David Bruce: The Funniest People in Dance — Food


• Monica Lera, a former member of the Opera House Ballet, remembers a time when she and other dancers played children in Act II in La Bohème and were required to carry food onto the stage. Because the food was real, tasty, and free, and because the dancers were living on low wages, they nibbled on the food before bringing it in, reasoning that no one in the audience could see that a bite or two had been taken out of a slice of ham or a cream cake. Of course, the singers on stage did notice, and in a low voice would joke to the dancers: “The rats have been at this. I shall complain to the management.”

• Mrs. Haskell, the mother of ballet critic Arnold Haskell, enjoyed watching ballet practice at the London dance studio of Princess Seraphine Astafieva. Often she rewarded dancers with boxes of chocolates. Because young dance student Patrick Healey-Kay, who later became world famous as Anton Dolin, knew that Mrs. Haskell enjoyed watching the circle of pirouettes with which Ms. Astafieva’s students ended the class, he sometimes asked Mrs. Haskell what she would give him if he danced two circles of pirouettes instead of just one. In that way, he was able to earn many boxes of chocolates.

• While on tour, Merce Cunningham and his dance troupe stopped at the Brownsville Eat-All-You-Want Restaurant, where they wolfed down food in huge quantities. (Dancer Steve Paxton ate five pieces of pie for dessert!) Mr. Cunningham asked the cashier how the restaurant managed to stay open, and she replied, “Most people don’t eat as much as you people.” On another tour, they stopped at a restaurant that advertised homemade pies. Before the dance troupe left the restaurant, they heard the servers tell the regular pie-eating customers, “I’m sorry — we don’t have any more.”

• Mikhail Mordkin was jealous of the great success enjoyed by his dance partner, Anna Pavlova, who even had food named after her. While the two were preparing to order supper at a restaurant, Mr. Mordkin glanced at the menu, then he grew angry. He showed the menu to Ms. Pavlova and said, “There you are! Now you see! Frog’s legs à la Pavlova! Always it is yourself! Never of Mordkin you think, but always Pavlova, Pavlova, Pavlova! Frog’s legs à la Pavlova! But where is there frog’s legs à la Mordkin? Where is there anything eatable à la Mordkin? Tell me that!”

• As a young child growing up in Ufa, the great dancer Rudolf Nureyev was frequently hungry. When he started kindergarten, he was always late to class each morning, and his teacher asked him why. Young Rudi explained that he had to eat at home. His teacher then reminded him that he could eat at school. What young Rudi didn’t explain was that now he had a chance to eat twice in the morning, he was not going to miss it — especially since he could not be sure that food would be available at home in the evening. (One day in class, he actually fainted from hunger.)

• Alexandra Danilova lived in Russia after the revolution, so she suffered from food shortages for many years. After leaving Russia and going to Germany, where she danced for the Ballet Russe, she feasted on the food there. One day, she was supposed to rehearse with Anton Dolin, but he looked at her and then told her that he was a dancer and not a piano mover. After that — and after being told by the company that she was not allowed to dance until she lost weight — Ms. Danilova slimmed down.

• As you would expect, surrealist Salvador Dali had some very original ideas for ballets choreographed by Léonide Massine. For a scene in which Theseus kills the Minotaur, Mr. Dali wanted to use a real calf’s head from which the dancers would cut pieces of meat and eat them. Mr. Dali and Mr. Massine went to several restaurants to see if they could get a calf’s head, but the best the waiters could do for them was to offer them a veal sandwich.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Dance — Buy

The Funniest People in Dance — Kindle

The Funniest People in Dance — Apple

The Funniest People in Dance — Barnes and Noble

The Funniest People in Dance — Kobo

The Funniest People in Dance — Smashwords: Many formats, Including PDF

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: