A Lord Baltimore Dance Incubator

In just a couple hours, the Southwest Partnership and their design consultants, Two Point Studio will host a charette to clarify design intent for the redevelopment of the Lord Baltimore Theater. More information on that is here.

I’ve been working on a dance incubator concept for the site, so as a point-of-reference, here’s a conceptual floorplan.

Lord Baltimore Theater, Dance Incubator Concept, August 2020

CALL TO ACTION – August 22, 2020 – Building a Dance Incubator in Baltimore

Bottom Line Up Front

Please attend and represent dance as interested stakeholders, so your needs as dancers are fully integrated into the design process for the future development of the Lord Baltimore Theater in southwest Baltimore.

Who:  You! (and your dance friends)
What:  A “charette” (a “final” community engagement meeting) with Southwest Partnership ( https://southwestpartnershipbaltimore.org/ )
Where:  In person (place to be determined) and on Zoom.
Why:  To make a place for dance in the Baltimore region.
When:  August 22, 2020.  11am (please be early) to 1pm (theoretically).
How:  Register here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSceuG1FqjApa-IRs3rv49A8402m5hHKiJmVNd6JxzuJ_V-Bxg/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1

Please be prepared to:

a) Demonstrate that the Baltimore regional dance community is a large, active, and engaged group of stakeholders in this specific project.  The Lord Baltimore Theater is (as far as I’m aware) the first large dance-specific construction opportunity since UMBC’s Performing Arts & Humanities Building in 2014, and the only one intentionally and specifically available to every dancer in the region as a production and development resource.

b) Request (and validate) the use of the entire building as a dance-focused incubator.  This means things like sprung floors and safe dance surfaces, so you don’t have to bring those yourself (or do without).  This means that the auxiliary spaces are dance-oriented (dance studios and production suites), not generic (boardrooms and conference rooms).  This doesn’t mean dance-exclusive (it’s wonderful to have a spoken-word artist on the stage, and multi-disciplinary collaborations are awesome), but to create a space DESIGNED FOR DANCE.

c) Guide the design team and Southwest Partnership (SWP) as they finalize their plans to redevelop the building.  Suggest modifications, upgrades, and features that would make your use of the space more cost-effective, convenient, or dance-friendly.

d) Offer your suggestions about using dance and this space-for-dance as a community resource.  Think about how you can engage the people in the immediate neighborhood, how dance can change lives.  Share those visions.

Call to Action

The Lord Baltimore Theater WILL be developed in the coming years.  The next step in that effort is an August 22 “charette” (effectively a community engagement meeting) organized by Southwest Partnership (the building owner).  The engaged presence of a large number of dancers is critical to delivering what YOU need from this project.  I believe the Lord Baltimore Theater will make an excellent place to develop and share Baltimore’s dance. Please help me make that happen:

  •  Talk to me before August 22… talk to me about….
    •  How you would use the space;
    • What features you think are most important;
    • What are your critical price-points;
    • Share your vision of dance as a positive way to engage the community; and
    • Whatever else you think I should know about your vision of this space.
  • Register to participate in the charette ( https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSceuG1FqjApa-IRs3rv49A8402m5hHKiJmVNd6JxzuJ_V-Bxg/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1 ) as soon as possible.
  • Share this registration link (and this message…) with your dance network.
  • Make sure you’ve completed the Baltimore Regional Dance Survey ( https://inthedancersstudio.com/brds2020 ) this year.
  • Attend the event, either in person or virtually (via Zoom).
  • Advocate for YOUR needs as dancers (and friends of dance) during the event.
  • Read on for more details about the vision, the space, and more…

The Vision

After much effort, I believe this is a solid plan for developing the Lord Baltimore Theater as a regional (and hopefully super-regional) dance incubator, development center, and performance space.  This plan includes:

  • An approximately 175-seat theater with a highly-raked seating configuration;
  • A 30Dx40W foot permanent sprung floor performance area;
  • Large clear wings (10-15 feet);
  • A flyhouse providing full-stage masking and rigging options; and
  • A complete array of sound, lighting, projection, and technical equipment (including, I hope, motion capture).

For those of you familiar with regional theater spaces, this is similar to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Dance Theatre (College Park) seating configuration (see http://theatreprojects.com/files/projects/university-of-maryland-clarice-smith-performing-arts-center-06.jpg ), facing the Towson Stephens Hall Theater stage (see https://balletchesapeake.org/nutcracker for clips from a Stephens Hall Nutcracker and the @danceatccbc Instagram from about 8 months ago for some behind-the-scenes photos).  Production support features include:

  • Dressing rooms (immediately below the stage);
  • A Costume Lab with on-site laundry;
  • Stage-level quick change areas on each side of the stage;
  • Stage-level crossover; and
  • Sound-isolated review suites for reviewers (including live streaming) and/or audio description of performances.

A theater at this capacity (less than 200 seats) fills an immediate need for dance-development space in the region.  This is small enough that dance companies and choreographers can afford to be in the space without the expectation of selling many hundreds to thousands of tickets, but still large enough to have a meaningful audience experience to help develop their work.  When you “graduate” from this space, there are several mid-capacity (500-1000 seat) theater spaces available in the region, and the work developed here doesn’t need significant re-work to translate to the larger-capacity venues.  In addition to the centerpiece performance space, the incubator concept also provides:

  • Two large (1200 sq ft) and two small (600 sq ft) dance studios;
  • A 1000 sq ft reception/gallery/open studio space;
  • Large public restrooms;
  • A coffee shop/cafe;
  • A large dancer lounge/common area;
  • A retail/community engagement space;
  • Several production suites for video recording/broadcast/streaming and sound recording/mastering;
  • Office/desk space for resident companies and dance support businesses.
  • Shower/changing rooms; and
  • Individual lockers.

These features, combined, represent a world-class dance development machine capable of engaging the local neighborhood, the Baltimore region’s broader dance community, and even reaching beyond the region as a place to come to develop dance performance for the stage.

The availability of multiple studios, and a casual, inviting common space bridges gaps between dance companies and schools in the region.  Bringing dancers of all kinds into the same space presents a great opportunity for engagement and innovation.  This may, in time, serve as an anchor institution for a dance complex, with dancer-oriented housing, businesses, and other performance and studio spaces in the immediate neighborhood.

The Space

The building is roughly 125 feet deep and 80 feet wide, and largely windowless.  The south side of the building has three one-story spaces (the original theater lobby and two retail additions) about 30 feet deep.  The existing seating area is about 80 feet by 80 feet with a sloped floor (it will be much smaller after development), and on the north side of the building, the theater stage, with an intact flyhouse about 40 by 80 feet.  I must emphasize that I believe this is the last available, vacant, intact, flyhouse in Baltimore, and this is an amazingly valuable asset when it comes to dance development for the traditional stage.  This unique space affords the ability to quickly set and reset the stage space for different dance productions, which makes it possible to do more with the theater.

The Region

The Lord Baltimore Theater is located on the north side of the 1100 block of West Baltimore Street, which is just over one mile from the stadium complex on the south side of Baltimore.  This is about 40 minutes from UMCP, less than 30 minutes from Towson University and Goucher, less than 15 minutes from UMBC, and about 10 minutes from both Peabody and Coppin.  Roughly 500,000 people live within 5 miles of the location, just over 1.8 million live within 15 miles.  Transportation is convenient and close – the interstate is 2 miles away; there is a bus route immediately in front of the building; Penn Station (rail and bus connection to New York) is 2.5 miles away; and BWI is just over 10 miles.

This is a neighborhood of schools, with James McHenry Elementary, Francis M. Wood High School, Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy, Franklin Square Elementary, Steuart Hill Academic Academy, and the new Mother Mary Lange Catholic School opening in Fall 2021, among others.  Please think about what dance can do for these students.

This location also has ready access to downtown hotels, low-cost production supplies (Scrap B’more and Second Chance), and tools (Baltimore Tool Bank, Ace Hardware, Grainger Supply), drycleaning (ZIPS), printing (Work Printing and Graphics), medical supplies (Walgreens) all within one mile.

This is in City Council District 9 (John T. Bullock), State Legislative District 40 (Senator Antonio L. Hayes, Delegate Frank M. Conaway, Jr., Delegate Nick J. Mosby, and Delegate Melissa R. Wells), and Congressional District MD-7 (Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Representative Kweisi Mfume).  If you live in these districts, please do let me know.

To the south, Hollins Market.  Dancers need food, and… food is a block away.  The market also has an empty second-floor space roughly 50 x 100 feet, which could be ideal for expanded “satellite” dance space.   A bit further south (past the B&O Railroad Museum), Mobtown Ballroom ( https://mobtownballroom.com/ ) and Suspended Brewing ( https://www.suspendedbrewing.com/ ) for your after-dancing dancing-and-drinking needs.  There’s even a made-in-Baltimore contract clothing manufacturer ( https://www.fashions-unlimited.com ) if that’s something you can use…

To the east, the University of Maryland BioPark, which includes biomedical research, and the Graduate Research Innovation District (GRID), which operates as a health and social impact incubator. Just across Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, the University of Maryland Baltimore, with schools of medicine, social work, and law.  Also, Lithuanian Hall for your massive hundreds-of-people before- and after-parties.

To the north, an $800 million many-block mixed-use development called Center\West is in progress from La Cite ( http://lacitedevelopment.com/projects/park-square-development/ ).

To the west… Grace Medical Center (with a physical therapy department and a new ER), and west Baltimore… all the way to UMBC (a little less than 6 miles to the southwest…).

Background on the Project

In 1845, this location was the site of the Newton Academy.  In 1894, Professor W. T. Auer acquires the Newton Academy building and remodels it into a dance academy, with a nearly 2000-square-foot main hall and 21-foot ceiling.  The W. T. Auer Dancing Academy suffered a fire in March 1895, but reopens and continues until September, when Professor Auer relocates a bit east to the 700 block of West Baltimore.  After this move, the building is used as an armory for several years, until it becomes the home of the National Temperance Hospital and Maryland Medical College in 1898 (this later evolves into Franklin Square Hospital).  In 1912, Pearce & Scheck Enterprises purchase the lot and announce plans for a 1700-seat vaudeville and moving picture theater (it ends up closer to 1000 seats).  The building is renovated in 1921, and 1932, and 1934, and is home to the Baltimore Film Society in the mid-1960s.  When the theater closes in the early 1970s, the space is occupied by St. Matthews Holiness Church, until it is abandoned.

In April 2019 the Southwest Partnership, a non-profit community development organization, purchased the theater for $1 million. Since then, they’ve spent another $275,000 or more stabilizing and and securing the building.  This process has removed what was the projection house.

In late February, the Southwest Partnership organized a “Visioning Session” for the theater.  About 40 people attended, including Councilman John Bullock (and maybe some of you), and after going through their process, four concepts emerged as the most popular: A “Baltimore Walk of Fame,” a “Rotating Local Makerspace, Gallery, Coffee Shop & Restaurant,” a “Dance Hub & Incubator,” and a “Resource Center for Arts, Tech & Culture.”  This was, at some point, narrowed down to three concepts, described as a “Multipurpose Cultural Arts Center with Community Access,” “Fine Arts Dance Theater,” and “Walk of Fame.”

Of these concepts, the Walk of Fame is entirely exterior to the building and therefore entirely compatible with the building use as a dance incubator (also, Baltimore has a few fame-worthy dancers to add to that project – if you’re into Baltimore dance history, please get involved with that).

A local architectural firm (Two Point Studio) has developed renderings of their concept for the space.  This concept includes a cafe, lobby, a gallery, classroom, conference room, 244-seat theater, resident housing, rehearsal studios, offices, a lounge, board room, meeting room, and office area.

I contend that a focused, specific use for the space (dance) is a much stronger proposal than a “multipurpose arts center.” Baltimore has several “multipurpose arts centers” already (e.g., Creative Alliances’ Patterson, the Downtown Cultural Arts Center [less than 2 miles away], Motorhouse, School 33…), but no theater that is well-equipped to develop dance (unless you’re in a university dance program).

One of the most important opportunities to advance that effort will happen this year (in the middle of an economic crisis and pandemic) on Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 11am (scheduled for about 2 hours).  The Southwest Partnership, owners of the Lord Baltimore Theater, are holding a public-engagement “charette” to solidify their concepts for developing the theater.  I hope all of you will turn out to support the effort, and bring friends, especially if they live or work in Baltimore or (even better) Southwest Baltimore.  That said, stay safe.  The event will be handled online (via Zoom), so please participate in a way that you feel is safe for yourself and those around you.

Some Other Things (A little background and fun)

For news coverage of the project, https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-kelly-column-lord-baltimore-20160805-column.html and https://www.southbmore.com/2019/10/01/southwest-partnership-purchases-lord-baltimore-theatre-looks-to-create-cultural-arts-center/

For a brief description, and a photo of the marquee and sign that the SWP prefers, see the 1100 block section of A Walk Down West Baltimore Street ( https://baltimoretraces.umbc.edu/files/2019/06/WWBS_edits.pdf ).

For an audio introduction to the neighborhood, check out Out of the Blocks, Hollins Market, part 1 ( https://www.wypr.org/post/hollins-market-part-1-i-ve-been-kid ) and part 2 ( https://www.wypr.org/post/hollins-market-part-2-beautiful-side-ugly ).

For some vicarious urban exploration, before it was stabilized and cleaned up a bit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2myK9E5weU

Southwest Partnership represents seven neighborhoods (Barre Circle (!), Franklin Square, Hollins Roundhouse, Mount Clare, Pigtown, Poppleton, and Union Square).  You can see their Vision Plan here ( https://southwestpartnershipbaltimore.org/about-us/the-plan/ ).

Thanks for your attention, I hope to see you on the 22nd!

MSAC grant (due August 3) / MPT STIRcrazy / SBA grant / DETI

America is not doing very well with the pandemic response, which now puts the fall/winter season in serious jeopardy.  Be safe out there.

Also, since I’m unlikely to have access to archives and libraries for some time, I’ve decided to slice up the treatise on dance in the region and push the mostly-finished parts out to the world so you (and everyone else) in the community can start tearing it apart and use it to make plans and dream visions for the future of dance in the region.  At this point, I think it’s more important to get the material out there sooner, rather than better.  I still do need to assemble some resources to make that happen, but thanks for your patience on this thing.  The deep-dives into history and stories will come eventually.

MNRI-MSAC Grant opportunity

Part of the Maryland Nonprofit Recovery Initiative, the Maryland State Arts Council has an emergency grant program, with a coming-real-soon-now deadline (August 3).  This is a pretty limited pool of money ($3 million), so make sure you address EVERY point in the rubric if you apply.  Detailed information here: https://www.msac.org/grants/emergency-grant

MPT STIRcrazy

This has been around a while, but… apparently still looking for submissions.  Dance is historically poorly represented with MPT (lookin’ at you ArtWorks…), so this is a bit of a chance to bend that curve.  MPT STIRcrazy is looking for “YOUR creative endeavors during this time of COVID-19.”  Submission information here: https://www.mpt.org/programs/stircrazy/

ArtWorks is re-tooling for their new season, so it would be great to see dance (and more importantly, LOCAL dance) in their new format.  Give them some amazing stuff with STIRcrazy – that might help.

SBA Grant/Loan program

For gig workers (teaching and performing gigs do count…), there’s an SBA program that offers a $1000 grant and $10,000 loan, but… it’s confusing.  If you are a sole proprietor, without employees, a contractor, a freelancer, or a gig worker, and you were in business before 2020, you qualify.  The best description I’ve found is from the Motley Fool people at USA Today ( https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/07/14/uber-drivers-gig-workers-get-an-extra-1000-coronavirus-stimulus-funds/112154302/ ).  Pay special attention to the “Are there any strings attached?” section.  You should be able to get the grant and refuse the loan (assuming there are still funds available).  If you have success with this, please do let me know, so I can forward your experience to others.

Dance Educators Training Institute 2020

DETI (Dance Educators Training Institute) is virtual this year. August 17-19.  DETI is presenting 12 sessions over three days from.  More information here:  https://www.clancyworks.org/deti/

Know anyone with Dance/USA?

I’m looking for someone at Dance/USA to talk about distribution for material about dance in the Baltimore Region… anyone connected?

And, because we gotta have a little joy in our lives… Some cut paper dance:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cib8MM_kxrE

Please #BRDS2020 and bring friends to #BRDS2020 ( https://inthedancersstudio.com/brds2020 )
Please stay home.
Please keep dancing.
Please reach out to people directly and personally.  They will miss seeing/dancing/working with you.  I will miss you.
Simple acts of kindness do matter.  Point out beauty when you can. Bring a little joy to someone.
If there is something I can do, please let me know.

Changing History – A Different First Dalcroze Eurhythmics

The Johns Hopkins Peabody Preparatory dance program is, rightfully, proud of its more-than-100-year history. In 2015, the Peabody Post ran a feature story on this history, which includes this:

Peabody Dance was born in December 1914 when the Peabody Institute decided to offer classes in Dalcroze Eurhythmics to teach musicians about music through movement of the body, says Melissa Stafford, the program’s director and department chair.

The first ongoing eurhythmics classes to be offered in the United States, they were taught by Portia Wager and then Ruth Lemmert, both of whom had studied under Emile Jaques-Dalcroze himself.

Rachel Wallach, “Raising the Barre,” Peabody Post, Spring 2015.

Peabody was close, but not quite the first ongoing Eurhythmics class in the United States. The first was just over a year earlier, about 90 miles to the northeast.

On October 1, 1913, Placido de Montoliu started teaching 15 students at the newly-opened Phebe Anna Thorne Model School at Bryn Mawr College. Montoliu served as an assistant to Émile Jaques-Dalcroze for years before coming to the Thorne School in Pennsylvania and remained on faculty for nine years. Eurhythmics instruction continued at the Thorne School after his departure.

Placido de Montoliu is listed in the 1912-1913 Annual Report of the President of Bryn Mawr College page x, and the 1914 Bryn Mawr College Calendar, Volume VII, Part 2, March 1914, page 14, as an instructor for Jacques-Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and a graduate of the Jacques-Dalcroze College of Rhythmic Training, Hellerau, Germany. In the 1913-1914 President’s report, Señor Monotliu is listed as “Teacher of Jacques-Dalcroze Eurhythmics (Singing, Dancing),” which may be more notable, given that Bryn Mawr is a Quaker institution and the Quaker views of both singing and dancing

Interestingly, Placido de Montoliu came to Peabody on February 16, 1918, giving a demonstration of Eurhythmics at the Peabody Concert Hall, assisted by his wife and Ruth Lemmert.

Some readers, Arts Summit 2020, and Broken History

I’m getting close to a next revision of “Dance in the Baltimore Region,” and once again looking for a few good readers. This revision is up to about 100 pages, about half of which will be mostly familiar to previous readers. So, if you’ve got some time on your hands and feel like telling me what I’ve gotten wrong so far, please be in touch.

This is also Maryland Arts Summit week. This is an all-virtual event, using Crowdcast and Google meeting, and recorded versions of the sessions will be available after the live event. Sorry I didn’t get this out ahead of the first day, but… MSAC probably has you on their radar already. In case they don’t, information is here: https://mdarts.org/summit/

Something that’s been in my notes for a while went public last week – an exploration of the first Nutcracker in America, and I imagine it’s not the one you’re thinking of… https://www.inthedancersstudio.com/2020/05/changing-history-a-different-first-nutcracker-in-america/

Please #BRDS2020 and bring friends to #BRDS2020 ( https://inthedancersstudio.com/brds2020 )
Please stay home.
Please keep dancing.
Please reach out to people directly and personally. They will miss seeing/dancing/working with you. I will miss you.
Simple acts of kindness do matter. Point out beauty when you can. Bring a little joy to someone.
If there is something I can do, please let me know.

Changing History – A different first Nutcracker in America

If I have to recommend a Nutcracker, my personal go-to is the 2004 San Fransisco Ballet version by Helgi Tomasson, so I very much appreciate the San Francisco Ballet (and not just because they’ve got the third-largest budget for a dance company in the country). It is widely published, and generally acknowledged that the San Francisco Ballet presented the first full-length Nutcracker in America. The idea that the Nutcracker in America started in San Francisco is, well, everywhere.

Ballet being ballet, the matter isn’t entirely settled. Some point to the 1940 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo Nutcracker, with choreography by Alexandra Fedorova, after Lev Ivanov, which premiered on October 17, 1940 at the 51st Street Theater in New York City. New Yorkers do have their pride, and the Boweryboys (among others) aren’t afraid to lay claim to that first Nutcracker. This is an abridged one-act version, so not being “complete,” this one rarely gets full credit. Still, publications like the Los Angeles Times, Dance Spirit, and Pointe Magazine give the Ballet Russe a quick nod before breaking out the San Francisco title.

nutcrackerballet.net, like most places, doesn’t hesitate, putting San Francisco’s claim right on the front page. Variations of this story are everywhere, and it’s probably the history you know. No less an authority than Time Magazine, in 2014, says to us “When the San Francisco Ballet company performed the first complete version of The Nutcracker in the U.S. on Christmas Eve, 1944, they had no way of knowing that in time it would become as American as leaving the milk and cookies out for Santa.” This production, with choreography by William Christensen, working with George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova, usually gets the credit.

The San Fransisco Ballet, of course, makes its claim boldly and prominently, “Founded in 1933, the company staged the first full-length American productions of Coppélia (1938) and Swan Lake (1940) and, in 1944, we launched an annual holiday tradition when we produced the first full-length production of Nutcracker in the US.” They’ll even give you a nice, concise version of their Nutcracker’s story.

Let me tell you a different story…

On June 2, 1935, news of the the Bekefi-Deleporte Institute of Dance Spring recital appears in print…

Senora de Azcarate, wife of the military attache of the Mexican Embassy heads the list of prominent patrons for the forthcoming Spring concert of the Bekefi-Deleporte Institute of Dance Sunday evening, June 2, at 8:30 o’clock at the Community Center Auditorium at Sixteenth and Q streets. Among other patrons and patronesses are Mrs. John Francis Butler, Mme. Natalie Rimsky-Korsakoff, Mr. And Mrs. Richard W. D. Jewet, Mr. Frank La Falce, and Mr. William Nelson.

There will be many out-of-town guests for this colorful dance event, for the group of artist and students dancers to be presented by Mr. Theodore Bekefi, Mr. Maurice Deleporte, and Mr. Billy Lytell includes more than a hundred Washington dancers who are interested in the recital and who will participate in the varied program of ballet and character numbers, opening with the first presentation in the Capital of the entire “Nutcracker Ballet,” by Tchaikowsky, from which the often-seen Nutcracker Suite is but a part.

Evening Star, Washington, D. C., May 20, 1935, page B-4.

The announcement made, more details follow the next week…

Theodore Bekefi, prominent dance director of Washington will present Tschaikowsky’s “Nutcracker Ballet” as the opening feature of the Spring recital of the Bekefi-Deleporte Institute of Dance next Sunday night at 8:30 o’clock at the Community Center, Sixteenth and Q Streets. Victor Neal, concert pianist of this city, will play the accompaniment for the ballet, which will be danced by a large group of classical and character dancers in the leading roles, including Boydie Barry, Dorthy Ann Goodman, George Filgate, Boofie Barry, with Bekefi himself as Dreselmeyer, the leading character role.

In the ballet will be seen also Virginia Barry, Charlotte Bolgiano, Mary Bolgiano, Theresa Clancey, Ronnie Cunningham, Margaret Mary Edmonston, Margie Gibson, Mary-Beth Hughes, Ethel Mevay, Elise Pinckner, Marguerite Reese, Lila Zalipsky, Dorthy Barry, Josephine Parther, Mary Renkel, and May Tenn.

Evening Star, Washington, D. C., May 26, 1935, page F-6.

I include this list of performers, first to afford them some credit in this 21st Century, but also to point out that (it seems) Lila Zalipsky would go on to make many ballet things happen, particularly on the west coast, as Lila Zali. The others in this performance didn’t ring any immediate bells for me, so that’s some research for a future date.

This is “just” a spring recital for a local dance school, but before the show, there’s a third piece in the Evening Star, this time with some casting details…

For the first time in Washington, the complete production of Tschaikowsky’s “Nutcracker Ballet” will be staged by Bekefi: opening the program of the occasion, with Bekefi in the leading role of Droselmeyer, and included in the dancers, Boydie Barry as the Nutcracker; Dorothy Ann Goodman as Clara, George Filgate as the King of Mice, Boofie Barry as the Doll and a large group of little girls, mice and soldiers.

Evening Star, Washington, D. C., June 2, 1935, page F-6.

Finally, at the end of this thread, we have a review.

The program, in four parts, any two of which would have made a delightful entertainment, was late in beginning and very long. Tschaikowsky’s “The Nutcracker Ballet,” staged and directed by Theodore Bekefi opened the program. The pantomime was well carried out and the cast included, in addition to Mr. Bekefi, Dorthy Ann Goodman, Boydie Barry, Mary Boudren, Barbara Culley, Mary Coen, Lois Heckinger, Betty Jamison, Mary Renkel, Sonya Samkow, Izetta Simon, Boofie Barry, Bill and Jack Smoot, Melvin Goldberg, Bernard June, Phyllis Schwartz, Mary Quick, Edith Klee, Eleanor Klee, Barbara Ramey, Barbara Schwartz, Jackie Smith, George Filgate, Dorthy Barry, Josephine Prather, May Tenn, Elise Pickney, Marguerite Reese, Virginia Barry, Charlotte Bolgiano, Ronnie Cunningham, Mary Bolgiano, Mary-Margaret Edmonston, Marie Gibson, Mary Beth Hughes, Ethel Mevay, Lila Zalipsky and Bernice Susser. In the finale of the first act of their pantomime, a choir composed of members of Mme. Zalipsky’s vocal studios was heard from behind the scenes.

Evening Star, Washington, D. C., June 4, 1935, page B-20

And the clue that ran me down this rabbit hole? the Bekefi-Deleporte Institute of the Dance presents the “Nutcracker Ballet” on June 20, 1935 at Lehmann Hall in Baltimore, Maryland:

Dozens of Dancers Whirled and pirouetted on the stage of the Lehmann Hall last night as Theodore Bekefi, a former soloist with the Diaghileff Ballet Russe, brought a company of his dancers from Washington to perform the “Nutcracker Ballet.”

The story, a fantasy of Christmas Eve, told a tale in dance of a nutcracker toy, which came to life, killed the king of mice after a duel, and then journeyed through the land of snowflakes to the palace of sweets. The dancing throughout was smooth and expert, especially in the snowflake scene.

R. L. W., “Nutcracker Ballet,” Baltimore Sun, June 21, 1935, page 10.

So there you have it… a new first Nutcracker in America, this one performed nearly a decade before the commonly-accepted first complete Nutcracker in America and five years before the Ballet Russe in New York.

A Christmas ballet. In June. At a Jewish Community Center. In Washington, D. C. Maybe that’s why nobody noticed…




Research Help, City Grants, Giving Tuesday and Some good feels

It’s been pretty quiet in recent days…  First, a couple requests for help…

Does anyone know anything about Equus the Ballet, performed at the Mechanic in March 1980?

With libraries closed, I have limited access to source material, so taking a bit of a long shot… Do you know anyone with a personal copy of Baltimore Magazine from October 1978?

A little business…

Baltimore City’s Small Business Assistance Fund opens tomorrow (May the 4th be with you…).  Full information is available here ( https://www.baltimoretogether.com/ ).  Important for the dance world, non-profits within Baltimore City that rely on earned income are eligible.  Maximum grant is $15,000.

GivingTuesday ( https://www.givingtuesday.org/ ) is now May 5.

And some fun things… Viruses don’t see lines on maps.
Vincent Thomas, Towson University Department of Dance, Modern Repertory for Men- Spring 2020   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqjAqTGZmrE

Glitter (nudity) with Hajiba Fhamy – https://vimeo.com/391525572

Dancing to SARS-Cov-2-inspired music in [empty] Budapest – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgwdGctca4I

Quarantine Dance Specials 2020 from Peigan Powwow Productions  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IgHYXvixBQ

Not exactly dance, but some good feels from Philadelphia…. Mr. Y Not – https://vimeo.com/408841106

Please #BRDS2020 and bring friends to #BRDS2020 ( https://inthedancersstudio.com/brds2020 )
Please stay home.
Please keep dancing.
Please reach out to people directly and personally.  They will miss seeing/dancing/working with you.  I will miss you.
Simple acts of kindness do matter.  Point out beauty when you can. Bring a little joy to someone.
If there is something I can do, please let me know.

1 Week to The Deconstruction / MSAC Emergency Grants update / Things to do at home / Get a job / Party with DJ Supream

May 1-3, 2020 – “The Deconstruction is a global creative collaboration event held online (and in real life) for artists, makers, creators, students, parents, and everyone else!”  https://www.thedeconstruction.org/

MSAC Emergency Grants program has some updates – See https://www.msac.org/grants/emergency-grant

A chance to go to Harvard (sortof…).  First Nights – Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring: Modernism, Ballet, and Riots.  Class is self-paced.  https://www.edx.org/course/stravinskys-rite-of-spring-modernism-ballet-and-ri

From the great people at Fractured Atlas “Security and Privacy Tools for Artistic Collaboration” – https://blog.fracturedatlas.org/security-privacy-tools-artistic-collaboration

Wide Angle Youth Media is looking for a Program Director – https://www.wideanglemedia.org/join-our-team

Reginald F. Lewis Museum Museum Nights at Home Quarantine Party II with DJ Supream May 7, 6pm – https://lewismuseum.org/event/museum-nights-home/

Please #BRDS2020 and bring friends to #BRDS2020 ( https://inthedancersstudio.com/brds2020 )
Please stay home.
Please keep dancing.
Please reach out to people directly and personally.  They will miss seeing/dancing/working with you.  I will miss you.
Simple acts of kindness do matter.  Point out beauty when you can. Bring a little joy to someone.
If there is something I can do, please let me know.

Artist Relief Funds, Put Your Mask On, MSAC (April 21 3pm) and a shout out to DLNY, and some other bits…

Artist Relief is a coalition of major arts donors and offers $5000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19.  More info here:  https://www.artistrelief.org/


Baltimore has it’s own version, through the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.  Info here: http://promotionandarts.org/arts-council/baltimore-artist-emergency-relief-fund-0


Loyola’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship offers a Crisis Navigator program, offering online consultation with business experts to help you through these times – https://www.loyola.edu/department/center-innovation-entrepreneurship/community-involvement/loyola-crisis-navigators


If you have a business, Maryland has launched a Business Relief Wizard ( https://reliefwizard.net/ ), to guide you through available programs.


Baltimore Club gets into public health – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-tTqJZeNyw   Put Your Mask On


Maryland State Arts Council Creative Conversations (now on Google Meet) –
Creative Conversations: Dance
April 21st, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Led by MSAC Executive Director, Ken Skrzesz
Meeting Link: meet.google.com/vyr-dgyb-ikq
Call in: 317-953-3049‬
PIN: ‪104 020 529#

Complete list of conversations here: https://www.msac.org/news/creative-conversations-0


Because we could all use a little bit of good news… Congratulations are in order for Josh Prince and the team at Dance Lab New York (formerly Broadway Dance Lab – https://www.dancelabny.org ).  After converting their annual gala event (originally scheduled for March 30) to a “virtual gala” on just a few weeks’ notice, they managed to exceed their $10,000 fundraising goal.  It is possible to make things happen…

…. and some recognition for Chris Kopec from a couple weeks ago – https://www.wbaltv.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-ellicott-city-deejay-chris-kopec-virtual-dance-party/31885994


And I’ll wrap this up with a few entertainment options….

Two hours of the Soul Train Line – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nfJfqCD9y8

If you’re more into Latin fusion… 2/3rds of Trio Caliente ( https://triocaliente.com/ ) will be doing a couch concert at 9pm tonight via Facebook.

If you miss Swan Lake, this one gets faster with each tendu… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9XDuVzhs2k (warning, potentially seizure-inducing).  Runtime is less than 3 minutes.


Please #BRDS2020 and bring friends to #BRDS2020 ( https://inthedancersstudio.com/brds2020 )

Please stay home ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4PnSYAqQHU )

Please keep dancing.

Please reach out to people directly and personally.  They will miss seeing/dancing/working with you.  I will miss you.

Simple acts of kindness do matter.  Point out beauty when you can. Bring a little joy to someone.

If there is something I can do, please let me know.