Dance History

Interview With Author Germaine Shames

Today we are happy to share this interview with author Germaine Shames…

Author, Germaine Shames

What is your background in dance?

Like the protagonist in my novel I began taking ballet classes at the age of four with a teacher whom, my parents liked to boast, had studied under Martha Graham. Like other young girls, I dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina.

But I was not like most girls.  Shy, stubborn, I balked at following choreography and often found myself stranded alone on one side of the studio while the class, moving as one body, occupied the opposite side.  And then suddenly, before I had mastered a single step, it was time for my first recital.  A chorus line of us baby ballerinas was positioned center-stage as the towering velvet curtain slowly, slowly opened.  One look at the audience and I froze, mouth wide-open, hands clamped to my cheeks.

My parents removed me from ballet class and enrolled me again thee years later—with similar results.  There would be no more recitals.

Flash forward half a century…

I have ripened into, not a ballerina, but a writer with abiding creative and emotional ties to dance and dancers.  My forthcoming ballet-themed novel You, Fascinating You will be released within days.

The protagonist of my novel, Margit Wolf, begins the account of her life, “They say ballet chooses the dancer.”  Regrettably, I was not among the chosen.  How I envy those of you who are!

How did you become a writer?

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Focus On: Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham

Fans of Merce Cunningham might want to take a minute out of the day to read this interview on Artslynx. It’s incredibly detailed and very interesting.

There’s another good piece on PBS American Masters about the artist.

Also, the BBC has an interview that you can listen to on their site.

Has anyone out there worked with him–or had the opportunity to dance his choreography? If so, I’d love to hear about it…

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Antony Tudor

When I think of Antony Tudor, his ballet, The Leaves are Fading immediately springs to mind. Tudor had an enormous impact on the ballet world when I was growing up, and is still well-known throughout the dance world for his choreography. I always felt that Tudor’s work was informed by our collective human psyche. It impacts you.

One of the most famous quotes about Tudor’s work comes from none other than Mikhail Baryshnikov who said, “We do Tudor’s ballets because we must. Tudor’s work is our conscience.”

For more information on Tudor, and a list of all the ballets he choreographed, visit The Antony Tudor Ballet Trust.

Those interested in reading about him in more detail may want to pick up the book, Undimmed Lustre: The Life of Antony Tudor for a closer look at his life–and his art.

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Quick Dance Quote From Isadora Duncan

Another dance quote I saw and thought I’d share…there are many out there that I haven’t heard yet, even after being involved with dance for such a long time…

“If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point dancing it.”
- Isadora Duncan

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PBS: A Dance Timeline

I love PBS. This is a great resource that provides a dance timeline that dates all the way from 1619 to 2001. Although it isn’t all-inclusive, it does a good job of hitting many of the highlights along the way.

This is perfect for teachers or for those who simply want a deeper understanding of what the historical development of dance has been through time. It is interesting to see it in this format–much different than when you learn about it one piece at a time.

Oh, and they offer a free screensaver too.

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American Tribal Style Belly Dance (ATS) Basics

After receiving an e-mail today, I wanted to share some links where people can find more information about American Tribal Style Belly Dance to learn more about its history…

  • Fat Chance Belly Dance has several great pieces on their site with information about what ATS is and the history of this particular dance style.
  • Gypsy Horizon Belly Dance has another good piece on the history of ATS.
  • Important names in the development of this dance style include Jamila Salimpour, Masha Archer and Carolena Nericcio.
  • If you have never seen this dance style before, check out this video clip from Fat Chance Belly Dance to get an idea of what it looks like.
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A Tribute To Margot Fonteyn

Margot Fonteyn.

I was lucky enough to meet her in person when I was a little girl. I still have a black and white photograph that she gave me at the autograph signing. It was a moment, to be sure.

Each of us will have in-person encounters with different people in the dance world and it will mark us in some way.

Interesting how that works.

She was amazing–a true ballerina in every sense of the word. A juxtaposition of soft and strong, she was unlike anyone else I have ever seen. A unque, musical talent. I have compiled a few resources here for those who would like to read a bit more about this amazing lady…or see her dance; if only through the magic of the Internet.

From Ballet.co, a brief, well-done historical piece.

The Ballerina Gallery, a great collection of photos.

Voice of Dance, a video clip of her in Swan Lake.

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