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Up and Coming

by Marian Horosko
September 21, 2009
New York, NY
"Fall for Dance," now ready for its 6th annual bouquet of classical, contemporary and ethnic dance for the crowds ready to pay $10 a ticket for an extraordinary
evening of dance at City Center. From September 22-October 3, the line-up will include the debut of the Australian Ballet, Ballet West, Batsheva, and ballerina Diana Visneva's foray into production. Teatro dell'Opera di Roma Ballet will make its festival debut (with a bow to the Diaghilev centennial with Balanchine's first ballet for the Ballets Russe, "La Chatte.") and Savion Glover will tap his way along with Paul Taylor Dance Company. Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater will perform as well. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal returns and as a special treat, feats of Capoeira will astound.

Want to avoid standing in line? Get a ticket at the box office and a playbill in advance when announced for program one, two, three or four and five.

The tribute to the Diaghilev (1872-1929) centennial will sent whiffs of nostalgia throughout the Festival in programs everywhere since the Ballets Russes under his guidance created a superb legacy in dance, music, scenery design and costuming.

Less known is the contribution his dancers made, through Lincoln Kirsten, to the beginnings of classical dance in New York. Stranded in Europe because of approaching WWII and turmoil in Russia, many of the Diaghilev dancers became teachers in NY. There were no companies they could join. The alternative was teaching. They occupied small studios around City Center (there was no Lincoln Center), and taught us how to dance. Balanchine hired several of them to staff his newly formed School of American Ballet.

They were a tough lot, insulting, strict, brooking no deviation from the pedagogy of the Bolshoi and St. Petersburg schools. They fractured French ballet terms,
had no patience for bad taste no matter how famous a dancer, who came to their classes. One instance: a European "star" ended a combination (sequence of steps) in class with a grand flourish. "Pigeon born in stable make him horse?" was the unforgettable comment to the dancer. Suppressed laughter ran throughout the class.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as a great deal of memorabilia from the era that will soon be on display. Regrettably, diabetic Serge Diaghilev's early demise ended the possible visits of the company to our country, except for one or two inadequate forays. (Diaghilev would not travel by boat to America.)

The monumental exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art: "Stage Pictures: Drawing for Performance," continues at the museum until August 25.
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