December 26, 2007

Giving Due Credit

All this raving about Agrippina Vaganova and her method (“Technique,” Aug. 07) and not a word mentioned about her teacher, Olga Preobrajenska. I consider it my greatest fortune to have studied with her in Paris where I received a wealth of knowledge. Olga Preobrajenska taught Anna Pavlova, Olga Spessiva, and many other great dancers. Preobrajenska merits the credit—and not Vaganova, who was only lucky to study with Preobrajenska and receive the finer points and details.

George Zoritch
Former principal, Ballets Russes

Tucson, AZ

DM responds: It was also to her Paris studio, Salle Wacker, that Balanchine came when looking for young dancers for the Ballets Russes. There he found his “baby ballerinas”: Toumanova, Baronova, and Riabouchinskaya.


Missing Mona

As a former member of Mona Inglesby’s International Ballet Company (see “Transitions,” Jan. 07), I was upset to find no mention of her in Dance Magazine’s 80th-anniversary issue. We gave the inaugural performance in the new Royal Festival Hall in London in 1951. I was a member of the company until it closed in 1953. The company had an ensemble of 70 dancers and included stars such as Moira Shearer, Celia Franca, and Maurice Béjart.

Tessa Williams
Longboat Key, FL


Lighting Up the Stage

What is stage presence? Thank you for asking! “This Little Light O’ Mine,” (Nov. 07) reminds me why I am forever and always a dancer. Basically the eight dancers all said stage presence is about energy—that electrifying embrace across the footlights, the source of pure joy that unites us in our uniquely human effort to make meaning out of the time and the space we inhabit.

I was 16 the first time it hit me. I was dancing a solo with the Stone-Camryn Ballet in Chicago and I stepped onstage in a blackout. The space, so dark, became a vast wilderness about to consume me. Silence. And then I heard a faint mechanical buzz above me, and an amber cape of light fell over my shoulders. In that instant of light, the audience reached through the opaqueness, and the space was mine. That’s stage presence—owning the space. But it’s more; it’s energy that connected me beyond light to a gaping darkness filled suddenly with lungs breathing and hearts beating, and energy coming back to me, and I could touch it.

Lynn Colburn Shapiro
Chicago, IL

In the Company of a King

In regard to “Dancing Royalty” (“Dance Matters,” Nov. 07), I wanted to note the full title of the branch of UNESCO that selected King Sihamoni to write the International Dance Day Message for 2006: the International Dance Committee of International Theatre Institute/UNESCO (IDC of ITI/UNESCO). Since 1982, the IDC of ITI/UNESCO has invited a major dance personality to write a message for International Dance Day, celebrated annually on April 29. The message is translated into many languages and disseminated throughout the dance world and beyond. In 1995 IDC of ITI/UNESCO invited World Dance Alliance (WDA) to join us and collaborate in the selection. We chose King Sihamoni because of his knowledge of dance and his unwavering support for it. Others who have had this honor include Maya Plisetskaya, Yuri Grigorovitch, Germaine Acogny, Murray Louis, Maurice Béjart, Kazuo Ohno, William Forsythe, Katherine Dunham, and Mats Ek.

Ilona Copen
President, International Dance Committee of ITI/UNESCO