Interview with Adda Pourmel

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Interview with Adda Pourmel

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Interview with Adda Pourmel
Pourmel, Adda, 1920-2008 (Interviewee)
Ross, Janice (Interviewer)
George Balanchine Foundation (Presenter)

Popular Balanchine

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2001-02-17
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDVD 5-7322
Balanchine, George
Pourmel, Adda, 1920-2008
Preobrajenska, Olga, 1870-1962
Wright, Robert, 1914-2005
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
Venue: Videotaped during interview in Adda Pourmel's living room, in New Orleans, La., on Feb. 17, 2001.
Acquisition: Gift; George Balanchine Foundation. NN-PD
Physical Description
Extent: 1 videocassette (VHS) (107 min.) : sound, color ; 1/2 in.
Adda Pourmel speaks with Janice Ross about her early dance training in Paris, including her classes with Madame [Olga] Preobrajenska; her classmate, Irina Baronova; her family background; Preobrajenska as a teacher; meeting Tanya [Tatiana] Stepanova [at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo reunion in 2000]; joining the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and traveling with her mother [Sophie Pourmel], who became the wardrobe mistress; an anecdote about the musical comedy, The King and I, and the leading actress's costume; her mother as a wardrobe mistress; how Adda Pourmel came to be in the cast of the musical comedy Song of Norway [the 1944, New York production choreographed by George Balanchine]; how she met her first husband, Larry Haynes, a singer in the chorus; while looking at photographs of Song of Norway, including the 1962 production, Pourmel tells an anecdote about her husband being fired from the show; speaks about Mary Ellen Moylan; identifies various people in the photographs; speaks about the character "mirror dance" she performed in Act I [in the scene just before the song Freddy and his fiddle; Hill of dreams?], including the costumes; her short stature not being a problem at that time; an anecdote about Sol Hurok and a tall dancer in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo; more on the "mirror dance"; her attempt to learn to sing, including an anecdote about her husband's view of her singing; the scene following the song Freddy and his fiddle. Adda Pourmel continues to speak with Janice Ross about the 1944, New York production of the musical comedy Song of Norway including, very briefly, the professionalism of the dancers and George Balanchine; various dances and scenes in Act II, including scenes Pourmel and Ross refer to, respectively, as the Chocolate shop pas de trois, Copenhagen, and Waltz eternal [name of song in the show], Peer Gynt [name of song in the show], Anitra's dance; the Concerto; Pourmel demonstrates some of the movements while commenting on them; speaks further about the dancing in Act II, including the difficulty of the choreography in the Concerto; Balanchine's insistence on technical competence; tells an anecdote about [Michel] Fokine and a production of Les sylphides in London; an anecdote about herself, Alexandra Danilova, Frederic Franklin, and Leonide Massine; speaks further about the Concerto; curtain calls; Balanchine's never duplicating himself; the Concerto as the dance to be reconstructed if it were possible to revive any from the show; the costumes in the Chocolate shop dance; Pourmel and Ross begins to talk about the dance set to the song Freddy and his fiddle; as recorded music from the show is played, Pourmel speaks about various topics including how Fokine, in contrast with Massine, never changed the choreography of his dances; a recording of the song Freddy and his fiddle is played as Pourmel demonstrates and speaks about the choreography; the song is played again. A recording of the song Freddy and his fiddle can be heard as Adda Pourmel demonstrates, for interviewer Janice Ross, the dance set to it; Pourmel speaks about the dance referred to as Anitra's dance; George Balanchine's strictness when working; leaving the production because she was pregnant; the favorable audience response to Song of Norway; reasons she and her mother did not think the show would be a success; her view that it was one of Balanchine's best Broadway shows; the composers [Robert] Wright and [George Wright]; tells an anecdote about auditioning for their musical comedy Kismet; speaks about marriages, including her own, that came out of the show; other people she knew from the show and from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19683809
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 6e544240-f871-0130-5ded-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

  • 1920: Creator Born
  • 2001: Created
  • 2008: Creator Died
  • 2018: Digitized
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

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

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Adda Pourmel" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 5, 2023.

APA Format

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

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Adda Pourmel, (2001)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=December 5, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Adda Pourmel