Find of the day (through the ballet.co forums) was this fantastic interview with Leo Kersley. It’s an amazing account of ballet in England right from the earliest days of the 20th century, full of extraordinary insights, including the story of the full-length Antony Tudor ballet based on the Kalevala, with music by Sibelius, that never happened because . . well you can read the transcript yourself (though there are quite a few mistakes in the transcription of names, so you have to guess that Kasavner means Karsavina, for example). It’s hosted by the Theatre Archive Project, well worth visiting in its own right.
In case you don’t know, Leo Kersley is amongst other things the author of my favourite ballet dictionary. I love dictionaries, and unlike most people, I tend to read them from cover to cover like normal books, or at least spend rather more time browsing them than normal humans.
That’s how I discovered that my favourite ballet dictionary was the one pictured left. Now there’s a dictionary with real style, personality and humour, and with the kind of insight and knowledge in it that is hard to achieve through normal lexicographic routes. He knows what you need to know as both and insider and outsider, and there are words, concepts and comparative definitions in there that I’ve not seen equalled elsewhere. When I read the interview at the Theatre Archive Project, I recognised the voice instantly. Wonderful stuff, and what a brilliant project the TAP is.
There are only a few other interviews there, but there are three with Gillian Lynne, and others with Gerry Atkins, Joann Hall, Jean Newlove and Jackie Toaduff. The search facility is bizarre: you can search for dance and ballet all you like and Gillian Lynne won’t come up in the results—I only found the interview because I knew it was there. The best way to get to the dance bits is to go to the archive homepage and scroll down to the menu where you can “view by dancer.”