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Success in the arts. A recorded program produced by the Chicago undergraduate division of the University of Illinois under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today success in the art of dancing. Our participants are Maria tall the chief ballerina of the New York City Ballet Mis and bars Elle dance critic of Chicago American and Mrs. Donna Claypool teacher of the dance University of Illinois undergraduate division. The moderator for the series is Studs Terkel well-known radio and television commentator. Here is Mr. Terkel to open the discussion of success in the art of dancing. Suppose we begin with this total Jeepers. Real torture what does it take to be a good ballet dancer. What are the requisites. Well I suppose right from the very beginning it takes good training. It also takes a very great desire to be a good dancer. In other
words to be almost corny you have to love what you're doing. It's hard work I would say that it's easy but it's something that is such a wonderful constant challenge right from the very beginning there's always something more that man one must do. Consequently you work and you work very hard and you love what you're doing. So I suppose that's what I think of as a resident. This is the ABC. Then I ask what Mr. Vargas a call that a physical requisite a dancer have needs so often you read about the state schools in Europe where NPA into the school depends on a physical examination. I realize good health but aside from that what physic is it that it's looking for. Well I have seen books written in France where they show the anatomy. And show how long the leg must be as compared with the rest of the body how sort
of the arms actually in the belly we are constantly striving for what is called a beautiful line. And in order to have a beautiful line your actual physical appearance should be such that it's beautiful to look at. However very often there are many dancers who have been very discouraged as they got along because perhaps their legs are not as long as some of the dancers for instance in The New York City Ballet Company. Or they think that they might have a tendency not to be so downright skinny as others. I would say one thing it isn't pleasant to look at a dancer who is too fat. This is not good. However I don't believe it should be too discouraging for people who don't think they're built like Venus. You know it's just something that also as you go along and in your training you are always able to work through a very conscious effort to
make the public believe that you have the most beautiful figure in the world just through your movement alone not just by standing still. Isn't this the essence of Arc really a matter of illusion. Yes of course and this is Lucian is what we are always wanting to be able to provide to the audience. It's possible then for a girl whose body shall we say for the moment is ungainly by ballet standards to be a good ballet dancer even if she goes along but I always advise mothers with young children to have their children study dancing boys and girls both because I think it's very good for them just as far as being able to move gracefully is concerned and when they grow older they will be very happy that they have had this training when they were very young because they are able to move and to coordinate better than most people who have had no training whatsoever even if they don't go on the street even if they don't know or mislabel doesn't this tie in with your work you as a teacher of modern day interest about what you hear particularly.
When we get a group a new group of college students at age 11 I'm working with now immediately you can see within each class of 25 or 30 the 1 2 or 3 who have had some previous training whether it's only six months or year or two years those who have had some previous training quite often their body will move in a great deal. Of more freeness and in much better coordination particularly if they have followed in the line of ballet technique they will have acquired a certain amount of the ability to make extension of the leg as they for instance or a person when you're working later on in the choreography. A person who's had some training immediately they can move with the music easier. However it's very encouraging is a modern dance teacher I have a new girl this year who had never had dance before though she had a musical background. And the body because she loved it so much and enjoyed it so much. The body moved very
freely and when we started into the area of composition she was very creative and she moved very freely and quite often when someone who had had a lot of modern water ballet training. It's very difficult for them to move into the feel of modern dance. Oh I beg to disagree. Yeah yeah I was in the area a student who has not had the opportunity to experience creative work before this is a young student I'm not speaking of someone who has had training but a student has had who has had just ballet technique and knows just certain attitudes in positions to take for certain ideas. She's at a loss to express an idea when it isn't told her how to move. Well that's very strange because I have found the a good ballet dancer can be any kind of a dancer. You take rank of Mago Fund and the new lover. Even some of the Lesser a solo was given anything to do I don't
care the Spanish dancing tap dancing modern dancing Anika and her body is so we'll train she is had and she has become a wonderful dancer perhaps because she just has the ability to dance. You're going to return to my bar zone which is good. Yes and I take one. They are this ballet is the. Most scientific way of using the body. Modern Dance has a vocabulary. Yes it is scientific it is good for the body. The ballet although it has been codified by three for three hundred seventy five years is. The theatre dancer has grown for centuries and centuries before every little thing that has been added to it was added to it by trial and error of people who got up in front of an audience and had to do it passed on father to son a great deal of it during the affairs of the Middle Ages and such circus performers who had to do physically a thing better than anybody else did it. All those ads together gave a very scientific system of training a body. Now whether they're going to use it
afterwards as a modern dancer or as a ballet dancer is a tap dancer still that system is the only one that is a general one. There is Humphrey modern There is Graham modern There's Miss Hilton is modern it suits a certain vocabulary for certain dancer but you know that every modern teacher will tell their dancers to go take ballet every tap dance or they will start with the basis of ballet every Spanish dancer like Greco has come they will take ballet class. Katherine Dunham's primitive dancers take ballet wide not because they're going to do it because that is the scientific way of getting the body ready to do anything you can make it as a partner. I mean we're coming back to this disagreement is a better machine. If the ballet regular pattern which is different from what I was speaking I am speaking from the viewpoint of working with the student. Who we are interested to educate that student in a way that they will develop a personality and a character and we approach it not only through the motor skill of a technique whether I teach ballet technique or modern dance but the other
area is in helping them to develop their personality. We work with them towards developing their creativity. A student who is at the age of 15 or 16 who's had maybe a few years of ballet has not had any opportunity to experience creative work and when they're first told to express an idea in a dance pattern they immediately go to just the positions their body has have no underbelly where that a person who has not had it in their body is free I should think I would be more embarrassed than anything else. That's pretty good an idea at this age I would say yes if you take a young child maybe five six years old and you say now show me how it looks for a butterfly to be flying by and you want to catch it and you have green fields around you yes she will have no inhibition about this. But by the time you're 16 17 years old and you have had any kind of training whatsoever to be is there somebody said to me said Man Rhea sit down
and. Play what you think Blue sounds like on the piano. I couldn't but you could dance it Mistah No I wouldn't think of even if you think of her and you say that we had no creativeness Actually this is something that always has annoyed me. In that very often there's a misconception they think that because we have the right answers and we are so well-trained we must be because there's a very strict classical tradition that we have no creativeness and this is really and truly wrong. The minute a choreographer gives as a step as an artist you are then going to put into this almost to create yourself something into this role. You're not just a puppet or an image or whatever that the choreographer wants you to be. You may have chosen you for the role because you can say you are right for this. But after you have been given certain steps to do then you go when perhaps you are going to it might be most anything you might want to give the
audience the impression of freedom or of sadness or gayety or whatever it is I mean as a parent of Mr. Chief and Miss Birdseye was Crable probably is that ballet is a basis here in that it teaches the student suppleness of the body. Number one is not it. Oh absolutely. And from the left I imagine you may disagree but I think that point is from any form of dance can be Yes I'm fine. This is why you're right. But know that we have had our own repertoire the New York City Ballet because very often we do modern ballads we have done with even I would say Jerome Robinson was very often a great deal of modern with his eyes. Cunningham did some dollars for the company and it's quite amazing the way the dancers are able to move in the way and perhaps is even not so good because they look too graceful. Well suppose we talk now I mention when they say their latest presenting one it creates a machine which is able to perform any sort of
movement that a choreographer can devise to there is a vocabulary and I don't think that having this cool cab you Larry makes the dancer less free in fact it is just like a vocabulary in which to speak. I don't think a child who feels a great deal is more free to make a poem with his monosyllables than is a person who has acquired a great vocabulary in a language and can use this rich language in which to talk I don't think he is shackled by it was that he's freed more by this versatile language. Suppose we come to a point that it was Claypool was trying to make here the matter of a stylized approach to stylized training of a ballet dancer as against what you might term the realistic free expression not the values and of of the modern I suppose we talk about the matter of synthesis here. What effect has modern dance had upon the ballet today. Well it's very difficult for me because I am not an authority on modern dance I only enjoy watching it. I have truly never
even watched any classes and I suppose that there has been a very great effect upon it. However I think as far as that's concerned it has to do with a way of moving its movement somehow in space. And I do believe that in middle America and particularly in the New York City Ballet we have incorporated into our classical ballet more of the what I would call modern classical ballet in other words Mr. Balanchine as our artistic director has gone on. And as far as I am concerned unfortunately a good many other people are concerned he has gone on beyond just I mean for is it now if one sees a movies of the ballet in Russia. According to graphically speaking they have stayed where they were many many years ago. The teachers it came from there would know that they are doing exactly the same kind of thing they have gone on. Now about when Sheen came to America the way even
Americans are built the way they move I don't know perhaps the freedom is a space in America. He has utilized this dance and he has almost built a new technique of dancing up on this but I have to say even the fact that we may have done tap dancing when we were little. Or maybe it's a jazz or perhaps his I don't know watching down south I don't know what it is anyway. We don't move the same. I would say if I dance a certain bout as a swan like somebody else perhaps another country would have a completely different kind of approach to it. Now you may prefer one or the other. In other words even this one like your classical repertoire. This is danced a different way than it might have been dancing ten years ago or 12 years ago you can't write the values of the day. They mention writing the modern dance has done a great deal for that is the subject matter of dance ballet for many years. Just look for a peg on which to hang spectacular
dancing theatrical eyes dancing dancing for itself modern dance. It was a revolution in the ideology of dance that is there was to be the same approach that the other arts had that is the stream of consciousness writing. There was a stream of consciousness dancing certainly at the tutor's pillar of fire is in that vein. There was a freeing of the body to express inner life where how it looked wasn't so important as the feeling you got each other but I think in this category very definitely where you threw out certain things out email for instance is a case in point as a choreographer where anything can be taken and become part of the ballet if you were having dancers expressing. Practicing of singing at a choir meeting they would mouth movement they would hold a. An imaginary book any of these movements that were very realistic came in.
Aside from that the modern dancer has added to the vocabulary of movement. Two very interesting things. One is the fall just slow the ring to the floor easily and the use of the torso which has actually broadened the vocabulary which there are two things I'd like to bring out. One thing when you're speaking of technique before we know that every muscle in the body has contractors and extensors and in our skills when we teach the student the techniques we work on the basis of very natural movement using the contractors and extensor muscles. However the areas where that we need balance. We teach the areas of the ballet which is the turned out of the hip. The turnout of the foot. I think you'd be interested sometime perhaps to observe a college group in modern dance because then you could see how we work with each student and they learn to create and they compose the dance together. The teacher is not
always the choreographer though we'd love to do it. We stand back and the students learn to create and then they sit back in the value wait and criticize their dance which they've composed in the way of an art form. They evaluated as far as rhythm content emotional content if they have gained their rhythm content from repetition from transition so that they do that self evaluation of their group and you can take a girl of a girl who I first knew her at the age of 12 she was a very large girl at that time very and inhibited very shine through the area of teaching creatively in the dance. She learned the skills but what really helped her as a person she learned how to create and to compose because then it had a care correlation over into her own life and she could see how she could gain a rhythm in her own life of developing good habits in her life and how to compose and be very free and today she has it's really helped her as a person
because she's been able to see that she can create and then later to take a group like I feel a person like you or any of our artists. It's a shame not to allow you to do more creativity then I mean other than in the steps. I mean in other words you as a person could with your group compose a dance you would decide your ballet steps. But as a group. Well you see unfortunately or perhaps I have too much respect for the ballet as an art and I gave respect for the teachers that I have had and as I said just as an art form to even suppose that I could create just I mean to create steps. I don't have any desire to do this. As I said I feel already that just being able to perform to reach a certain standard to strive for a certain kind of perfection
is enough for me. I am not frustrated and don't feel badly about it. Yeah you know that I'm absolutely happy if I feel that I'm doing the performance I have been able to do one step. Well you know I had a wonderful teacher once who told me you know don't ever be so discouraged because if you feel that during the class maybe just one arm movement or one step was perfect then you should be very happy and she was absolutely right. You see we're never satisfied. Consequently I don't have the frustrating feeling that I must. Create steps for people or for myself I'm very happy just to be able to create within myself the impression that I want to give to the audience. Well this ties in with what I think pretty much was told Chief of FEMA's success in the arts in this case article by Lee success. We and for his artistic success. You are that definitely. So suppose we start with the matter of
coming back to the original theme of what it takes to be a good ballet dancer. I'll start beginning Well I think perhaps Miss bar is good and better shows as a critic or his work as a critic What do you look for in a ballet dancer. As you sit fifth row center wherever you said. Actually I'll start with the first thing a dancer needs is a high IQ and there is no such thing as the dumb dancer. You know we see here about the dumb chorus girl. I don't recall her but the dancers are invariably very bright intellectually. One of the first. Things you notice about a human being is the way they move. First thing we know about a person who is not normal mentally is bad movement. I don't mean just in coordination but it's unpretty in their movement. I have looked up at the scientific tests of dancers and we
find high IQ is invariable. If you won't look at the young people who are the best ones in their dancing classes you'll always find that the valedictorians of their classes to theirs. Actually I'd like someday to give Billy a great many figures about it to anybody who is striving to be a dancer if you can't succeed in your academic work perhaps you won't be such a good dancer because you don't dance. You don't move harmoniously in the same harmoniously. That doesn't mean that every intellectual is a good dancer but you cannot dance well. If you don't also have high intelligence was your New York shooting that canard full of holes you know the canard the ballet dancer is out of this world. Crazy was actually she's one of my rabbit friends or dancers and they are invariably bright and as far as their interests go I do think that they do have a very broad interest in many things and I will find that they are the greatest appreciators other dancers and of others in the performing arts most
generally sell. So then you are hitting ingredient number one matter of intelligence imagination interest in the other arts as well as the art of absolute nonsense the narrow modality itself is composed of all the arts music painting and sculptor. It's poetry has everything just within the framework it's drama. I'm sure that you would also say they couldn't basically be lazy because of the hours and hours that you were beginning to feel like one about this matter of hours before going matter of hours and hours. Let's assume a child is a very imaginative child and a house the mother a parent thinks this child is a great talent. She thinks a chattel townsmen because the child does what's a good age. Well I would say not until seven. Actually I started to dance when I was four years old and. I don't know. Fortunately he hasn't done me any great harm. However I think that when they are four or five the muscles are not prepared for any kind of strenuous exercise.
If the child really wants to dance and she puts on her little shoes and dances around and has this great desire then take her to a teacher who will pick flowers and make up a little bit hopping step so that she will learn how to dance in time to the music and to be able to appreciate music. This is very interesting. Also I would say that the parent must not be lazy. This is very very important. It's a horrible thing perhaps to admit. But when I was small if my mother hadn't been watching every move that I made I probably never would have danced. My mother had much more energy than I have but I really and truly was forced to do this and so often I get very discouraged with mothers who come to me and say Well Little Susie she has so much talent but she doesn't want to work. Well unless I know the mother and she is a good friend of mine I'm not going to say Well madam you know your child didn't want to learn how to read either. She probably didn't even want to learn how to talk or she didn't want to be able to eat with a knife and
fork you know. And we then what was your mother right with you in absolutely every day you have to remember when I would come by every politician a parent himself or herself must be sensitive must be a sensitive human being to begin with. Well I think yes it's why sensitive and sensible. And since you said seven what is there about well about the age of seven or eight the the bombs can form the muscles are prepared. It's a strenuous kind of exercise that we do every day and what I what we learn when we are seven or eight is what I still do every morning for and I would I have and will do until I stop. Dan when you say you still do it every morning. Oh yes we exercise every morning and every evening before the performance. So in this area here is a dancer who rates internationally Maria taught even your point is even not a matter of practice. This is an essential all absolutely most difficult thing is to. Keep certain standards and remake your body every day. You see the instrument is also the cure for your person and you
have to keep remaking the same exercises that taught you how to dance also remake your body. We touched at the beginning of the physique necessary for a dancer. Actually the exercises of ballet remake the body. If you look at a company of dancers they don't look like the people in the street. That's because they aren't their legs have been changed by the exercises they do. Of course the myth of the over developed muscle is something that belongs in the 1890s when actually ballet dancing was taught wrongly in many places we will go into that. But the way she holds herself her neck has been a long gaited her shoulders are held. Her hips are smaller. The most wonderful thing I think which will help a young girl is know that if she will study ballet if she will study dance. She will always stay young. You have never seen a ballerina who looks her age.
What about this a matter of hours and hours. I was brought up earlier the hours and hours of training about what you didn't expect well we it was very interesting the other night there was a policeman standing by us and he says the same as what are you doing all those other sources. So I you know thought well he's a sweet man and then protecting us. So I stopped and you know I said well they're going to dance on the stage for one thing before we perform everything like a baseball player warms up before he goes in to play as a football player any athlete would. We also before we dance are warming up now in the morning and we have a class for an hour and a half very often as we go along and we're dancing. Perhaps we're going on tour we will dance on a stage that sloped or a wooden stage with holes in it or has ridges in it and suddenly little things start to creep into just our plain vocabulary our technique that went there before we were just in the classroom studying
looking at the mirror perfecting everything being sure that nothing was the matter then suddenly you dance the music maybe faster or slower and your partner may not be the same or you have on bad shoes or whatever little things might creep into it. Then we go back to the classroom too. Steady what has happened to is a shoulder that maybe 70 coming up that is spoiling the law and I mean if you look at a beautiful piece of statuary and there's If it's it's a line that is so beautiful and this is what we are constantly striving for is that you will ever look awkward when we go back again to the day of the search. Leave my life for the girl and I know that it is a search for beauty really as the search for beauty the search group affection and that you know Mr. Chief aspires to play pool. Thank you very much. This has been a discussion of success in the art of dancing appearing on today's program where the ballerina Maria Tal chief of The New York City Ballet and bars dance
critic of the Chicago American Donna Claypool teacher of dance University of Illinois undergraduate division. The moderator for the series is Studs Terkel radio and television commentator. The announcer and producer Alford Partridge success in the arts is a recorded program produced by the Chicago undergraduate division of the University of Illinois under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Success in the arts
Producing Organization
University of Illinois
WILL Illinois Public Media
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program which discusses skills needed to excel at dance, includes panelists Maria Tallchief, ballerina, New York City Ballet; Ann Barzel, dance critic of the Chicago American; and Donna Claypoole, University of Illinois Chicago.
Series Description
This series presents panel discussions that focus on various aspects of the arts, including the skills needed to excel. The series is moderated by Studs Terkel and produced by Alfred E. Partridge.
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Moderator: Terkel, Studs, 1912-2008
Panelist: Tallchief, Maria
Panelist: Barzel, Ann
Panelist: Claypoole, Donna
Producing Organization: University of Illinois
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
Speaker: Partridge, Alfred E.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-19-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:41
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Chicago: “Success in the arts; Dancing,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “Success in the arts; Dancing.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Success in the arts; Dancing. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from