Terpsichoreans and thespians alike.
Ancient and young.
Please revisit us again, after Christmas 2004, when this page, and the website will be updated!
Extracts below from
The newsletter of menwhodanced.com
ON CLASSICAL TRAINING:
I think classical training (at least then, I don't know about now), is the greatest training for life. The discipline - precisely how to
turn at the barre for heaven's sake, applauding the teacher at the end, no
talking or giggling (of course, Juliet Prowse and I used to giggle a lot
and have fun in Eugene Loring's classes and he was not a humorous man. But
this was a professional class in Hollywood and a tad more relaxed than
company class in New York or Chicago.
(Ed: This artist danced in a number of iconic Hollywood musicals; see his entry in The Old Boys' List)
ON LIFE AT THE BARRE:
We had the services of Nancy Ivanova from the Lousillio Spanish company to
teach us the Spanish style: an English dancer who had to change her name to a Russian name to work with the Diaghilev company. She was wonderful, and I well
remember when taking a class, her saying "boys face upstage - we were told later, that the elastic in her bloomer had snapped..dropped to her ankles...and she walked out of them...stooped and picked them up...then placed them in her handbag and carried on with her class....what a woman!
(Ed: This artist appeared with Ballet Rambert in the 1960s; see his entry in The Old Boys' List)
ON CLASS IN HOLLYWOOD:
On the subject of dance studios in Hollywood: who remembers the "Falcon"
Studio? I attended a variety of classes there while a resident instructor for
the Integral Yoga Institute. Of course, I was soon advised of the conflict of
interest toward my worldly pursuit and the austerity of ashram life. After two
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. There, I was told, my stature
would be advantageous. In those days a tall dancer found little work in LA.
From yogini to Follies Bergere showgirl...
(Ed: This artist, is a former MGM Girl; read her entry in Old Comrades and view her website on Artistes)
ON ETHNIC DANCE:
Falcon Studio's? I would go up there quite often if there was a visiting teacher who taught
some form of character dance, such as Spanish etc. It always seemed terribly
antiquated but the moment one walked in, you were in a temple of dance,
whatever style, or kind. If I remember, all famous teachers would stop there
if they were on tour or if they spent the summer/winter in Hollywood. The
word would get around that "so and so" was giving class and away we would go.
I found Spanish dance to be the most difficult to learn as most of the good
teachers had learned it by being around other spanish dancers who would pass
it on to the next generation. If you asked a very specific question regarding
a count or an exact placement of the arms, you were given a "sort of" type
I was a very close friend of Ernie Flatt who not only choreographed many,
many, television shows, but taught a form of free-style dance at Loring's. He
would call me and say to meet him there for some ethnic class like dances of
the British Isles etc. And we were always confused by not being able to
really break it down in counts but, rather by osmosis!!! Of course we were
never there long enough to accomplish this. Great great fun!
(Ed: This artist conceived, directed and choreographed many international revues; see his entry in The Old Boys' List)
LESLEY ANNE BANDY
ON GREEK DANCE:
Ah, the Greek dancing - I remember a "Pandora's Box" in competition at about age 11-mmmm, drama- danced to "The Unfinished Symphony"! Crikey!!
(Ed: This artist made her debut with the Royal Opera Ballet at Covent Garden before appearing at the Paris Lido; see her entry in Old Comrades and view her websites on Artistes)
LIZ ELLIOTT LIEBERMAN
ON DANCE COMPETITIONS:
I loved Greek and actually won a cup in some dreadful dance competition in St. Albans, Herts. I had never had a Greek dance lesson in my life, but it was basically ballet without the turn out! I think I was called 'Ruth Meets Boaz at The Well'...or was that my Character piece? It was very Isadora Duncan and great fun!
(Ed: This artist was Principal Dancer at London's, Talk of the Town, before a career in Las Vegas and Reno)
ON ISADORA'S INFLUENCE:
My first contact with Isadora Duncan was about 17 years ago when I read her
biography " My life ". I was still in the ballet school in Sao Paulo. I read
the book once again when I was already working as a ballet dancer in Germany
exactly when I was unhappy with my career and asking many questions about it?
To know her life, her thoughts, and the way she danced, helped me quite a lot
to open my mind. She became a kind of idol for me at that time...but I think dancers who are against classical ballet have minds as closed and blocked as those who think that the only pure dance is the classical one.
I love Pina Bausch! I love Mats Ek! I so enjoy working with Kresnik (a very
eccentric, politic, aggressive, choreographer and director) and yesterday I watched Vladimir Malakhov dancing Swan Lake at the Saatsoper in Berlin. And I loved it!!!
(Ed: This artist from Brazil has made a successful career on the German stage; view his website on Artistes)
ON TAPPING FOR THE CAMERA:
Having had the benefit of collecting dance history captured by the camera,
this seems to be a dialogue that is age old. Tap dancing can certainly be
classified as Street dance - although that "street" was primarily the
backstage and dressing rooms of countless vaudeville, nightclub and minstrel
venues. What began as "something that is in your soul," was refined, defined
and codified by hundreds of artists to become a classic dance form which
requires training and technique.
(Ed: This artist is the founder and director of The Academy of Dance on Film, in Hollywood, California, and the author of several best selling books on dance in commercial film; the Academy's website link is on News/Links)
ON PIROUETTES OF OLD:
After sixty years of still learning I am amazed how
satisfying it is to learn something everyday. The
humble pirouette (to turn) for example in the early
Bournonville era was not considered a successful turn
unless a double, was finished en-face (facing the front)
on the demi-point (ball of the foot) and held in balance
in the retire(withdrawn) position.
ON NEW YORK AUDITIONS:
New York auditions in the late 50s were super because the great
choreographers like Jack Cole, Jerry Robbins and Bobby Fosse gave master
classes as auditions, something we couldn't have afforded if they gave
them! And they always began with ballet. If one couldn't pass that, one
never got to the jazz part. Jerry Robbins walked along beside you making
corrections while you danced; Fosse coached from the orchestra pit, Jack
Cole taught his basic jazz step.
JEFFREY SCOTT ADAIR
ON AUDITIONING IN LAS VEGAS:
For this little 20yr old...lifting topless women, who in heels were taller
than him...well...can we say intimidation??? The girls also knew how to
torture the new boys! I remember when I was hired for the show, I had no
idea what it was about really...other than it was terribly glamorous. I was
20, so I had not seen it. 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. Ha! Can you imagine...?
(Ed: This artist's career spanned the Atlantic - from Munich in Germany to Metro Goldwyn Mayer in Las Vegas; view his entry in The Old Boys' List)
ON THE GIPSY LIFE:
Dancing paid for me to see the world, it opened doors to other cultures. You would think years of
travelling, adapting to new situations, countries, choreographers, stages and
cast members, would leave one tired or jaded? I never was. I lived life in awe,
always excited. I danced professionally from 75 - 92 I believe the discipline
that was instilled in me during the years from R.A.D Grade One Ballet to the
last show I performed in, is the core of my strength today.
When I first came to the States, Shirley MacLaine (just her and about 6
dancers, no special lights, no multi million dollar sets) & Sammy Davis, Jr.
did special late night performances (no charge) for the other gipsies.......
Magical events. I am thankful I experienced "old school" show business.
(Ed: This artist's career encompassed musical theatre in Madrid to revue in Las Vegas; see her entry on Old Comrades)
LESLEY ANNE BANDY
ON BALLET EXAMS OF YORE:
The terrific thing about the ancient RAD exams was the knowledge absorbed about moving in various periods because of the clothing that restricted you or held you in different ways. And the character dances gave one an insight as to the whys, and hows, differing styles arose in differing regions of the world?
ON DISCIPLINE IN DANCE:
What role models do our kids have today? Words come in bytes
rather than full essays. We can receive [often incorrect] information on the
Web in a minute. Contemporary Fame is generated by questionable behavior,
breaking the laws or a natural talent in music or sports that is exploited
and then cast aside. How many "Where Are They Now?" TV shows feature
performers or media-stars who were at their height of fame only 5 years ago?
"Chicago" could not be more pertinent. We are never shown Roxie or Velma in
class. They simply "want" - so they "get."
And it is no different in dance. 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.
It is only when the culture demands discipline that the young will
understand - or when one teacher strikes a chord in one student to seek and
learn and refine their natural gifts with discipline. Or when one parent
realizes that a scholastic achievement is greater than throwing the ball
through the hoop and hearing the crowd cheer.
As James Kirkwood so beautifully wrote "There's Got to be a Pony,"...We can make a difference!
ERIC BRANDT NIELSEN
ON DANCE CRITICISM:
I feel the natural dancer does exist but...it is
only through discipline and training does this type of dancer come into
full view as a performer. As an educator, director/choreographer and a
former dancer, what troubles me the most is the attitude of this
generation of natural and/or unnatural dancers.
I was always aware, in my performing years, that criticism always
surpassed the compliments... it was part of the beast of showbusiness.
The dancers I worked with in 'Hello Hollywood Hello' and other US ballet companies,
understood that criticism, took it, rolled with it and grew into better
performers because of it. There is a new breed of performer today who
not only demands immediate gratification but would rather quit on you
than take the constructive criticism. I have shared this with other directors/choreographers and they all have come across this
(Ed: This artist is the author of an award winning book on dance auditions; read his entry in The Old Boys' List and view his website on Artistes)
ADRIAN LE PELTIER
ON NATURAL DANCE:
Just a thought about natural Dancers. Yes, they exist. It's part of man's
inherent nature to move to rhythm. Not necessarily to the rhythms he creates
but to the rhythms he hears and the rhythms that course through his body and
invite him to move. Let's look at man's first steps at dance. There was no
training. Dance came out of Man's need to express himself. Then came rules,
regulations and styles. There was someone who excelled, and then he/she was
noted and people wanted to copy, and I am sure they taught and created the
various dance languages that are practised today...it is this thinking that brought technique and discipline.
(Ed: This artist's wide ranging career has spanned American TVs 'Perry Mason' to dancing with Bobbie Gentry; see his entry in The Old Boys' List)
Technical display is a dead end you cannot put in what God left out you must
submerge all of you into the activity of Dance. To be with your movement at
all times, to cradle it as important as breath alone. To be whole and
I choose to Dance, I am the Dance. Radiate in all directions and
fill the space with honesty and true emotion. Taste the Dance, add your own
spice and flavour. Only then can we experience Dance as a universal moment
for all to do and all to watch. Lets applaud it all.
(Ed: This artist who teaches Limon-based technique is a choreographer and director of contemporary dance; view his website on Artistes)
ON AN AGNES DE MILLE PREMIERE:
I recall seeing, at the old Metropolitan Opera House the premiere of an Agnes
de Mille ballet. (Name and ballet mercifully forgotten - De Mille did have an
occasional flop!) 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 LA MONNAIE, THE BRUSSELS OPERA HOUSE:
A beautiful opera house absolutely ruined
by having the square in which it stood demolished - and a monstrous glass
skyscraper erected directly opposite it. Oh, what horrors the masters of
Brussels have allowed - anyone whoever performed there years ago will
appreciate what I am saying.
Incidentally, I remember seeing a ballet there called 'Gretna Green' in which all the male parts were danced by ladies en travesti. These rather large bosomed ladies embracing less physically developed members of their sex; this must have given young audiences a very weird idea of why couples ran off to Gretna Green?
(Ed: This artist has appeared on the British stage, television and films for several decades)
ON BERIOSOVA AND SWAN LAKE:
I remember well Poul Gnatt(founder of the Royal New
Zealand Ballet) talking about the time that he danced
with Beriosova in Swan Lake at a time she was
suffering severe flatulence, and every time she was
lifted (you know that part with the devlope lift, place
and pirouette>>>>da dum de da,de,da de da) there was a
non orchestrated note at the top of the lift...well
they way he storied it, in his wonderful Anglo/Danish
language...still brings a smile.
NANCY DI LULLO
Yesterday, we shared a space
A glittering, neon fantasy place
Smiling at the sun
Until it would fade
Night after night of accolade
Top hats and champagne bubbles
We had no troubles
Wearing satin dresses
And jewelled tresses
Tapping those treasures over burning sands
We cooled our pleasure with plum´ed fans…
It seemed to be, that time stood still
As we laughed, and loved
And danced our fill
Oh, those dreams!…
They all came true
But, I’m still me
And you’re still you
Woven from memories
Alive in that place
Where you and I
Once shared some space.
Nancy Di Lullo
Written for the 40th year reunion of
"Le Folies Bergere"
Tropicana, Las Vegas
(Ed: This artist had a career on the Las Vegas stage)
A thought for tonight...
Dance is our only refuge, awareness of our body of our thoughts feelings and
actions becomes a focus for our lives. Dance into the night of old age and
recognise the importance of staying in touch with our bodies.
Pete Purdy, 2003
Further information on some of the above artists can be found by clicking on OLD BOYS or OLD COMRADES; links to personal websites can be found on ARTISTES.
The copyright of each artist's contribution on this page, and throughout menwhodanced.com, belongs to each individual artist.