CriticalDance Forum

Lew Christensen...
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Author:  Gina Ness [ Fri May 06, 2005 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Lew Christensen...

Today, May 6th, is the birthday of Lew Christensen. It's hard to believe that this year marks the 21st anniversary of his passing. I think that he would be saddened to know that his important work seems to be fading from the world of ballet. His legacy at San Francisco Ballet has all but disappeared. I'm thinking of this on his birthday...

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri May 06, 2005 4:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi, Gina! As a way of honoring and remembering, can you give us some "sample programs" of Lew's works that you would consider to be the "essential" Lew Christensen? What would your program order be? How about a couple of "ideal" casts -- one with dancers from the original era of the piece and one with current SFB dancers?

Author:  Gina Ness [ Fri May 06, 2005 7:55 pm ]
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Hi Francis...Well, I wish I could say that I had seen (or danced) all his ballets, but I arrived in 1966 and left in 1985, so that is my point of reference. And, I wish I could say that I was familiar with all the wonderful dancers at SFB now, but I have not been able to see them on any kind of regular basis for personal reasons and distance. I am, however, going to attend "Romeo and Juliet" this coming Sunday and this will be my first time to see them at the Opera House in two years! Can't wait! I will attempt to list just a few of my favorite ballets with some cast members of the past that I have seen or imagine would have been terrific.

Program 1:
"Filling Station" 1938 Lew as Mac; Paula Tracy and Vane Vest as the Rich Boy and Girl

"Con Amore" 1953 Sally Bailey as the Amazon and John Mc Fall (he was HILARIOUS!) as the Thief; Virginia Johnson as Cupid

"Il Distratto" 1967 I am one of the original cast members...I was an "arm girl"...great ballet!

Program 2
"Vivaldi Concerto Grosso" 1981 Betsy Erickson and Jim Sohm

"Beauty and the Beast" 1958 Jocelyn Vollmar and David Anderson (don't know if they ever danced together, but my "ideal cast")....

Program 3
"Airs de Ballet" 1971 Violette Verdy or Me :wink:

"Four Norwegian Moods" 1976 Keith Martin and Susan Magno

"Don Juan" 1973 Fabulous ballet! Attila Fizere was AWESOME!

And, his masterpiece...Lew Christensen's version of "The Nutcracker"...especially the 1967 Robert O'Hearn production...His "Waltz of the Flowers" is the most beautiful of ANY version I have ever seen...they should bring it back!

Francis, I don't know how to do links, I am sorry to say. Could you do the link to his website at cchris/christensen.html? It might be fun for folks to look at it. If you scroll to the bottom of the homepage there are links listed. In that list is an article entitled "Creators: Does Lew Get His Due?" by Jim William that has some wonderful insight into how Lew choreographed. Thanks! :)

Author:  mehunt [ Sat May 07, 2005 12:11 am ]
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Is this the site you mean, Gina?

It's got some great new stuff:

Author:  Gina Ness [ Sat May 07, 2005 11:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Yes, mehunt! Thanks very much! When you click on "Airs de Ballet", you'll see me dancing with Alex Topciy...there are better photos of this ballet but, oh well...

Author:  Azlan [ Sat May 07, 2005 3:47 pm ]
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Very nice photo!

Happy birthday to Mr C!

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon May 09, 2005 2:14 pm ]
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Thank you, Gina! Your Program #1 matched my hypothetical "Best of..." program!

Author:  marespooscats [ Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lew Christensen...

It DID hurt Lew and my Dad Harold, to see Helgi taking over and trying to wipe out the Christensen name!

Heidi H Christensen

Author:  Gina Ness [ Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lew Christensen...

Hello, Heidi... I wish SFB danced more (how about any?) of Lew's ballets. Do you know that my brother Anton Ness wrote a book about the Save Our Ballet campaign in 1973? He set the record straight on this, and gives credit where credit is due after much research and interviews... After I retired from SFB, I taught for your Mom's school for a little while in Mill Valley... You had remarkable parents!

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