Defectors, barefoot mommas, masterworks, premieres, and…

I read Alan Gilbert’s blog and it made me tired. Then I looked at my daily to-do list and realized I’m not far behind  in the work-until-I-drop life in the arts.

Here’s yesterday’s list:

• Wrote a 1000-word article for Dance Teacher magazine about the prolific career of choreographer Robert Alton (c. 1903-1957). Alton created dances for Hollywood films, like “White Christmas” (1954) and Ziegfield Follies (1945), and for Broadway, including a revival of “Pal Joey” (1952), which won him a Tony award. He was a Christian Scientist, a brilliant mimic of choreographers (particularly Martha Graham), and could, according to Agnes de Mille, create choreography “at the speed suggestive of a radio sport commentator, with a whistle between his teeth.”

• Interviewed former Dance Theater of Harlem and Boston Ballet principal Tai Jimenez. Tai will participate in a panel I’m leading at the Juilliard School on October 26 about Bronislava Nijinska’s “Les Noces” (1923). Tai said that the person who stages this masterwork to Stravinsky’s score has a grave responsibility. Dance is an oral tradition. The vitality of a work can only be passed down from performer to performer. The stager should, she says, “see her self as a shaman who passes on her wisdom.”

• Emailed former Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet principal Valentina Kozlova. I asked her to vet her quotes, which I compiled from two interviews done last week. I don’t want this technical wunderkind to think I’m sloppy. Valentina recently announced her decision to hold, with Boston Ballet Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen, an international ballet competition in Boston, beginning in May 2011. Valentina defected from the Soviet Union in 1979. Today she runs a conservatory and trains less than 50 young women in the Vaganova style that has served as the foundational training technique for countless virtuoso dancers, including Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalie Markarova. I will write a cover story on Valentina for Dance Teacher’s January 2011 issue.

• Wrote dance historian Lynn Garafola, asking whether I was on the right track in my research of Isadora Duncan. My research is for Brooklyn Academy of Music. They contracted me to write a short piece on Duncan, “the mother of modern dance,” for a new book, under the W.W. Norton imprint, in celebration of the institution’s 150 anniversary. I only have 325 words to explain why Isadora was the bomb that broke ballet’s stronghold on opera house audiences.

• Wrote a roundup review for Musical America of three “Fall for Dance” festival programs (September 29 and 30, and October 1). I decided to feature four of the 12 works presented at City Center. My review is too long, but imagine if I wrote about each dance work. I’d be up all night.

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