Carmelita Maracci papers

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Collection Data

Description
The papers of Carmelita Maracci document her professional and, to a lesser extent, her personal life from 1924 until after her death in July, 1987. The collection consists of correspondence; writings by Maracci including journals, notebooks and drafts of sections of her unpublished autobiography; articles by and about Maracci; brief notes for some of her dances; press releases and promotional materials for performances; teaching notes for her “talking classes;” clippings (reviews, interviews, announcements, obituaries); and artwork by Maracci.
Names
Maracci, Carmelita, 1911-1987 (Creator)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1924 - 1988
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: (S) *MGZMD 73
Topics
Circo de España (Choreographic work : Maracci)
Dance teachers
Dancers as artists
Drawing -- 20th century
Notes
Biographical/historical: Carmelita Maracci, a dancer, choreographer and teacher, was born in Goldfield, Nevada, in 1911, the daughter of a French-German mother and a Spanish-Italian father. Her paternal grandmother came from Montevideo, Uruguay; Maracci was told by her parents that she was born in Uruguay, thus explaining the early publicity about the “Uruguayan dancer.” She was from a musical family; her mother was a concert-level pianist, her father wanted to be an opera singer and her great-grandfather was Antonio Patti, an uncle of Adelina Patti. She was christened Carmelita Patti Maracci. By the age of two, Maracci had moved with her parents to San Francisco, California. She took her first dance lesson there from Anita Peters Wright. She grew up in Fresno, where she attended private schools, and then went to Los Angeles where she studied dance at the Ernest Belcher school. Her parents were supportive of her desire to dance, so she was sent to New York where she began studying with Mikhail Mordkin. Her principal ballet teachers were Luigi Albertieri and Enrico Zanfretta, and she studied Spanish dance with Hyppolito Mora. She performed with Alexis Kosloff's touring group as a soloist, beginning in December 1928. She then began to experiment with her own choreography, blending her strong classical ballet technique with Spanish dance into a unique personal style. Maracci made her debut in a program of her own works in Los Angeles in 1930, and Los Angeles was her home until the end of her life. She made her New York debut in 1937. She performed infrequently in solo recitals or with a small group in a repertoire of her own dances. She toured under the management of Sol Hurok in 1945-46, but the relationship was broken in 1946, apparently brought to an end because Maracci refused to continue a performance in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a traumatic experience for Maracci, one she referred to again and again in her writings, particularly after Agnes de Mille alluded to the incident in her book, To a Young Dancer. In 1951, Maracci choreographed Circo de Espanafor Ballet Theatre, and she danced the lead on opening night. The ballet met with a mixed reception but remained in the repertoire for a time. She was asked by Charlie Chaplin to do choregraphy for his film Limelight,but she was not pleased with the results and asked that her name be removed from the credits. Many who saw Maracci perform never forgot the experience. She was a perfectionist who, according to her husband, had a deep fear of performing and who made demands and put up obstacles which limited her opportunities to perform. She slowly turned more and more to teaching ballet classes, and she is known today largely through her reputation as a teacher. Some of the wellknown people who studied with her include William Carter, Geraldine Chaplin, Cynthia Gregory, Allegra Kent, Bella Lewitsky, Julie Newmar, Jerome Robbins, Janice Rule, Donald Saddler and Christine Sarry. Lester Horton recommended that his modern students take her ballet classes. Maracci continued to teach, even as she became more and more plagued by physical problems and illness. When it became impossible for her to go to the studio, she made audiotapes for her students, talking about such subjects as ballet competitions, her own style (“acid, angry”), her career and her thoughts on dance in 1987. Carmelita Maracci died in Los Angeles on July 26, 1987 and is survived by her husband of many years, Lee Freeson. Maracci was known professionally in the late 1920's and early 1930's as Carma Lita or Carma Lita Maracci, then as Carmalita Maracci, and after c. 1944 as Carmelita Maracci. She was known by some family and friends as “Carmi(e).”
Content: The papers of Carmelita Maracci document her professional and, to a lesser extent, her personal life from 1924 until after her death in July, 1987. The collection consists of correspondence; writings by Maracci including journals, notebooks and drafts of sections of her unpublished autobiography; articles by and about Maracci; brief notes for some of her dances; press releases and promotional materials for performances; teaching notes for her “talking classes;” clippings (reviews, interviews, announcements, obituaries); and artwork by Maracci.|||The personal voice of Carmelita Maracci is strongly heard - particularly in her hand-written journals, notebooks, correspondence and teaching notes. Among the wide-ranging subjects covered in these writings are her opinions on teachers, teaching and her teaching career; reminiscences of her performing career including the fateful performance in St. Paul, Minnesota and her choreographing of Circo de Espanafor Ballet Theatre; Balanchine, Nijinsky, Isadora Duncan; “management and labor” in the dance field; politicians and government; social and political protest, including hers against the war in Viet Nam; and the future of dance as an art form.|||Of particular significance in the correspondence are the letters from John Martin, dance critic of the New York Times,and from Agnes de Mille. Copies and drafts of letters from Maracci are located in the Outgoing Correspondence files and in the folders of individuals to whom the letters are written. Included in the clippings is a copy of an article by John Martin (6-27-37) that Maracci felt was important to her career, as well as reviews by Martin in 1946 and 1949.|||The artwork by Maracci consists of two albums filled mainly with pen-and-ink or pencil drawings of dancers, friends and celebrities (such as Valentino), cats, flowers and vegetables, and sketches of her own hand and foot. There are also some larger drawings, many in color, and some collages which she used as Christmas cards.|||See the Separation List for more information on items in the collection which have been separated from the papers: two versions of Maracci's unpublished autobiography, audiotapes, films, programs, scrapbooks, and photographs.|||Throughout the Register and Folder List, CM refers to Carmelita Maracci.
Content: The papers document the career and life of Carmelita Maracci in journals, notebooks, unpublished writings, correspondence, press and promotional material, teaching and choreographic notes. The collection also includes two albums of artwork by Ms. Maracci. Correspondents include John Martin and Agnes de Mille. An autobiographical book manuscript is separately cataloged; see call number *MGZMB 92-2703
Physical Description
Extent: 10 document boxes, 91 folders, 681 items
Type of Resource
Text
Identifiers
Other local Identifier: (S) *MGZMD 73
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12180766
MSS Unit ID: 19713
Archives collections id: archives_collections_19713
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 8eea98f0-315b-013b-76e1-0242ac110003
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