The Newsletter of
"Athletic, physical performance
at an older age on stage or screen."
Editor: Rodford Barrat
Emailed to artists in: Argentina; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Canada; England; France; Germany; Holland; Indonesia; Israel; Japan; New Zealand; Norway; Mexico; Russia; South Africa; Spain; Switzerland and the U.S.A.
MenWhoDanced.com is a personal website that's evolved into a small international community of former and current professional performers: actors; choreographers; dancers; directors; musicians; singers; ice skaters and writers. Their names are listed at the foot of this page.
Extracts from some old editions:
30th December 2007
The Warrior Words of 2007
a last goodbye
10th October 2007
"The Pope's Boyfriend and Me"
Rodford Barrat writes...
5th September 2007
"A Transylvanian Transvestite
and Monte Cristo on stage..."
Jonathan Nail writes
2nd September 2007
"Everyone is injured, but some are..."
David Webb writes
In leafy Surrey, England:
We have just lost George Giles. His cremation took place on Friday. Lionel Blair said a piece for him; it was quite a big turn out with a lot of people there who we hadn't come across before. Never realised that George’s performances ran back as far as the revue “Button Up Shoes” now presumably lost in the mists of time since it doesn't come up in an Internet search.
Anyway, another for your ever increasing list.
(ed: George Giles has now sadly been added to the In Memoriam list. I worked with him, too, I can't remember on what; I think a TV show or two:
31st August 2007
"The Findlay Floods"
Beth Richards, is the Editor of Findlay Living Magazine and has contributed a number of times to this newsletter. I am sure our thoughts, prayers, and kind wishes are with her and her family at this difficult time.
In Findlay, Ohio:
A quick note to everyone to let you know we are fine and thank you for the notes of concern. We were lucky to escape the flooding that has devastated thousands of our neighbors. We feel very fortunate and blessed. However, we have lost many things. Our library is closed indefinitely. The playhouse and theater groups have lost everything. The riding stable was ruined. School has been delayed for two weeks. None of that seems significant, though, as we hear more and more stories of loss that our friends and neighbors have endured. So please keep them in your prayers..
The Findlay Flood
17th August 2007
"Jocelyn and the King"
Jocelyn Cassia remembers Elvis Presley
16th August 2007
"Kill the Tap Shoes!"
with Jack Moore
In Palm Springs:
How much fun are those clips. Thank you Jeffrey & Durk (sounds like a vaudeville team!)- they bring back wonderful memories. At this age it is pleasure to look at the Women In Film (which, by the way, is the name of an organization - there is a chapter here in Palm Springs.) and be able to say, "Well, I knew and/or worked with a few of them":
I knew Rita, Judy, Ginger and Janet and worked with but didn't get a chance to really know Audrey ("Fair Lady") and Natalie ("Inside DAisy Clover") Also worked with Judy and Janet (Bye, Bye Birdie"). And Mr. Astaire (as Ginger was wont to refer to him). Met him while rehearsing a TV show where I was supposed to be Jimmy Durante dancing as Fred Astaire. I have already recounted how I almost ran over him one damp Beverly Hills morning in a downtown alley. He suddenly stepped out right in front of me from behind a trash container as I was turning into my parking spot. He was jauntily dressed as usual - jacket, vest, hat, etc. He was evidently using the alley so as not to be stopped on the sidewalk by admirers. Didn't seem to notice me and went merrily on his way, stepping over pools of rainwater. Onna (White) did Ginger's nightclub act. Onna wanted her to wear tap shoes. "I NEVER wore tap shoes', declared Ginger. And her "baby talk" to which she reverted when she wanted something (not a glass of water but maybe a hamburger- or a steak!)
(ed: Jack Moore also choreographed
for Warner Bros, on the TV series' The Roaring 20s and Surfside
14th August 2007
"Women in Film/Astaire Live!"
Durk Hartman Hoekstra
and Jeffrey Scott Adair
In Victoria Island, Canada:
DURK HARTMAN HOEKSTRA
This is pretty cool!:
Years of Women in Film
In Redwood City, California:
JEFFREY SCOTT ADAIR
Thought everyone would get a kick out of this youtube video of my old friend Clem Zeleski who danced with me at the Lido (in Las Vegas) in the 80's. He's amazing
Clem Zeleski as Fred Astaire
6th August 2007
Liz Elliott Lieberman
and Judi Cox Frazier
In Las Vegas:
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
Oh dear...I cannot imagine any company attempting to perform Sleeping Beauty on tour, on a small stage! 'Aurora's Wedding,' perhaps, but not the full-length, 3 act, including a Prologue, ballet! Angie doesn't mention which ballet company it was? ' Beauty' HAS to be performed on a large stage with grand sets and costumes to match the music!
Her letter brought back wonderful memories of being chosen to be in this beloved ballet at The Coliseum in London! I believe it was 1969-70 ish when I was at Arts Educational School. Festival Ballet, (now the English National Ballet) used to chose some students to be in the big ballets as courtiers and lady-in-waiting types etc...........Beryl Grey was Artistic Director at the time and she seemed to like me as a somewhat tallish student.
I was so honoured when I was handed the plastic roses to give to the 4 princes during the Rose Adagio!! I was besides myself with pride until Galina Samsova got annoyed with me when I didn't catch her properly after she pricked her finger, and fell to the ground after a series of turns. I was mortified. I remember the ghastly greasepaint she wore as she literally dripped it onto my beautiful velvet gown, as I cradled her sweaty head in my lap!!!
Now Lynn Seymour was wonderful and smoked a cigggie whilst she warmed up.......ah I also remember lovingly clutching Peter Martins leg warmers in the wings, whilst having a horrible school girl crush on him! It was a glorious summer of expectation, learning and excitement as I watched all kinds of wonderful people rehearse and perform....John Gilpin was lovely as was Harald Lander who used a few of us to light Etudes!!! I never got paid a penny of course but it was glorious.
The whole summer culminated with being allowed to give out programmes at a huge gala that Princess Margaret attended. My mother had to make me a long evening dress and it must have cost her a small fortune! I was allowed to sit and watch the triple bill performance of 'Witch Boy,' 'Polovtsian Dances' and 'Etude' with a group of other nonentities at the back of the theatre, but I did get a huge wink from my teacher Ben Stevenson, who I think had something to do with me being chosen to do this wonderful gala event!
Well, Angie you certainly stirred some memories in me that I had long forgotten and I am so sorry that your experience of "Beauty" was so disappointing.
(ed: amongst her credits, Liz Elliott
Liberman was principal dancer at London's Talk of the Town)
In Los Angeles:
JUDI COX FRAZIER
Responding to Angie's message: We've all had occasions where the facilities/conditions were not conducive to being able to carry out the work to the best of our abilities. I think this is less a failing of the dancers than it is of the administration of this company. There are always ways to resolve problems. In this case, it's easy: They could very well have reduced the number of corps dancers just for the shows at this theater, and all others where the stage isn't the size they need. A proper run-through prior to the perfomance would have revealed the problem and the solution. I know some nine-year olds who would have suggested this. Judgmental? You bet. I've earned it. I see no reason to let invisible faces off the hook when it's the dancers out there looking like fools because of the admin's lack of leadership. Shameful.
Your husband can probably understand this analogy: It's like pro sports. Athletes and dancers train extensively for years for a very short career. Dance is more disciplined as it's not a reactionary (offense/defense) activity, so it requires more training. Ballet is the foundation - begun at the court of Louis XIV, and is called 'classical dance' in French. It's the most difficult of the dance arts. The study of other forms of dance, if dancers choose to study them, usually follows. Imagine if David Beckham (like him or not, he's a top footballer) was also proficient at rugby, basketball, US baseball, and hockey. A lot of what he learned in his football training, he'd take to these other sports. This is what variety dancers do. Making it look easy is part of the job. It's not. Very few people in the world are able to do this.
(ed: amongst her credits, Judi Cox,
as she was then, danced in Paris at the Paradis Latin.)
4th August 2007
...put her to sleep!"
featuring Angie Curtis
and Michele Hart
In Welwyn Garden City, England:
I've loved dance since I was tiny (which is now about 62 years ago) but my dear husband can't quite see the point,
particularly of ballet. As part of his education, I bought tickets for a touring ballet company which was coming to our town so that he could see what it was all about. I'm passionate about all forms of the arts which are live. It's wonderful that we can experience live music, live dance, live drama and it's wonderful that people work hard and care enough to bring all these things to us. I'm delighted that we have the chance to see hard-working dancers doing the rounds of the smaller towns and I feel that
they should have all the support they can get.
However, and this is really a little a bit sad, the performance we saw of Sleeping Beauty was - how shall I put it? - a bit disappointing. The dancers had quite a small stage to work on and they coped very well so one
can forgive the jostling that occurred now and then but when the Prince fell over and one of the corps de ballet turned the wrong way, thereby causing a bit of a tangle, I began to feel quite embarrassed for them. And the ishaps
didn't stop there. Needless to say, my husband was not impressed.
My question is, is this good enough? Is this the best way to bring ballet to the provinces? Perhaps I was expecting too much from a small touring company, I don't know. Perhaps the professionals who read this newsletter will explain to me what I should expect from a touring company. Please don't misunderstand me - I've no wish to belittle anyone and I do still admire all the dancers who came (and I told them so afterwards when I met them in the corridor as we were leaving) but I was disappointed. Am I being too fussy or should they do better next time?
This is written with affection,
(ed: Angie, was a fellow columnist on Running Review Magazine, and she is being far too discreet here, withholding the name of the company!)
In Los Angeles:
No comment..... but after this, don't complain about how hard it is to balance on DEMI-pointe. Watch this video:
Chinese Circus Ballet of Guandong
(ed: Michele was principal dancer with Jean-Daniel Morency's Dancers Studio Ensemble in Los Angeles)
30th July 2007
"Margot Fonteyn: Naked!"
Wendy Thornley Davies
and Leon Killer Draper write...
WENDY THORNLEY DAVIES
Re: Mark Wynter singing, Love Hurts
on Ready Steady Go!
...that clip of Mark Wynter took me back as well! I guess we were really lucky to be working in the theatre in London at that time. It's funny to hear “younger” people talk about the 60s with such awe and there we were, right in the middle of “swinging London”! I think my kids are quite envious!
Lots of memories came flooding back, do you remember the TV shows, “Oh Boy” and “Top of the Pops” [in which I once made a brief appearance!] Also, you, me, Hal (Davis) and Janet (Gosling) in “Aladdin” at the Palladium - and all those cheap and not so cheerful bedsitters we all lived in! I can certainly identify with Lesley Anne Bandy’s experience. I think Janet and I lived on cheese and yogourt most of the time.
Thanks for bringing back 60s memories,
(ed: during the 60s Wendy danced in the British TV series, Blackpool Night Out (which featured Sophie Tucker and The Beatles amongst its guests), and on the West End stage in a revival of Oscar Panizza's controversial play, The Council of Love. The latter, written originally at the end of the 19th century about the plague of syphilis, and still with the power to shock in the 1960s, presaged in its way, what was to come in the dying years of the 20th century: the devastation of AIDS.)
In Auckland, New Zealand:
Re: the Royal Ballet School in the 1960s.
We lived with Royalty in those days
at the RBS. With Harold Turner, Errol Addison as our Tutors and Lesley Edwards
for classic mime One day Errol Addison said to Nureyev who came into our class.”Come
on Fergus (Early) show this Russian how to do pirouettes” and away Fergus
went (A little guy that could turn like a top) and pulled off ten turns which
was good in those days.
Errol was England's first great turner and went into the theatre as it paid better. His message for all his teaching was to go that one step further….if you can do double then you can do triple and so on.
In those days to get to England it would take you six weeks of sea travel for us New Zealanders. Rent was £3.50. a week and I lived on 50.00 per month for shoes, food etc., but often I did extra roles at Covent Garden and could make an extra few bob (money).
Well I remember the night when Fonteyn lost her top and left totally naked from the waist up and on came Alexander Grant with a large black cape and saved the day, and the time Beriosova in her first spoken role, with a mike in her corset at bra level, caught fire! It seemed funny at the time but she suffered quite bad burns.
Well you guys (‘n Girls) love yah heaps
Leon (Killer) from New Zealand.
(ed: after school, Leon went onto to dance with Ballet Rambert and the Royal New Zealand Ballet among others.)
26th July 2007
"The 1960s at Baron's Court"
Lesley Anne Bandy writes...
Ah ..... the late 60s in London, I was at the Royal Ballet School, living with a friend from Canada in a one room basement flat in Baron's Court. We shared the bathroom with 2 boys (both Davids, if I remember correctly) across the hall - one of whom was at Arts Ed. Shilling in the meter for gas .... duck to miss the flame when you light the pilot light in the kitchenette! Local pub for a gin and tonic once a week (nobody bothered about your age, and who carried any identification in those days??).
(ed: Originally traveling to London from New Zealand, Lesley Anne Bandy went on to dance with the Royal Opera Ballet at Covent Garden and later became a leading Bluebell Girl at the Lido in Paris. Lesley is now directing and choreographing in Las Vegas.)
Lesley Anne Bandy's website
19th July 2007
"More About Claude"
with Larry Billman
In Tokyo, Japan:
re: Claude Thompson's Memorial Service
Judi's words about the Tribute to Claude were well chosen. I "lost it" when she wrote that she did - "Seeing that chair and sweatshirt, a tangible sign of his presence, or lack thereof, prompted me to lose it." He is missed by many, but his artistry and humanity "live" in so many minds and hearts.
The "moment" is fleeting, so we need to pay "tribute" to those who made a difference in our lives every moment of every day.
(ed: Larry Billman, after a number of years in Japan for the Disney Corporation is about to return to the USA. He is the President in Los Angeles of
The Academy of Dance on Film)
18th July 2007
and Judi Cox Frazier
I'm sure many of here will be familiar with The Drowsy Chaperone which came from New York to the West End this year. It's a wonderful show. Witty, intelligent & fun, plus great dancing. Sadly it's closing 4th August in London. So anybody reading this & visiting London soon...try & get to see it.
(ed: David Dongan danced with the
English National Opera amongst other companies. He recently produced "Shamlet"
in London: www.shamlet.com)
In Los Angeles:
JUDI COX FRAZIER
re: Claude Thompson's Memorial Service
There were so many people - it was a wonderful tribute. His career spanned close to 60 years so there were many generations of the dance world present. Yes, it was long but still, I didn't want it to end. Joe T. was MC (good job!). Leah Bass, Billy Dobson, Darrell Wright, Yanco, Hama, Jaime Rogers, Donald McKayle, George Chakiris, Connie Stevens, Paula Kelly, Kenny Long, director Steve Binder, Ben Vereen... Joe - who am I forgetting? ...all spoke of their experiences with Claude and how he enriched their lives. They read letters from family, friends and colleagues whose lives he'd touched. They made us laugh and cry. They spoke of dancers who are no longer with us, like Miguel Godreau, Frances Morgan, Gary Chapman and Tony White. There were photos and videos of his career, songs and dance numbers that honoured Claude and that he'd choreographed.
(ed: view Sylvie Vartan singing,
"Enough is Enough", that Cluade Thompson choreographed. Judi, is the
dancer on Sylvie's right: Theatre)
One number depicted a rehearsal studio with a lone chair in the center, a red sweatshirt draped casually over its back, and a single beautiful dancer. Seeing that chair and sweatshirt, a tangible sign of his presence, or lack thereof, prompted me to lose it. The tribute had opened with Claude's close friends offering prayers before a Gohonzon and incense. He was Buddhist and lived the Path. The final number was his own; 10 (or 12?) men in dress suits dancing to Quincy J's arrangement of 'Killer Joe,' and of course included Claude's penultimate moves that we all knew - and we rejoiced. He always wanted to have a company solely of male dancers. He would have LOVED this.
I saw people I hadn't seen since my very early years taking class in L.A. It was awesome to talk with Chuck Moore who'd flown in from Sweden. In the mid-1960s, he'd alternate teaching Saturday classes at the Coronet Theater with Joe T., Joe Bennett and Roland DuPree. It was the best possible learning experience for this 12 yr old ballet dancer in plastic glasses at the back of the class. Also had the chance to spend time with Vicki Ally, Bob Romaniak, Truett Wright, Sandahl Bergman (whom I hadn't seen since auditions in the early 70s), Dave Rodriguez, Blaine Savage,... so many people.
Sylvie Vartan lost her mom on July 4th so I didn't expect her to attend. And there were others whom I missed speaking to, like Joe T., Yanco and Jaime... and where the heck was Johnny Almaraz?
Now? I'm still grieving hard and nowhere near the point of being able to think of Claude as being 'somewhere else.' I loved him dearly.
(ed: Judi Cox, made her professional
debut, aged 12, with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Company)
17th July, 2007
"Sunday in L. A."
The Claude Thompson Memorial Service Sterling Clark reports:
In Los Angeles:
Just a note to say how wonderful the memorial was on Sunday for CLAUDE THOMPSON. All the Who's Who of the dance world were there to send him much "LOVE". What a turn out it was here in L. A. People came from over to sing, dance, speak, pray and spread more LOVE...
I will never forget it or him. I have
known dear Claude since 1963.
(ed: Sterling Clark with Buddy Vest, were the first Americans to star at the Lido in Paris in the 1970s:
Bio on The Men
Claude Thompson's name is now on the In Memoriam page:
13th July, 2007
AT CAESAR'S PALACE!"
with Shea New
and Jack Moore
In Palm Desert, California:
I wanted to share this Frankie Randall video tribute to Sinatra. It has some old footage of Vegas. I remember when I first started working in Vegas The Rat Pack was going strong. Sammy Davis was very open to the 'regular' performers on the strip. He had some fine (euphemism for wild) parties at Caesar's Palace that the gypsies were invited to.
View the video here:
(ed: during her career, Shea New was lead dancer in Las Vegas for producers, Barry Ashton, Alan Lee and Peter Jackson)
In Palm Springs:
re: Billie-Jean King quote,
" I'll give up when my knees tell me to..."
MY knees ARE telling me! When I think of all of the kneeslides and hipslides we used to do - two and three times a night in Vegas! Those slide were, in the 50's, the latest thing in stage shows, Broadway, too - "Can Can". Thank God I didn't ever do THAT one! And Jerry Robbins with his knee pirouettes. I'd never even heard of one until the "Westside"audition for the movie. Oh my! And this is the 50th anniversary of the opening of "Westside". Another "Oh my!". I saw the original company on Broadway and then saw the 40th anniversary at the Pantages in Hollywood. Alan Johnson, with whom I just spoke the other day, had staged the latter.
(ed: Jack Moore was choreographer to Judy Garland and danced in a few iconic movies)
Bio on The Men
"BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY"
with Adrian le Peltier
Black Book: the movie
2nd July, 2007
Judi Cox Frazier writing...
In Los Angeles:
JUDI COX FRAZIER:
I found the info I was looking for today published in the LA Times:
"A memorial celebrating Claude Thompson's life and career will be held on Sunday, July 15th at 4:00 pm in the Dance Theatre at Glendale Community College, 1500 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale, CA 91208"
(ed: amongst her credits, Judi Cox Frazier, danced in the French singing star, Sylvie Vartan's, backing group for eight years)
Durk Hartman Hoekstra www.mavenmarketing.com
"They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God"
from The Blues Brothers
screenplay: John Landis & Dan Aykroyd