Archive | August, 2018

Solos in Programs Three and Four, Drive East in San Francisco

31 Aug

Despite the absence of live musicians to accompany their brief programs, Bhavana Reddy and Prabat Gopal provided their audiences August 24 and 25 with remarkable characterizations in the Kuchipudi and Kathakali classical dance styles of South India. It is the more remarkable when one considers the training occurred in Northern India where urban life creates a strain on traditional arts, if potentially larger audiences. The upside of having to dance to recorded music allows artists to travel more easily within and outside India, minus the expense or responsibilities of musicians. Have tape; will travel. It’s a toss up; one hopes for a decent mixture of both forms of presentations.

In 2018 San Francisco tapes won out, although live musicianship occurred with groups situated within the continental U.S. August 24 Bhavana Reddy and Prabat Gopal August 25 were taped Indian exceptions, though the absence of live musicians did not diminish their evident artistry. And by artistry, I am dependent upon the classic Greek definition of the term referring to skill. Of that capacity both exponents displayed abundant resources.

Regarding Bhavana Reddy, she provided the audience with salient information regarding the evolution of Kuchipudi as a form, sending me to Wikipedia for additional information. Sharing roots with Bharata Natyam with its many padams sung in Telegu, Kuchipudi’s dramatic roots lie in Yakshagana, the theatre form associated with Karnataka. With a long history, similar in its struggles with the Mughals and the British missionary mentality, Kuchipudi managed to survive in the Andra Pradesh village giving the dance-drama form its name.

One of the chief exponents of Kuchipudi was Vempati Chinna Satya, 1918-2012. He had a troupe which came to the United States. I remember having first seen the results of his training during the 1973 intense holiday season in Madras with Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan. Vempati’s training met her stringent standards and insured support from appropriate channels in New Delhi. He was responsible for training of Shantala Shivalingappa, who, under San Francisco Performances, twice enchanted local audiences.

Reddy, in accordance with the dance form, covers space with Kuchipudi’s hallmarks of sureness and energy; one can easily picture young male exponents charging around the designated performance area in the village of Kuchipudi which provides the dance form its name. Until the twentieth century, it’s fairly safe to assume the dance practice was limited to men. As a matter of fact, two of its great exponents are Reddy’s father and mother, Raja and Radha, enticed to New Delhi by Indira Gandhi herself, and joined by Radha’s sister Kausalya.

In her tribute to Ganapathi, or Ganesha, Reddy provided expansive gestures for elephant ears. snout, and heaviness of gate. Typically, the elephant-headed god is evoked at the beginning of all classical dance performances.

Reddy departed from traditional performance format with a composition by Pandit Ravi Shankar and George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. These two numbers preceded Reddy’s depiction of a maiden trying to entice the Lord Krishna, a subject omnipresent in a feminine exponent’s repertoire; Krishna allows full flowering of the sringara rasa, or the erotic sentiment. Here Bhavana Reddy was curvacious, vivacious and wonderfully flirty with large, expressive eyes,fully adept in her medium, from sandalwood paste and the making of pan to the creation of a flower garland, ultimately to complete surrender to one of Hinduism’s favorite deities.

Shavana’s finished her program with a Kuchipudi hallmark, mounting a round brass plate and moving it with skill and rhythm.

Saturday Prabat Gopal exposed the audience, and particularly to me, with a rare exposition of the feminine role in Kathakali. I had seen sequences before, but they were clearly subordinate figures. In the padam Narakasura Vadham, the role of Nakhratundi, servant to Narakasura, Gopal treated us to a full exposition of gesture language and female wiles in a dance technique built on the principle of squared movement.

Nakhratundi sees Jayanathan, Indra’s son, and is smitten. Apparently a grade A
hag, she transforms herself into a beautiful damsel, drinks in visually Jayanathan’s physique, and undertakes to satisfy her lust.

In the billowing white skirt, velveteen jacket surmounted with cascades of beads, a veil falling from the angled topknot of hair, Gopal employed abhinaya,glance, eloquent facial muscles and eye movements with fruitless results.

At one point, Nakhratundi renders the Kathakali gesture for marriage, a movement remembered from lessons with Shivaram, graduate of Kerala Kalamandalum’s first class, [and noted for the purity of his abhinaya]. The moment signalled the ill-fated attempts, preparing us to see Gopal drop one cascade of black corded hair and a shriek and then the second cascade, some stuffed in his mouth, as he uttered piercing shrieks, unable to capture his prey even with force.

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Drive East’s Day Two as Drive West

25 Aug

I could hear Carnatic music as I arrived at the Joe Goode Annex August 23 to watch the fairly unusual in Bharata Natyam, a man-woman duet, Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon, both exponents of the Kalakshetra School in Chennai and therefore of the Pindenallur style of Tamal Nadu’s historied dance tradition. They also are recipients of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraska from Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Endowment of the Arts, a permanent, regularly funded Indian Government agency. We should be so lucky!

Let me also say at the outset that my dominant exposure to this dance form was through a different emphasis as expounded by Balasaraswati, her daughter Lakshmi Knight and Lakshmi’s son Sri Aniruddin Knight.

Let me also say that the Goode Annex is a wonderful venue for Indian dance and music which historically has been presented in intimate settings, permitting and sustaining abhinaya, the art of gestures and what Westerners call mime.

Shijith, wearing a sacred thread and bare to the waist, and Parvathy, arrayed in the traditional Bharata Natyam split skirt and ornamented hair, danced some four numbers. The first was devoted to the dual aspect of the Lord Shiva where the image of the lingam was demonstrated frequently by Parvathy’s flat hand and Shijith’s thumbs up fist above it; it was something I found particularly appropriate to a theme including Shakti, the feminine energy principle.

The longest part of the traditional recital is the Varnam, here concerned with the devotees seeking a glimpse of the lord Krishna and/or union with him. In the description of his gait like an elephant, the task fell to Shijith while the image of the flowering lotus was Parvathy’s task. Part nrrta, or pure dance, and part natya, or description, passages completed are marked by a four or five-part slap of the feet with an elongated retreat towards the back of a stage, enabling the music to continue and the interpreter to pause and breathe. It tacitly permits the viewer, hopefully the sahrdaya, or enlightened viewer, to absorb the content and the quality of what was just experienced. [South Indian dance tradition is deucedly clever!]

Not listed on the program, but of particular interest to me was the Ashti-Paddy from Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda, where, in this version Radha waits a day and a night for Lord Krishna. This enabled Parvathy to display an incredible litany of rage, recrimination, rejecting gestures and facial expressions not limited to quivering lips and eyes filled with betrayed tears. Equally impressive was the gestural exchange with Shijith as the Lord Krishna, pleading for forgiveness, and the gradual subsiding of Radha’s emotional thunderstorm of torment. It wasn’t exactly like Beethoven’s pastoral themes in the Seventh Symphony, but the final sense of harmony clearly reflected Parvathy Menon’s emotional storehouse.

Just before the concluding tillana, Murugaa re-established mythological mastery and heroics.

The concluding Tillana is far from light-hearted, but it is a bright, space-stretching dance form with rhythmic bursts of joy, reflected in arm movements sweeping, steps lunging, moving backward, shoulders following the same direction and a torso inclining with intention.

Drive East has Premiere Season as Drive West

24 Aug

 

If you read the New York Times and Alistair MacAulay, you know he recently has written rapturously about two soloists appearing in the sixth season of Dance East. Thanks to Graeme Vanderstoel, I learned about Dance East sponsoring its first ever Drive West season August 22 through August 26.

August 22 opened with an abbreviated sarode/tabla concert by Alam Khan and Nilan Chaudhuri, both deeply involved with the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael and the offspring, respectively of Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri.  Khan now heads the instrumental and percussion [read tabla] of the HIndustani music college inaugurated in 1966 by his father Ali Akbar. Theirs is the anomalous heritage of India and California, parentage of both places, skilled musicianship and West Coast lifestyle; Khan referred to playing with his one-year old son the afternoon of the concert – probably not a traditional occupation for an exponent of the sarode, the Indian stringed instrument which owes its present form to Alam Khan’s grandfather.

Hindustani music is something I thoroughly enjoy, but am mostly ignorant about. However, it was great to hear the format again; first the exposition, then the introduction of the tabla, a solo tabla section before the dialogue between sarode and tabla increases in intensity and speed before ceasing.

Following their music, there was a brief interlude prior to the Odissi dance wonder: Arushi Mudgal. She is small, pale-skinned with an oval-shaped face and could easily pass for a nineteenth century ballerina. But instead, Mudgal was arrayed like most feminine Odissi exponents. She is easily the loveliest and most expressive to appear here since the late Asako Takami, a disciple of the late Kelu Charan Mohapatra. Mohapatra’s compositions figured effectively in two of the six numbers she interpreted so impressively. One dance is credited to her aunt and guru Madhavi; the remaining three were Mudgal’s own compositions.

For those unfamiliar with Odissi, its classical style relies on the tribangha, or three-angled position of the body, a singularly difficult style when one realizes that in turning, the dancer must come to a stop at that angle. Another stylistic device is the use of the arms, sometimes in a turn, with the upper arm outstretched, the lower arm at the same level, but not opening out like a ballet dancer might, to propel the body forward or around; the momentum has to emerge from the torso and a semi-plie, only to return to that same posture. Adding to that are mudras,  the hand gestures conveying the story, the fingers bearing the specifics of the message as the language, or abhinaya, dictates.

It didn’t take Mudgal long to establish her bona fides. She was rock solid in the demands of the tribanga position, in the dynamics of her turns, and her arms, what ballet calls port de bras, was equally firm, but incredibly delicate at the same time, never, but never a movement, ruining the arc of the story or the progression of the music or language which we Westerners did not understand.

Odissi, like Bharata Natyam, has intimate connection with temple worship; in  Odissi it is the Jagannath temple in Puri where the subject matter circles around Hindu deities, and, usually, around Krishna. The avatar of the Lord Vishnu, Krishna enables the devotee to experience a connection with the divine who was incarnated, lived a human life and died. And in this incarnation the Lord Krishna’s initiation into human love with its carnal component is credited to Radha.

Therefore, one of the surpassing interpretations Arushi Mudgal provided was herrendition of Keru Charan’s Ashtipadi Yahi Madhava, Jayadeva’s telling in the Gita Govinda of Krishna’s wayward neglect of Radha. Through Mudgal’s expressive eyes and abhinaya, we witnessed her waiting and seeing him come, sleepy-eyed with various tell-tale marks of having been with another woman. Oooooh – Mudgal was so contained, so deliberate. Clearly, her Radha was no one to mess with.

When the Festival is completed, I plan to summarize the arc of its remarkable accomplishment, already evident in this first evening. But right now, I simply want to register my immense satisfaction and gratitude for the privilege of having seen such a remarkable exposition of Odissi.

Kelly Johnson’s Dance of Death

17 Aug

The Clay Theatre, identified as having opened in 1905, provided the venue to premiere Kelly Johnson’s Dance of Death, the 30-minute file, August 15 to a virtually capacity crowd of various-aged communities.

I arrived at the box office about 6:30 and noted a line down the edge of the sidewalk which I joined after paying a $10.50 fee. The group was sprinkled with seniors that I wondered were part of Kelly’s senior center tours where he had played for nearly a dozen years after he left his position as executive director of the Berkeley Symphony. Several of them remarked that the Clay event had been arranged by Tom Reynolds and that there would be music before the film. They also referred to KQED having mentioned the event.

When the door opened, individuals streamed in; as I took an aisle seat in the back, noted the usual arrangements for saving seats and procuring popcorn. Jessica, a friend of Kelly’s, whose husband had been a one-time roommate of Kelly’s, saved seats for a couple of friends, mentioning her two boys called Kelly “uncle.” A trio of young men in jeans and dark jackets arrived late, stood in the aisle, one with a skateboard, looking for seats, ultimately finding single seats against the wall. The singer Tammy Hall and keyboard artist Kim Nally adjusted mikes and the keyboard stand on stage right. Tammy sang three songs, the last “I’ll Be Seeing You” saying she wished she had sung it to Kelly.

My acquaintance with Kelly resulted from being San Francisco correspondent for Dance News, a New York-based publication [ten times a year] folding in 1983. I also took classes at San Francisco Dance Theater when it was located on Van Ness Avenue above the United States Post Office sub-station, now located Pine Street between Larkin and Polk. The change in location may have changed about the same time San Francisco Dance Theater folded its wings, perhaps a matter of lease renewal terms. Now, however, the sub-station enjoys its own special building.

Kelly Johnson was married to Penelope Lagios, a San Francisco-bred dancer whose father operated an establishment at the corner of Van Ness and Grove. There I interviewed William Christensen when San Francisco Ballet resided above the bar-restaurant at 236 Van Ness. Penelope may have gotten her inspiration to dance through this proximity.

Penelope trained, however, with Merriem Lanova, a one-time Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo dancer, whose marriage to a musician brought her to San Francisco when her husband joined the San Francisco Symphony. Lanova’s company was called Ballet Celeste; her graduates numbered some memorable San Francisco Ballet dancers, including Gina and Tony Ness, Penelope and Carolyn Houser Carvajal.

Kelly and Penelope took over Marc Wilde’s ballet studio on Fillmore before moving it to Van Ness Avenue. Leda, Penelope’s daughter, studied there under the guidance of Jody White, performing in studio performances and when the company had brief seasons at the Palace of Fine Arts. I remember Jo Ellen Arntz studying and dancing there before going on to San Francisco Ballet and her current role with Smuin Ballet; also Susan Magno before she danced with Oakland and San Francisco Ballets. One Christmas was spent enjoying a particularly rich fruit cake made as part of the Lagios-Johnson holiday observation.

The studio was the locus for the organization which morphed into Dancers’ Group. Originally called the San Francisco Bay Area Dance Coalition, it published two handsome periodical issues before ceasing.

I particularly remember one August afternoon in Ross where Helena Henderson staged her special Sons of Art matinees between the two gazebos she and her husband, Jungian psychiatrist Joseph Henderson, had in their lawn area. She came out to announce the final number of San Francisco Dance Theater’s performance, trying not to giggle. When the dancers, including Kelly and Penelope, emerged to dance, they were head to toe gilded,totally nude.

After San Francisco Dance Theater closed its doors, I did not see Kelly until retiring, finding a dentist on Pine Street near Fillmore and stopping by Browser Books. Kelly sat in a chair outside a coffee shop on the northwest corner of Sacramento and Fillmore, around the corner from his third floor flat on Fillmore. When it closed, Kelly transferred his daily loyalty to Peet’s across the street at the southwest corner. If I remember correctly, an emergency stint was accomplished prior to the change in Kelly’s caffeine allegiance; he already had begun to have difficulty with his legs.

Kelly kept me in touch with Leda’s career which moved from American Ballet Theatre II’s roster, to her transition to teaching and choreographing at Adelphi University and on to her certification by the New York Botanical Society with her sessions on foraging and publications on this particular form of harvesting earth’s produce. The publications number five with two in the works, Kelly informed me with distinct pride.

With my own aches with an arthritic hip, I bussed up to Fillmore and saw Kelly less frequently, but noticed him either at a table or benched outside Peets. He looked increasingly frail, and I may even have noticed him sporting the tube across his nostrils. Just before my own procedure in February, taking my friend Remy to acquire shots necessary for travel to the Philippines, Kelly wanted the taxi we were vacating in the rain outside Kaiser’s office building on Geary Boulevard. It was the last time I saw him before Leda cancelled a lecture in Philadelphia to come West when she learned Kelly was in hospice care.

Kelly announced on Facebook that he was ending his life in early May, prompting Anton Ness to suggest Carlos Carvajal and I join him on a mid-afternoon April Saturday to visit Kelly. Leda was leaving for a yoga class and we spent some two hours taking about dance, Kelly very animated and grateful, saying, “I have been surrounded by music and musicians and now you have completed the cycle with dance.” Kelly also acknowledged his condition was exhibit A of what happens to a heavy smoker.

It must have been right after our visit that Arash Malekazdeh arrived on the scene through the liaison of Thomas Reynolds, recording Kelly’s last two weeks of living. What Malekazdeh recorded was initially the struggle to get Kelly out of bed and on to the sofa in the living room where Kelly spoke of his childhood and coming to San Francisco. His narrative was embellished by photographs. He spoke of his decision to end his life, his satisfaction in remaining in his familiar setting in contrast to a hospice or convalescent setting.

His narrative relating to Leda’s mother and the dissolution of their marriage contained an incorrect statement, but allowed Kelly to express rage at his son replacing him in Penelope’s life. Leda’s continued relationship was facilitated by her dancing career in New York City, allowing for periodic returnss to the Bay Area.

In addition to two wonderful comments by Leda, the footage recorded the effort required to get Kelly down the stairs in the electric lift [two separate constructions were required because of the third floor location] and over to Peets where an oblong brass plaque was already installed in his honor.

The most poignant footage, of course, involved the two bottles of red capsules being opened, their contents being emptied into a goblet, mixed with orange juice, which Kelly then drank with a straw; Leda, smiling but tearful, sat on the couch to his right and his friend on his left. Listening to Scriabin, Kelly drifted off to sleep and death.

The final footage Arash recorded was Leda being helped down the rocks near the Golden Gate Bridge where she scattered Kelly’s ashes on the rocks sloshed over by the waters of the Pacific Ocean where the Ocean enters the Golden Gate.

Watching French-Accented Ballet

14 Aug

Above the generous Chinese market at Fifth and Clement, the entrance to Pascale Le Roy’s second floor studio at 404 Clement is up broad, black-painted stairs, flanked by brass railings; they are steep, post 1906 Earthquake style.

I climbed said stairs to watch an afternoon with Pascale and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba in their two week intensive ballet sessions deliberately scheduled outside the large scale summer intensive sessions. “We don’t consider ourselves competitive and don’t want to be” remarked Pierre Francois. This two-week session is their fourth such offering in French-influenced ballet technique.

Regina Bustillos, former administrator for Helgi Tomasson and Pierre-Francois’ wife, mentioned the class would be small, “intermediate, with only two boys this year,” plus six girls of varying ages, one a Kansas City, Missouri visitor. That said, I walked into the south-facing studio with barres on two sides, mirror at the east end, and sat down at the corner near the small studio office.

Since retiring from a fifteen-year career San Francisco Ballet in 2013, Pierre Francois has been burning up the rubber; he has combined teaching, studying and completing the 3K requirement to sit for the Social Work license exam in the state of California. This includes teaching at Marin Dance Theatre and the New School in San Jose in addition to three days a week at a mental facility in the East Bay and two days in a more individualized setting also in the East Bay. All this follows a Summa Cum Laude graduation from St. Mary’s College and completion of a Master’s degree at The Wright Institute, all in English. French is Pierre-Francois’ native language, though his parentage is Catalan Spanish on his father’s side, Belgian on his mother’s. With fluency in Spanish as well, the linguistic skills presage well-appreciated professional skills.

Pascale Le Roy, her involvement Friday afternoon limited to pointe drills, worked on a Sleeping Beauty variation and partnering with Pierre Francois. She opened her studio after leaving San Francisco Ballet School where she taught for two decades, playing first act Nutcracker roles and Madame Mansard in Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella premiere. Pascale came initially to San Francisco from the Ballet de Marseilles, dancing several seasons with San Francisco Ballet before retiring from active dancing.

Watching these two professionals attend the students’ work with such care, attention and even affection, was gratifying. With dancers ranged along two portable barres, Pierre-Francois walked around the barre touching an arm, adjusting a leg in attitude, correcting a tendency to hunch by a mild touch on the sides of the torso, at the solar plexis, or the small of the back. In the center the concern was not the number of turns, but the correctness of placement, where shoulders should be, using the word “presentation,” frequently. In the center, it was how much the head might turn towards the direction of the movement. Clearly, his eye found subtle differences requiring attention that seemed perfectly fine from my perspective.

Mid-way through the barre, Pierre executed an exaggeration, demonstrating a comic flair. This talent surfaced during his San Francisco dancing career only through the eye of Mark Morris in Sylvia and a more recent all-made ballet imitating female roles. I suddenly saw French music hall humor and realized his comic capacity was not exploited by our local company, particularly in the mounting of Jerome Robbins works. The glimpse surfaced while Pierre moved around, his tee-shirt gradually drenched with sweat, ties in his trousers flapping alongside his soft shoes.

When the class enjoyed an intermission, allowing the girls to change into pointe shoes, drinking water and devouring health snack bars, and for Pierre to change tee-shirts, virtually the entire class focus disappeared into smart phones. The girls applied tape, fluffed up lamb’s wool and wound ribbons around their ankles while the boys, Edwin, a young adult and Sam, verging on adolescence, practiced turns, or drank from their water bottles.

For the final part of the afternoon, Pierre-Francois coached the two boys in one of the second act variations in Bournonville’s La Sylphide. Pascale took the girls through the paces of the Lilac Fairy in the Sleeping Beauty Prologue. The two teachers took four girls and the two boys through the opening promenade of Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding Pas de Deux. Pierre required the boys to stand back far enough so the girls needed to step up to grasp the hand to commence the supported promenade, and he demonstrated where their hands had to be placed when the girl leans back toward the audience, moving side to side. “There’s always an adjustment, and it is never perfect,” he commented.

Two of the girls, the Kansas City visitor, and a pre-teen named Emma, managed the opening phrases. Even though Emma was not a regular pupil, it was clear that she had incorporated Pascale’s port de bras in her burgeoning knowledge. At one point as they were watching Edwin execute his role as cavalier, Pierre Francois stood behind Sam, his hands gently resting on Sam’s shoulders, an acceptance which must have thrilled the young dancer who enters San Francisco Ballet School in September.

After the students left I asked Pascale, “Didn’t you dance the Lilac Fairy in San Francisco Ballet’s first production of Sleeping Beauty?” “Yes,” she responded crisply, “I still have the poster.”

I asked how Pierre-Francois the French intensive had come about. “I had a few private students and we always looked for free studio space on Sundays. I knew Pascale, and in the course of using this studio, we thought it might be fun to join forces and teach. Regina arranged everything.”

Asking Pierre-Francois what he considered was different about the French school, and he replied, “The emphasis is on precision, not so much on bravura; very straight legs and presentation, elegance.”

Pascale after teaching pointe exercises, worked on the Lilac Fairy variation with the girls, specifically on the sweep of the graceful fouette en attitude which supplies the variation with such charm.. There was no real watching the clock; from 1:30, the afternoon stretched towards 6:30 before the students left and she escorted me down those black steps, “Our sessions work because the serious students don’t like the lag time between regular and intensive sessions and it’s intimate,” which indeed it was. Further, the afternoon had possessed that indefinable sense of conveying knowledge, working and affection for one’s chosen profession which is encapsulated in the French word metier

Jocelyn Vollmar, 1925-2018

6 Aug

San Francisco’s S.F. Gate. com published Jocelyn Vollmar’s obituary August 5, but her death date was July 13, at her home in San Francisco’s Richmond District. The account is filled with anecdotes unknown to me, but the outward facts of her life as a dancer were familiar.

It’s safe to say that Jocelyn Vollmar participated in the beginnings of some major balletic institutions in the United States, Australia and to one lavish last hooray in Europe, the Grand Ballet de Marquis de Cuevas. She was photographed being partnered by George Zoritch, an image which made it into his memoir Ballet Mystique and I think there is an image of her and the company dancing in an Italian film.

Jocelyn went from San Francisco Ballet to the fledgling New York City Ballet during its first season, then to Ballet Theatre before sailing to Europe and her association with the de Cuevas Company.

She went from de Cuevas to the Borovansky before returning and throwing her fate in with San Francisco Ballet under Lew Christensen’s direction. She, Sally Bailey and Nancy Johnson were the principal dancers in the three U.S. State Department-sponsored tours and in the company’s first spring seasons at the Alcazar.

I must have seen Jocelyn in the 1946 performance of San Francisco Ballet at the Porterville Union High School auditorium when Willam Christensen brought his ground-breaking Nutcracker to the California hinterland. This was the production which Russell Hartley costumed for $300,with the aid of Good Will, the Salvation Army and a group of dancers who helped him sew. I remember in particular that he costumed Celina Cummings in yellow. Gisella Caccialanza and Willam Christensen danced the grand pas de deux in Act II; Jocelyn must have been the Snow Queen. Just maybe I will find the program when my discarding quest will reach the basement.

My main memory of Jocelyn comes upon her return from Australia and her stint with the Borovanksy Ballet, the forerunner of today’s Australian Ballet. And, if I remember nothing else, there are three recollections of Jocelyn as a dancer lingering in my mind.

The first is her as the Sugar Plum Fairy, her body making the nuanced turns, ecarte, efface, so visible and with such precise timing, her port de bras utterly correct, ending in hands, the gestures becoming more pronounced.

The second and third remembrances were from Jocelyn’s own choreography which she said to me she didn’t remember. The first was danced in the make-shift second floor summer auditorium during the Ballet 60’s series. The series had been started by Michael Smuin in 1960 on the now-demolished Washington Street Playhouse between Polk and Van Ness, then operated by the San Frnacisco Contemporary Dancers, sometimes called the Contemptibles. San Francisco Ballet rapidly turned its second floor studios into a theater with movable risers and folding chairs.

Jocelyn created a ballet which she danced with Robert Gladstein I think called Sonatina to Rossini music, creating some lovely chain movements for the four or six supporting women dancers. She and Robert finished the ballet with leaps into the wings.

The second was a work premiered in Nourse Auditorium in an interesting season which occurred in the spring,year forgotten. The Ballet concerned a woman aging and being left out. While lightly sketched, several fellow balletomanes and I both thought Jocelyn was facing her own eventual departure from the company. It still strikes me as supremely realistic.

Whatever degree of friendship between Jocelyn and me must have resulted from my taping an oral history for the Australian Dance Archives under the direction of Michelle Potter. Jocelyn subsequently undertook a detailed oral history with Mary Ruud for the Museum of Performance and Design; the oral history for Australia occurred almost a decade earlier.

Jocelyn gifted me with five of her seven self-published books of poetry. Hers was invariably a positive spirit expressed in lines with exclamations and capitols emphasizing thoughts and emotions.

In person, Jocelyn was immaculately dressed, coiffed without error, a disciplined appearance with just a tasteful touch of the theatrical or dramatic. Even with a botched operation affecting her walk, I observed on day on Clement Street, Jocelyn was a very together person off stage as well as memorably on.

I will miss our occasional encounters and salute San Francisco Ballet for not only giving her its medal, but naming its Legacy funding to honor Jocelyn Vollmar.