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Interview with Walter Nicks

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Interview with Walter Nicks
Balanchine, George (Choreographer)
Nicks, Walter (Interviewee)
DeFrantz, Thomas (Interviewer)
George Balanchine Foundation (Presenter)

Popular Balanchine

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2001-08-08
Table of Contents
Disc 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 locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDVD 5-7305
Balanchine, George
Nicks, Walter
Ross, Herbert, 1927-2001
Dietrich, Marlene
Ailey, Alvin
Mitchell, Arthur, 1934-
Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research
Arlen, Harold, 1905-1986. House of flowers
Content: 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.
Venue: Videotaped during an interview at the Balanchine Foundation, New York, N.Y., on Aug. 8, 2001.
Acquisition: Gift; George Balanchine Foundation. NN-PD
Physical Description
Extent: 2 videocassettes (DVCam) (69 min.) : sound, color ; 1/4 in.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19683014
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 6cc22fe0-f79b-0130-dca6-3c075448cc4b
Rights Statement
The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.

Item timeline of events

  • 2001: Created
  • 2018: Digitized
  • 2020: Found by you!
  • 2021

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Walter Nicks" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2001.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Walter Nicks" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed November 28, 2020.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2001). Interview with Walter Nicks Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Walter Nicks, (2001)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=November 28, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Walter Nicks