Balanchine, Lynes and Orpheus


The photo above has appeared here before—it’s one of a number of dance photos taken by the great George Platt Lynes—but its subject has (for me at least) always been the source of some confusion. Since I dislike being nagged by petty conundrums I make a cursory search every so often to see if more details might be found. Five years ago all I knew was that the picture appeared in Philip Core’s Camp: The Lie that Tells the Truth (1984) where it was credited as showing dancers from Balanchine’s Icarus. Additional confusion was sown by a photo site showing the picture below with a statement that it was a) a Lynes photo (correct), and b) from Balanchine’s Die Fledermaus (wrong). No dates were given. The presence of a lyre made Orpheus seem a more likely subject: Balanchine wrote an Orpheus ballet for a Stravinsky score in 1948 but photos of that production showed very different dancers and costumes.


It turns out that these photos are indeed for a Balanchine ballet on the Orpheus theme, a short-lived production, Orpheus and Eurydice, from 1936 based on music from Gluck’s opera. The dancers are Lew Christensen, William Dollar and Daphne Vane. What’s most surprising now is having found a photo that’s almost but not quite the one from the Core book; photos from this session are elusive, with searches hampered by other photos taken by Lynes of Balanchine’s later ballets. There may be more in this series.

Pinterest is a good place to see more of Lynes’ photos which range from fashion shoots and celebrity portraits to moody, and occasionally surreal, homoerotica.




Previously on { feuilleton }
The end of Orpheus
The recurrent pose 17
George Platt Lynes

Dorothea Tanning: Early Designs for the Stage


Monstre from The Witch (1950).

If this squid-headed costume design by Surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning isn’t a unique creation in the history of ballet then I’d like to know what challenges it. These paintings form part of an exhibition of Tanning’s designs for ballet companies which go on display at The Drawing Center, New York from April 23–July 23, 2010. The press release mentions her collaborations as being with George Balanchine but The Witch was choreographed by John Cranko after a score by Maurice Ravel.

Dating from 1945–1953, the designs will be shown together for the first time, and will be accompanied by archival photographs and ephemera related to the staged productions.  This series explores the dynamic intersections of dance, performance, visual art, and costume, while drawing important parallels to Tanning’s early discoveries in both painting and sculpture. (More.)


The Butlers from The Witch (1950).

Via BibliOdyssey.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism
Surrealist women