October 2017 | Dance History Quiz

Fun facts for teachers & students

1 Former New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan’s first performance in a Balanchine ballet took place April 30, 1983, when, as a School of American Ballet student, she danced a corps role in Western Symphony. What other important event happened on the same day?

a. Balanchine sent her a personal congratulatory note.
b. Balanchine offered her a company contract.
c. Balanchine told her he doubted she had a future in dance.
d. Balanchine died.


2 What famous dance-related movie memorabilia sold at auction June 27, 2017, for $1.2 million?

a. Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain umbrella
b. The  Saturday Night Fever  disco floor
c. Moira Shearer’s pointe shoes from The Red Shoes
d. Natalie Portman’s Black Swan bodice and tutu

3 What famous ballerina has a dessert named in her honor?

a. Anna Pavlova
b. Margot Fonteyn
c. Marie Taglioni
d. Yvette Chauviré

4 Ruby Keeler was one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the 1930s, brightening movie musicals including 42nd Street and Footlight Parade with her sparkling personality and saucy tapping. At age 60 she was long retired and doting on her grandchildren when she was persuaded to return to performing in which Broadway show?

a. Sugar Babies
b. Follies
c. No, No, Nanette
d. 42nd Street

5 What do dancers say before a performance?

a. Break a leg
b. Good luck
c. Nostrovia
d. Merde

6 This Grammy-winning dancer, choreographer, and actress had to overcome plenty of obstacles on her way to fame: she was born three months premature (weighing 2.8 pounds), with collapsed lungs and a broken windpipe. At age 7 she began cleaning the bathrooms, floors, and mirrors at a dance studio in exchange for lessons her family couldn’t afford. In high school, she would pass out if she became breathless, and later had more than 15 cervical spinal surgeries to counter chronic pain from car and plane accidents, as well as a cheerleading injury. Who is she?

a. Paula Abdul
b. Gloria Estefan
c. Toni Basil
d. Madonna

7 What is the literal translation of La Fille mal gardée?

a. The girl in the garden
b. The poorly guarded girl
c. The bad daughter
d. The girl with intentions

8 Frontier, a ballet choreographed by former American Ballet Theatre star Ethan Stiefel, was inspired by President Kennedy’s speeches encouraging Americans to strive for advancements in education, culture, and space; it premiered in May. Stiefel worked out his ideas for this ballet while doing what other activity?

a. Trekking mountain ranges in New Zealand
b. Training NASA astronauts in ballet
c. Filming episodes of Gossip Girl
d. Riding 9,000 miles on his motorcycle