New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls.
Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Go back to Flash Reviews
News, 5-1: She will be missed
Muriel Topaz, Notation Giant, Dead at 70
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2003 The Dance Insider
Our colleague Muriel
Topaz, a giant in the fields of dance notation, scholarship, pedagogy,
and journalism, died Monday evening in Branford, Connecticut at
the Connecticut Hospice, of complications related to a liver ailment,
the Dance Notation Bureau, which Topaz lead from 1978 to 1985 and
inspired for many more years, confirmed Wednesday. Muriel Topaz
would have turned 71 on May 7.
Topa. Photo courtesy of the Dance Notation Bureau.
Topaz, director of the
Dance Division of the Juilliard School from 1985 to 1992, notated
a stunning thirty works and excerpts or sections from an additional
16 dances. Her catalogue of notated scores reads like a who's who
of the most important dances of the 19th and 20th centuries.
"She's left a very important
legacy," Ilene Fox, executive director of the DNB, told the Dance
Insider today. "It's because of her work -- not just what she notated
but her vision and the way she lead the DNB -- that so many important
works have been notated, which means that they're going to live
on for generations. She's gone, but she's left something to the
As a method of preserving
dances, Labanotation preceded video recording and is still superior
to it, as well as the simple handing down of dances, for one reason:
Because the system is scientific, it preserves the choreographer's
original intentions, unaltered by individual interpretation.
As a Labanotator, Topaz
left her deepest legacy with the work of Antony Tudor, recording
complete scores for "Cereus," "Continuo," "Fandango," "Jardin aux
Lilas," "Little Improvisations," "Soiree Musicale," and "Sunflowers."
Her last notation was of the Venus and Neptune sections of the 1933
"The Planets," which Topaz reconstructed from interviews with cast
members. It had not been performed since the 1940s.
Last year, Topaz published
"Undimmed Lustre: The Life of Antony Tudor."
Other major works Topaz
notated, in a notating career which began in 1961, include Jose
Limón's "The Moor's Pavane," Kurt Jooss's "The Green Table,"
Jerome Robbins's "Interplay" and, with Lucy Venable, "Noces," David
Lichine's "Graduation Ball," Doris Humphrey's "Day on Earth," and
dances or sections of dances by George Balanchine, Marius Petipa,
Isadora Duncan, Anna Sokolow, Mary Wigman, Lev Ivanov, Helen McGehee
and May O'Donnell. She notated Paul Taylor's "Three Epitaphs," and
was responsible for placement of the first full-time notator on
a professional dance company staff, at the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
A member of the board
of directors of the Dance Notation Bureau for over 40 years, as
its director from 1978 to 1985 Topaz led an expansion which included
the establishment of a school, bookstore, and publications, staff
expansion, and the addition of the bureau's first development director.
She secured funding for the Balanchine notation project from the
National Endowment for the Humanities and for the Tudor notation
project, and organized the first international conference on movement
notation in Israel in 1984.
Topaz authored or edited
12 books, including 'Alvin Ailey: American Visionary," "The Genius
of Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman," and "Elementary Labanotation."
A former senior editor
at Dance Magazine, she edited the magazine's Young Dancer section
from 1995 to 1996, which is where this reporter first encountered
her. As a supervisor and later colleague, Muriel could be alternately
tough and gentle. Among the many dancers, Notators, and others she
has mentored, we are fortunate to count many Dance Insider staffers:
as a Labanotator, our co-founder and webmistress, Robin Hoffman,
who went on to work as the company notator for the Taylor company,
among other notating responsibilities; also as a notator, DI founding
editor and senior artistic advisor Veronica Dittman; and as a Juilliard
student and later dance journalist, our features editor, Rebecca
Stenn. It was Muriel who brought Rebecca to Dance Magazine when
I was a new editor there. As a dancer-writer, Rebecca would become
the prototype -- or precursor -- for the Dance Insider writer: a
professional dancer applying her dance background to dance writing.
For this, I, and the Dance Insider, are eternally in Muriel's debt.
In 1997, memorializing
her predecessor at Juilliard, Martha Hill, Muriel wrote, "She will
be missed." And so will Muriel.
The widow of composer
Jacob Druckman, Muriel Topaz is survived by a daughter, Karen Jeanneret-Druckman
of Rolle, Switzerland, a son, Daniel Druckman of Orangeburg, New
York, and three grandchildren, Alessandra, Holly, and Hannah.
A memorial service for
Muriel Topaz will be held this Friday, May 2, at 2 p.m. at the Plaza
Jewish Community Chapel, 630 Amsterdam Avenue, in New York.
Go back to Flash Reviews