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 Post subject: Breaking ballet's color barrier
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:20 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
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Wilkinson, who joined in 1955, was not the first black ballet dancer to be given a regular post; that honor belongs to Janet Collins, hired by the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in 1951. Nor is she the most famous of such pioneers. Arthur Mitchell originated important roles in several seminal Balanchine ballets in the 1950s and '60s, then founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem. But Wilkinson was the first black ballet dancer to tour the nation - not only to towns in the east, west and north but also to St. Louis, Macon and Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., and Hattiesburg, Miss


http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/arts/ny-etlede4483364oct26,0,6906740.story


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:47 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Thanks a lot, Jeff. An inspirational story of tenacity and the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change. I'll go through today with an added spring to my step.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 5:01 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
A couple of years ago, I saw a videotape of a mid-1950s Hallmark Hall of Fame* presentation of Balanchine's Nutcracker. I'm sure that Arthur Mitchell's performance in "Arabian" was the first time many Americans had seen a black man dancing with white women.


I have to remember that I'd forgotten, if I ever knew, about Ms. Wilkinson. I'm going to labor mightily to see this film next week.




* An excellent show, from the days when television was considered an art. It was an anthology of dance, theatre, and other classical art forms.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:55 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Canada
If it was 'Arabian', then "The Nutcracker" has changed, because in the current version 'Coffee' (Arabian) is peformed by a solo woman. 'Hot Chocolate' (Spanish) has four or five couples.

Kate


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
It's been awhile since I saw it, but I'm 99 44/100% sure it was "Arabian". My recollection is that it was Mitchell and 3 or 4 women.

Balanchine never considered a dance to be "finished", so it's quite possible it was changed at a later time.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 18, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 166
Location: new york, ny usa
it was indeed arabian, mitchell was surrounded by four small children. in the pas de deux, there was no cavalier, and diana adams was partnered by edward villella (candy cane), mitchell, deni lamont (chinese) and roy tobias (spanish). it was broadcast on december 25 1958, live, as part of the program cbs playhouse 90.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:26 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 18, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 166
Location: new york, ny usa
i must correct myself here; the broadcast was on christmas eve, not christmas day. balanchine himself played drosselmeyer and the nutcracker prince was a very young robert maiorano. allegra kent was the dewdrop, diana adams the sugar plum.


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