Tag Archives: Fabulous women

Tania Fairbairn

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This is December 24th in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar

Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall  
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur Ann Hogben Graham Bond Tania Fairbairn
Picture of Hungarian dancer doing the czardas

Not Tania, but a Hungarian csárdás dancer in Budapest, c. 1991

As it comes to the end of this advent calendar, I’m left with a very difficult decision: I still have all kinds of people I’d love to pay homage to, but advent is advent, and I’ve got to stop because tomorrow’s christmas. So I applied a criterion – it had to be someone, or an event involving someone, which I find myself constantly referring to in conversation with friends and colleagues.

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Ann Hogben

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Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This
is December 22nd in my Dance
Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur Ann Hogben 23 24
Picture of Ann Hogben's hands playing the piano

Ann Hogben at the piano c. 2000

It was to Annie that David Wall sent me to pick up some tips about playing for class when I was floundering about hopelessly at the RAD as a novice dance accompanist back in 1986. Apart from the fact that Annie was a good pianist and accompanist, she was a good choice as a teacher because she had a large repertoire of music for class from popular classics & songs, which made it easy to point at something and say “that’s the kind of thing to play for grands battements” or “that’s quite nice for adage”.

 

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Irena Pasarić

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Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This
is December 19th in my Dance
Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric 20 21 22 23 24

Irena Pasaric from Croatian National Ballet (HNK). This picture is taken from the HNK site and links directly to Irena's biography there

If it weren’t for Irena Pasarić, I would probably still hate Swan Lake as much as I hated it before I met her. Playing for rehearsals of the Act II pas de deux is often an experience similar to what Richard goes through in Keeping up appearances when he has Hyacinth as a passenger: “Slow down! Mind that arabesque! Don’t go so fast! Watch that pirouette! Stop! Don’t stop! Now, stop now! Not now, when I say so!”

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Belinda Quirey (1912 – 1996)

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Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This
is December 18th in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey 19 20 21 22 23 24

Louis XIV as Apollo in The Ballet Royal de la Nuit, from the Library of Congress exhibition, Treasures from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

It says a lot about Belinda that the story I’d most like to tell about her famous classes in Historical Dance at the RAD is unprintable. Her definition of dance history was broad enough to include occasionally testing the students’ knowledge of the extramarital shennanigans of ballet stars. I think she wanted to make sure they didn’t get overwhelmed by the superficial glamour of the royal institutions with which they came regularly in contact. In the middle of an explanation of contrapposto she might suddenly say in her deep voice which owed something to Edith Evans, “Now, my darling treasures, which star of the Royal Ballet famously….”

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Pat (Patricia) Neary

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Part of the Acropolis in Athens (from an ENB tour in 2003) This is Dec. 16th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th

I haven’t got a picture of Pat Neary, but since the first time we met we were working on Apollo, and the second time on Agon, something with an ancient Greek theme seemed appropriate. Also, there’s something about Pat’s pedigree as a dancer & teacher of the Balanchine repertoire, her humour, wit, intelligence, and understanding of life, ballet, art & people that make me think of her as a kind of living oracle.

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Elizabeth (Betty) Anderton

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flowers.gif This is Dec. 13th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th

The ballet world is that small, and Betty is that well-known amongst dancers that if you say ‘Betty’ to most dancers, it means Betty Anderton. The fact that I can’t find a single recent picture of her teaching, either in my own collection, or on the web, illustrates perfectly my motivation for this advent calendar. Considering the thousands of wonderful classes and rehearsals she has taken for probably thousands of dancers over the last few decades, and that those classes and rehearsals have been behind many of the greatest performers and performances you have seen, it is monstrously unfair and unbalanced that you can’t find more than a handful of sites which just mention her in passing.

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Susie Cooper

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susie_small.jpg This is Dec. 9th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th

Susie is another one of those people that I seem to have had a non-stop conversation with about dance & music since the day we met, which was some time early in 1986. She taught choreography at the RAD, and was what you might call the ‘token contemporary’ teacher, having come from Rambert and therefore partial to the odd lean sideways and music with wrong notes in. I’m being facetious: if there’s one thing that is guaranteed to get me and Susie worked up into a lather, it’s the idiocy of trying to make rigid distinctions between ‘contemporary dance’ and ballet, or ‘classical’ and ‘modern’ music.

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Pussy (Diana Payne Myers)

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Pussy dancing at her 80th birthday party

This is Dec. 6th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

Sometime in the spring of 1987, I was playing for an evening professional open class at the Urdang studios in Covent Garden. I noticed the most wonderful dancer at the barre – wonderful, because she seemed to respond to the slightest nuance in the music, with tenutos, staccatos, phrasings & rubatos all equisitely played out in her movement. She knew even the most esoteric tunes, and a lot of them made her laugh.

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Jackie Barrett

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Jackie Barrett and Kevin Richmond in Budapest, 1992

Kevin Richmond (L) & Jacqui Barrett (R) on stage at the opera house in Budapest, Hungary in 1992 (I think). The quality’s dreadful, but I love the picture

This is Dec. 5th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th

How different life might have been if Jackie hadn’t been doing the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Certificate at the RAD in 1986 when I had my first job there. I played for some of her classes, we got on, she liked the way I played, I liked the way she taught, and one Sunday afternoon, she invited me to meet some people from ENB (or Festival Ballet, as it was then), including one of the pianists. Sooner or later, I was invited to play for a company class, and over the next three years, I freelanced at ENB and fell in love with the company, its dancers, and everything it stood for.

Is it any wonder? After class one day, I stayed to watch Lynn Seymour rehearsing Anastasia since I had a couple of hours to kill. One evening, Peter Schaufuss asked me if I would mind terribly staying on another hour so that he and Lynn could rehearse Romeo & Juliet. One legend after an other walked in and out of those studios, and although it was often years before I realised just how lucky I was to have been there, there was a constant electrical charge from all the talent & artistry.

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Gillian Cornish

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This is Dec. 2nd in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st

My mate Gilly! Links directly to her Pilates studioOn January 1st 2006 it will be 20 years to the day that I met Gillian (Gilly) Cornish at the Commonwealth Institute in London, and in some ways, if it hadn’t been for her, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do now.

The occasion was the RAD annual ‘Assembly’ (now called a conference), and I was there because I started my first ever job in dance on 1/01/1986 at the RAD. With typical Australian friendliness, Gilly was the first person to grab my arm, say “you must be the new guy”, give me a cup of coffee, and fill me in on who was who and explain to me the curious world I’d just entered. To say that Gilly kept me sane is an understatement – we became best mates within days, if not minutes of meeting, and our barbecues, sunday lunches and bottles of wine were not only fun, but they were where I learnt about playing for dance. Having worked with ABT & Festival as a choreologist, she really knew her stuff, and like many notators, knew how to explain dance to musicians. She taught me all kinds of vital things about the quality of music needed for different areas of class; how to recognise when dancers were just dealing with their own problems, rather than having a problem with you.

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