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Bronislava Nijinska spent the last thirty-two years of her life in Southern California. Beginning with her first visit to Hollywood in 1934 to choreograph the dances in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this essay examines her activities in California both as a teacher and a choreographer. It looks closely at her Hollywood bowl season of 1940, when she staged three of her ballets, all new to the United States; the dancers she trained who went on to distinguished professional careers, and her approach to teaching. It briefly summarizes her activities in the 1940s, when she choreographed for Ballet Theatre, Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and Ballet International; the 1950s, when she worked for the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas; and the 1960s, when the revival of Les Noces and Les Biches by the Royal Ballet brought her most celebrated works back into repertory. Finally, it speculates on the reasons she settled in California, given the limited opportunities it offered her for creative work.

In Search of Eden

Bronislava Nijinska in California

in Experiment

References

4

See for example Alice L. Tildesley“Max Reinhardt Films A Dream,” The Sun (Baltimore) 24 Mar. 1935 T5; “Dream Film Showing Set” lat 9 Sept. 1935 A2.

9

Entry for 2 April 1935Lincoln Kirstein Papers: Diaries-Journals Box 5 Folder 25 jrdd.

11

Alice L. Tildesley“Max Reinhardt Films A Dream,” The Sun (Baltimore) 24 Mar. 1935 T5.

27

Ruth Eleanor Howard“Nijinska Visits America,” The American DancerJuly 1935 pg. 8.

36

Ruth Eleanor Howard“Nijinska Visits America,” The American DancerJuly 1935 pg. 8.

54

KentOnce a Dancer pp. 29-30.

57

See Kenneth H. Marcus“ ‘A New Expression for a New People’: Race and Ballet in Los Angeles, 1946-1956,” Journal of the West44 no. 2 (Spring 2005) pp. 24-25. The author who is a cultural historian pieced the story of the First Negro Classic Ballet from Rickard’s papers (at the Huntington Library San Marino ca) and interviews with former company members and students. For the company’s later history see Dawn Lille Horwitz “The New Negro Ballet in Great Britain” in Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 2002) pp. 317-339; for background “First Negro Ballet Group in America Organized Here: Sentinel Sponsors New Dance Group” Los Angeles Sentinel 22 May 1947 pg. 21; “ ‘Ballet Americana’ Will Be Presented on Sunday Night: Sentinel Sponsors Recital” Los Angeles Sentinel 16 Oct. 1947 pg. 20. After the company folded Rickard founded the Southern California Ballet Company “to give Southern California a civic ballet group.” “Ballet Jan. 24 at bc Theater Is by Talent From California” The Bakersfield Californian 17 Jan. 1959 pg. 9.

63

Gottfried ReinhardtThe Genius: A Memoir of Max Reinhardt (NewYork: Knopf1979) pg. 299.

66

Françoise Reiss“Bronislava Nijinska,” Sur la pointe des pieds: Annales chorégraphiques (Paris: Editions Lieutier 1953) pg. 63.

67

Jack Anderson“The Fabulous Career of Bronislava Nijinska,” Dance MagazineAug. 1963 pg. 46.

77

Tom Pepys“Curtain Up!” Dance and DancersJan. 1965 pg. 34; bn draft letters to Sir David Webster 15 Oct. 1965 and 7 Jan. 1966 Box 77 Folder 51 bnc.

78

Nicholas Dromgoole“Still Brand New,” Sunday Telegraph27 March 1966. For the first-night program and reviews see Covent Garden Production File March 1966 Theatre and Performance Archives V&A.

94

Jonathan Cross“Stravinsky in Exile,” in Stravinsky and His Worlded. Tamara Levitz (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2013) pg. 17.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Bronislava Nijinska rehearsing the dancers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hollywood, 1934.

    courtesy of the bronislava nijinska collection, music division, library of congress

  • View in gallery
    Bronislava Nijinska, with a poster for one of her company’s Paris seasons, in her Hollywood studio, early 1940s.
  • View in gallery
    Nijinska’s “Bach ballet,” Etude, in performance at the Hollywood Bowl, 1940. Photo by Ted O’Brien.
  • View in gallery
    Cyd Charisse and William Hightower rehearsing Etude at the Hollywood Bowl, 1940.
  • View in gallery
    Bronislava Nijinska rehearsing Cyd Charisse and William Hightower in Etude at the Hollywood Bowl, 1940.
  • View in gallery
    Maria (right) and Marjorie Tallchief in Bolero at the Hollywood Bowl, 1940. Photo by Ted O’Brien.
  • View in gallery
    Bronislava Nijinska, with Max Reinhardt, William Dieterle, and Erich Korngold, rehearsing a dance sequence from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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