School — The Cheesesellers Wife

At age five I started school

I could already read and write

The teacher complained to my mother

The only free chair in the classroom

was next to John on the boys table.

He looked after me always.

I taught him to read.

I remember happy days

camaraderie with the boys

punctuated by sly kicks from the girls.

Ever observant I drew […]

School — The Cheesesellers Wife

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Dance — Money, Mothers, Movies

Money

• Dancer Ida Rubinstein was immensely wealthy. Her estate had greenhouses growing flowers of many different colors, and her flower gardens were designed so that the flowers could be replaced so that their color would match the color of her dress when she was entertaining. In addition, she filled a room with rows and rows of boxes set on shelves. Each box contained a hat, a pair of gloves, and a pair of shoes in matching colors.

• American dance pioneer Ted Shawn traveled the world looking for inspiration for new dances. While in Rangoon, he watched some Burmese dancers. A man in the audience threw some money on the stage, and a dancer picked the money up. The man in the audience yelled, “What do I get for that?” The dancer put the money in her bodice, then replied, “Only a receipt.”

• Caroline Otéro, a dancer, once advised Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a dancer and writer, “Don’t forget, there is always a moment in a man’s life, even if he’s a miser, when he opens his hands wide ….” Ms. Colette guessed, “In the moment of passion?” Ms. Otéro replied, “No — the moment when you twist his wrist.”

• Getting money for dates can be tough. The young composer Giacomo Puccini once pawned his coat to get enough money to take a ballerina out.

• Dancer Ann Pennington felt that the best writer in the world was George White — because he wrote her paychecks.

Mothers

• When dancer Norma Miller was born on December 2, 1919 (before the days of Welfare), her father had recently died, and things were tough. Her mother, an African American, had a hard time trying to work and raise an infant at the same time, so she decided to put her daughter in an orphanage. However, at the orphanage, a little girl pulled on her skirt and asked if she was her Mama. This made her think about her daughter wondering who her mother was, and she said, “I’ve changed my mind. I’ll suck salt before I’ll ever leave my children in an orphanage. I’ll never separate us ever!” She kept her word, and she kept her family together.

• As a boy, Patrick Healey-Kay — better known as Anton Dolin — studied under Mme. Seraphina Astafieva. Her way of pointing out mistakes was to rap her dancers on the legs. Her very best dancers were the ones who got the most raps because she wanted them to correct their mistakes and improve their dancing. Pat’s mother once said, “Pat must have pleased her greatly because his legs were always black and blue!”

Movies

• While touring with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, dancers sometimes whiled away the time before a performance by watching a movie — often the movie was being shown in the same theater they would dance in later that night. One day, the Ballet Russe manager, David Libidins, became irate because the film was still being shown when the stage should have been in the process of being prepared for the ballet that night. Although the movie theater manager told him that an audience was still watching the movie, he strode to the front of the theater, and ordered that the lights be turned on. When they were turned on, he was astonished to see that the audience for the movie consisted solely of ballet dancers. For a long time after that, the ballet dancers were forbidden to watch movies.

• Peggygene Evans had a career dancing in the early days of the talkies — and in silent movies. Her manager was her Aunt Ida, who made sure to protect her from Hollywood producers’ casting couches. Whenever Aunt Ida negotiated a deal, she always asked, “Now, are there any strings attached?” If strings were attached, no deal was made. Ms. Evans danced in Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera, and she danced in the first talkie, The Jazz Singer. The 4-foot-11 woman had a childlike quality and when she was 44 years old, she was able to double for 10-year-old Shirley Temple in the dance scenes for The Little Princess.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Music Recommendation: The Hi-Tide Orchestra — “Bullseye!”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Bullseye!”

Artist: The Hi-Tide Orchestra

Record Company: Hi-Tide Recordings

Record Company Location: New Jersey

Info: “A Santo & Johnny deep cut, remotely performed & recorded by Jeremy from The Manakooras, Graham from The Swingin’ Palms & Ted from Satan’s Pilgrims, with art & mastering by Shorty from The Hula Girls.

Jeremy DeHart / Guitar, Bass 
Graham Tichy / Steel Guitar 
Ted Miller / Drums 

“Hi-Tide Recordings is an international record label and lifestyle brand based in Freehold, New Jersey, USA. Partners Vincent Minervino and Magdalena O’Connell tour the world as vinyl DJs and event curators, and produce their very own Hi-Tide ‘Holiday’ series of music & cocktail weekenders.”

Price: $1 (USD) for track; this track is a single-sided single

Genre: Surf. Instrumental.

Links:

“BullsEye!”

https://hitiderecordings.bandcamp.com/album/bullseye

Hi-Tide Recordings

https://hitiderecordings.bandcamp.com

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Dance — Mishaps, Money

Mishaps

• Early in her career, dancer Ann Miller performed live on vaudeville bills featuring the Three Stooges. One day, the stage manager forgot to put down a rubber mat that protected the stage when the Three Stooges engaged in a pie-throwing sketch. When Ms. Miller came on the stage to dance, she slipped and fell into the orchestra pit. The Three Stooges thought this was funny, but Ms. Miller was upset and left the stage briefly before returning to dance. Afterward, the Three Stooges sent her flowers and congratulated her for acting so professionally by performing after the mishap.

• While filming Follow the Fleet in 1936, Fred Astaire suffered a mishap while dancing with Ginger Rogers. She was wearing a beaded gown, and the right sleeve hit Mr. Astaire’s head, dazing him. However, he continued dancing. Although they made 30 takes of the dance, the best take was the one in which Mr. Astaire carried on despite being dazed.

• Ivan Nagy once danced with Margot Fonteyn in Puerto Rico. They were scheduled to dance at a university, but because of a strike they were forced to dance on an emergency stage at a Holiday Inn with low ceilings. At one point, Mr. Nagy was supposed to pick up Ms. Fonteyn and run with her. He began running, but suddenly she was no longer in his hands. Looking back, he saw her hanging from a chandelier.

• Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev could be cocky. In 1963, after a late performance, he was walking in Toronto, Canada, when he began to dance up the centerline of a street. A police officer arrested him, and Mr. Nureyev said, “You can’t arrest me. I’m Rudolf Nureyev.” The police officer replied, “Yeah, and I’m Fred Astaire — but you are under arrest.” Mr. Nureyev was taken away in handcuffs.

• For a while, Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn was a chorus girl. While dancing in the chorus of the musical Kiss Me, Kate, she witnessed an actor who played a strongman run into a problem. He couldn’t find his costume — a loincloth — so he ended up appearing on stage while wearing a woman’s leotard. Ms. Hawn says, “I laughed so hard I peed down my leg.”

• Nora Kaye was a very energetic ballerina. Once, while dancing in Valerie Bettis’ Streetcar Named Desire, she accidentally knocked out her partner, Igor Youskevitch, forcing her to finish the rape scene by herself.

• Edward Renton once conducted a dance with such a slow tempo that dancer Robert Helpmann, who tried mightily to jump to the music, complained, “Have you never heard of gravity?”

Money

• A society woman once made the mistake of announcing that Anna Pavlova would dance at one of her affairs. Afterward, she asked Ms. Pavlova how much she would charge for a dance, and she was shocked when Ms. Pavlova said the price would be £500. The society woman asked, “Surely £500 is a very great deal of money for a performance which will last only five or six minutes?” Ms. Pavlova stood firm, and since the society woman had already announced that Ms. Pavlova would dance, she was forced to agree to Ms. Pavlova’s price. However, Ms. Pavlova thought for a moment about the kind of guests who would likely be present at the society woman’s party, then she said, “If you do not insist upon my sitting with your friends at supper, I will reduce my fee to £300.”

• Léonide Massine choreographed “The Dying Swan” for Anna Pavlova, and the only two people he taught it to were Ms. Pavlova and his wife. However, when his student Patricia Bowman expressed an interest in learning to dance “The Dying Swan,” he asked his wife for permission to teach it to her. She agreed — provided that Ms. Bowman paid $300 for the privilege. After Ms. Bowman had paid the fee and had learned the dance, Mr. Massine said she might forget some of the steps, so he handed her a book that had photographs of “The Dying Swan” and descriptions of all its steps — Ms. Bowman could have learned the dance merely from reading the book! In addition, Mr. Massine charged her $5 for the book!

***

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

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The Funniest People in Dance — Kobo

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

Music Recommendation: The Black Flamingoes — “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

Artist: The Black Flamingos

Artist Location: Asbury Park, New Jersey

Info: Black Flamingos are an instrumental trio from Asbury Park, NJ – featuring Robbie Butkowski on guitar, Declan O’Connell on bass, and Hi-Tide Recordings co-owner Vincent Minervino on drums.

Price: $3 (USD) tor track; the track is a one-sided single

Genre: Surf. Instrumental.

Links:

The Black Flamingoes on Bandcamp

https://blackflamingos.bandcamp.com

“ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?”

https://blackflamingos.bandcamp.com/album/are-you-afraid-of-the-dark-single

Hi-Tide Recordings

https://hitiderecordings.bandcamp.com

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Dance — Mishaps

Mishaps

• Many performing artists desire quiet and privacy before facing an audience. Impresario Sol Hurok once was backstage before a performance by Sadler’s Wells Ballet. He knocked on ballerina Margot Fonteyn’s door. No answer. He went away, returned a short while later, and knocked again. No answer. He then opened the door and asked if she had heard his knock. Ms. Fonteyn told him, “GET OUT!” After the performance, the two met, and Mr. Hurok asked if she were angry at him. Ms. Fonteyn smiled, then asked, “Why on earth should I be angry at you?” After Mr. Hurok reminded her that she had told him to get out of her dressing room, she replied, “Don’t you know that, before a performance, I won’t talk to anyone?” After giving him a kiss, she added, “Remember, I don’t want to see anyone before I go on.”

• Soprano Joan Hammond once appeared on the BBC series Gala Performance on the same program as ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Unfortunately, as she was singing, she caught sight of the dancers warming up their muscles at the barre. Normally, this would be OK, but they were warming up using a rhythm that was different from that of the aria that Ms. Hammond was singing, so she had to stop, explain what had happened, apologize, then begin singing again. The aria went well this time, but after the program, the conductor, Malcolm Arnold, told her, “You were lucky, Joan. After Margot and Nureyev moved away from you, they came into my vision, and I had to force myself to keep to Puccini and not follow their timing for the entire aria. I didn’t want to stop and cause you to start yet again.”

• As a young dance student, Peter Martins thought he was both a strong and a good dance partner, but he learned the truth in a performance of August Bournonville’s Far From Denmark. At one point, the 20 males onstage were required to lift their partners and hold them in the air during the applause that followed. Of all the 20 males, young Peter was the first to lower his partner. She was furious at his weakness and hissed at him, “You need to do push-ups.” He cried after the performance, and the next day he bought a piece of exercise equipment known as a chest expander and started to use it and to do push-ups.

• Peter Martins took over as a co-director of the New York City Ballet after George Balanchine’s death. For a while, Mr. Martins continued his dancing career, but he soon discovered that it was too difficult to do both jobs. During a performance with Suzanne Farrell, with whom he had had little rehearsal, he had numerous entrances and exits. While he was standing in the wings, he watched an improvising Ms. Farrell and told the ballet mistress, “Doesn’t Suzanne look great out there!” The ballet mistress replied, “Yes, but you’re supposed to be there with her.” Mr. Martins quickly made a belated appearance on stage.

• Disasters and near-disasters are always a possibility at a public dance performance. Ballerina Darci Kistler once was dancing when her costume started to unravel at a side seam. She remembers thinking that even if her costume came off, she had to continue to dance. (Fortunately, this turned out to be a near-disaster rather than a disaster.) On another occasion, the glue on her false eyelashes glued her eyes shut so that she was unable to see on stage. And once when she was a young ballerina, her perspiration caused her mascara to run down her face; after that experience, she used waterproof mascara.

• Before a matinee performance, a young Margot Fonteyn noticed that some other people were taking a drink, so she had a few drinks, too. Big mistake. The other people weren’t dancing at the matinee, but she was. Feeling tipsy and inclined to giggle, she went on stage and discovered that her body could not do what she wanted it to do. The performance was a nightmare, and the applause following it was scanty. For the next 30 years of her career, she refused to take even an aspirin before a performance, and she never again drank before a performance.

***

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

Music Recommendation: Noelle — “Cruel Winter”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Cruel Winter”

One-Track Single: “Cruel Winter”

Artist: noelle

Artist Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Info: “A parody of the song by BANANARAMA.”

noelle has many good covers, including one of “The Rainbow Connection” on her EP SECRETS.

Price: Name Your Price (Includes FREE)

Genre: Cover. Pop.

Links:

noelle on Bandcamp

https://thelastnoelle.bandcamp.com

“Cruel Winter”

https://thelastnoelle.bandcamp.com/track/cruel-winter

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Dance — Language, Media

Language

• When Pierre Monteux was conducting for Sergei Diaghilev, a champion of new choreography and new music, he sometimes ran into problems with orchestras that resented playing some of the new music. For example, at the Vienna Opera House, the Philharmonic Orchestra rebelled at playing Igor Stravinsky’s music for Petrushka, and so at rehearsals — despite Mr. Monteux’s best efforts — the violins, celli, basses, and violas played pianissimo, while the woodwinds and brasses played fortissimo. Mr. Diaghilev heard the cacophony, and he yelled at Mr. Monteux, “It’s not Petrushka — it’s a funeral march!” The musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, eager for a fight, jumped to their feet and demanded an apology. Mr. Diaghilev agreed to give them an apology, but he knew that they could not understand French when it was spoken quickly, so he proceeded to insult them in the worst and most derogatory terms possible, but he was such a good actor that the musicians thought he was making an apology. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra accepted the “apology,” the rehearsal went on, but unfortunately, Mr. Monteux says, “The results were dull, uninspired performances because … the great Vienna Philharmonic simply could not play Petrushka.”

• Nicolas Legat was a Russian dancer who lived the last years of his life teaching ballet in England. Unfortunately, he didn’t learn English very well. One day, he spoke to a police officer, using the words that he had learned so he could greet visitors to his dance studio, “Thank you very much, too much, sit down, please.” His lack of English led to some funny sentences. Whenever he wanted to tell a pupil in class to hold her head up, he said, “Keep your football up.”

• Gerald Arpino met Princess Margaret on Oct. 27, 1977, at the Contemporary Dance Foundation Gala at the Hotel Pierre. He had always been told that British royalty are impeccable in their pronunciation, and so he practiced perfectly saying, “I — am — pleased — to — meet — you — Your — Royal — Highness.” The meeting went very well. Mr. Arpino was impeccable in his pronunciation, and Princess Margaret responded, “How d’ja’ do?”

• Alexandra Danilova, from Russia, and Alicia Markova, from England, used to travel throughout the United States and give ballet performances. In the south, waiters often had a hard time understanding Ms. Markova’s British accent, so Ms. Danilova would tell the waiter both of their orders, then say about Ms. Markova, “These French girls — they just can’t learn to speak good English.”

• Andrei Kramarevsky taught classes at the School of American Ballet despite knowing very little English. According to ballerina Darci Kistler, one of his students, he knew only two English words. Dance students who made mistakes, he called “cheap.” Dance students who didn’t make mistakes, he called “expensive.”

• When ballerina Marie Taglioni became pregnant after her marriage, she tried to keep her pregnancy secret by telling other dancers that she had a sore knee. The lie didn’t work. The dancers even began to use the term “mal au genou” (“hurt knee”) as a synonym for being pregnant.

• Alexandre Volinine, the dance partner of Anna Pavlova, did not learn much English. At a restaurant, he would ask for a menu, look intently at it, then point at a random spot on the menu and order, “Ham and eggs.”

Media

• The author of this book once wrote a preview story for an Ohio University School of Dance performance. The only place for interviews during a rehearsal was in a closet, so Ohio University dance teacher Michele Geller told the dance students, “This is David Bruce. He is going to interview you for a story he is writing for The Athens News, so don’t be shocked if he asks you to go into a closet with him.”

• A Sports Illustrated writer once met ballet dancer Edward Villella for an interview. Immediately after shaking hands, Mr. Villella said, “I know the question you’re dying to ask even before you ask it: Am I straight?” (The answer is yes; Mr. Villella is married with children.)

• Loïe Fuller, a 19th– and 20th-century American dancer who took Paris by storm, understood the value of publicity. Whenever public interest in her seemed to be decreasing, she would start a lawsuit or announce that she was suffering from a severe illness.

***

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

Music Recommendation: The Almighty Devildogs — “Dizzy”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Dizzy”

Two-Track Single: “Dizzy” bound with “Massacre”

Artist: The Almighty Devildogs

Artist Location: São Paulo, Brazil

Info:

“Formada em 2003, apresenta um surf rock com influências de clássicos como Dick Dale e Man or Astro-man? assim como do punk como The Cramps, DK, Agent Orange entre outros. Trazem também em sua música elementos que remetem ao cinema de horror e quadrinhos, temas que também servem como referência para as composições da banda. A banda é: Vinicius (guitarra), Sergio (baixo), e Montinho (bateria). “

“Formed in 2003, it features surf rock with influences from classics like Dick Dale and Man or Astro-man? as well as punk like The Cramps, DK, Agent Orange among others. They also bring in their music elements that refer to the horror and comics cinema, themes that also serve as a reference for the band’s compositions. The band is: Vinicius (guitar), Sergio (bass), and Montinho (drums).”

Price: $2 (USD) for two-track single; tracks cannot be purchased separately

Genre: Surf. Instrumental.

Links:

The Almighty Devildogs on Bandcamp

https://thealmightydevildogs.bandcamp.com

“Dizzy”

https://thealmightydevildogs.bandcamp.com/album/dizzy