#TBT: Charles Weidman Had Some Thoughts on Why People Find Modern Dance "Dismal"
In the September 1964 issue of Dance Magazine, we spoke to choreographer Charles Weidman, who was in the midst of touring his witty, sensitive repertoire across the country. A deft hand with subjects both comic and serious, the then-63-year-old had a savvy sense for programming.
"I don't mean to say that we should present nothing but the fluff some ballet companies present," he told us. "Yet it seems to me that we moderns have a tendency to want to solve all the world's problems in every dance. No wonder some people say modern dance is dismal. We're always revolting against something or other—which, I suppose, may be to the good. But we should realize that each audience differs in its level of maturity, and plan programs accordingly. So few of us do, though. We enjoy being solemn."
Pauline Koner and Charles Weidman in her Amorous Adventure (1951) Robert L. Perry, Courtesy DM Archives
Alongside fellow Denishawn alum Doris Humphrey, with whom he had a joint company for nearly two decades, and Martha Graham, Weidman was considered one of the most influential modern dancemakers of his generation, encouraging his dancers to become choreographers and training the likes of José Limón and Bob Fosse.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: