July 2018 | Dance History Quiz

DHQ_T
Fun facts for teachers & students

1The’60s-era TV music shows Shindig! and Hullaballoo and the ’70s-era show Soul Train had one dance component in common. What was it?

a. Choreography by David Winters
b. A “spotlight dance” with that week’s featured couple
c. A dance-off among audience members
d. Performances by Toni Basil

Answer
d. Performances by Toni Basil

Toni Basil became internationally known for her infectious 1982 pop hit “Mickey.” In the song’s video, she dressed like a cheerleader and bopped around her band, but by that time, she had been working as a professional dancer, choreographer, and actress for many years. She created choreography for the 1973 film American Graffiti and was a dancer and assistant choreographer to David Winters on the teen-oriented music programs Shindig! and Hullaballoo, where she sometimes appeared go-go dancing on camera with friend and fellow dancer Teri Garr. She was also an original member of the first locking crew, The Lockers, which appeared on Soul Train in the 1970s. “We did change the face of dance,” she said later. “We were the first street dancers that formed a group, got on television, and actually earned a dime.”

For more information:

2What does a dance arranger do?

a. Choreographs crowd scenes in opera, plays, and musicals
b. Writes out dance notation on musical scores
c. Creates a musical “dance break” within a score
d. Ensures that dancers are in their proper places backstage before curtain and during a show

Answer
c. Creates a musical “dance break” within a score

Dance arrangers are composers, but instead of writing a song’s melody, they write the expansion of that melody to accommodate musical theater choreography. “Composers might write a minute-and-a-half song and it’s my job to make it into, say, a three-minute dance number or a seven-minute big production number,” dance arranger David Dabbon told Playbill.com. Dance arrangers write the music for dance breaks and collaborate with both composers and choreographers. “I’ll tweak a little bar to match the choreography or vice versa,” Dabbon said. “Like, ‘I really like this music. What do you think of making the hit on count 8 instead of 7?’ and then through that the choreographer might say, ‘That actually gives me more time to stretch something.’ So it’s a give-and-take.”

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3 Nureyev, the ballet Yuri Possokhov choreographed about Rudolf Nureyev for the Bolshoi Ballet, mirrored the late star’s dramatic life with plenty of drama of its own: its July 2017 premiere was postponed, and when the piece finally did open in December 2017, the production team appeared onstage on opening night wearing T-shirts emblazoned with what slogan?

a. “We Are All Nureyev”
b. “Free the Director”
c. “This Is the End”
d. “Run to Freedom”

Answer
b. “Free the Director”

The message was a reference to the ballet’s theatrical director, Kirill Serebrennikov, who had been under house arrest since August 2017 after being charged with misappropriating state funds. That was just one of many dramatic events surrounding the ballet’s production: Bolshoi director Vladimir Urin announced in 2017 that the July premiere was canceled due to lack of preparation, although some ballet watchers speculated that minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky was attempting to censor it because he considered the content—including references to Nureyev’s homosexuality and his defection to the West—too racy, wrote Joy Neumeyer in the Calvert Journal, adding that, when the Bolshoi announced that the ballet was back on, several hundred tickets sold out within hours.

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4 Dancer-choreographer Garth Fagan won widespread acclaim thanks to his inventive choreography for The Lion King on Broadway, but early in his career, Fagan made what some might consider a questionable decision. What was it?

a. He financed his company’s trip back to his native Jamaica by covertly charging the airfare and hotel bill to his father’s credit card.
b. He lived alone in a tent for four months in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to research how animals moved.
c. He lobbied Martha Graham to allow men—himself included—to dance her signature work, Lamentation, in the original costume.
d. He agreed to participate in a celebrity boxing match to finance his work with underprivileged students.

Answer
a. He financed his company’s trip back to his native Jamaica by covertly charging the airfare and hotel bill to his father’s credit card.

In a 2016 broadcast of National Public Radio’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” Fagan told host Peter Sagal that in 1973, he decided to bring his company, Garth Fagan Dance, to Jamaica. Fagan’s Oxford-educated doctor father would have preferred that Fagan pursue medicine, so it was bold of the younger Fagan to charge the company’s tour expenses to his father’s American Express card. Luckily, the company’s performance seemed to persuade the senior Fagan that his son had found his calling. “When he came to the show, he came backstage. And he was sweetness and light—‘my son, the choreographer,’ ” Fagan told Sagal. “My brothers and sisters are looking at him like, ‘We don’t know this guy.’ But when I told him, ‘Dad, I have to tell you something. I charged this trip on your account. And I’ll pay it back to you in four or five installments,’ that beloved man said, ‘You don’t owe me a dime.’ ”

For more information:
 “Not My Job: We Ask the Choreographer of The Lion King About Lying Kings,” Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! October 22, 2016

 “Garth Fagan,” Dance Heritage Coalition

5 Flamenco star José Greco was famous for his stage performances with legendary Spanish dancer La Argentinita, as well as with his own company. He and the company also appeared in what film?

a.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
b. Around the World in 80 Days
c.  Gigi
d. Sunset Boulevard

Answer
b. Around the World in 80 Days

Greco made quite a splash in the Oscar-winning 1956 film, twitching his hips and rat-a-tat-tatting patterns on a tavern tabletop, as dancers clapped out the rhythm and shouted their encouragement. Although he was born in Italy, not Spain, Spanish viewers in particular were so thrilled by his flamenco performances with his company, Ballet y Bailes de España de José Greco, that some refused to believe he wasn’t native to their country. “I was just an Italian with a Spanish heart who loved the dance,” Greco has been quoted as saying. Clearly, his talent was the main draw for viewers, something Hollywood quickly recognized.

For more information:
José Greco,” Dance Heritage Coalition

 “José Greco, 82, Fiery Master Of Spanish Dance, Is Dead,” New York Times, January 4, 2001

6 In 1943, Life magazine declared this “America’s national dance.” What was it?

 

a. The jitterbug
b. The mambo
c. The Lindy Hop
d. The shim sham

Answer
c. The Lindy Hop

Supposedly named for aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 “hop” across the Atlantic, the Lindy Hop is one of the best-known styles of swing dance. According to the Dance Heritage Coalition, the Lindy Hop incorporated aspects of older dances such as the Texas Tommy, partnered versions of the Charleston, and the two-step. The Lindy is based on variations of “the swing out” (two partners dance counterbalanced swinging movements around each other); “floor routines,” in which partners dance together without holding; and acrobatic “air steps.” Among the Lindy’s early adherents was activist Malcolm X, who, in his autobiography, offered a vivid description of swing dancing with a partner at Boston’s Roseland State Ballroom (which hosted racially integrated dances in the 1940s): “I turned up the steam, Laura’s feet were flying; I had her in the air, down, sideways, around; backwards, up again, down, whirling.”

For more information:
 “Swing Dance,” Dance Heritage Coalition

 “Swing,” Dance Heritage Coalition

 “Malcolm X and Lindy Hop,” History Is Made at Night, May 19, 2012

7 Which famous fashion designer created costumes for modern dance doyenne Martha Graham, as well as dressing society women of the day?

 

a. Christian Dior
b. Coco Chanel
c. Halston
d. Emilio Pucci

Answer
c. Halston

The designer, born Roy Halston Frowick, was better known for dressing 1970s disco habitués and Liza Minnelli than for his work with the legendary dancer-choreographer, who, for most of her professional life, created the company’s costumes herself. But in 1975, Halston began working with Graham to develop dance costumes, a task that had become increasingly difficult for her as she developed arthritis in her hands. Halston’s creations included costumes for Acts of Light, Tangled Night, and The Rite of Spring; he also revamped the costumes Graham had originally designed for Clytemnestra. The designer was a devoted collaborator: at A Halston Night for Martha Graham, a 1981 dinner and fashion-show fundraiser for the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Graham said of Halston, “I remember when he sat up most of the night braiding wire jewelry for a dance called Frescoes. The next day his hands were bleeding. That’s my friend.”

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8 Who trained movie stars Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Jennifer Lawrence in ballet technique to prepare them for movie roles that required dancing onscreen?

a. Kurt Froman
b. Julie Kent
c. Benjamin Millepied
d. Justin Peck

Answer
a. Kurt Froman

According to a profile on Playbill.com, Froman was sidelined from the cast of Movin’ Out with a sprained ankle when Benjamin Millepied sent him a Facebook message asking, “Would you be available to start training two actresses for a Darren Aronofsky film?” Froman trained Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman for their roles in Black Swan beginning in September 2009, spending four hours daily teaching them basic ballet technique and coaching them for the movie’s dance sequences. Millepied, who choreographed the film’s ballet sequences, “needed someone who he trusted to train them and partner them, and be a go-between,” Froman said. His most recent project was training Jennifer Lawrence for Red Sparrow, which came out in March—director Francis Lawrence insisted she do all of her own dancing. The actress was a star pupil: in four months, Froman said, “She completely mastered every single bit of that material. She did every single section—the solo included.”