• George Balanchine took the New York City Ballet on a tour to his native Russia and throughout Europe, ending the tour in Poland. During the tour, the ballet company carried grey linoleum flooring to dance on. In Poland, Mr. Balanchine made a present of the flooring to the Polish Ballet School after autographing a corner of it. An official of the Polish Ballet School cut off the corner that Mr. Balanchine had autographed, then framed it and hung it up.
• As a young girl, ballerina Illaria Obidenna Ladré had a crush on Russian dancer Anatole Vilzak. She met him after she graduated from dance school, and he wrote two lines in her yearbook — “First of all love / dance and art” — and signed his name. Illaria crossed out the line “dance and art,” leaving “First of all love.”
• A man once saw dancer/choreographer Martha Graham surrounded by fans, so he asked her for her autograph, which she gave to him. But after reading the name on the piece of paper, he asked, “Who are you?” Ms. Graham grabbed the piece of paper from his hand, then snapped, “Find out!”
• Famous mime Marcel Marceau once watched ballet dancer Peter Martins rehearse and was so impressed that he autographed Mr. Martins’ arm and added his impression of Mr. Martins’ talent: “Wonderful!”
• Dance can be censored. The Danny Grossman Dance Company performed National Spirit — a dance that satirizes American patriotism and implies that blindly following your leader can get you killed — at a Florida elementary school. The company was supposed to perform two shows, but after the first performance, the principal would not allow them to perform the second. She told Mr. Grossman, “It will take ten years to unteach what you have shown them.” She also called the police to escort the dance troupe out of the school.
• Anna Pavlova was once censored while dancing in the United States. The authorities thought that the skirts of her ballet costumes were too short, so they made her wear longer skirts before allowing her to perform. About this experience, Ms. Pavlova said, “The evil was in the mind of my critics, I think, rather than in the beautiful art which it has always been my endeavor to give to the world.”
• In Romania in the mid-1940s, censors sometimes read people’s mail. Ballerina Illaria Obidenna Ladré lived in Romania for a while as her husband, Marian Ladré, danced in South America. He once sent her a photograph of himself, and the censor wrote underneath the photograph, “What a handsome husband you have!”
• When ballerina Margot Fonteyn was a little girl, her mother knew how to keep her quiet, at least for a short time. She would put a pin on the floor, put a cushion on the pin, then have little Margot sit on the cushion. She would tell little Margot that if she sat quietly, fairies would turn the pin into a lump of sugar. However, little Margot was not allowed to talk, and she was not allowed to look to see if the pin had turned into a lump of sugar, because if she did, the transformation of the pin into a lump of sugar would take longer. Her mother would then do whatever chore she needed to do, such as baking a cake. Once or twice, she would check on the pin, say it hadn’t turned into a lump of sugar yet, then return to the chore. However, when the chore was finished, miraculously the pin would have turned into a lump of sugar.
• Beth Joiner, a children’s dance teacher in Georgia, plays along when her students decide a certain day is “Opposite Day.” Unfortunately, she learns what day it is after a student comes in and tells her that she is really pretty. When she thanks the student, all of her students snicker and say, “It’s Opposite Day.” Miss Beth then tells everybody how terrible they are when they dance well and how graceful they are when they dance badly. However, Opposite Day does result in problems. Once, a student told Miss Beth that her hair looked terrible, and when Miss Beth cheerfully replied, “Thank you,” the student looked confused. On another occasion, Miss Beth got into Opposite Day so much that she created a family crisis by telling her mother-in-law that she was growing fat.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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