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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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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
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