May-June 2017 | Bulletin Board

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Dance in Time: May/June

Our sampling of May birthdays includes those of choreographer Michel Fokine (born Mikhail Fokin, 1880–1942; St. Petersburg, Russia), whose famous “five principles” revolutionized ballet; pioneering modern dance choreographer Martha Graham (1894–1991, Allegheny, PA); Dame Margot Fonteyn (born Margaret Evelyn Hookham, 1919–1991; Reigate, U.K.), prima ballerina assoluta at The Royal Ballet and dance partner (in her 40s) of Rudolf Nureyev; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater artistic director emerita Judith Jamison (1943–; Philadelphia, PA); and Idina Menzel (1971–; Syosset, NY), the Tony Award–winning star of Wicked.

Noteworthy May events include the premieres of Arthur Saint-Léon’s Coppélia in 1870; Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) in 1913; Martha Graham’s Cave of the Heart (originally Serpent Heart) in 1946; the movie Breakin’  in 1984; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated in 1987; and Mark Morris’ Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes in 1988.

Luminaries with June birthdays include Enrico Cecchetti (1850–1928; Rome, Italy), whose teaching method is used worldwide; anthropologist/choreographer Katherine Dunham (1909–2006; Chicago, IL), who blended Caribbean, African, and Western dance; Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancer Frederic Franklin (1914–2013, Liverpool, U.K.); and The Turning Point star Leslie Browne (1957–; New York City), a former American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet dancer.

Notable June events include the premieres of Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot’s 1841 Giselle, with Carlotta Grisi in the title role; Michel Fokine’s 1910 Firebird; and Rennie Harris’ first full-length work, Rome and Jewels, in 2000. In 1961 Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West.


Quotable: About Dance

“The great, the outstanding, feature of the new ballet is that in place of acrobatic tricks designed to attract applause, and formal entrances and pauses made solely for effect, there shall be but one thing—the aspiration for beauty.”

—Michel Fokine, choreographer
(from the introduction to the script of his first ballet, Daphnis and Chloë, which Fokine submitted in 1904 to Vladimir Teliakovsky, director of Russia’s Imperial Theaters)