Former Dance Notation Bureau Director Lucy Venable Has Died
Ohio State Dance emerita professor Lucy Venable died peacefully Tuesday morning, January 29, 2019. She is survived by her five nieces and their families. She was preceded in death by her brother and parents.
Lucy was born on October 28, 1926 in Charleston, West Virginia. She graduated with a BA from Wellesley College as a Spanish major and spent 20 years in New York City where she studied dance, primarily with José Limón, Doris Humphrey, Margaret Craske and Alfredo Corvino.
During this time, she became certified by the Dance Notation Bureau as a Labanotation teacher and Labanotator, and taught Labanotation and Limón technique at the Juilliard School and Connecticut College. Lucy performed with the José Limón Company (1957-1963), touring in the United States, Europe, Central and South America and the Far East. For five years, she was rehearsal director for the Merry-Go-Rounders, a dance company that performed for children. From 1961-1967 she directed the Dance Notation Bureau in New York City.
In 1968, she arrived at the Ohio State University where she taught dance fundamentals, Labanotation, repertory and Alexander Technique. She founded the Dance Notation Bureau Extension for Education and Research and was its director for 12 years. While at Ohio State, Lucy worked closely with fellow professor Odette Blum, establishing one of the department's foundational principles to center on dance documentation and Labanotation. Lucy also collaborated with George Karl and Scott Sutherland on the development of the software program LabanWriter, a project she continued with David Ralley. She served as vice president of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, on the board of directors of the Dance Notation Bureau and taught the Alexander Technique.
Lucy played a critical role in establishing Ohio State as an international center for Labanotation and Laban Studies. Her work helped to preserve the history of modern dance so that we can continue to bring it alive in the present. Her legacy continues to have a lasting impact on the college's dance department.
Lucy will be buried in the family plot in Charleston. A celebration of her life will be held at the Ohio State University Department of Dance, Sullivant Hall, 1813 North High Street in Columbus, Ohio, on a date to be announced.
This obituary has been adapted from dance.osu.edu.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
"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.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.