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Transitions


 

Retirements

 

Gavin Larsen, whose passionate commitment to Balanchine’s choreography has made her a leading interpreter of his work at Oregon Ballet Theatre, gave her farewell performance on May 2, dancing in his 1972 Duo Concertant.

 

“She’s that rare artist who combines dedication and intelligence with a poignant musical and dramatic instinct,” says Christopher Stowell, who took Larsen into the company in 2003 when he became OBT’s artistic director. “I would imagine she will remain the quintessential Sugar Plum to a generation of little girls.”

 

Her favorite roles? “All the Balanchine ballets I ever learned felt so natural,” Larsen says, naming Concerto Barocco, Serenade, and Prodigal Son. Other favorites are Helena in Stowell’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which her comic gifts came into play; the girl in Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun; and Eurydice in Kent Stowell’s Orpheus Portrait.

 

A native New Yorker, Larsen trained at the School of American Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She danced with PNB, Alberta Ballet, and Suzanne Farrell Ballet before coming to Portland, which she now regards as home. She will continue to write (see “Why I Dance,” Sept. 2009) and teach at OBT’s school. She will also be children’s ballet master for OBT, a job she will relish. “It was dancing as an SAB student in The Nutcracker, Coppélia, Mid­sum­mer, and Circus Polka with New York City Ballet that made me know ballet was my calling,” she says. —Martha Ullman West

 

Yvonne Borree’s precision, clarity, and pert stage presence landed her featured roles in works by Balanchine, Peter Martins, Wheeldon, and Robbins. This month the New York City Ballet principal ends her 22-year career with a farewell performance of Balanchine’s Duo Concertant, the work that catalyzed her career in 1992 when she danced it with Mikhail Baryshnikov.

 

Borree donned her first pair of ballet slippers when she was 5 years old, inspired in large part by her mother, Susan Borree—a former dancer with Jerome Robbins’ Ballets: USA, NYCB, and American Ballet Theatre. Borree’s early training took place at the Tidewater Ballet Association in her hometown of Norfolk, VA, with summers spent at the School of American Ballet. In 1985 Borree became a full-time student at SAB and two years later was made an apprentice at NYCB. Borree rose through the ranks until she earned the title of principal in 1997. —Abbey Stone

 

On June 13, after 23 years with the company, another New York City Ballet principal, Philip Neal, takes his final bow at the David H. Koch Theater. He will dance in Balanchine’s Serenade and Who Cares?

 

Neal began dancing when he was 11 at the Richmond Ballet School in Virginia. His talent caught the eye of Edward Villella, and he was offered a summer scholarship to the School of American Ballet. Neal then went on to win a silver medal at the Prix de Lausanne in 1985 before joining NYCB’s corps in 1987. He was promoted to principal following the 1992–93 season. Often singled out for his partnering, he has danced with Wendy Whelan, Darci Kistler, and Kyra Nichols, among many others. —A.S.

 

Darci Kistler and Albert Evans also retire from NYCB this month. Their transitions will appear in future issues.


Deaths

 

Jane Sherman (1908–2010)
The youngest and last surviving Denishawn dancer, Jane Sherman was a passionate advocate for the artistic legacies of Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis.

 

Sherman’s formal dance studies began at 13, after she saw St. Denis perform Brahms Waltz and Liebestraum. Upon graduating from high school, she toured the Far East with Denishawn during 1925–26, keeping diaries that would later form the core of her award-winning book, Soaring. As a member of Denishawn, she toured with the Ziegfeld Follies in 1927–28 and then joined the first Humphrey-Weidman Company. She later performed on Broadway and danced with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

 

She edited fiction for Seventeen magazine in the 1940s and wrote children’s books in the 1950s. But it was the publication of Soaring, winner of the 1975 de la Torre Bueno Prize, that launched her career as a writer about Denishawn and a stager of its dances. With the Denishawn Repertory Dancers (which she co-founded with Michelle Mathesius) and the Vanaver Caravan, she revived many long-abandoned works which were performed at Jacob’s Pillow, the Lyon Biennale Festival, and other venues. She also rehearsed Denishawn dances for the Martha Graham company and coached Cynthia Gregory in the same St. Denis solo that had first inspired Sherman to dance. Sherman’s books include The Drama of Denishawn Dance, Denishawn: The Enduring Influence, and Barton Mumaw, Dancer, which she co-wrote with Mumaw.

 

In the 1990s, Sherman and her husband, Ned Lehac, retired to the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home in New Jersey. In her last published interview, conducted around the time of her 100th birthday, she was characteristically self-deprecating about her accomplishments and her lack of formal education. “Imagine what I could have done if I had gone to college!” —Norton Owen

 

Monica Moseley (1942–2010)
Former assistant curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, Monica Moseley died in January. She served as an editorial assistant at Dance Magazine from 1964–67 and was an editorial adviser as well as a contributor to the 2001 book A Core Collection in Dance. A founding member of Meredith Monk/The House, she was an unforgettable presence in Education of the Girlchild. After nearly 25 years at the Dance Division, she retired in 2005. Ever eager to share her extensive knowledge, she continued to work on various dance projects, including exhibitions mounted in the David H. Koch Theater and research for a film on Massine for La Cinémathèque de la Danse.

 

 

Pictured: Gavin Larsen in Julia Adam's Angelo. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert, courtesy OBT

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Why I Dance: Cassie Meador»
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