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Memoriam Archive 5
Cyd Charisse - 86
by Gregg Mayer
Who amongst us doesn't remember the amazingly sexy married couple and duo: Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin? Amazing to think of Cyd Charisse dying at 86 and it is wonderful to know that her work will live on forever on film.
The ubiquitous dance and theater critic, Clive Barnes, has died in NYC at 81, from complications of cancer. A familiar figure to all theatre goers both here and in London, Barnes was not a dance critic till 1961, when he was hired for the Times of London and The Spectator. But he and John Percival edited and ran the very important and popular review, Dance and Dancers, throughout the 60s when I was at the height of my career in the UK. Having created England's first contemporary dance company, I worked with Clive frequently, asking for his help when I'd bring in such unknowns (to the British) as pioneers Charles Weidman, amongst many others. He'd always check with me when an American dancer was breezing through London, as though to check on their credentials, and in fact, was instrumental in keeping my career afloat with supportive reviews and reinforcement: I actually wrote reviews for their publication during the 60's as well.
In 1966 when Merce Cunningham had his astounding and mind-blowing season in London's West End, Clive and I often sat near each other at the performances, which rocked London's dance scene to the hilt. He was quoted as understanding from the beginning, that Cunningham was not interested in specific meaning but rather was an artist "who brings something to our attention to make of it just what we will."
Way ahead of his time!
Married at the time to Trish Winckley, with whom he had two children, Christopher and Maya, Clive and I had family in Putney/Southfields, London, so we saw a fair bit of each other during that period. When Clive came to NY, we remained in touch and we ran into each other both here and in London frequently. He was always full of enthusiasm and excitement over all the wonderful American Modern Dance he had discovered in the Swinging 60s of London, and now was reporting on here.
Once ensconced in New York in 1965, he wrote about theatre, opera, musicals and television but his great passion was for the dance. Writing for the New York Post for the past 30 years, he was known for his extreme point of view, from the scathing to the sublime. David Merrick, the rather over-the-top Broadway producer, once sent him an angry telegram, to which Barnes replied, "didn't know we were married. Didn't know you were that kind of boy."
As well as his marriage to Ms Winckley, Barnes was married to and divorced from Joyce Tolman and Amy Pagnozzi. He is survived by his wife Valerie Taylor, a former Royal Ballet soloist, whom he married in 2004, as well as his two children
DO40 Remembers Jimmy Slyde
One of the last hoofers of the big-band era, Jimmy Slyde, passed away May 16 at the age of 80. Known as "the tap dancer with silken moves", Slyde enjoyed a career that stretched from swing and bebop to Broadway and film. With an engaging style and a gift for words, he was considered one of the giants of rhythm tap. Critics often complemented him for his ability to glide across the stage effortlessly.
Peter Howard, the arranger, musical director, composer, conductor and performer, died on April 18 in Englewood, NJ. Born Howard Weiss in 1927, he attended Juilliard and wrote a ballet on Broadway in 1956 for "All is Love" -a short-lived show- following that with the role of asst. production director in the successful "My Fair Lady" from 1956 to 1962. Many more shows followed, from the Comden & Green revue, where he was the pianist, and "Carnival" where he did the dance arrangements, through "Hello, Dolly!", with dance and incidental music arrangements. He was assistant conductor on the original "The Sound of Music," and by the late 60's he had graduated to such shows as "Chicago," "Annie," and "1776." As late as the 80's, Howard worked as musical director for "Barnum," "Harrigan 'n' Hat," "Baby," and "Stepping Out."
Once familiar with a show, Howard tended to remain faithful to it, thus he was called on to work the revivals of "Hello, Dolly!" (twice!), the 1997 revival of "1776," and the 1996 revival of "Chiago," reprising his original tasks from the original shows. He worked on the movie versions of several of these and in later years, Howard toured with a show called "Peter Howard's Broadway". His final Broadway credit was the dance arrangements for Minnelli on Minnelli in 1999.
Reuben Schafer - 93
One of the original DO40 members, Reuben Schafer has died on April 10 at 93. He was born on the Lower East Side and lived in Manhattan for most of his life. According to his daughter Phyllis Rodriguez, he combined the Theater with his commitment to social activism. As a member and councilman of Actors Equity, he fought for pension portability and for changing requirements that had to be met in order for union members to collect benefits.
Gerald Arpino - 85
The renowned choreographer, dancer and co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet, died on October 29, 2008 of prostate cancer; with him go so many memories with those of us who worked with Bob Joffrey, Johnny Leech (Jonathan Watts at NYCB) and Gerry at their studio/apt. in the Village. We all knew them from our time at the HS Performing Arts, and from May O'Donnell's troupe, where Bob was actually a modern dancer when we first knew them. All this more than five decades ago...sigh...
Arpino became the Joffrey Ballet's artistic director after Bob's death in 1988 and oversaw its move from NYC to Chicago.Though he lied about his age for quite some time, it is pretty much certain that he was born Gennaro Peter Arpino in January, 1923 in Staten Island. The youngest of 9 children of Italian immigrants, he helped support his family after his father died early in Gerry's youth. It was not until he joined the Coast Guard during WWII, that he was exposed to dance when Russian sailors who'd boarded his ship, began dancing and well, the rest is history.
Meeting Joffrey in Seattle through an introduction by their Italian mothers, he went on to study with Mary Ann Wells and later at the SAB and at the above-mentioned studio after 1953 (that's when my classmates and I met him). When I did graduate work with Twyla Tharp at Wolf Trap 20 years later, we learned and performed "Deuce Coupe" and were thrilled to see it on the Joffrey Ballet soon after. By merging classical and contemporary idioms, the Joffrey, as it was affectionately known, became world-famous. Arpino's legacy alone comprises some 40 ballets and two segments of "The Nutcracker." Equally loved and feared, Arpino was known for his strong opinions, emotional outbursts, eccentric styles and, yes, his awful toupee.
Sensualism, inner worlds, Christian imagery and socio-political issues were all subjects and inspiration for Arpino's work and Time Magazine called him a "choreographic virtuoso." His vast body of work included Ropes, Light Rain, Trinity, I/DNA, Secret Places, Viva Vivaldi, The Clowns and Kettentanz, as well as Round of Angels, an early artistic response to AIDS.
Arpino is survived by a cousin and great-grandnephew, both of Staten Island, NY. Donations in his name can be sent to: The Joffrey Ballet, Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601
Daniel Nagrin - 91
by Gregg Mayer
The remarkable, intense and dramatic dancer, Daniel Nagrin, died in Tempe, Arizona on December 29. He was 91 and was survived by his wife, Phyllis Steele Nagrin.
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