Pauline Koner papers

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Collection Data

Pauline Koner, one of America’s foremost modern dance choreographers and performers, trained with Michel Fokine, Michio Ito and Yeichi Nimura. She created works for stage shows at New York City's Roxy Theater, for ice shows, and for television programs and from 1946 to 1960 performed with the José Limón Dance Company. She worked closely with modern dance pioneer Doris Humphrey and choreographed her best-known piece, The Farewell (1962), to honor Humphrey's memory.
Koner, Pauline (Creator)
Doner, Kitty (Contributor)
Fokine, Michel, 1880-1942 (Contributor)
Humphrey, Doris, 1895-1958 (Contributor)
Ito, Michio (Contributor)
Limón, José (Contributor)
Mahler, Fritz (Contributor)
Nimura, Yeichi, 1897-1979 (Contributor)
José Limón Dance Company (Contributor)
Nimura, Yeichi (Contributor)
Pauline Koner Dance Consort (Contributor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1905 - 2000
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: (S) *MGZMD 138
Dance teachers
Choreographers -- United States -- 20th century
Dance -- Stage-setting and scenery -- United States
Dance teachers -- United States -- 20th century
Women dancers -- United States -- 20th century
Koner, Pauline
lecture notes
Biographical/historical: Pauline Koner, one of America’s foremost modern dance choreographers and performers, was born in New York on June 26, 1912 to Russian immigrants Samuel and Ida Ginsberg Koner. Unlike most American modern dancers, she did not trace her artistic beginnings to Isadora Duncan or Ruth St. Denis. In fact, she was already an established figure in the modern dance movement when she affiliated with the Humphrey-Limón Dance Company in 1946. Yet this was not the style in which she initially trained. She studied at thirteen with the celebrated ballet choreographer Michel Fokine and danced in his company. Finding ballet too restrictive of a dance language, Koner decided to work with dance pioneers Michio Ito and Yeichi Nimura. At her first solo concert on Dec. 7, 1930, John Martin, noted New York Times dance critic, remarked that the event “exhibited her unquestionable right to stand alone.” In 1935, she was the first American dancer to be asked to perform in the Soviet Union. Koner gave solo concerts in the U.S. and the Near East from 1930 to 1945. Her solos then included Yal-lel, Chassidic Song and Dance, Bird of Prey and Three Funeral Marches. From 1943 - 1947, Koner headed a production company called Choreotones with Kitty Doner (former vaudeville headliner). They staged productions for the Roxy Theatre and Holiday on Ice, and pioneered television dance choreography for CBS - TV in 1945. As guest artist for the Humphrey-Limón repertory from 1946 to 1960, she created memorable roles in such dances as The Moor’s Pavane, La Malinche, The Visitation, There Is a Time, Ruins and Visions, and Ritmo Jondo. All along she continued to choreograph for herself creating in the 1950s and 1960s such notable works as Cassandra, Concertino, and The Shining Dark. To these she added the widely proclaimed pas de deux, Poéme, and Fragments, composed on a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1962, Koner honored the memory of Doris Humphrey life with her acclaimed piece The Farewell. In 1975 she focused her attentions on her newly formed dance company, The Pauline Koner Dance Consort. Formed of students from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Koner continued to exert her influence on the dance world through her students and her choreography. Koner’s dance techniques and stylization were revealed in such works as Solitary Song, A Time for Crickets, Cantigas and Flight. Koner received the Dance Magazine Award of the year in 1963. She lectured widely on dance at home and abroad, including a 1965 assignment to Tokyo on a Fulbright senior lectureship. She served on the faculties of the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Jacob’s Pillow University of the Dance, Brooklyn College Dance Workshop, Texas Women’s University, and the Accademia Nazionale of Rome, Italy. In addition to teaching, Ms. Koner released her autobiography Solitary Song in 1989 and a text based on her teaching ideology entitled Elements of Performance. Pauline Koner, who was married to noted conductor Fritz Mahler, died on Feb. 8, 2001. Sources: Koner, Pauline. Solitary Song Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989. "Resumes—forms." (Box 1, Folder 3). New York Times Obituary. "Pauline Koner Dies at 88; Dancer and Choreographer" Proquest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1857-Current file): Feb. 9, 2001, p. C11. Atlanta Ballet program notes found in Atlanta Arts May 1970 issue. (Box 32, Folder 15).
Content: The papers of Pauline Koner 1905-2000) consist of material documenting Koner’s dance career as a choreographer, dancer, dance teacher, author and lecturer. Writings, programs, photographs, teaching notes, as well as choreography and lighting notes constitute the vast majority of the collection. This collection shows a strong emphasis on Koner’s time with the José Limón Dance Company and on her performances abroad. Correspondence, clippings, ephemera and scrapbooks are also present. While her connection to Nimura, Ito, Fokine and Limón are represented in the collection with correspondence, photographs and programs, detailed choreographic information on their works is not to be found in collection. From her diaries (Box 1, Folders 9-15) and her autobiography Solitary Song, the researcher can get information on her personal as well as professional life from late 1920 to late 1980. Her marriage to Fritz Mahler is not heavily documented—a few letters concerning her feelings on his illness (Box 2, Folder 22) can be found. Her personal life from 1995 to her death is not well represented in the collection.
Physical Description
Extent: 28.5 linear feet (48 boxes)
Type of Resource
Still image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b16060677
MSS Unit ID: 19779
Archives collections id: archives_collections_19779
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 06530810-a9c4-0139-cc44-0242ac110003
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