David Bruce: The Coolest People in the Arts — Clothing and Costumes

Clothing and Costumes

• Early in Rudolf Nureyev’s career, before he had been accepted into the Leningrad Ballet School, he danced in a sailor’s costume in his folk-dance troupe. Because the trousers of his costume weren’t ready, he borrowed trousers from another member of the troupe, and as he was dancing, the trousers fell down. By the way, near the end of his career, Mr. Nureyev was often asked the vexing question, “When do you plan to stop dancing?” In answering, he often used the same reply that Margot Fonteyn had used near the end of her career, “I’ll stop when the audience no longer wants to see me.”

• Copenhagen’s Royal Theater has a hole in the floor. The hole, which can be plugged up as necessary, is called a “hand-hole,” and it is used to help with a quick costume change on stage. For example, a water nymph may need to be transformed back into an Italian woman before the audience’s eyes. Smoke is made to swirl around the water nymph, a hand reaches up from the hand-hole, and the nymph costume is whisked away, revealing the Italian costume underneath.

• Young ballet student Natalia Makarova saw the world-class ballerina Galina Ulanova dance the part of Juliet in Romeo and Julietat the Kirov in the 1950s. Ms. Makarova remembers that at the curtain call Ms. Ulanova wore Juliet’s cloak—and in stark contrast to the ethereal quality of Juliet, Ms. Ulanova was also wearing a pair of high-topped winter boots. Because Ms. Ulanova had to catch a train, she had put on her boots in the wings of the theater.

• Rudolph Nureyev wanted to learn dancing at the Kirov. At his audition, the woman ballet teacher Costravitskaya watched him closely, then told him, “Young man, you’ll either become a brilliant dancer—or a total failure. And most likely you’ll be a failure!” By the way, when Mr. Nureyev danced the part of Albrecht in Giselle, he wore a wig that was so blond and curly that he called it his Marilyn Monroe wig.

• Madame Manya was a costumer of genius. She made many costumes for ballerina Alicia Markova, and whenever she decorated a costume with pearls and jewels, she covered the costume with a very fine, almost unnoticeable net, so that no pearls or jewels ever fell to the floor during a Markova performance. Today, Madame Manya’s costumes can be seen at the Theatre Museum in London—the inside of each costume is as finely made as the outside.

• Vicky Tiel’s granddaughter, Lucie Belle, may have inherited Vicky’s love of fashion. When Lucie Belle got a baby brother, she announced that she was going to marry him and therefore needed a red dress that would match her red shoes. Lucie Belle’s favorite shoes, of course, are red patent-leather Mary Janes. When the shoe salesman showed her a pair of brown Oxfords, she told him, politely, “I don’t think so.”

• Ballet dancers go through ballet shoes quickly. In the 1980s, Briar Brownson, the “shoe lady” of the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, used to keep on hand 30 pairs of pointe shoes for each woman and six pairs of black and six pairs of white ballet slippers for each man in the company. Whenever her stock of shoes got any lower than that, she grew worried about running out.

• As a young ballerina, Illaria Obidenna Ladré wore the very short tunics that her teacher, Ms. Vaganova, wanted the students to wear. Later, as a dancer for Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, her short tunic shocked the wardrobe mistress, who remarked, “Any shorter, and you’d need lipstick!” (At the time, early in the 20thcentury, lipstick was worn mostly by prostitutes.)

• James Abbott McNeill Whistler dressed eccentrically to attract attention. A fellow painter, Edgar Degas, once told him, “If you were not a genius, you would be the most ridiculous man in Paris.”

• Costumes in dance can be shocking. In 1907, Maude Allan danced her Vision of Salomein a costume consisting only of strings of pearls that formed a loincloth and bra.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE ARTS

KINDLE

SMASHWORDS (VARIOUS FORMATS)

BUY THE PAPERBACK

David Bruce: The Coolest People in the Arts — Children, Clothing and Costumes

Children

• Eleanor Peters, who was instrumental in convincing married dancers Marian Ladré and Illaria Obidenna Ladré to start a ballet school in Seattle, Washington, had a lovely apartment on 36th Street in Seattle. The third floor was devoted in part to her son’s toy train. (Because there were so many toys in the son’s bedroom, there was no room for the train.) Mrs. Ladré noted with amusement that the butler spent more time than the son did playing with the train.

• When lieder singer Lotte Lehmann was a child, she had a very thick pigtail, which she put to good purpose by allowing a small friend to grab hold of it and swing her in circles. By the way, Ms. Lehmann sang in Cuba shortly after the revolution. A notable feature of her bedroom at the Grande Hotel Nazionale was that it had a gaping hole as a result of a shell fired in the revolution.

• As a child dancer, Muriel Stuart impressed Anna Pavlova. While auditioning for the great dancer, Ms. Stuart danced to a waltz. Ms. Pavlova asked the pianist to switch to a polka, and Ms. Stuart immediately changed the tempo of her dancing. Because of this, Ms. Pavlova gave the child dancer the privilege of sitting beside her during the remaining auditions.

• Maria Avelis, who during the mid-1950s was a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera, remembers her start in music. Her sister was taking voice lessons, and she missed a note. Her sister’s teacher asked young Maria to try to hit the note, and she did. (Young Maria thought her note sounded like a “howl,” but the voice teacher called it “wonderful.”)

• Dancer Ted Shawn once gave his wife, the dancer Ruth St. Denis, a peacock as a present. The beauty of the peacock thrilled a neighborhood child—until she heard the peacock’s unbeautiful cry. The child turned to Mr. Shawn and, with tears in her eyes, said, “Can’t God do nothing perfect?”

Clothing and Costumes

• In her autobiography, I’m Not Making This Up, You Know, Anna Russell writes that sometimes during performances she used to wear a gown that had “a big pouffe of tulle at the back of the skirt, making a little train.” During an appearance in San Francisco, her accompanist accidentally stepped on the train, pulling out the long length of tulle. Much later, during an appearance in London, Ms. Russell was wearing the same dress, but she had a new accompanist, whom she forgot to warn about her train. Once again, her accompanist accidentally stepped on her train, pulling out the long length of tulle. After the performance, an American sailor came backstage and said that he enjoyed her work, but he especially enjoyed the part at the end, when her accompanist stepped on her train. Ms. Russell explained that that had been an accident, not part of the show, but the sailor replied, “The h*ll it was an accident. I saw you do it in San Francisco.”

• Vaslav Nijinsky was dismissed from the Imperial Theaters of Russia in January 1911 because he had worn an “improper” costume in a performance. The costume, which had been designed by Alexandre Benois, did not have trunks over the dancer’s tights, although the Imperial Theaters required trunks. In solidarity with her brother, Bronislava Nijinska immediately resigned from the Imperial Theaters, and the two then joined the Ballets Russe. By the way, when Bronislava started her dance studio—Nijinska’s Ecole de Mouvement—in Kiev in 1919, the Russian Revolution was in full force. Her students paid for their tuition with such necessities as food and fuel.

\• Judy Garland and Katherine Hepburn appeared in a group portrait of MGM movie stars that appeared in Lifemagazine in 1948. Ms. Hepburn, who was wearing slacks, told Ms. Garland, who was wearing a pale skirt and a black blouse, “I knew I’d be badly dressed, and I knew you’d be badly dressed. The only difference is that you took the time.” A later celebrity who sometimes dressed oddly was Bette Midler, who got her start in the gay club known as the Continental Baths, where her many fans frequently wore nothing but towels. For her encores, the Divine Miss M reappeared on stage, wearing only a towel.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE ARTS

KINDLE

SMASHWORDS (VARIOUS FORMATS)

BUY THE PAPERBACK

 

 

David Bruce: The Coolest People in the Arts — Authors, Autographs, Celebrities, Children

Authors

• Sandra Cisneros, the Chicana author of The House on Mango Street, grew up in a family without a lot of money. Her mother made sure that she had a library card, and young Sandra read many books. For a long time, Sandra thought that books were so precious that they had to be kept in a special building—a library. Her love of reading led to a love of writing. She often wrote when she was young, an activity that her mother encouraged. Whenever Sandra, who had two older and four younger brothers, was trying to write but was being bothered by her younger brothers, she would yell, “Mom! The kids are in here!” Her mother would make her younger brothers leave so Sandra could write.

Autographs

• Dancers are asked to autograph strange items. After dancing before President Kubitschek of Brazil and his family, Alicia Markova was asked to autograph one shoe apiece for his two daughters. And in London, a new tomb was needed for a performance of Giselle, so décor artist Bernard Dayde stayed up all night constructing one—provided Ms. Markova sign one of her ballet shoes after the performance, which she agreed to do.

• Famous violinist Fritz Kreisler was frequently approached by strangers asking for his autograph. One woman thought that he looked familiar, so she asked someone for his name, then she told him, “I’m one of your greatest admirers; in fact, I ride in one of your cars every day.” Hearing this, Mr. Kreisler signed this autograph: “With kind regards, Walter P. Chrysler.”

Celebrities

• When she was a young woman, Alexandra Danilova became upset when some men started lying about having affairs with her. Sergei Diaghilev advised her, “Stop crying. What a nuisance. You should cry when they don’t talk about you—as long as they are talking about you, you are interesting.”

• Some ballerinas are celebrities. In 1978, Natalia Makarova gave birth to her son, Andrew. The guests at his christening included Rudolph Nureyev, Jacqueline Onassis, Anne Getty, and former King Constantine of Greece.

Children

• Many musical geniuses started early in life: 1) Eugene Ormandy loved music from a very early age. When Eugene was age one and a half, his father could play the opening measures of approximately 50 pieces of music, and young Eugene could identify them. Just a few years later, at a concert, a violinist played the wrong note, and young Eugene yelled, “F-sharp, not F-natural!” 2) Even at age three and a half, renowned conductor Herbert von Karajan loved music. Whenever his older brother took a music lesson, young Herbert hid under the piano. After the lesson was over, he came out of his hiding place and attempted to play the notes he had heard while he was hiding. 3) Conductor George Szell’s ear was developed at an early age. As a child, he used to listen to his mother play the piano. Whenever she played a wrong note, he slapped her wrist.

• As a 13-year-old girl, Natalia Makarova applied to study at the Vaganova School (aka the Kirov School) of Ballet in Leningrad. She was taken to the Medical Section, which made her wonder because she wasn’t sick, and the medical personnel tested her flexibility by twisting and turning her legs in various directions. This so frightened young Natalia that when she was asked for her telephone number, she gave the wrong one. Fortunately, the personnel of the school were able to track her down anyway, and Ms. Makarova received the training that enabled her to become a world-class ballerina.

• David, the young son of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, once came home from school and said that the teacher had asked the kids what kind of jobs their fathers had. David complained that the other kids’ fathers had interesting jobs, but “you’re an artist and you can’t draw.” To show David that he in fact could draw, Mr. Lichtenstein drew Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. These cartoon characters appeared in his 1961 painting Look Mickey, and Mr. Lichtenstein started to become famous.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE ARTS

KINDLE

SMASHWORDS (VARIOUS FORMATS)

BUY THE PAPERBACK

David Bruce: The Coolest People in the Arts — Audiences, Authors

Audiences

• Actress Drew Barrymore comes from two fine, well-loved theatrical families: the Drews and the Barrymores. John Drew’s sister, Georgie, married Maurice Barrymore, and they produced three children: Ethel, Lionel, and John Barrymore. All of them became famous actors. In his autobiography, My Years on the Stage, John Drew tells of his niece, Ethel Barrymore, appearing in an important role on the stage for the first time. She was nervous, and because she was nervous, she was inaudible. A member of the audience called out to her, “Speak up, Ethel. You’re all right. The Drews is all good actors.”

• In the 1930s, Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers were subjected to a noisy audience in the Middle West. Mr. Shawn stopped the performance and gave the audience hell, saying, “I have danced before the cowboys of Texas and the hillbillies of North Carolina, and I’ve never been subjected before to such a rude audience as this.” After Mr. Shawn had given the audience hell, the performance continued, and Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers were given an ovation.

• Henry Rowley Bishop wrote the opera Aladdinin competition with Carl Maria von Weber’s Oberon. Unfortunately, his “Hunting Chorus” was very similar to Weber’s “Hunter’s Chorus.” When the audience heard Bishop’s “Hunting Chorus” at the premiere of Aladdin, they derisively whistled Weber’s “Hunter’s Chorus.”

• Some musicians play from memory as a way to impress the audience, but perhaps the audience ought not to be impressed. One violinist memorized the Kreutzer, intending to play it from memory, but he insisted that the pianist use a score so that he could look over the pianist’s shoulder at the score if necessary.

• Gustave Mahler sat in the audience at the first performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor. The audience disliked it, and Mr. Mahler asked a man near him to stop hissing. The man replied, “There’s no need to get excited. I hiss Mahler, too.”

• When ballerina and actress Ida Rubinstein performed at the Opera Paris, she would say words of dialogue on stage—words such as “Où suis-je?” (“Where am I?”) Of course, sometimes someone in the audience would answer, “À l’Opéra de Paris!

Authors

• After Chilean author Isabel Allende’s first book, The House of the Spirits, was published, her agent, Carmen Balcells, threw a party for her in Madrid, Spain. Many Spanish literary celebrities attended the party, and she was bashful. How to solve the problem? Actually, she didn’t solve it—she avoided it. She admitted, “I was so frightened I spent a good part of the evening hiding in the bathroom.” As you would expect, she began reading at a very young age. When she finished reading Tolstoy’s massive War and Peace, her uncle gave her a doll. Her family encouraged her to be creative. For example, her mother allowed her to paint murals on her bedroom walls. (Later, when she was able to drive, she painted flowers on her car. For a while, she had a job translating into Spanish romance novels that had been written in English. However, because she was a feminist, she changed the heroine’s dialogue from insipid to intelligent, and she changed the endings so that the heroine became independent and did not need a hero. She got fired. In her own life, she found romance. San Francisco lawyer William Gordon spoke fluent Spanish and met her and asked her to go on a date. After they had had one date, he drove her to the airport, and she asked him if he loved her. She says, “Poor guy, he almost drove off the road. He had to pull over, and he said, ‘What are you talking about? We just met.’” She responded by writing a contract and sending it to him. The contract said that they could have a relationship on two conditions: 1) He could date no one but her, and 2) She could redecorate his house. He agreed. By the way, on 17 July 1988, they married.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE ARTS

KINDLE

SMASHWORDS (VARIOUS FORMATS)

BUY THE PAPERBACK

David Bruce: The Coolest People in the Arts — Art

Art

• Johnny Brewton is the creator behind the zine X-Ray, each issue of which consists of 226 copies, each one at least slightly different. It was definitely an artistic project, and lifetime subscribers included the J. Paul Getty Museum, the rare book department of S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo, and the University of Wisconsin. One contributor was Hunter S. Thompson, who helped create the cover of X-Ray#4 by putting on lipstick and kissing a few copies and by shooting a bullet through every copy. (The cover was a photograph of Marilyn Chambers holding a box of Ivory Snow.) Another contributor to X-Raywas Charles Bukowski, who impressed Mr. Brewton with his work ethic: Mr. Brewton wrote Mr. Bukowski on a Monday requesting some poems, and by that Saturday—not even a week later—he received an envelope containing some poems. Mr. Brewton says about Mr. Bukowski, “I was amazed at how generous he was—he really gave backa lot and supported small presses; he taught me a lot about professionalism and deadlines. He was always on time.” Yet another contributor was Timothy Leary. Mr. Leary’s publicist, however, in a phone conversation told Mr. Brewton, “Mr. Leary has to charge one dollar per word for articles and stories. Are you sure you want to do this?” Because the zine made basically zero money, Mr. Brewton sarcastically replied, “That fits my budget perfectly! I’ll buy one word.” The publicist asked, “Which word do you want?” Mr. Brewton replied, “I don’t know. Have Mr. Leary decide.” The publicist spoke to Mr. Leary, and Mr. Brewton overheard Mr. Leary say, “That’s great! Yes! I pick the word ‘Chaos’—that’s my piece!” Mr. Brewton titled the work “A One Word Dosage from Dr. Timothy Leary” and put a card saying “Chaos” inside a pill envelope—each of the 226 copies of the issue contained the one-word contribution.

• Pablo Picasso was a true artist. Another artist, photographer Yousuf Karsh, once took Picasso’s portrait. At first, Karsh was going to take the portrait at Picasso’s home, but Picasso’s children were boisterous and did such things as ride bicycles throughout the rooms; therefore, Picasso suggested that they meet at his ceramics gallery in Valluris and have the photo shoot there. When Karsh showed up at the gallery with 200 pounds of photography equipment, the gallery owner told him, “He will never be here. He says the same thing to every photographer.” Fortunately, Picasso did show up for the photo shoot. Karsh remembers, “He could partially view himself in my large format lens and intuitively moved to complete the composition.”

• When Andy Warhola was a senior at Carnegie Institute of Technology (its name now is Carnegie Mellon University), he submitted a self-portrait to the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition—the painting was titled The Broad Gave Me My Face, but I Can Pick My Own Nose. Perhaps this particular title was a mistake, but Mr. Warhola liked mistakes. The very first time an illustration of his appeared in Glamourmagazine, his name was misspelled “Warhol.” From that time on, he decided to be Andy Warhol instead of Andy Warhola.

• When Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti was painting his Last Judgmenton the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, a man named Biagio da Cesena criticized it because of its nude figures. Michelangelo got his revenge by putting Biagio da Cesena into the painting. In the lowest level of hell, he appears as a horned beast.

• Impressionist painter Claude Monet often painted outside. If you look closely at his 1870 painting titled The Beach at Trouville, you can see grains of sand that the wind blew onto the wet paint.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN THE ARTS

KINDLE

SMASHWORDS (VARIOUS FORMATS)

BUY THE PAPERBACK