Interview with Annabelle Lyon: Audio files, January 23, February 26, and May 2 and 11, 1979

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Interview with Annabelle Lyon: Audio files, January 23, February 26, and May 2 and 11, 1979
Lyon, Annabelle, 1916-2011 (Interviewee)
Kendall, Elizabeth, 1947- (Interviewer)

Dance Oral History Project

Interview with Annabelle Lyon. 1979, January 23, February 26, and May 2 and 11, 1979

Dates / Origin
Date Issued: 1979
Date Captured: 1979-01-23
Date Captured: 1979-02-26
Date Captured: 1979-05-02
Date Captured: 1979-05-11
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZT 5-1861 (former)
Shelf locator: *MGZTC 3-1861 (former)
Fokine, Michel, 1880-1942
Balanchine, George
Baronova, Irina
Shabelevsky, Yurek
Vladimiroff, Pierre, 1893-1970
Loring, Eugene, 1911-1982
Stravinsky, Igor, 1882-1971
Essen, Viola
Conrad, Karen
Holm, Hanya, 1893-1992
Kaye, Nora, 1920-1987
Alonso, Alicia, 1920-2019
Dolin, Anton, 1904-1983
De Mille, Agnes
Nijinska, Bronislava, 1891-1972
Massine, Leonide, 1896-1979
Gollner, Nana
Karnilova, Maria
Osato, Sono, 1919-2018
Bentley, Muriel
Rodgers, Richard, 1902-1979. Carousel
Rodgers, Richard, 1902-1979. Allegro
Blitzstein, Marc. Juno
Balanchine, George. Baiser de la fée
Lyon, Annabelle, 1916-2011
School of American Ballet
Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
Metropolitan Opera (New York, N.Y.). Ballet
American Ballet Company
Ballet Caravan, Inc. (New York, N.Y.)
Ballet Theatre (New York, N.Y.)
American Ballet Theatre
Concurrence (Choreographic work : Balanchine)
Cotillon (Choreographic work : Balanchine)
Serenade (Choreographic work : Balanchine)
Transcendence (Choreographic work : Balanchine)
Sylphides (Choreographic work : Fokin)
Giselle (Choreographic work : Dolin after Coralli and Perrot)
Jardin aux lilas (Choreographic work : Tudor)
Three virgins and a devil (Choreographic work : De Mille)
Bluebeard (Choreographic work : Fokin)
Pillar of fire (Choreographic work : Tudor)
Spectre de la rose (Choreographic work : Fokine)
Aleko (Choreographic work : Massine)
Romeo and Juliet (Choreographic work : Tudor)
Bien-aimée (Choreographic work : Nijinska)
Audiotapes -- Lyon, A
Oral histories
Content: Sound quality is fair. At times the speakers' voices are soft but almost always easily intelligible. The volume on streaming file 4 is higher, but the recording is marred by "tape hiss." The volume on streaming file 5 fluctuates during the first approximate 2:30 minutes and is marred by "tape hiss."
Content: Interview with Annabelle Lyon conducted by Elizabeth Kendall on January 23, February 26, and May 2 and 11, 1979 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, New York, New York, for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division Oral History Project.
Content: Title supplied by cataloger.
Content: For transcript see: *MGZMT 3-1861.
Venue: Recorded for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts January 23, February 26, and May 2 and 11, 1979 New York (N.Y.)
Funding: The conservation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the Barbara Goldstein Conservation Division of The New York Public Library and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Physical Description
Audiotape reel
Extent: 3 audiotape reels (approximately 6 hr., 54 min.) : analog, 1.875 ips, quarter-track, polyester; 5 in.
Extent: Five streaming files (approximately six hours and 54 minutes) : digital
Streaming file 1, January 23, 1979 (approximately one hour and 33 minutes). [First approximate 1:30 minutes only partially intelligible due to fluctuating volume levels.] Annabelle Lyon speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about her childhood exposure to theater and dance, in Memphis, Tennessee; her family background; her dance lessons with Marie Lloyd; her memories of Isadora Duncan's dancing; her scholarship with Michel Fokine in New York; Fokine's house; her first meeting with and impressions of Fokine [Kendall reads aloud from a brochure for Fokine's school]; the classes including the physical layout of the studios, the students' practice clothes, Fokine's teaching methods and his unique technique, the wearing of pointe shoes for all exercises, and his singing in place of using an accompanist; the size of the classes and some of the other students including Nora Kaye, Patricia Bowman, Pauline Koner, Betty Bruce, Paul Hakon, and William Dollar; more on Fokine as a teacher including his emphasis on movement rather then balance; Fokine as a choreographer; his egotism; seeing his ballets performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo [Lyon shows Kendall a newspaper article about a 1934 performance of his ballets at Lewisohn Stadium]; her thoughts on current performances of Fokine's ballets; performing with Edna Veralle in Russian night clubs; her first performances in Fokine's ballets, at Lewisohn Stadium; her financial arrangements with Fokine; very briefly, touring the vaudeville circuit with Fokine; very briefly, his son, Vitale; reminiscences about the Russian clubs.Streaming file 2, February 26, 1979 (approximately one hour and 37 minutes). Annabelle Lyon speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about George Balanchine and his ballets La concurrence and Cotillon; her immediate interest, as a dancer, in the works of Balanchine as compared with those of Leonide Massine; Massine's Tricorne [Three-cornered hat]; dancers in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo she admired including Tatiana Riabouchinska and Irina Baronova; David Lichine; [Yurek] Shabelevsky; her thoughts on coaching and Michel Fokine's staging of Les sylphides with Ballet Theatre [later American Ballet Theatre]; Gisella Caccialanza; classes at the newly-established School of American Ballet including as compared with classes at Fokine's school; Pierre Vladimiroff; the students including Erick Hawkins and William Dollar; Balanchine's classes; her life at that time including performing in the Radio City Music Hall corps de ballet; Balanchine's choreographing of Serenade including how she became the "late girl"; other ballets he choreographed during this period including Reminiscence, and Transcendence; Fokine's reaction to her taking class at the School of American Ballet; briefly, Lincoln Kirstein and [Edward M.M]. Warburg; touring [as the American Ballet Company] and the poor critical reception; performing in Balanchine's opera ballets at the Metropolitan Opera including in The bartered bride, Carmen, Die fledermaus; and Orpheus [Orfeo ed Euridice], briefly, her memories of Pavel Tchelitchev; Nora Kaye and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet; the formation of Ballet Caravan and its first members; early repertory including Eugene Loring's La valse and Lew Christensen's Pocahontas [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 3].Streaming file 3, February 26, 1979 (approximately 32 minutes). Annabelle Lyon continues to speak with Elizabeth Kendall about the repertoire of Ballet Caravan; touring at regional theaters and colleges; the concert performances at the Metropolitan Opera house of three Balanchine ballets set to Igor Stravinsky's music: the Card party [Jeux de cartes], Apollo, and Baiser de la fée; her impressions of Stravinsky; dancing in the film The Goldwyn Follies including an anecdote about Balanchine's kindness to her; dancing in the play with music,The great lady, including an anecdote about Alicia Alonso; returning to New York without a job; joining Ballet Theatre; marrying Leon Fokine.Streaming file 4, May 2, 1979 (approximately one hour and 36 minutes). Annabelle Lyon speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about the newly-established Ballet Theatre including some of the choreographers and dancers working for the company; its relationship to the Mordkin Ballet; Viola Essen, including as compared to Diana Adams; Karen Conrad; Anton Dolin and his production of Giselle at Ballet Theatre including her last-minute substitution for Nana Gollner on opening night; the cast in Les sylphides; Eugene Loring's The great American goof; her approach to the role of Giselle; Dolin as a partner; Andrée Howard as a dancer in her work Death and the maiden; briefly, Agnes de Mille; the company's first summer; working with Antony Tudor; learning new technique to dance the role of Caroline in his Jardin aux lilas; the original cast at Ballet Theatre; briefly,Tudor's Dark elegies; possible influences on Tudor's style including Rudolf von Laban; Agnes de Mille's Three virgins and a devil including Lyon's admiration for Sybil Shearer's dancing and for the ballet itself; her impressions of Martha Graham and her work; Tudor's ballet Gala performance including the original cast; Alicia Alonso including her dancing in the ballets [Eugene Loring's] BIlly the Kid and Anton Dolin's Pas de quartre; briefly, life and work with Ballet Theatre at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival; Bronislava Nijinska and her La fille mal gardée including a rehearsal anecdote about Jerome Robbins; Sol Hurok and the dancers he brought with him to Ballet Theatre including Alicia Markova; Michel Fokine and his staging of Bluebeard on the company, including her role as a page and Robbins's Spanish dancing.Streaming file 5, May 11, 1979 (approximately one hour and 36 minutes). [Volume fluctuates in the first approximate 2:30 minutes.]. Annabelle Lyon speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about the repertoire of Ballet Theatre; dancers Sol Hurok brought into the company; cast changes including Alicia Markova as Caroline in Lilac garden [Jardin aux lilas], Irina Baronova as the Italian ballerina in Gala performance and [as Lise] in La fille mal gardée, and Nora Kaye as Myrtha in Giselle; touring in the United States during World War II including some of her roles; Antony Tudor's Pillar of fire including Tudor's characterization of her role, as the youngest sister; other cast members including Maria Karnilova and Nora Kaye; modern dance elements of the choreography in Pillar of fire; Michel Fokine's Spectre de la rose including her discomfort with the dramatic aspects of her role; [Leonide] Massine's Aleko including working with Massine; her impressions of Marc Chagall; her last contact with Fokine, in connection with her role as a sheep in his ballet Helen of Troy; the company's [second] Mexican tour;Tudor's Romeo and Juliet; Bronislava Nijinska's Bien-aimée; the set and costumes by Jo Mielziner for Pillar of fire; her reasons for leaving Ballet Theatre; her thoughts on current productions of Pillar of fire and Three virgins and a devil; more on leaving Ballet Theatre; her memories of the ballerinas Maria Karnilova, Nana Gollner, Sono Osato, and Muriel Bentley; Jerome Robbins as a dancer including an anecdote about Robbins and Fokine; John Kriza; working with Agnes de Mille and performing in the musical comedies Carousel and Allegro; taking class with Hanya Holm and other modern dance choreographers; assisting Holm with José Ferrer's play The insect comedy; her role in the play as a pregnant beetle; teaching dance to children; the musical comedy Juno, including de Mille's use of Irish folk dances and reasons Lyon thought Juno was not a success.
Type of Resource
Sound recording-nonmusical
RLIN/OCLC: 82566144
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12541684
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 98a375f0-b3d6-0133-39a3-3c07547a230f
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

  • 1916: Creator Born
  • 1979: Issued
  • 2011: Creator Died
  • 2024: Found by you!
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MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Annabelle Lyon" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1979.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Annabelle Lyon" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed February 25, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1979). Interview with Annabelle Lyon Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording-nonmusical) Interview with Annabelle Lyon, (1979) |author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=February 25, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Annabelle Lyon