Interview with Violette Verdy, April 29, May 5, July 4, October 12 and 20, and November 1 and 16, 1975, and April 1, 1976
NamesVerdy, Violette, 1933- (Interviewee)Tobias, Tobi (Interviewer)
Dance Oral History Project
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1975-04-29 - 1976-04-01
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZT 5-940 (former)
TopicsVerdy, Violette, 1933-2016 -- InterviewsSarkissian, Rousane, 1894-1958Gsovsky, Victor, 1902-1974Zambelli, Carlotta, 1875-1968Chase, Lucia, 1897-1986Robbins, JeromeMaracci, Carmelita, 1911-1987Rambert, MarieTudor, Antony, 1908-1987Clark, Colin, 1932-2002Balanchine, GeorgeBallets des Champs-ElyséesNew York City BalletAmerican Ballet TheatreSonatine (Choreographic work : Balanchine)Loup (Choreographic work : Petit, R)Coppelia (Choreographic work)Coppélia (Choreographic work : Poole after Sergeev)Jewels (Choreographic work : Balanchine)Sonatine (Choreographic work : Balanchine)
NotesContent: Title supplied by cataloger.Venue: Recorded for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts April 29, May 5, July 4, October 12 and 20, November 1 and 16, 1975, and April 1, 1976 New York (N.Y.)Funding: The conservation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by 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 DescriptionAudiotape reelExtent: 4 audiotape reels (approximately 10 hr., 44 min.) : analog, 1.875 ips, half-track, polyester; 5 in.Sound quality is good. There is extraneous noise including "tape hiss," as well as occasional short gaps, but the speakers' voices are easily intelligible.
DescriptionStreaming file 1, April 29 and May 5, 1975 (approximately one hour and 40 minutes). Violette Verdy speaks with Tobi Tobias about her childhood in Brittany, France including her relationship with her mother; her classes with Carlotta Zambelli; seeing the Paris Opera ballet for the first time; her impressions of Serge Lifar and Serge Peretti; more on the classes with Zambelli; dealing with physical pain and fear [end of April 29 session and beginning of May 5 session]; preparing for a performance; the happiest memories of her childhood; her state of mind once she began formal ballet lessons, in particular her desire to please her teachers; the image she presents on stage; [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 2].
Streaming file 2, May 5 and July 4, 1975 (approximately one hour and 39 minutes). Violette Verdy continues to speak with Tobi Tobias about how she feels about performing; studying with Madame Roussane [born Rousanne Sarkissian]; her auditions and acceptance into the school of the Paris Opera ballet [Opéra de Paris Ballet]; the reputation of the Paris Opera ballet at the time; her assessment of her body including George Balanchine's comparing her to a pregnant robin; her thoughts and feelings about being a dancer; life in Paris during World War II, in particular the experience of air raids; reminiscences of Studio Wacker including Madame [Olga] Preobrajenska; her private life at the time including how she felt about romantic relationships [end of May 5 session and beginning of July 4 session]; joining Roland Petit's Ballets des Champs-Elysées; her time at the Ballets des Champs-Elysées including an anecdote about Boris Kochno; [Victor] Gsovsky and his coaching; Alexandra Danilova as an exemplary dancer of soubrette roles; dancers she admired including Yvette Chauviré and Nina Vyroubova; realizing her potential as a dancer; more on her relationship with her mother; appearing in the film Ballerina [later titled: Dream Ballerina]; [ends abruptly].
Streaming file 3, October 12 and 20, 1975 (approximately one hour and 40 minutes). Violette Verdy speaks with Tobi Tobias about recent performances of George Balanchine's Donizetti [Donizetti variations] and Jerome Robbins' Bagatelles [Four bagatelles]; directing her peers in Balanchine's works; Balanchine's directing of his own ballets; her own choreography; performing as a guest artist; audiences; more on her guest appearances including the financial benefits and the opportunity to dance classical roles not in the New York City Ballet repertory; her thoughts on The sleeping beauty; her mother's spiritual quest and interest in Indian philosophy; Verdy's conversion to and subsequent rejection of the Catholic religion; a pivotal meeting with Raja Rao at Yaddo that ultimately led to her spiritual awakening [end of October 12 session and beginning of October 20 session]; her acting career including her roles, respectively, in Madeleine Renaud's and Jean-Louis Barrault's production of Malatesta, and in the film Ballerina [later titled Dream Ballerina]; more on [Victor] Gsovsky and his coaching [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 4].
Streaming file 4, October 20 and November 1, 1975 (approximately one hour and 40 minutes). Violette Verdy speaks with Tobi Tobias about working with Yvette Chauviré; dancing for the Maggio [Musicale] Florientino; her role of the bride in Roland Petit's ballet Le loup, with his new company Ballet de Paris [Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit]; the company's United States tour including her role as Carmen; appearing in the film The glass slipper; Carmelita Maracci; touring with the London Festival Ballet in the United States; John Gilpin as a partner; Juliet and other dramatic roles; injuries; Marie Rambert [end of October 20 session and beginning of November 1 session]; Verdy continues speaking about Marie Rambert and her coaching of Verdy in Coppélia [choreographed by David Poole after N. Sergeev]; other versions of Coppélia; her thoughts on the roles of Coppélia [Swanilda] and of Dr. Coppelius; her vision of George Balanchine as Dr. Coppelius, the master toy maker; Erik Bruhn; joining American Ballet Theatre including Nora Kaye's kindness to her; more on Bruhn including his perfectionism; some of her roles including [the Operetta star] in Antony Tudor's Offenbach in the underworld; her impressions of Tudor; Lucia Chase; what constitutes an "artistic director" including an anecdote about Balanchine's comments on the title "artistic director"; the fundamental role of an artistic director as the imposition of a unified artistic vision [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 5].
Streaming file 5, November 1 and 16, 1975 (approximately one hour and 40 minutes). Violette Verdy continues to speak with Tobi Tobias about the concept of "artistic director"; dancing as Miss Julie in American Ballet Theatre's production of Birgit Cullberg's Miss Julie; joining New York City Ballet at George Balanchine's invitation; her personal life at this time in particular her emotional development and her relationship with her mother; her marriage to Colin Clark; the concurrence of her marital and professional problems; how these experiences have shaped her [end of November 1 session and beginning of November 16 session]; more on joining New York City Ballet; working with Balanchine including how this has contributed to her development as a dancer; Balanchine's apparent indifference with regard to the preserving of his work; [ends abruptly].
Streaming file 6, November 16, 1975 (approximately 52 minutes). Violette Verdy continues to speak with Tobi Tobias about George Balanchine and his choreography including audience response; Suzanne Farrell as the most realized Balanchine dancer; the making of Balanchine's Sonatine; how Balanchine expresses criticism of a dancer; Gelsey Kirkland in particular, her decision to leave New York City Ballet for American Ballet Theatre; briefly, Suki Schorer.
Streaming file 7, April 1, 1976 (approximately one hour and 24 minutes). Violette Verdy speaks with Tobi Tobias about George Balanchine's ballet Emeralds [first section of the three-part ballet Jewels] including the new pas de deux; Mimi Paul in Emeralds; Balanchine's Liebeslieder walzer; Balanchine's indifference toward Swan lake; how Verdy feels about performing Swan lake; Jerome Robbins; her current position in New York City Ballet; some of the factors in Balanchine's casting decisions; physical stresses of dancing; reasons her life as a ballet dancer is so well suited to her personality and desires.
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 79150227 NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118854Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): c1073e40-b30f-0133-885a-3c07547a230f
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