gwen.
I wasn't sure how the lay audience would react to her without knowing most of the stars, shows, choreographers, etc., but when we were involved in a standing ovation several numbers before the finale, - I guess the non theatrical audience got it anyway. What a great afternoon. If this is an indication of the reaction to her; can't imagine what will happen in New York where she really is the queen of dance.
Ed: Randy Doney is currently appearing in The Palm Springs Follies in Palm Springs
From Basel, Switzerland
29th September, 2005
KEVIN RICHMOND writes:
...informing you of the sad passing away of Paul Watson
. He was diagnosed with bone cancer and given 2 weeks to live and left this life last night.
He was for many years a dancer with London City Ballet
under the direction of Harold King
. In the last few years he has been on the teaching faculty at Arts ED (Tring), and had a passion for dance and teaching.
We did the RAD Teachers course together and in times of stress and desperation he would lighten the intensity with a joke or a story of his travels and years in the dance world. I wouldn^t have got through the course without him. Although not yet 40 he deserves to be remembered on the list of distinguished artists (In Memoriam page).
My condolences to all that were privileged to share in his wit (which could be as sharp as a razor) and his charm.
Ed: Kevin Richmond is Ballet Master with the Basel Ballet in Switzerland
Matthew Bourne's "Highland Fling"
by Larry Billman in Japan
10th July 2005
Yesterday Tomo (my wife) and I went to see a matinee of "Highland Fling" here in Tokyo. I was not sure of what to expect, as "La Sylphide" is not a work I am familiar with. I have probably seen more "excerpts" from the original ballet and doubt if I have ever seen it in its entirety. I had to go "online" to familiarize myself with it. Homework.
Once again, Matthew Bourne rocked our tiny world. He made us laugh, feel, think - and eventually reduced us to tears. Something I was not expecting. But, with Bourne, he seems to trigger our tear-ducts every time. He can wipe the smile off my face with a punch in the belly.
This piece is a "re-worked" version of the original 1994 production. It has more dancers (11 - instead of 7) and I immediately could understand why Bourne himself called it "Trainspotting - The Ballet." In its very opening in the restrooms of a "Highland Fling" club, we are introduced to our "Hero" - falling down drunk and swallowing drugs, eventually collapsing into a urinal. "No dear, this is not a Tutu and En Pointe piece." Thanks Matthew for slapping us in the face and waking us up. Lez Brotherston's designs are miraculous. And Paule Constable's lighting makes it all glow. Bourne has gathered other artists around him and not let it disintegrate into a One Man Show.
The entire piece is smart, ironic and funny. And the way that Bourne "Samples" (not unlike today's music) ideas, images and even other music is brilliant. The use of the soundtrack of the 1954 MGM musical version of "Brigadoon" as the droning TV in the house where the hero and his pals are recovering from a night of debauchery made me laugh out loud. "Once in the Highlands, the Highlands of Scotland, two weary hunters lost their way..."
The cast was superb. Although Will Kemp, today's "Hunk of Choice" was not dancing the leading role of "James" at the performance we saw, it did not matter. Adam Galbraith was superb being bold and strong and tall and spiky-haired. The longest legs I have ever seen in a kilt. Kerry Biggin as "The Sylph" reminded me of Gelsey Kirkland, only she is allowed to be brasher, trashier, sexier and eventually heart-breaking. There is a lot of Disney's "Tinkerbelle" in her: Selfish, devilish, maddening and yet vulnerable. If Bourne had asked me to "Clap if you believe in Fairies," I would have. Bourne's works are about the "Work" - and, although original cast members like Adam Cooper have been given a ticket to fame - I have yet to see a dance work by Bourne in which the cast did not meet-and-match the challenges. He is creating an entire generation of acting dancers who will be allowed to go nearly anywhere they want to in contemporary entertainment.
About the choreography: okay, it is not Balanchine, nor Ashton nor Petipa. There are no miraculous examples of technique. Only miracles of acting dancers. The party dance after the wedding in Act One looks and feels like musical theater. It soars and swirls and uses contemporary dance movements to keep reminding us where we are. The only thing missing is that they don't sing. And we expect them to at any minute. I believe that Bourne is the Choreographer-Director the musical theatre world has been waiting for. He is Jerome Robbins (the seamless and soaring movement driving the story and illuminating the characters)/Gower Champion (the unabashed theatricality)/Bob Fosse (the dark sensuality)/Tommy Tune (channeling the best bits and pieces of our theatrical past) combined. With Bourne's success in "Mary Poppins," I am hoping that producers recognize his gift and let him help the musical theatre out of its doldrums. I've heard that he may be working on revival of "Pal Joey." And if anyone can find the power in that piece and translate it to today's audiences, it is Bourne. "Pal Joey" has had a difficult time transcending the ages. It made a star of Gene Kelly when originally produced and even Fosse made it work in a revival. But its "appeal" has always depended on the star power of the leading player. As it is basically about a sleaze-bag, gigolo huckster, I believe Bourne could find the pieces to make us care.
The second act in the abandoned "Glade" reminded me of Bourne's "Swans." Other-worldly, funny, graceful and scary. These "Fairies" would eat you. The ending is devastating and I will not spoil it for those who have not seen it. Be prepared to have your breath taken away and your tear-ducts switched to "On."
The final "picture" makes me realize that Matthew must have been inspired by "Peter Pan." "Swan Lake," "The Nutcracker" and "Highland Fling" all end in a window - that portal through which mortals can be immortal.
Japanese audiences are not demonstrative. They usually clap along to a cheerful, up-tempo Finale. He didn't need that. The (primarily) Japanese females were on their feet for a genuine standing-ovation. Now THAT'S hard to earn.
In so many words here on menwhodanced, it is evident that the world is seeking that Dancing Place. Keep leading us Mr. Bourne. I will follow you anywhere.
(ed: Larry Billman is the Founder and President of The Academy of Dance on Film in Los Angeles; he is currently in Japan for the Disney Corporation)
"Viva Las Vegas!"
Monday, 9th May 2005
On the 15th of this month Las Vegas will be celebrating its 100th birthday.
We want to send greetings to all former and current performers on the Las Vegas Strip - whether you danced for the mob in earlier times, or appear on stage for Corporate America now - and to the City of Lights itself. Long may you entertain in your special style.
former producer and choreographer with The Ice Capades
and Le Lido
Bob Turk in California
from the world of London's The Latin Quarter
Durk Hartman Hoekstra in Canada
former artiste in Reno's Hello Hollywood, Hello!
Eric Brandt Nielsen in Georgia
former artiste in MGM's Jubilee!
Eric Carpenter in England
former artiste with the UK's Black & White Minstrel Show
J. P. Bowie in California
former Desert Inn
artiste (1959; 1960; 1961):
Jack Moore in California
choreographer and director of the Adult Professional Dance Center
for 28 years:
Joe Tremaine in Hollywood
founder and President of The Academy of Dance on Film
Larry Billman in Japan
former artiste with Britain's Ballet Rambert
Leon Draper in New Zealand
former World Professional Ice Skating Champion
Lorna Brown in California
former artiste with the The Bluebell Girls
Michelle Hartman in Canada
from the world of contemporary dance:
Pete Purdy in England
former artiste in MGM's Jubilee!
Rachel Carpenter in England
former artiste in MGM's Hallelujah! Hollywood!
Rodford Barrat in England
former artiste in Reno's Hello Hollywood, Hello!
Rosita Korda in Nevada
former artiste in MGM's Hallelujah! Hollywood!
(1979) and Jubilee
Russell Martin in Spain
We all say:
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LAS VEGAS!"
by Luis Hidalgo
The heat; the casinos; the Strip and Glitter Gulch: the city of lights accompanied by the sound of jazz in the night.
Running time: 2 minutes, 24 seconds.
"YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO DANCE!"
Monday, 2nd May 2005
One arresting piece of news lightened up the newsletter during April: Doris Eaton Travis, a former Ziegfeld Girl - now at the age of 101 - made her comeback on the Broadway stage in the 19th annual fund-raiser for AIDS.
"It is very thrilling and very delightful to step out onto that (New) Amsterdam Theatre, where my career in musical comedy theatre started," she said during rehearsals for a tap number with twelve male dancers.
Ms Travis was hired by Florenz Ziegfeld in 1918; then moved to Hollywood to appear in several silent films before returning to Broadway to star with Al Jolson in "Big Boy".
I was especially pleased to put this into the newsletter (and thanks to Liz Elliott Liebermann in Las Vegas for alerting me to this memorable event). This website's underlying mission is to encourage professional performance at any age. This is a wonderful example. Way to go, Doris!
THE PROFESSIONAL DANCERS' SOCIETY LUNCHEON
Sunday, March 13th was the Professional Dancers' Society annual fund raising luncheon at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Several of us drove in from Palm Springs.
My date was Lynne Stuart, Broadway singer and actress, and with her late husband Dick Horner, also a producer. Lynne was in the original Kismet, New Girl In Town and High Spirits. When we arrived we ran into Svetlana McLee (sp? - it's too much trouble to dig out the original Me & Juliet program to find it!). Then the three of us saw Eddie Weston who we had known in New York when he was in Gus Schirmer's The Boyfriend at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Later he was the head of the West Coast Actor's Equity Assoc. Thence, Turk with John Frayer (we were all in the 1960 revival of Showboat). Larri Thomas who was one of the two beautiful blondes who were in everything movie and TV wise in the late "50s and the "60s. Don Chrichton, a stalwart of the Carol Burnett TV show who Lynne and I had both know in the late '50s in Tabu Revue (Hugh Martin & Timmy Everett).
At our table were Bob Turk and two friends, Kevin Carlisle, Alton Ruff (Randy Doney had a matinee of the Palm Springs Follies), Carl Jablonski. Next table had Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke. Next to them was choreographer Bob Sidney. The table in the other direction had Dom DeLuise, his wife Carol, two sons and some grandchildren and Burt Reynolds. Dom (we worked together in summer stock in the early '50s) was one of the honorees. The others were Jane Powell with whom I'd danced on a Victor Borge TV Spectacular at NBC in the early '60s and hadn't seen since and,posthumously, Janet Leigh and Rita Hayworth. Wonderful film clips of all of them. Dom's clips had us a hysterical - they were mostly from TV, showing his dancing (?).
Mitzi Gaynor, in a smashing turquoise suit and mucho jewels ,is the current president and was the emcee. She stepped out from behind the podium to show off her suit and jewels "by Howard Hughes"! "I'm the last one" she added. Debbie Reynolds introed Jane Powell and was funny and raunchy both. Said they were both small girls at MGM "because all of the actors were so short". Said they were both young and dumb and got into romantic problems - "One of hers was a skier, one of mine was a singer!" (Eddie Fisher). She said that Jane had lucked out marrying Dickie Moore, a long happy marriage while she, Debbie, had always "had trouble with Dicks". (The place fell apart). "Of course, I always marry Jewish ones.........I hear there is a large difference!". Jane finally got on and said she was sorry about Debbie's problem with Dicks but was even sorrier that she hadn't got in on some of the jewels!. In between there were two terrific dance numbers featuring young people - one a tap number and the other a sort of Cirque Soleil type adagio. Alan Johnson was one of the producers.
Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Burt Reynolds and a screen writer (Silent Movie) did a mini-roast of Dom, who admitted he was rather nervous about the whole afternoon. I also saw (but don't know) Nanette Fabray, June Haver, Margaret O'Brien and Jane Withers. On the way out ran into Carol Bryon, the other beautiful blonde who often worked tandem with Larri Thomas and who is the widow of Buddy Bryan who is the prince Audrey dances with at the ball in My Fair Lady. Quite a wonderful afternoon. Hundreds in attendance.
"BACKSTAGE BLOGS IN MARCH!"
Ronaldo Navarro in Germany
On Bonn's: French Connection!
Jack Moore in the U.S.A.
On life in Palm Springs!
Eric Brandt Nielsen in the U.S.A.
On The Oscars!
Judi Cox Frazier in the U.S.A.
On John Travolta's Dance Floor!
Our Correspondent in Bonn, Germany:
1st March 2005
The Municipal Theatre here in Bonn (a resident company which presents opera, dance and drama) chooses one country every season as a subject for its small projects. Last year was the turn of the USA. This year the subject is "French Connection".
Actors are making projects with French writer's texts. And I will try something:
ESTAMPES is the title of my choreographed piece. It will feature eight dancers, and we should open on June 17th. Piano Music is from DEBUSSY, RAVEL (no Bolero, please !!!) and SATIE.
Here is a link to the theatre:
I hope everything is going to be fine! I hopefully, will write more later.
(Ronaldo Navarro is currently appearing with Johann Kresnik's company in Bonn. Ronaldo can be contacted direct via his website:)
Our Correspondent in Palm Springs, California:
1st March 2005
Notes from the desert.
Contrary to rumors, Palm Springs did not wash away in the recent rains. Was talking to a woman who has lived here since 1941. Said she had seen downpours and flooding but never five days and nights of rain in a row. Fortunately, it didn't rain hard very much but just a lot for here. The rains started after Christmas. We have had about 10 inches so far and some years we are lucky to get one inch. The mountains are GREEN. I have never before seen that! And wildflowers are starting to come out It will be gorgeous but one helluvan allergy year. Mine have been going for a week and a half.
We are in the middle of a political quagmire. Four out of five of the city council members are big time pro-growth. The rest of us are for quaint and village like. Big fight. Local election a week away.
I had a house guest for five days: Julie Wilson. She is a major cabaret star - the grande dame, so to speak. Had her 80th birthday last October lying in a rehab hospital recovering from a stroke. Now she is back performing again - two weeks in Hollywood and two single night gigs here. We have known each other since "Jackie Barnett's Playgirls" show at the old, small Desert Inn in Vegas and Ciro's in Hollywood in 1959. Julie played London in the early fifties for three years, starring in "KissMe, Kate, "South Pacific" and "Bells Are Ringing". Another friend, Ruta Lee lives here part time - is currently in a show, "Senior Class", in Palm Desert. She and Julie and I and Bob Turk were in a revival of "Showboat" for the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera in 1960.
We are in the middle of out "High Season" when the snowbirds, those Canadian and eastern and northern USA folks, come here to get warm (not wet!). The charity lunches and galas and golf tournaments keep everyone dressed up and with purses and wallets open. We probably have more charity dos per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Oh, I finally met Barbara Sinatra - Frank's widow.
As Noel Coward (and probably the BBC) said, "And that is the end of the news".
(Jack Moore had a wide-ranging career from "Wonderful Town" on Broadway to dancing in films such as, The Music Man, Viva Las Vegas, and Bye, Bye, Birdie, with choreography on Warner Bros Surfside Six and The Roaring Twenties, along the way. He can be contacted direct from his entry on The Men or Writers.)
ERIC BRANDT NIELSEN
Our Correspondent in Valdosta, Georgia:
1st March 2005
The Oscars were another great “yawn” for the year. Chris Rock brought it to an all time low as master of ceremonies. The only redeeming part was the tribute to Johnny Carson. Bob Hope and Johnny Carson were hard acts to follow when it comes to master of ceremonies. Bring back Billy Crystal or Robin Williams!! At least we will laugh more instead of being insulted by poorly written jokes.
Frankly I would prefer replacing those opening monologues with those great dance numbers that used to open the awards ceremonies.. Debbie Allen needs to get back in there again and help those clowns.
(Eric Brandt Nielsen is a veteran of the Reno stage and the author of an award winning book on dance auditions. He is currently Professor of Dance at Valdosta State University. He can be contacted direct either from his entry on The Men or Writers; or via his website link:)
Eric Brandt Nielsen's Website
JUDI COX FRAZIER
Our Correspondent in Los Angeles:
1st March 2005
Saturday Night Fever dancefloor for sale!
The multi-coloured dancefloor where a white-suited John Travolta
strutted his stuff in Saturday Night Fever is to be auctioned.
The cult item of memorabilia from the 1977 movie has been saved from a
doomed Brooklyn nightclub.
Organisers of the auction are expecting bids of more than 80,000
dollars (£42,000) for the piece of Hollywood history.
The 24-feet by 16-feet dancefloor, which came to symbolise the 70s
disco craze, has more than 300 coloured flashing lights under a Perspex
The club where the dance floor had been a fixture since the movie was
made, closed last week after being sold to a real estate investment
Bar owner Jay Rizzo who saved the floor told the New York Post: "It has
literally been the heartbeat of this club."
Saturday Night Fever earned Travolta an Oscar nomination for his
portrayal of teenage Brooklyn paint-store clerk Tony Manero, who every
Saturday night would take to the dancefloor.
The dance floor will be auctioned on April 1 with bids expected in a
live sale and on eBay.
(Judi Cox Frazier, originally from the USA, had an extensive career dancing on the European stage and in television; she spent many years dancing in Sylvie Vartan's backing group, and can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com)
This video clip displays the combination of Afro-Brazilian martial arts and acrobatics known as Capoeira. Developed originally in the 1500s this sport/dance is always performed to the sound of music.
Running time: 1 minute, 3 seconds.
BLUEBELL GIRL REUNION IN LAS VEGAS!
Following the recent death in September, 2004, of Miss Bluebell (Margaret Kelly), creator of The Bluebell Girls of Le Lido de Paris fame: a reunion is being planned to be held in Las Vegas in December, 2005, for all dancers who worked for her in many countries around the world.
This includes not only the Bluebells who appeared in Paris at the Lido; in Barcelona at La Scala; in Las Vegas at the Stardust; but the many Blubell Girls who appeared in other cities in Europe, Asia and throughout the world.
It also includes all the boy dancers who worked for her in different productions around the world, and dancers who appeared for her under different names from the Bluebells - such as the MGM Girls and the MGM Men in Hallelujah Hollywood in Las Vegas, and Hello Hollywood Hello in Reno.
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN in Las Vegas is co-ordinating the reunion; a website is being planned and will be announced on this page when it's live. Liz is currently being helped by ROSITA KORDA, ROBIN TEGANO and MAUREEN OWEN in all the preparations.
Liz would very much like anyone who is interested to contact her for more information; her e-mail is:
Liz will send you all the details of what promises to be a major celebration of the life and times of Miss Bluebell and a wonderful reunion of her former dancers,
And unlike the old days (if you find age has shrunken you) there is no minimum height requirement!
WRITERS ON THEATRE & FILM:
Excerpts from previous editions of Performing Warriors our newsletter:
I was interested in all things Russian and she was curious about all things
(on his friend and mentor, the late legendary Russian ballerina, Natalia Dudinskya)
I know I'm sticking my neck out but--- in my experiences many ballet trained
dancers were either a bit short of contemporary rhythms or there was an
inability to dance "into the floor" as is often part of the style of contemporary dance
JEFFREY SCOTT ADAIR
When I started at the MGM in Hallelujah Hollywood in 1978, I was in
the short group. I'm 6'2".
I was the shortest man on stage. I know what it is like to lift a woman who's
waist is higher than your own.
(on MGM's 'Hallelujah Hollywood')
JEFFREY SCOTT ADAIR
My first night in the light booth watching after signing my contract...you
should have seen my eyes! I went to Fluff (the company manager) and told her
that my mother would not let me appear in a show like this with no clothes on.
(on 'Hallelujah Hollywood')
Diaghilev who knew a thing or two about ballet argued that Spessivtseva was a
greater dancer than Pavlova - he said that they were both halves of an apple
but that Spessivtseva was the half that had been in the sun.
WENDY THORNLEY DAVIES
In a way, in the line, we were all brainwashed not to be individuals.
His dancers all learned to move in his unique style and they suffered in
later years because of the demands on their bodies, particularly their knees, from so many knee hinges, and the constant moves made in demi plie'.
(writing about the American choreographer, Jack Cole)
I was soon advised of the conflict of interest toward my worldly pursuit and
the austerity of ashram life. After 2 years of pursuing the evasive spiritual
enlightenment available through the indentured servitude benefiting only the
swami, I headed for Vegas and the big production shows ... From yogini to Follies Bergere showgirl...
(writing on her personal journey from yoga disciple to Vegas dancer)
The theatrical profession (and the dance world in particular) was robbed far
too early by the deaths of a large number of (mainly gay) men due to AIDS. An
entire generation was depleted of talented performers long before their natural time.
...every time, we as artists, retired or still performing, keep alive the
enthusiasm, the comradeship, the sheer thrill and excitement of the physical performing arts, we also keep close the talent and spirit of those early deaths beside us. Their place in history is ours too.
Quite truthfully, any dance as long as it was dance, gave me a thrill way
deep inside! Rhythm, music, expression accompanied by a surge of bald face
passion, sent me through the roof!!! Thank God for dance!!
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
My teachers were always trying to get me to "tuck under." In order, to do so
I would have had to walk about like the Hunchback of Notre Dame!
These kids work endlessly at defying gravity and finding new ways for the
body to express itself. They all have to begin with natural abilities and
physical confidence and what they are creating is redefining future dance - both social and theatrical, much like the way tap did. They are what they dance.
(on Breakdance and Hip Hop)
When I left New Zealand in 1962 to study at The Royal Ballet School, it was a
six week journey by sea and daily classes were on a rolling deck...
ADRIAN LE PELTIER
...having been brought up as a boarder in a Jesuit school where discipline
was the rule of thumb, I appreciated the discipline in dance class even more.
Work is much more plentiful for the Hip Hop dancer with the rock and roll
tours than a ballet company. Music videos eat 'em up and spit 'em out by the
hundreds. There are no major summer stock venues, no vaudeville, no female Star
acts in night-clubs across the country which employed the "Here She Is!" Boys,
no movie musicals that required studio contract dancers, no musical variety TV
series. That is where previous generations learned that technique and
adaptability were the key to success. We were so lucky.
There were no questions about performing when sick, no questions about what
was fair, no questions about bleeding in new toe shoes? It just was.
(on training as a child)
Margot Fonteyn said, in an interview, that most dancers are not musical.. in
my experience, she was quite right.
LESLEY ANNE BANDY
Okay, so the penche no longer penches to the split.....but I can still move!
DIANE MACDONALD COULSON
...Oh, the church halls I have known.....
(on dance competitions as a child in the North of England)
Had a 9:00 a.m. call and cannot remember trying to look stunning so early
since I played a Waiter for the "Rich Man's Frug" in the film "Sweet Charity.
(on being interviewed for a dance documentary)
There is so much crap out there that is anti-classical.
But when we get to "Dirty Dancing" all of the girls sit up straight. That
film is the "Red Shoes" of their generation...
(on lecturing on dance in film; Larry Billman is the founder of 'The Academy of Dance on Film', based in Hollywood, California)
How do we cope with the Gollywog's Cakewalk (Claude Debussy)?
But of course it was demeaning to black people. Similarly the 'Egyptian
sand dancers' who used to appear in night shirts and fezzes entertaining
theatre queues in London. They were buskers, I know, and trying to earn a
respectable penny, but did anyone ever consider Arab susceptibilities in
those days (or today?). Is the sensible attitude to recognise that such
things occurred and were part of yesterday's sensibilities, but that we have
moved on - without, however, imprisoning everyday language and usage or
forcing them into taboo areas?
(on political correctness in the media)
The night before the world premiere of the ballet in Chicago the lighting
crew stayed up all night changing all of the regular stage lighting to "Markova
(on Alicia Markova dancing in Chicago)
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
When will people realize the theatre is NOT a democracy?
The dancers were running around the stage breathlessly but audibly counting,
"One hundred and three-two-three-four. One hundred and four-two-three-four."
And an occasional - as one dancer jeted by another going in the opposite
direction - "What's the count?"
(on an Agnes De Mille premiere)
We know not all stories are happy stories so the Bunions and I want to tell
you that everyone is welcome to this reunion even the handicapped ones, the
desperate ones, the divorced one, the injured ones, the sick ones, the ones
with unsolvable problems, the depressed ones. You name it. None of us are
the way we were, we are not doing what we were then and some of us are in a
desperate situation. This reunion is not an event to put people on trial
but one to hug, kiss and support our friends and co-workers, and we will
welcome you with open arms.
(The invitation for the 'Hello, Hollywood, Hello' reunion in Reno in June, 2003)
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
Unfortunately, I am adding a new dancer to the list of those who have passed
away. Mitch Hrushowy died peacefully in his sleep on Monday evening. He was
a wonderful adagio partner and dedicated follower of Ron Lewis and Jack Cole...
Went to the Royal New Zealand Ballet, 'fifty year anniversary' last week-end
... the greatest pleasure was that the dream was now a reality fifty years on.
I actually did a production for Terry at Pinewood. It was some kind of
medieval (Knights of the Round Table) thing and had dancers in all the
ballroom/banquet scenes. I remember he called the troupe 'Gilbert's Follies'.
(on the late British dancer and choreographer, Terry Gilbert)
He was a breath of fresh air.
(on Terry Gilbert)
Nora (as Juliet) was waiting for her entrance. Darrell Notara fell dead
across the wing where she was to enter, Nora, no Method actress she, kept poking
him with her toeshoe (from offstage) and saying in her inimitable New Yawk
dialect, "Darrell, you doyed (died) in the wrong place, you doyed in the wrong
place" ... Then she daintily stepped over him and tragically bouirred across the
(on the late American ballerina, Nora Kaye in 'Romeo and Juliet')
"Honey, when you have to earn a living, just pick up your skirt over your
head and shake your t***!"
(Nora Kaye's attributed remarks, spoken to Bob Turk, backstage at the Ice Capades)
JEFFREY SCOTT ADAIR
I remember him screaming at us to kick our legs up and down in like half a
count...easy when your legs are 2ft long...
(on a named choreographer)
What had the male swans of the all-male version been in their previous life? (ed: truckers?)
(on Mathew Bourne's brilliant and innovative, 'Swan Lake')
ADRIAN LE PELTIER
I am not a nay sayer to ideas. But am - once they are mounted and it doesn't
boil my kettle!
...the sight of male dancers portraying House Movers, in completely
transparent plastic overalls with only hot pink G-strings keeping them from being "sent to prison" was so ahead of its time that it was revolutionary.
(on Jayne Mansfield's 'House of Love' in Las Vegas)
...Jayne herself, being spun by one arm and one leg by her Mr. Universe
husband Mickey Hargitay...painted gold, no less...is high on my list of "Show
Business Moments." As she whirled in a dizzying circle, one of her famous
breasts flew out of her dress. The "Lift" concluded, Mickey placed her
(rather shakily) onto her feet, she lovingly slipped the wayward breast back into its
cradle and stage-whispered "God Bless You...and Goodnight!" And Blackout.
That may be the first time that "God" and Breasts appeared together on a Las Vegas
(on, Jayne Mansfield's 'House of Love')
Ron and I used to have to go into the bushes after work and hose each other's
body make up off with the gardener's hose. Happy Days! We got amoebic dysentery
and lost loads of weight...
(on dancing in Egypt)
JEFFREY SCOTT ADAIR
Getting fired in just your g-string in front of several hundred
people...sound like fun?
(on Donn Arden terminating a contract in Las Vegas)
The audition started, and it was f+++++g RIVERDANCE in Style!!! AAaghhh!
... several people have since paid a fortune at the osteopaths!
(on a London audition in 2003)
And to stand in the wings each night at the end of the show when Judy did her
Olio, and hear her sing whatever she wanted with Gordon Jenkins and a fifty
(on working with Judy Garland)
ERIC BRANDT NIELSEN
I attended my first Vegas cattle call for Don Arden's 'Hallelujah Hollywood'
in 1979. I was one of 60 guys ... the dance captain had us do two peke turns
and two chaine turns on a straight line across the stage (it was like crossing
a football field!).
...During the physique evaluation Don had the other dancer and I turn around
and face upstage in our dance belts. I couldn't understand why we were
standing there for what seemed like hours. Evidently, when we turned around Don got a phone call and went out of the showroom to answer it, leaving us literally
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
Their 'old school' ethics set a standard which seems to be slowly eroding
here in Las Vegas.
(on the magicians, Siegfried and Roy)
LESLEY ANNE BANDY
...thank goodness for coming from strong, good old peasant stock!
(on the prerequisite for entry to the Royal Ballet School)
ERIC BRANDT NIELSEN
There are just seven dancers in the world and they just keep switching places.
...more and more choreographers are interested in "elderly dancers". The old
mentality from the classical ballet (dancers aged 30 should be finishing their
career) is changing.
(on ageism in the theatre)
Unfortunately by the time I reached thirty in the late "sixties" we were
Time waits for no Choreographer, but we do.
Have just missed 3 performances of the National Ballet of Bolivia. Since most
everybody gasps for air here, I don't know how they get their feet off the ground.
(on a cultural climb in South America)
A professional ballet class is every bit the work out as say a football
player goes through.
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
Wrapped in ice at present trying to prepare the bod for Florida
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
...Stuntmen not doing any stunts, dancers not dancing, (other than the odd
sultry writhing) and a sword fight that looked like a high school production.
No, sorry, that's an insult to high school productions. It was SOOOOO bad!
(on a Las Vegas production in 2003)
One other thing that Donn said I have never forgotten. He asked not to be
called a "Choreographer" and said: "Anyone can think up a dance step. I prefer to
be called a 'Dance Director''." There is great food-for-thought (and discussion) in that statement.
(on interviewing the late Donn Arden)
...when I'd answer Onna's (Onna White) phone and hear that well modulated
voice saying, "Jack dear, it's Ginger" I always melted. Finally figured out why.
She was in the first movie I saw, "Swing Time'" and there as an adult I was
five or six years old again, and the pretty lady on the silver screen was
talking to ME!
(on conversations with Ginger Rogers)
Serge Lifar would have done so in public at the drop of a hat, assuming he'd
lost a few stones in weight.
(on males dancing en pointe)
There was also a New Zealand soldier who was a female impersonator and a
member of the Kiwi Concert Party (WW 11) who was so good he could have spent the rest of his life outdoing Fonteyn at the Garden...you could hardly tell the
difference, except he didn't have a sickled foot in retire or develope.
(men en pointe, again)
I asked her why she was working so soon after Errol's death and she answered,
"Honey, there are bills and a yacht in Majorca with a crew to be paid."
(on working with Patrice Wymore - a Warner Brothers star, and the eight week
widow of Errol Flynn)
Parisian-style cabaret has always been corporate-run ... and those rocking
the proverbial boat have always been ousted.
...striding majestically down Portobello Road wearing an ankle length fur
coat and a Russian fur hat and fantastic long, brown leather boots. His coat
flapped as he walked and he looked about 7ft. tall. I think it's called presence.
(on Rudolf Nureyev)
...I later went on to be what was known as a fancy dancer.
(on the classical ballet life in New Zealand)
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
We are all so happy, sad, scared and exhausted. Every time I want to complain
I just tell myself that this is a gift and I've got to enjoy every minute of it.
(on coming back as a dancer, aged 50+, in 'The Florida Follies')
The copyright of each artist's contribution on this page, and throughout menwhodanced.com, belongs to each individual artist.
More excerpts from past editions of the website newsletter may be found on THEATRE; FILM & TV; RESULTS and the ARCHIVE pages.
WWW.THEATREOFMOTION.COM is a new website (still in its early stages of construction as yet), being launched by PETE PURDY (see his personal website link on ARTISTES). Dance artistes and other artists who may be interested in displaying or producing their work online should check out this site. It's worthy aim is to bring artists from different artistic disciplines together in cyberspace. Contact Pete via e-mail, either from his personal website (as above) or via theatreofmotion. Recommended.
The following men (see their entries in the Old Boys' List) are currently engaged in:
Eric Brandt Nielsen
is currently Professor/Director of Dance at Valdosta State University, Georgia and Resident Director: Lake Region Summer Theatre, New Hampshire.
is currently directing and managing the production 'ODYSSEY'
at Sun City, South Africa.
is currently performing/teaching with The Israel Ballet.
is the owner of Tremaine National Dance Conventions and Competitions (minimum 25 cities a year serving 40,000 dancers).
is currently performing/teaching in Mexico.
is currently Ballet Master with the Basel Ballet in Switzerland.
is currently teaching in New Zealand.
is currently teaching in New Zealand.
is currently, Head of Dance at the Vienna Musical School in Vienna, Austria.
is currently appearing in "The Palm Springs Follies", Palm Springs, California, USA.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...?
Where are they?
The men and women we danced with?
If you are an old boy or girl, say "hi" to a former colleague or dance partner that you have lost touch with.
Contact me with their name; company/show they appeared in; and the year - if you can remember it!
Whatever happened to...?
American dancer, appeared in 'Grand Jeu'
at the Lido in Paris in the 1970s.
Wanting to know is Michael Ingleton.
Contact Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org
American dancer, appeared in 'Allez Lido'
at the Lido de Paris in the early 80s.
Wanting to know is Ivor Jones.
Contact Ivor at: email@example.com
American dancer and assistant to Bob Turk for an Ice Capades and Lido de Paris production.
Wanting to know is Bob Turk.
Contact Bob at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of Ballet Rambert 1962-64
Ariette and John Taylor
Wanting to know is Leon Draper
Contact Leon at: email@example.com
Canadian dancer who danced in London
Wanting to know is Ian Robertson
Contact Ian at: firstname.lastname@example.org
in Biondissima Mente Tua, Italy, 1974/5?
Wanting to know are former colleagues:
ANNE & SIMON
Richard (Dickie) Garner
This artist died in 1991; he danced in the West End 1950/60s: Aladdin; West Side Story; British TV with Tom Jones and Cilla Black; films included: Dr. Doolittle and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang!. His nephew, who is compiling a family history, would like to hear from any former colleagues who danced with him.
Sandra (Zara) Marshall
who appeared in the 1960s on British TVs
The Billy Cotton Band Show
Wanting to know is former colleague:
Dancer; Trader and Investor; Author of How I Made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market
and Wall Street: The Other Las Vegas
. If anyone has information on his dancing/theatrical careeer (he danced in a nightclub act with his sister in the 1950s which is mentioned in his books but otherwise appears to be unrecorded) we would be interested to hear any details about it; or if anyone remembers seeing him perform?
And we would like to thank, Luc Secret, in Belgium, for forwarding some interesting, and hard to find, information on Nicolas Darvas's performing career. Thanks, Luc.
Martin "Marty" Ross
Both appeared in Hallelujah Hollywood!
at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas.
Wanting to know is former colleague:
Any dancers in Hallo Dolly starring Marika Rokk
at Theater des Westens, Berlin in 1973
wanting to know is Simon Barrat
The following sites all have something of interest for performers of all ages:
Obviously, to act or dance in film, television, and most commercial theatre work we still need agents. But dance has never been as agent dependent as the acting profession, so for dancers, click here and check out the audition pages of:
THE FABULOUS PALM SPRINGS FOLLIES
They are interested in dancers and other artistes aged over 55. Auditions are often advertised on the site. If you want to make a come-back, and you are a US Citizen or have a green card, get back to class quick!
DANCE EUROPE MAGAZINE
The audition page of www.danceeurope.net, is an excellent source for auditions, although if you are an older performer, it is unlikely you will find anyone looking for older dancers - but never impossible!
American Equity's web based search engine of Equity job notices; you will need to be a member of Equity to attend these auditions.
JOB INFORMATION SERVICE
British Equity's list of jobs; you will need to be a member to access this information.
PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATIONS & UNIONS
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION
CANADIAN ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION
SCREEN ACTORS' GUILD
THEATRICAL NEWS ONLINE
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
WHAT'S ON STAGE
THE NEDERLANDS DANS THEATER. This great dance company has a separate company formed from dancers over the age of forty. Click and check out NDT3.
BLUE-DIAMOND-DANCE.COM A rare website that promotes, with enthusiasm, dance for real adults; including starting classical ballet at 50 plus. Lots of sensible advice for tired old bodies. Well, not that tired!
ROSA VON PRAUNHEIM: information on this film director on the Film & TV Page.
ARTISTSWITHAIDS.ORG A worthy website begun by David Gere (brother of Richard); the aim: to document and offset the immense loss wrought by AIDS in all artistic disciplines, and to preserve the cultural legacy of the AIDS crisis, so that future generations can enjoy, study and engage artworks as aesthetic achievements and historical documents.
RINGTRAINING.COM - This may be a great (and original) addition to your training regime? If you have ever wanted to perform the Iron Cross (gymnasts do it on the rings), this website, run by TYLER HASS, sells a product called Power Rings that one can perform "the cross" on. Okay, so you can't rig the rings up and achieve it straight away. But this is an interesting and new (for me at least) way to train.
SERPENTINEROAD.COM This is a London based rollerblading forum; especially useful for those intending to audition on eight wheels instead of two legs in the future - remember, "Starlight Express"!
Ajkun Ballet Theatre
AJKUN BALLET THEATRE, founded by, and under the artistic direction of Leonard and Chiara Ajkun, has the worthy aims of opening the avenues of the professional world to young international dancers and helping them towards a professional career.
BALLET.CO.UK Absolutely essential to click on to this website if you want the latest reviews and news (especially if you have just reread, again, an old item I have placed above for the fifteenth time!). Lots of goodies and pieces of interest, delivered with a quirky sense of humour at times. Totally up-to-date.
CRITICALDANCE.COM The level of discussion on this site is refreshingly eloquent and erudite. A far cry from the "How great a dancer is Madonna?" that appears in the forums of some theatrical websites. Recommended.
SEQUIN.TV "Sequin" stands for "Showgirls and Entertainers Quorum United in Nevada" and has been established to celebrate the lavish and spectacular Las Vegas production shows of yesteryear. Programmes listing the casts of previous productions at The Dunes, The MGM Grand, The Tropicana, The Stardust and other glitzy hotels on the famed Las Vegas Strip adorn the website. A bygone era.
RONFLETCHERWORK.COM The website of dancer Ron Fletcher, now in his eighties. Read his biog: he goes from Dogtown, Missouri, to dancing with Martha Graham; from alcoholism to spiritual enlightenment. And devises Body Contrology along the way. A fascinating life.
BALLET-BALLETT.COM A friendly and interesting site with what appears strong European links. Take a look.
ARTSLYNX.ORG International arts links to theatre, film, dance, music and more.
MY DOG COULD DO THAT! Not a dance based site, but full of the wit and creativity of the sculptor, Noel Perkins.
DANCEBOOKS An excellent online/mail order source for books and videos on the world of dance: from classical ballet to cha cha cha.
Our Newsletter: Performing Warriors
If you would like to receive the Men Who Danced newsletter, click on Contact Me at the top of this page with your email request. Please mention a production or productions you have been associated with.
Current Newsletter Recipients include:
Adrian Le Peltier, Alex Poor, Arthur Bodie, Bob Murphy, Bob Turk, David Alder, David Moore, Professor Eric Brandt Nielsen, Guy-Paul Ruolt de St. Germain, Hal Davis, Ian Robertson, Ivor Jones, Jack Moore, James Sodemann, Janos Korda, Jeffrey Scott Adair, Jeremy Allen, Joe Tremaine, Joseph Savino, Ken Ludden, Kevin Richmond, Kilian O'Callaghan, Leon Draper, Michael Baker, Michael Ingleton, Michael Reardon, Neil Reynolds, Paul A. McConnell Jr, Randy Doney, Robert Arditti, Russell Martin, Sterling Clark, Torbjorn Olsson, Adam Cooper, Jonathan Nail, Larry Billman, Pedro Sandiford, Pete Purdy, Roman Mikhalev, Ronaldo Navarro, Thomas J. Kelly, Cindy Goldenberg, Debra Stefan, Elizabeth Guerrero, Gale Baker, Gloria Cherrington, Julia Parker, Lesley Anne Bandy, Michelle Hartman, Rosita Korda, Shea New, Aaron Schave, Alan Bird, Andy King, Angie Curtis, Ann-Christin Danhammar, Anne (Stuart) Beedie, Beth Richards, Bruce Marriott, Carole Darg, Catherine Cook, Dr. Chiara Ajkun, Christov Calatrello, Dr. Corinne Squire, David Donegan, Denis Peters, Diane MacDonald Coulson, Dinah Beggs, Don Morton, Doreen Rankin, Durk Hartman Hoekstra, Ed Humphrey, Emma Wynter, Eric Carpenter, Francois Szony, Hans Suderee, Heather Belbin, James Carreira, Jill (Petrovitch) McHugh, J. P. Bowie, Jason Paul Smith, Jim Hutchison, Jocelyn Cassia, Jon Baldwin, Judi Cox Frazier, Karen Ritchie, Kim Davis, Leonard Ajkun, Leonie Palette, Lesley (Lever) Cale, Liz Elliott Lieberman, Lorna Brown, Marie Jelliman, Mark Pace, Mark Wynter, Maxine Cunliffe, Michael Neary, Michele Hart, Mike Garrick, Nancy DiLullo, Noel Perkins, Paul Codman, Paul Kelly, Paul Singleton, Peter Hartwell, Roy L. Clark, Rudy Wowor, Sharon Power, Sheila Power, Sonia Draper, Stan Mazin, Steve Harmon, Steve Kimpton, Stuart May, Sue Cormack, Suzanne Lunn Raines, Trishia Florens Partington, Vivienne Jolin, Wendy Thornley Davies.