Jocelyn Vollmar (1925-2018)
Jocelyn Vollmar was born in San Francisco, California. Her mother was an actress in silent films, before the Hollywood movie studios were developed. In those days they filmed in Hayward, California. Jocelyn had an extensive and impressive career as a ballerina.
She grew up in the West Portal district of San Francisco. The homes there were tall, classic and impressive. They exuded quality, charm and character. She began dancing with San Francisco Ballet at the age of twelve, under the direction of William Christensen. She started out performing in small roles. At the age of seventeen, she joined the company. She was well known by locals for dancing the Snow Queen in their Nutcracker in 1944.
George Balanchine invited her to dance with his company, New York City Ballet, as an original member. She also danced with American Ballet Theatre and Grand Ballet de Cuevas, (which became Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo.) She spent two years with The Borovansky Ballet, the recursor of the Australian Ballet. With them she danced leading roles in Giselle, Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, and numerous ballet reset from the Ballet Russe's repertoire, including Petrushka.
In 1956, Vollmar made the choice to return to her beautiful home of San Francisco. She was 31. She rejoined the prestigious San Francisco Ballet, performing with them until she was 47! She stayed slim and elegant, and even modeled for Body Wrappers with two students when she was a senior citizen. Her toned physique still looked lovely in her leotard, pink tights and chiffon ballet skirt.
After teaching and choreographing for several Bay Area ballet schools, she returned to San Francisco Ballet School to teach. She worked there for fifteen years, from 1985-2005. She taught until she was 79.
She was very devoted, determined and dedicated. I met her in my aunt's living room when I was a thirteen year old hopeful. I was immediately struck by her classic beauty and style. She was extremely confident: an obvious leader. She gave me valuable advice on choosing the right pointe shoes. She recommended Freeds for my hard, inflexible feet. She was tactful and decisive. Her voice rang with truth, capability and experience.
She had gone to school with my aunt, who was a year ahead of her in school. Her mother played bridge with my grandmother in the fifties and sixties. She exuded star quality, and was dressed in an attractive, classy blue outfit. Her grooming and appearance were perfect. She looked like a movie star from the 1950's, with the aura of an Old Hollywood starlet. As the saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She is remembered for her generosity to dancers and her magnificent contribution to the art of ballet.
Contributions can be made in her name to The San Francisco Ballet School Scholarship Fund.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.