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Flash SOS, 8-3: Giving it up for Taglioni -- and for Dance
How You Can Become Involved in the Marie Taglioni Homage & Debate

By Paul Ben-Itzak
The Dance Insider

PARIS -- We really need you -- yes YOU, dance insider -- to join the extraordinary team of dancers, scholars, diplomats and dance wear and shoe manufacturers organizing the September 30 tribute to Marie Taglioni: The First: Homage to Marie Taglioni and a Debate on the State of her Legacy. The Italian Cultural Institute has given us its ornate facilities in a brand new theater in a 17th-century ballroom for this bicentennial homage to the first to elevate pointe to an art and become one of dance's -- not 'just' ballet's -- first risk-takers. And now we need your involvement so we can give Taglioni -- and our art of dance -- the tribute she and it truly deserve, and extend her legacy into the 21st century and beyond.

Specifically, we need:

**Topics and questions for the Debate portion of the evening, which will be recorded for posterity on the Dance Insider Online.

** Dancers, scholars, shoemakers and critics to participate in the homage and discussion September 30. So far, Sophie Parcen of the Paris Opera Ballet; Muriel Maffre, principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet; and Robin Hoffman, Dance Insider art director and webmistress, and former dancer with the Joffrey, Louisville, and Milwaukee ballet companies have come through.

** Dancers; dance wear, shoe, and dance companies; dance presenters and foundations; and studios and university dance departments to participate as sponsors and supporters, specifically in helping the above dancers and scholars get to the Paris event, helping pay for our time spent organizing the activities for Taglioni, and by contributing to the restoration of Marie Taglioni's deteriorating grave at the Montmartre Cemetery. No amount is too small. So far, Christine Jowers Friedman and Robert Friedman have come through with a donation of $150, and Martha Mountain has delivered with a contribution of $100.

To find out how you can donate, and what your contribution will be applied to, please e-mail me at paul@danceinsider.com.

I won't mince words. The inscription on Taglioni's tomb at the Montmartre Cemetery here reads "a sa mere bien aimee" -- to his (or her) beloved mother. Taglioni was mother to us all. She died penny-less and forgotten. And yet she left us so much. If you are a dancer -- ballet OR modern -- she left you her risk and her courage. If you are a shoe company -- or a critic -- she left you your metier, your means of making a living.

For you modern and post-modern dancers and choreographers: This is not just about remembering an ancient ballerina. This is about whether we are going to respect ourselves -- our field -- as we expect others to respect it. IT IS NOT JUST A BALLET ISSUE. Taglioni is the prototypical dancer who makes the choreographer's innovations possible, be they on the ballet or modern terrain. THIS IS ALSO A WOMEN'S ISSUE. I was at the Montmartre cemetery again last week. Nijinsky's grave is on a central path, drawing attention with a life-sized Petrouchka puppet. It has fresh flowers regularly; it is well kept up. Taglioni's deteriorating grave is tucked a few yards behind his, off the main path; and yet there would not have BEEN a Nijinsky -- in dance, anyway -- had there been no Taglioni before him. La Goule -- credited as the inventor of the French can-can -- is at the same cemetery, and her grave is also well kept up, with fresh flowers placed on it weekly by the Moulin Rouge. The Moulin Rouge understands that as a living institution, it needs to honor its history. We need to honor ours too.

Let's not forget our mother, nor our history. Please, PLEASE contribute, either by your presence or as a sponsor or supporter. Please join those mentioned above plus Maina Gielgud, Paolo Grossi, Dick Turner (he's not even a dancer! Just a good guy who gets it), Anna Arias Rubio, Cynthia Quinn, Quinn Pendleton, Lucy Venable, Joy Williams Brown, my friend Luc the bookinista and the Australian Ballet in turning out for Marie Taglioni. We have been presented the gift of a golden opportunity from a non-dance person, Mr. Grossi, cultural attache of the Italian Embassy here, who has offered us the embassy's facilities to celebrate our heritage. So far, we have three outstanding dancers from New York, Paris, and San Francisco ready to participate. We need sponsors and supporters, and we need more participants. And we need to hear from them -- from YOU -- now, at paul@danceinsider.com.

On my last visit to the grave at the Montmartre Cemetery, resplendent in the light of a Paris summer, I was accompanied by an artisanale stone mason who will be giving us an estimate for restoring Taglioni's grave. Among other projects, he is the lead mason for a renovation currently being undertaken at the Petit Palais, a major museum. He's preparing an estimate for the cost of cleaning and restoring the grave, and placing an appropriate tribute on it. We have an extraordinary opportunity here. Respect your past. Guard your future. Write me NOW.

Take a look at the photo of Taglioni's name-plaque on the grave at the bottom of this page. It is cracked. Let's show the world that we care.

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