February 15, 2014
Screen shot of Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes in 1959 BBC telecast of “The Sleeping Beauty”
Valentine’s Day 2014 brought the exciting news that the long-missing footage of Act II from a 1959 BBC broadcast of the Royal Ballet production of The Sleeping Beauty has been rediscovered in the BBC Archive Centre and will be shown as part of a series of four ballet-themed programs to be aired on the network beginning in March. But discovered by whom? As always, I am somewhat confused by the differences in usage between over there and over here. According to the account in the Telegraph: “The black and white film was placed in the BBC archives but, for reasons unknown, Act II was lost and two copies of Act I were wrongly filed instead …. Last year, BBC researchers spent months scouring the archive and found a surviving copy of Act II.” Or, alternatively, as described in the Guardian: “It took a few months of searching before Act II was found in the BBC archives at Perivale. ‘One of the archive researchers there had a bit of a hunch. It was a magical moment for us when we finally saw it.’” I presume “researcher” or “archive researcher” is the equivalent of what we might call a research archivist, reference archivist, or public service archivist.
In other dispatches from the confusion front, New Yorker dance critic, Joan Acocella, subtitles her piece in this week’s issue: “An archivist explores ballet’s obsessions.” The archivist in question? Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Doug Fullington (whose official company title is “Education Programs Manager and Assistant to the Artistic Director”), who will be in New York to present “Petipa Exotique” the latest installment in the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series, which will include a selection of excerpts from the choreographer’s work reconstructed by Fullington from Stepanov notation. To paraphrase another dead person, “I know archivists, and Doug Fullington is no archivist.
January 6, 2014
It isn’t often that an archivist gets public recognition for her work, so double cheers to Jane Pritchard for being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours lists for 2014. Pritchard, who is currently the Curator of Dance for the Theatre & Performance Collections, Victoria & Albert Museum, previously served as archivist for Rambert Dance Company, English National Ballet, and the Contemporary Dance Trust. She also is the author of a recent book on Anna Pavlova and organized the colossal Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes exhibition at the Victoria & Albert (2010) and the National Gallery of Art (2013).
In another nod to the past, you can read her article on the Diaghilev exhibition in the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Performance!.
June 25, 2013
The audience gathers at St. Olaf Catholic Church for a performance
November 2, 2012
The New York Times reported today that “most” of the company’s sets and costumes had been submerged in over six feet water in the basement of Westbeth, which was flooded in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The total extent of the damage and loss has yet to be assessed.
February 29, 2012
Strategically timed to coincide with the previews of the latest revival of Death of a Salesman on Broadway, the Winter 2012 edition of Performance! is now available here.
This gala “theater issue” includes articles about the archives of Arthur Miller and the Roundabout Theatre Company, as well as an interview with Jennifer Homans, author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet, and a personal perspective on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s efforts to establish its own archives.
December 31, 2011
As recently reported, the Woody Guthrie Archives will be moving to a new purpose built facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to be financed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The new center, a former warehouse, which is currently being renovated, is expected to open in 2013. New York’s loss is Oklahoma’s gain.