Remembering Bobby Lindgren, 1923-2013

16 May

Terry de Mari, who also danced with Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo, conveyed the news of Robert [Bobby] Lindgren’s death to me this morning, referring to Anna Kisselgoff’s obituary in The New York Times.  Such memories his life and career evokes for me.

I remember him dancing at the old Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles when Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo spent a week there each spring during the ‘Forties.  Early on, he led the czardas in Coppelia with Sonya Tyven, who became his wife, and  he was the first golden slave I saw in Michel Fokine’s Scheherazade.  Decidedly, but not excessively forceful male, he was a pleasure to watch, and there was a certain freshness about him which kindled my spirits.

That responsiveness doubled when I learned he was Canadian for my father was born in Victoria. In his obituary today I learned they shared the same birthplace, Victoria, if with a thirty-five year  difference.  In the irrational way one makes emotional connections, Bobby remained one of my early favorites.

When Lindgren became Dean of Dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1963, he came to the annual Pacific Regional Ballet Festival looking for talent.  By that time I was the San Francisco correspondent for Dance News, making it easier for me to speak to him with less fear of being gaga. I remember what a tidy figure he made walking into one of the improvised studios, typical of regional dance festivals at the time, with the simple elegance of his compact body his feet with a sure flex in his walk, a person at home in his body, with an unaffected response to greeting or comments.  He made the Festivals that much more special.

I, for one, was enriched, a feeling I am certain shared by many.  Robert Lindgren, a  good man and a life well lived.

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