Reconstructing choreography


Rehearsal photographs with Agnes de Mille and unidentified dancers

Sincere apologies yet again for the lack of posts recently.  You may imagine that we were very, very busy with Archives Month.  Here’s hoping that we will be a little more on the ball once more now that November has rolled around.

Short notice, but for all you fortunate New Yorkers, this Sunday offers a very special program at the 92nd Street Y in which the estimable and plucky New York Theatre Ballet will present “reconstructed works by Agnes de Mille from her Broadway and concert repertoire, followed by a panel discussion with Diana Byer, Gemze de Lappe and Elena Zahlmann discussing de Mille’s contributions to theater dance and her lexicon of dance gesture.”

We’d sure be there if we could!

While we’re at it, could anyone take a stab at identifying the individuals from the images?  It looks most likely to be a publicity/rehearsal photograph from one of de Mille’s Broadway shows from the 1950s, but it is hard to make out anyone but de Mille with any certainty in the tiny format.  Maybe you have sharper eyes.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery ID TH 07969


Although this announcement is coming late, there still is a little time left to catch the final performances of Ballet West’s Treasures of the Ballets Russes program, if you happen to be in the Salt Lake City area.  The company has received rave reviews from the Dance Critic of the New York Times, but Ballet West also has been sponsoring a very elaborate festival, which has brought together several local organizations, to celebrate the Ballets Russes centennial since 4 March.  Check out the extensive calendar of events and the Ballet West blog for more information.  Sorry we didn’t notice sooner!

We all probably could use one right now (especially over here where the wind is whipping up a frenzy).  In the news recently have been a number of reports of various revivals and other acts of reclamation taking place as spring advances, including a well-received concert version of the Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin musical, The Firebrand of Florence, under the auspices of the Collegiate Chorale at the revamped Alice Tully Hall in New York.  Isadora Duncan also was in the news, with the appearance of the rechristened Isadora Duncan Dance Company this past week at the Judson Memorial Church to generally positive reviews and a somewhat controversial revival by the Royal Ballet of Kenneth MacMillan’s originally controversial Isadora (1981) opened to a less than warm response at Covent Garden.

Good or bad, could it have happened without performing arts archives?

While it would be nice to say that this blog went silent again because we were all too occupied with Archives Months events, I cannot tell a lie.  Look for the long deferred posts about Performing Arts Roundtable programs at SAA Annual 2008 in the coming days.  In the meantime:

Going through the mail, one item of interest recently received is the latest volume in the Theatre Library Association‘s occasional Performing Arts Resources series.  Entitled Performance Reclamation: Research, Discovery, and Interpretation, this book (well, it’s a serial really) should be of special interest to performing arts archivists everywhere.  It provides a transcript of the complete program of TLA’s 2007 symposium of the same name.  The main purpose of that symposium had been to examine the “critical role in recreating performance and supporting the construction of production histories” played by performing arts archives and libraries.  Participants included representatives from City Center Encores!, Jacob’s Pillow, and the Mint Theater.  Rounding out the contents are papers from the 2005 TLA Plenary for the American Society for Theatre Research by Jonathan Bank, Claudia Wilsch Case, and Sarah Ziebell.

Which reminds me — did I renew my membership?

With June bustin’ out all over, we would be remiss if we did not mention the upcoming Dance Critics Association conference. This year’s meeting takes place in Washington, D.C. from 13 – 15 June at various venues in the capital city. Timed to coincide with the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America presentations, the conference will offer an abundance of panels, roundtables, and lecture demonstrations. Of special interest to you archivist types, is the 1:30 roundtable on 15 June at the Kennedy Center Terrace, “Keeping Our Diverse Classics On Stage.” Participants include Dawn Lille, Paul Gordon Emerson, Lynn Frielinghaus, Sali Ann Kriegsman, Catherine Turocy, Delphina Parenti and Miyako Nitadori. Reconstructed Michio Ito and Jane Dudley solos will receive live demonstrations and rare Sophie Maslow and tap performances will be screened. You can peruse the complete conference schedule here.

Also during the conference, Washington’s own CityDance Ensemble will be presenting The Songwriters at the Music Center at the Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland on 13 June. This program will feature a reconstruction of Maslow’s Folksay (to the music of Woody Guthrie), as well as Jane Dudley’s classic Harmonica Breakdown (to the music of Sonny Terry). Thank you CityDance Ensemble for reviving these pieces and for using your blog in a such an exciting way to document the process of reconstructing Maslow’s work!