Interview with Walter Nicks
NamesBalanchine, George (Choreographer)Nicks, Walter (Interviewee)DeFrantz, Thomas (Interviewer)George Balanchine Foundation
Dates / OriginDate Created: 2001-08-08
Table of ContentsDisc 1 (ca. 41 min.). Walter Nicks discusses performing in House of flowers; his dance background as a child in Cleveland Ohio and moving to New York to dance at the Katherine Dunham School; Katherine Dunham telling him to take ballet and giving him ballet shoes; his first Broadway show with Benny Goodman; dancing around the world; getting phone call about a contract for House of Flowers; George Balanchine asking him to demonstrate movement that Balanchine would then use to choreograph numbers; Balanchine asking Nicks to choreograph sections of numbers; Pearl Bailey having soloist fired because she brought down the house after her number, this number was made into a trio; talking about the opening procession; the rehearsal process in the Alvin Theater and in the theater in Philadelphia; Balanchine falling out of favor with the producers before the move to Philadelphia; Marlene Dietrich attending many rehearsals and telling Balanchine and others that she did not like his choreography; rehearsing till 4 am with Herbert Ross in Philadelphia; difference between Balanchine and Ross' visions for the musical; performing the Slide boy slide number after Alvin Ailey and Arthur Mitchell were both injured; Nicks hiring Donald McKayle for the show; about Balanchine numbers in the first production; the opening procession and a little solo that Nicks created; finding out about his contract and how he was hired from the producers; Balanchine asking Nicks to choreograph; how Balanchine would play with movement; photocopies of Voudou section photographs; Balanchine working on new jungle number but producers had already made up their minds to replace him; playing part of the Mardi Gras music; how Banda (fertility God) fit into the Voudou section; Balanchine woring with Geoffrey Holder; how Balanchine appreciated the dancers and used their full potentials.Disc 2 (28 min.). Discusses the steel drum players; the classical ballet people including Jerome Robbins and Michael Kidd that came to the Katherine Dunham School; Geoffrey Holder being hired to create choreography for his own number; discusses and listens to the music from the Two ladies in the shade; rehearsal process lasting six weeks in New York; the transition between George Balanchine and Herbert Ross; performing Balanchine choreography during the show and then learning Herbert Ross' new choreography during rehearsals after the show; Ross making most of the changes after Balanchine and Peter Brook were fired; the possibility of Christine Lawson's involvment at the beginning of this production; what Nicks remembers about the Madame Tango's Tango number; the decor being done by hand; the impact of working with Balanchine and a comparison to the choreographer Jack Cole; being a Leo and just having his birthday on July 26th; performing in the musical Jaimaca with Lena Horne and working with her; Balanchine creating a wonderful 2nd version of House of flowers; and Nicks becoming friends with Balanchine's wife Tanaquil LeClercq and watching her teach from a wheelchair.
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZIDVD 5-7305
TopicsBalanchine, GeorgeNicks, WalterRoss, Herbert, 1927-2001Dietrich, MarleneAiley, AlvinMitchell, Arthur, 1934-Katherine Dunham School of Arts and ResearchMusicals. House of flowers
NotesStatement of responsibility: interviewed by Thomas DeFrantz ; [presented by] The George Balanchine Foundation.This interview relates to the Popular Balancine dossiers (Boxes 36-37. House of Flowers) (1954) [Dance Division call number: *MGZMD 146, boxes 37-38, House of flowers], compiled by Thomas DeFrantz. Inventory, background materials (photocopies of print sources and one original symposium program), programs (photocopies and one original souvenir program), notices and reviews, photocopies of photographs, and transcripts of interviews with Louis Johnson, Mary Louise, Mary Mon Toy, Walter Nicks, Margot Small, and Glory Van Scott. Also includes photocopy of original working script, photocopies of music selections, and sheet music of Vocal selections from the Off-Broadway musical, House of Flowers.Performers: Interviewee, Walter Nicks ; interviewer, Thomas DeFrantz.Venue: Videotaped during an interview at the Balanchine Foundation, New York, N.Y., on Aug. 8, 2001.Original version: Original format: 2 DV-CAM cassettes.Acquisition: Gift; George Balanchine Foundation. NN-PD
Physical DescriptionVideocassetteExtent: 2 videocassettes (DVCam) (69 min.) : sound, color ; 1/4 in.
Type of ResourceMoving image
IdentifiersNYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19683014Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 6cc22fe0-f79b-0130-dca6-3c075448cc4b
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