Our Mission is to showcase the wonderful dancers who were trained or recruited by E. Virginia Williams to be members of the magical Boston Ballet Company under her superb artistic direction. Virginia was such a powerful part of our life stories. It is all very emotional for me, and, as I later learned, for every one of the alumni too. Such a great teacher must not be forgotten! We, her students who were the instruments she used to create a first rate, world class, ballet company, must be celebrated as a significant part of the history of the performing arts in Boston. That is our mission.

Cecilybee's blog

Reminiscing About Our Boston Ballet... ♫♪ Cecily and Alphy::Guest Artists at E. Virginia Williams' Malden School Recital ♫♪

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Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


Good Morning Dancers, Teachers, and Dreamers,

The Latest Image is a photo from 1967 (to the best of my recollection - could possibly be 1966, but "Who Cares?" (to borrow the name of a really fun Balanchine ballet of the same era.)

Cecily Travsky and Alphonse Poulin - Vintage Boston Ballet
Either 1967 or 1966 but "Who Cares?"
Cecily Travsky and Alphonse Poulin - Vintage Boston Ballet
©Arizona Ballet Theatre 2007-2009|All Rights Reserved


Alphonse Poulin is my handsome partner in this "Pas de Deux," choreographed by Sydney Leonard, specifically for Alphy and Me. It was the "first" Pas for both of us; for those of you out there who ever trained with Miss Leonard, you will understand what I mean, truly, when I tell you it was very, very, very hard. And sooooooos long. I think fifteen minutes actually, but perhaps my mind is playing tricks on me. We danced the partnering sections together, naturally; we each had at least three short solos; and there was a rousing Coda with fouettes for me (scary) and a la seconde turns AND Big Leaps for Alphy. And for me... Big Jumps for me. I think we danced the whole ballet vocabulary. Again, I may be exaggerating somewhat. In my fifteen year old , very ballet-oriented brain it was overwhelming, frightening, and wonderful. We performed it at E. Virginia Williams' Malden School Recital, the very school where I had had my first class - my evaluation class - with Miss Williams herself, who lived upstairs. I had long since switched exclusively to the Boston Ballet School; so, in this performance, we were the "Guest Artists" from the Company. Fun and more than a wee bit intimidating.

The actual little teeny photo which shows the wears of time as much as I do, had been a lost treasure for a few decades now. I dug it out of a pile of memorabilia, and asked WebMaster Chic to scan it, which he did. And, he did a whole lot of improving since the little picture is wrinkled, crinkled mess. I love the current technology which can do these magical things, even though it scares me a bit, too. Like thirty two fouettes on stage. Egads.

Alphy is one of the most creative people on the planet; not only is he a legendary dance success, he is a published authority on knitting. He even has published at least one book I know of the subject with a renowned co-author. His sweaters are pure works of art. Wonderful.

Alphy is currently on the Dance Faculty at Juilliard in Lincoln Center. After a long, illustrious career performing and then teaching in Europe, Alphy is once again based in the USA in the very heart of the Dance Center of the World.

I ramble on about things long forgotten from a decade when video was brand, spanking new, and most dance performances were viewed as ephemeral experiences the magic of which could NEVER be captured on screen. Right or wrong, that was the thinking at the time...

In the present era, I hope to see more returning faces today as we at Arizona Ballet Theatre come to the end of our first week of dance, January, 2010. In glorious Tucson.

Cecily Trying to Write in a Hurry - Sorry::}


Keywords for Today

Dance Magazine's "Winter Wonderland"

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Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
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Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


In case you missed it, there is a delightful collection of photos in the current issue of Dance Magazine showing the Snow Scene costumes of a number of wonderful ballet companies. It's in an article called "Winter Wonderland."

The article is very tiny. Here it is...
"The snow scene is one of the simplest sections of The Nutcracker: There are no oversized mice or waltzing flowers, just a corps of women in white tutus and a principal couple—usually. And yet those 11 minutes of the ballet are often the most magical. Tchaikovsky’s dreamy music transports us into the chilly midnight December air. Dancers flit, flutter, and swirl as if blown by the wind. A blanket of white floats—and sometimes pours—down from above as Clara travels from the real world to a fantastical one. Every company does the scene in its own unique way—some even dispensing with the tutus altogether. Here’s a peek inside some of our favorite snow scenes from around the world."
© 2007 MacFadden Performing Arts Media, LLC. All rights reserved

The online photos are way too small. Hopefully they will give you some idea of the beauty and variety of costumes out there!! Chic enlarged two that are closest to us, physically or emotionally through training and performing. Here they are...

L to R: Arizona Ballet and Boston Ballet
Snow Scene Costume of Ballet Arizona - Thumbnail of a Photo by Rosalie O'Connor Snow Scene Costume of the Boston Ballet - Thumbnail of a Photo by Gene Schiavone
© 2007 MacFadden Performing Arts Media, LLC. All rights reserved
L to R - Photos by Rosalie O'Connor and Gene Schiavone

The Arizona Ballet Snow Scene photo as reproduced in Dance Magazine's thumbnail doesn't do justice to the beauty of the Swarovsky crystal tops the dancers wore in Phoenix last year. The costumes are exquisite. Perhaps one of our readers will find better photos.(;-))))

Here is possibly the first color shot of Boston Ballet's Snow Scene. (1969 or 1970)

"Waltz Of The Snowflakes," A Performance of The Boston Ballet Company's Nutcracker in 1969 or 1970
Second Row, L. to R.: 1. Debby Bryan; 2. Nina Bator; 3. Stephanie Moy; 4. Reva Wildorf 5. Stephanie Marini
Front Row, Left to Right: 1. Edra Toth standing; 2. Cecily Travsky; 3. Ellen O'Reilly; 4. Kathy Murphy 5. Bonnie Wycoff; 6. Veronica Fell

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To view a larger size image, click here.

The excitement of my Boston Ballet experience, which, taken as a whole, seems almost unbelievable.

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Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2009|All Rights Reserved

We Love The Waltz of The Snowflakes, and Surprises!
Twirling Snowflake A New Polaroid Photo of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker 1969 or 1970 Twirling Snowflake
"Waltz Of The Snowflakes," A Performance of The Boston Ballet Company's Nutcracker in 1969 or 1970
Second Row, L. to R.: 1. Debby Bryan; 2. Nina Bator; 3. Stephanie Moy; 4. Reva Wildorf 5. Stephanie Marini
Front Row, Left to Right: 1. Edra Toth standing; 2. Cecily Travsky; 3. Ellen O'Reilly; 4. Kathy Murphy 5. Bonnie Wycoff; 6. Veronica Fell

If you can fill in other names, please click here to send me an instant email.

To view a larger size image, click here.

Does anyone know of any older color photos of BB performances?
Or of any other company for that matter?
There must be some. This cannot be the first. Or is it?
Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


I am going into my personal time machine to travel back to the last half of an exciting dance decade - the Groovy 1960s. I have been reminiscing about my experience as a young, eager ballet dancer who was lucky enough to dance my way into The Boston Ballet School and Company under the direction of that great New England Grande Dame, E. Virginia Williams. I have tried to convey the excitement of the whole experience, which when taken as a whole, seems almost unbelievable. I feel very lucky to have had such an unusual artistic education in a very happening place during an unforgettable period of time. Boston was, is, and should always remain, quite "The Place" to get an education in many fields, as most everyone who cares about quality is well aware. If you have never visited Boston, put it on your Bucket List. Boston is amazing in oh so many ways...

In fact, as it appeared to my teenage eyes, not just Boston but the whole world was experiencing a pop culture boom; ballet was blazing into people's consciousnesses, propelled in large part by the defection of Rudolf Nureyev in 1961. This is the stuff of which spy thrillers are made. Suspense. Drama. Glamour. Talent. Audacity. Try to imagine, if you will, an incredible intensity and optimism about the thing you care most about in all the world. For me, that "thing" was Ballet.

Imagine the headlines -

Great Soviet Artiste defects in a French airport, refusing to go home to the country and Parents he actually adores because of fears that "they" - the political authorities - will not ever let him leave again. In search of "Artistic Freedom," Nureyev captures the attention of the whole world. He is sensational. Everyone wants to see him. Everyone is excited about ballet. Keep in mind that pop culture in every area was in full-explosion mode with the Beatles and the entire British Invasion in music, and graphic artists like Andy Warhol and Peter Max practically inventing pop culture. We had Twiggy, Mary Quant, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yoga. We had Lennon and McCartney. Simon and Garfunkel. Nureyev and Fonteyn. Balanchine and Suzanne Farrell. Bobby Blankshine in Clowns. Just to name a few that mattered to me...Powerful images were everywhere I looked. Good and Bad. The excitement was palpable. Everyone who was breathing wanted to create and participate. Exploration was encouraged in every area. if it was too much, you could drop out, join a commune, grow your hair.

Leading the charge in Massachusetts as far as the Wonderful World that is Ballet, there was E. Virginia Williams, teaching daily in at least one of three possible locations, Boston, Malden and/or Stoneham - planning performances, inviting guest stars, hiring choreographers and stepping back from that herself even though she had some true choreographic chops. I can only imagine the many leads she was pursuing in her truly mysterious way while I was obsessing about my turn out, hoping to become as flexible as Bonnie and as strong as Linda DiBona.

So in all this excitement, what were E. Virginia's ballet classes actually like?

They were short, first of all - scheduled for an hour only. No hour and half classes that I recall at all. Everyone was there from Carol Ravitch to Laurie Young. The barre work was very repetitive and to the proverbial pointe. Probably about twenty minutes long. Is that even possible? The center moved. That was where the action was. Miss Williams packed in a short adagio usually involving a developpe croisse and a promenade in first arabasque. We did quite a bit of petite allegro. Short combinations with lots of beats. Then, to the corner where we drilled like construction workers (haha). Always pique turns, always chainees, usually a waltz turn combination, always a Big Jump - saut de chat or grande jete. Move. Move. Move. Dance. Jump. Fly. Pointe your feet. Stretch your legs. Push off the floor. More.

Every weekday afternoon Boston School of Ballet held a four o'clock class followed with barely a breath in between by a five o'clock class (usually at least ten minutes late); most dancers took both.

I hope I have captured some of the flavor. The classes were absolutely addictive; I was never bored for one short second.

That's it for today's installment. Thank you for reading it.

This is Cecily, Thinking Back in Time with a Smile, a Wink, and a Nod

Now... Back to Boston circa 1965... ✡ ✡ ✡

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Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2009|All Rights Reserved

We Love The Waltz of The Snowflakes, and Surprises!
Twirling Snowflake A New Polaroid Photo of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker 1969 or 1970 Twirling Snowflake
"Waltz Of The Snowflakes," A Performance of The Boston Ballet Company's Nutcracker in 1969 or 1970
Second Row, L. to R.: 1. Debby Bryan; 2. Nina Bator; 3. Stephanie Moy; 4. Reva Wildorf 5. Stephanie Marini
Front Row, Left to Right: 1. Edra Toth standing; 2. Cecily Travsky (Miss Cecily); 3. Ellen O'Reilly; 4. Kathy Murphy 5. Bonnie Wycoff; 6. Veronica Fell

If you can fill in other names, please click here to send me an instant email.

To view a larger size image, click here.

Does anyone know of any older color photos of BB performances?
Or of any other company for that matter?
There must be some. This cannot be the first. Or is it?
Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


Now... Back to Boston circa 1965. The Boston Ballet Studios, at that time, were located on Massachusetts Avenue - "Mass Ave" -near Boylston Street. Very near the Berklee School of Music, near the Christian Science Mother Church, near Symphony Hall. A short walk to the Prudential. I believe that Ballet Theatre of Boston - Jose Mateo's ballet enterprise - is almost exactly where the Boston School of Ballet was back then. Same side of Mass Ave. Maybe even the same building. The same row of buildings at the very least.

When I visited Jose's Studios years ago, it felt eerily similar to my first encounter with The Boston School of Ballet when I was invited to attend Miss Williams" Special By-Invitation-Only Saturday Class. To me, I felt that I turned left at the top of the long, straight staircase up when I should have gone right. Time plays tricks on the mind, and the feelings are powerful. Truly, the whole area has changed dramatically in big ways - for example, the Back Bay Theatre, where Boston Ballet used to perform, and where Margot Fonteyn guested with us, was torn down decades ago. Just one example of "progress." But the energy of that little neighborhood still sizzles. It was a great place for a serious Ballet Studio then and now. Easy to get to by public transportation, and the parking was difficult yet not impossible. I could not have been more turned on; those ballet classes were fun, fabulous, and challenging. Pretty fast, too.

The dancers in the Saturday Class ranged in age from about eleven to fourteen, as I recall; there were a few outliers, to be sure. What an experience to dance with that group the first time! There was an unbelievable concentration of dance talent in my new peer group which, apparently, Miss Williams had gathered together in her still mysterious way. I am beginning to wonder if there wasn'T a clone out there actually. Haha. Two E. Virginia Williams! Now that would have been more than any one city could have handled. I digress. Why not? I'm reminiscing. The whole thing is a giant tangent.

Joyce Cuoco, Edie Toth, Bonnie Wyckoff, Sandy Feinberg, Ina Marie Brezhinski. Those are a few of the dancers I know were there the first day I took that class. There were probably twenty more that first day. It was a big class. Every week. Nobody missed unless they were so sick they couldn't crawl; it was so intense. I loved it. Nothing had ever been as exciting as that class. I had found what I was looking for. These were dancers I wanted to be around. Teachers, too. Miss Williams, Sydney, Shana B., and the great Dorothy Etheridge Smith.

Perhaps the gentlest soul of all in the mix was Miss Williams' husband, Mr. Hobbs, who usually played the piano for the class. A guiet gentleman. Another mystery to a "tweenage" girl. The whole thing was absolutely great. Hard. Sweaty. Fun.

That's it for this installment. If you have read to this pointe, wow, I adore you.

Miss Cecily Gleaning Inspiration From Dance Past

Miss Cecily Thinking About You

More Reminiscences About E. Virginia Williams; She Sacrificed to Build A World Class Boston Ballet

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It's Ballet Time, Folks! It's A Good Thing!!!


Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2009|All Rights Reserved

We Love The Waltz of The Snowflakes, and Surprises!
Twirling Snowflake A New Polaroid Photo of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker 1969 or 1970 Twirling Snowflake
"Waltz Of The Snowflakes," A Performance of The Boston Ballet Company's Nutcracker in 1969 or 1970
Second Row, L. to R.: 1. Debby Bryan; 2. Nina Bator; 3. Stephanie Moy; 4. Reva Wildorf 5. Stephanie Marini
Front Row, Left to Right: 1. Edra Toth standing; 2. Cecily Travsky; 3. Ellen O'Reilly; 4. Kathy Murphy 5. Bonnie Wycoff; 6. Veronica Fell

If you can fill in other names, please click here to send me an instant email.

To view a larger size image, click here.

Does anyone know of any older color photos of BB performances?
Or of any other company for that matter?
There must be some. This cannot be the first. Or is it?

Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


I wanted to continue a bit about E. Virginia Williams, of Blessed Memory, my primary dance ballet teacher from age eleven to 19 AND the Founder of The Boston Ballet. Before that I danced with the also great, Harriet James in Salem, Massachusetts. That is another story for another time...

Did you know that Miss Williams had a Studio on the first floor of her home in Malden, Massachusetts? Actually, there were two Studios. One was the size of a postage stamp, the other even smaller. We danced almost exclusively in the larger of the two. Miss Williams taught my ballet class there on Monday afternoons; Margie Duff, who ran a whole program in the Malden Studio for Virginia often subbed for her, too. Miss Williams actually lived upstairs, where I ventured only once, years later. There, she showed me a tutu that she had designed for me and, onto which, she was hand sewing the beaded embellishments. She was sewing it herself. Amazing, I realize now. At the time it seemed pretty normal in a ballet sort of way.

I have actually heard rumors that Miss Williams mortgaged her Malden house, which I believe was her only house - more than once - to come up with the money she needed to subsidize her beloved, newly formed and growing, professional company, The Boston Ballet. If course, as a young girl, I had no clue what a mortgage was nor any understanding whatsoever of the financing needed to produce a professional level ballet evening for Boston's building Ballet audience. Nor did I understand anything at all about fundraising. While the Boston Symphony orchestra was long established and well supported by the Boston Brahmins (and others), the ballet was new in town. Miss Williams not only had to create the Company, she had to create an audience for it - to educate the public about ballet, which she obviously did successfully.

She was tireless. She was very steady. And, she was great at team building. These things I realize now. At the time, Miss Williams simply was... Like a force of nature. Believe me, she had a whole lot of personal power. Everyone was on her/his best behavior when she was in the room.

I wonder how many current Ballet Company Directors would mortgage their houses to keep their Companies alive? I certainly am not hoping that any one would even have to consider that option; I am not wishing it on anyone. However, many Arts Organizations have gone under in this recession. The world is a different place, financially speaking, now; "mortgaging" anything has recently gotten a very bad rap indeed. I am just posing the question, rhetorically, for the pleasure of any interested reader.

I am also pointing out a "Sacrifice for ART" someone in my life made that benefited me. Thanks Miss Williams for a great gift. Thank you for a job well done, long ago and not forgotten.

Thanks,
Cecily

Some Reminiscences About E. Virginia Williams; She Put the International Stamp on The Boston Ballet

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It's Ballet Time, Folks! It's A Good Thing!!!


Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2009|All Rights Reserved

We Love The Waltz of The Snowflakes, and Surprises!
Twirling Snowflake A New Polaroid Photo of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker 1969 or 1970 Twirling Snowflake
"Waltz Of The Snowflakes," A Performance of The Boston Ballet Company's Nutcracker in 1969 or 1970
Second Row, L. to R.: 1. Debby Bryan; 2. Nina Bator; 3. Stephanie Moy; 4. Reva Wildorf 5. Stephanie Marini
Front Row, Left to Right: 1. Edra Toth standing; 2. Cecily Travsky; 3. Ellen O'Reilly; 4. Kathy Murphy 5. Bonnie Wycoff; 6. Veronica Fell

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The full size picture is here.



Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about my primary ballet teacher, the founder of The Boston Ballet School AND The Boston Ballet Company - the inimitable, E. Virginia Williams who dominated my childhood and teen years from the age of eleven until I was nineteen; by that tender age I had danced my way out the stage door of the Music Hall on Tremont Street in Beantown (it later became the Wang Center, and is now named the Fleet Center) and into the hallways of the Deutsches Oper in Berlin, West Germany. (At the time, The Berlin Wall had nary a crack in it; Checkpoint Charlie scared the daylights out of me when I dared to pass through with my American Passport; Berlin seemed a dark, cold, and scary place although the Ballet Dancing as a member of the Company was a dream come true.) As the song goes, "Everything is beautiful - at The Ballet."

Back to Boston and "Virginia" as we in the Company referred to her amongst ourselves. We addressed her as "Miss Williams" when we dared to actually speak to her at all. As children, we barely spoke at the School, and spoke not at all during dance classes. Whispering was a forbidden pleasure, rarely indulged in, and used, sparingly, mainly to clarify a question about a Combination.

I am attempting to describe the atmosphere in Ballet Classes in the 1960s which was far more formal in every way than the norm in studios today, especially at Arizona Ballet Theatre. I am fond of more communication between teacher and students, although, in my thirty years of teaching, I have been amazed at the verbal empowerment of your average American dance student; and often quite frustrated by the difficulty many children have in being appropriately silent in a Studio Situation. I digress. Interesting, but I want to get back to Miss Williams.

As a child and a very serious student of ballet, I so wanted to please her. As a teacher of ballet with decades of experience and twenty-twenty hindsight, I have to admit that I totally misunderstood her, why she behaved the way she did, what influences might have been guiding her decision making, and the tremendous pressure she must have been under to accomplish the amazing things she did accomplish. I also have used her life (as I understand it now) to guide decisions I make that affect my students. Specifically, I want to do what little I can to give her the credit she deserves as the Founder of what is now considered a First Tier American Ballet Company - The Boston Ballet.

Some sources readily available to anyone browsing or searching the Internet seem to suggest that Virginia does not deserve credit for the International recognition the Company now gets, and that the kudos should go to those who came later, and NOT to Virginia. I say, there is enough praise to go around for everyone in the Lineage; I say, denying anything to Virginia is pure poppycock, and, small minded, wishful thinking by those who may be unattractively insecure.

Make no mistake, E. Virginia Williams did put the International Stamp on the Boston Ballet, with great flair and with great success, from the very beginning. How did she do that, with modest financial resources and antiquated technical support? Remember, there were no cell phones, no Internet resources, no voice mail, and in fact, no personal computers at all!!!. She hired Internationally acclaimed Guest Artists to dance with her Company - with me and all my peers at the time - and Top Talent wherever she so skillfully spotted it. Among the international stars she brought, and with whom I danced, under Virginia's tutelage, are Margot Fonteyn, Natalia Makarova, Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragen, Ivan Nagy, Violette Verdy, Carla Fracci. And American international stars included Edward Villella, Jacques D'Amboise, Patricia McBride, Maria Tallchief, and Suzanne Farrell

I think it is fun to imagine what she, the New England Grande Dame of Dance - E. Virginia Williams - might have done with today's almost unbelievable social networking capabilities. Some people are simply great, and for reasons that may not be obvious on the surface. E. Virginia Was Great; yes she was. I know it now. I am determined to continue to salute her with my life, which I have dedicated to sharing the Joy of Ballet with anyone who dares to dream that he or she can be "A Dancer."


Let's hear it for the Great Ones from the Past. Let's give them all the credit they deserve. There is plenty of work left to be done. Let's try to live up to the high standards set long ago by E. Virginia Williams, and by all those who have made us who we are today. Now that is a mouthful, and I am

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 - Reminiscences of The Boston Ballet and Violette Verdy

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Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2009|All Rights Reserved

Single Snowflake Dancing "What Will We Do Today?" "We'll Reminisce About Our Boston Ballet" (;-)


Recently, a few of us were abuzz about the Robbins program that aired on PBS. One of the dancers interviewed was the effervescent Violette Verdy, a human being I can say is universally adored by all lucky enough to have come into contact with her. Violette danced for many years with the New York City Ballet as a principle dancer, and she often Guest Starred with us in Boston. In fact, she and Edward Villella performed their first "Giselle" with us which was an experience for the books.

I want to share a little story about Violette and performing with you. Not only was she magical when things went as expected, she was inspirational when things went awry. It may be difficult to imagine for those of you so accustomed to the wonders of the digital age, but not so very long ago, the ultimate in musical technology included the use of reel-to-reel tapes on players that were loaded by hand using tapes that were very fragile and subject to strange events in the moment. E. Virginia Williams made use of this technology when we went on tour. She made the tapes herself and ran them backstage when necessary. Whatever it took to make the dance magic happen.

Jacob's Pillow is a very famous location in Western, Massachusetts which still exists today and where much American Dance History has been made. Not only did our own Norman Walker perform there for many years with his company, he also directed the whole program for quite a long time. The Boston Ballet often performed there; on this particular occasion, we were dancing Giselle with Violette and Eddy.

It was the second Act - the White Act. Giselle has suffered through the Mad Scene at the end of Act One, and is now experiencing her first night as a Willi, that is to say, a girl who has died before her wedding night. While the story is a hoot, it provides an opportunity for some absolutely fabulous dancing.

The moment I want to describe finds Giselle alone on stage in the position commonly referred to as B Plus - knees together, right foot pointed behind on the floor. Giselle is about to embark on one of several solos. But, alas and alack...no music. It turns out that the tape had broken. While Virginia was frantically attempting a quick fix backstage, and the rest of us were observing the unfolding situation from the Wings, there was Violette all alone on stage completely unaware of what was happening and why. The audience, of course, was spellbound.

Violette did not break character, nor did she move as several minutes passed, apparently with nothing happening. I can still picture it. She absolutely radiated an other-worldly glow, alone, in the stage lightning, still, yet captivating in her shimmering whiteness and projecting a purity that was palpable. At one pointe, it must have been at least three or four minutes into the disaster, which can feel like an eternity on stage by the way, the music seemed to begin. A welcome note. Yet...again... the machinery faltered. Silence.

Violette, whose left foot was probably completely numb at that pointe from standing on it for so very long, made one smooth, breathtaking gesture. She pulled her right foot into fifth while lifting her gaze and face up into what appeared to be a heavenly light. It was absolute stage magic, the kind of moment and performance one never forgets. Everyone, audience, dancers, and techies alike, fell in love with her again. She was perfection. Pure. Simple. A peasant girl transformed into a life saving angel. She could save Albrecht (the cad!). She could save us all. She was the embodiment of everything good in the world. Wonderful.

It was THE MOST unforgettable moment and performance I had ever witnessed. Absolutely inspirational. I may have learned more about the possibility of the human spirit in that moment than at any other challenging moment of my life. Who can compare such events which happen so suddenly, unexpectedly, and change the way one looks at life? Her stillness was a revelation. Her expression, an inspiration. Her purity, a deep comfort in a time when we all seemed to need it.

Very shortly thereafter, Virginia fixed the problem and the show, as they say, went on. It wasn't the only such problem we ever had in those early, pioneering ballet days, but I certainly rank it as one of the important outcomes for me, personally. To see that composure in the face of the Unknown. The strength. The willingness to see the challenge through without falling apart.

  • Why do I tell this story?
  • It's so good to find

    Labor Day 2009 - "Julia and Julie" - Earle Sieveling trained with E. V. Williams, and with Julia Child

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    It's Ballet Time, Folks! Oh It's A Good Thing!!!



    Boston Ballet Alumni Network Reunion - 2nd Annual Party Boston Ballet Company Alumni Reunion - First Annual Reunion Party
    ©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2009|All Rights Reserved


    "What will we do today?" "We'll try to take over the world, using Roses, Earle's Odile Chocolate Cake, Champagne, and Ballet" (;-)


    I saw the delightful movie - "Julie and Julia" yesterday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There wasn't very much dancing - just a bit in the wedding scene - but Paris looked stunning, and even Queens (a borough of New York City, just across the East River from Manhattan) in the "Julie" part seemed exciting and fun.

    An interesting note about the subject of learning to cook by cooking every recipe in Julia Child's book classic "Mastering The Art of French Cooking" ...

    There once was a marvelous dancer named - Earle Sieveling; He had trained with E. V. Williams, danced for her when she had The New England Civic Ballet which was the precurser of BB, The Boston Ballet, and was a member of the New York City Ballet back in the 60s and 70s. He often Guest Starred with us in Boston during that time. He was part of the dance family.

    Earle Sieveling trained with E. V. Williams, and with Julia Child
    ©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2007-2008| All Rights Reserved

    After his dance career ended in the late 70s rather suddenly - that is another story - he needed a new career. He decided to learn to cook by using Julia Child's book; he made every recipe from the book in his apartment, and it took him a year. He became a fantastic chef who worked in a restaurant in Saratoga Springs owned by dance fan and hotelier, Sheila P., who shared this wonderful story with me a few years ago.

    Earle did it first!

    Earle also wrote a cookbook. Here are two blurbs about Earle Sieveling's book "New York Cuisine"...
    "After his star career with the NY City Ballet, Earle Sieveling became a professional chef. Here are his really interesting recipes, including his legendary Odile flourless and sugarless chocolate cake."

    and,

    "Once a dancer with the New York Ballet, the author retired to found such New York restaurants as Sperry's, The Dacha and Odile."

    I gather that Odile was in SoHo, which, translated for Tusconians, means "south of Houston Street" in Manhattan. By the way, Houston Street in NYC is pronounced like "house" "ton" not "Hughes" "ton."

    Miss Cecily Feeling Happy


    And now, Here's a review of "Julia and Julie" in The Boston Globe.

    Here's Julia Child on PBS

    and on You Tube... "Julia and Company"

    Here is a description of the book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 By Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck."

    “Anyone can cook in the French manner anywhere,” wrote Mesdames Beck, Bertholle, and Child, “with the right instruction.” And here is the book that, for forty years, has been teaching Americans how.

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. This beautiful book, with more than one hundred instructive illustrations, is revolutionary in its approach because:

    • It leads the cook infallibly from the buying and handling of raw ingredients, through each essential step of a recipe, to the final creation of a delicate confection.
    • It breaks down the classic cuisine into a logical sequence of themes and variations rather than presenting an endless and diffuse catalogue of recipes; the focus is on key recipes that form the backbone of French cookery and lend themselves to an infinite number of elaborations—bound to increase anyone’s culinary repertoire.
    • It adapts classical techniques, wherever possible, to modern American conveniences.
    • It shows Americans how to buy products, from any supermarket in the U.S.A., that reproduce the exact taste and texture of the French ingredients: equivalent meat cuts, for example; the right beans for a cassoulet; the appropriate fish and shellfish for a bouillabaisse.
    • It offers suggestions for just the right accompaniment to each dish, including proper wines.
    Since there has never been a book as instructive and as workable as Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the techniques learned here can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely more usable. In compiling the secrets of famous cordons bleus, the authors have produced a magnificent volume that is sure to find the place of honor in every kitchen in America.

    Everyone watched Julia on TV... Some people discovered Julia through her first book. Here's another close to home story about "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 By Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck." My husband, Chic, our webmaster, tells it in his own words...

    Thursday, August 27th - Message from Allison Streepey Best

    Good Evening,

    I was very excited to receive this delightful message from Allison Streepey on August 23rd.


    Subject: BBC Alumni Website


    Cecily:

    Just gorgeous! You all are just gorgeous!

    I've really enjoyed the photos of Joyce Cuoco.
    She was my teacher at the Southwest Ballet Center (SWBC) near Dallas, TX for 2 summers when I was in high school.
    Nearly all of us that went through that program became professional dancers.
    I was part of Boston Ballet from 1977-1979. One of my classmates from the SWBC, Carla Stallings, from California was part of the Boston Ballet in the early 1980's after she left ABT.
    It is amazing how our dancer lives overlap.

    Cecily, I wish I would have met you when I was there. Elaine, Laurie, Durina and others spoke so highly of you.
    From the website, it is easy to see why.

    Thank you for putting it all together for us to enjoy.

    Sincerely, Allison Streepey

    (My real name. Virginia renamed me Allison Best.)


    Joyce Cuoco and a Whole Group in the Waltz of the Flowers
    Joyce Cuoco and a Whole Group in the Waltz of the Flowers
    ©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2007-2008 All Rights Reserved
    Send your questions or comments to cecily@bostonballet.net.

    Dancers Shown from Left to right: Cecily's Best Recollection

    Flowers in Releve Fourth: Carolyn LeFleur, Unknown, Susan Nivert, Jean Churchill

    Valerie (Jones) Windsor is kneeling in front of Jeanne.

    Jerilyn (Doucette) Dana is in Plie Tendu Back and is dressed as a "Grape."

    Joyce Cuoco is being lifted by a male "Grape" who looks to me like that wonderful graphic artist, Raymond King.

    Robin (Dolly) Adair is visible in the wings wearing her Marzipan Shepherdess Costume.

    My guesses for the Unknown Flower are: Karla Wolfangle, Julia Frederick, Daiva Gestaitis? Help!


    Dear Alison,

    Thank you for the nice words. How lucky you were to actually study with Joyce. She was so nice and sweet when we were children. Her Mom whisked her in and out of the Studio very quickly, so there was never much time to socialize. We often stood on the pole together for barre when class was crowded at the "Mass Ave" Studio. She was very sweet to me. She was so much fun to take class with - everyone turned better, for sure.

    I have mentioned to people over the years that she performed a promenade in front attitude on pointe by herself during the "Hoops" the Candy Canes in Nutcracker the year Harriet Hoctor choreographed the excerpt. People's eyes would bulge at the thought, they weren't quite sure whether or not to believe me, but since I was there, I knew it was true. The videos below show that Joyce really could do anything on pointe unassisted!

    So you are a part of the group that Virginia fiddled with our names - a special few!

    I remember when Carla Stallings danced at Boston Ballet - She was part of the Glasnost Swan Lake that Bruce Marks put together so brilliantly. I was still living in NYC when you were in the Company. Sorry I missed that period at BBC. So much happened.

    Let's keep in touch. Dancers are my favorite people.

    Cecily


    Some time ago, I wrote a blog on my Arizona Ballet Theatre website reminiscing about my days as a fellow student with Joyce Cuoco.

    Webmaster Chic found some wonderful video cameos of Joyce Cuoco on You Tube. He wrote "Miss Cecily loved them... She said " This is my background, this is my life" or words to that effect. She clearly felt deeply about Joyce!!!"

    I am sharing them here for your enjoyment.

    [Note added by Chic in February, 2014: It appears that the videos are no longer on YouTube. I will try to find them again. In my experience, such things often do disappear. People who maintain web pages are not necessarily balletomanes. That's why I try to download whatever I can. In this case, I was not successful.]


    Here is Joyce Cuoco on the Perry Como Show:

    Perry mispronounced her name. (;-) Keep in mind Joyce was dancing on a slippery floor, not suitable for ballet at all.


    Here is Joycie On Danny Kaye's Show:


    The next video appears to have been filmed in a studio in New York City. Cecily didn't recognize the teacher.

    The class has "normal dancers and Joyce"

    Monday August 24th, 2009 - Hi from Devon Carney

    Good Morning All,

    I received this delightful message from Devon Carney on August 17th.

    I am very happy to hear from you Devon!

    Webmaster Chic has scanned in some photos and biographical notes of you and Pamela from my growing collection. They are posted in the Alumni Gallery. Here are smaller versions of the photos for your viewing convenience.

    Cecily

    Pamela Royal Carney
    Pamela Royal Carney
    ©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2007-2008| All Rights Reserved
    Photo by Jack Mitchell
    cecily@bostonballet.net

    Devon Carney
    Devon Carney
    ©Boston Ballet Alumni Network 2007-2008| All Rights Reserved
    Photo by Jack Mitchell
    cecily@bostonballet.net

    Dear Cecily,

    I just happen to run across the BBAN site quite accidentally but am very encouraged to see that one exists and has apparently for quite some time now. Could you please put both myself and my wonderful wife, Pamela Royal (Carney) '74 - '88, on the mailing list of e-news if there is one. We would very much like to be in touch with whatever the BBAN plans are in the future.

    Pam and I met and were married and had both of our wonderful children while at Boston Ballet and we both so loved all the years we spent there dancing with so many incredible dancers. I was able to work under every director that Boston Ballet has had. This in itself was quite an experience. I so miss all of my BBC friends whom I sweat, cried and mostly laughed with as we created such memorable moments that will last a lifetime.

    Please stay in touch and keep us up-to-date on any upcoming events.

    Sincerely,

    Devon Carney Associate Artistic Director

    Cincinnati Ballet
    1555 Central Parkway
    Cincinnati, Ohio 45214-2863
    (513) 562-1120 p.
    (513) 621-4844 f.
    dcarney@cincinnatiballet.com

    513.621.5282 box office
    513.621.5219 general
    www.cincinnatiballet.com

    C I N C I N N A T I B A L L E T
    2009 – 2010 S E A S O N
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