New and Updated Finding Aids – Part Five

All of these collections are available for use in the Special Collections Research Center.

All collections mentioned were processed by Amanda Brent.

Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo “Les Sylphides” performance photographs by Sasha

Three black and white photographs taken by Sasha to promote a London tour performance of “Les Sylphides” by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The first photo features the ballet dancers Andre Eglevsky and Alexandra Danilova posed together. The second and third photos feature Eglevsky with a trio of corps de ballet dancers in different poses…Alexander Stewart, known by the mononym Sasha, was a Scottish photographer known for his portraits of theatrical productions and entertainers, particularly of the London theatre scene. Born in 1892, he was also the inventor of the Sashalite, a popular camera flashbulb that was used internationally and created the signature dramatic look of his photographs. Sasha passed away in 1953…The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo was a ballet company founded by Rene Blum and Colonel W. de Basil in 1932. Blum and de Basil created the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo after the death of Sergei Dhivagilev and the dissolution of the original Ballets Russes.

Ram Gopal “Golden Eagle” photograph and autographed card

Black and white photograph of Ram Gopal dancing in “Golden Eagle” or “Garuda” costume by Planet News, Ltd. taken on September 10, 1956. On the back is an inscription that reads: “The Golden Eagle/London: Wearing his exotic Golden Eagle costume, Indian dancer Ram Gopal flies gracefully through the air during rehearsal at the Royal Festival Hall. Ram Gopal and his company of Indian dancers – who have recently been performing at the Edinburgh Festival – open tonight at the Royal Festival Hall for a two-week season. The company, sponsored by the Indian government, is the largest ever to come to this country from India. British film producer Sir Michael Balcon has approached Ram Gopal asking him to consider playing the role in a new film as Buddha. The dancer has not yet indicated whether he will accept.” Included is a card featuring Gopal’s signature in English from the collection of Thomas H. Scullion of the Autograph Collectors Society from the same year….Ram Gopal was an internationally celebrated Burmese-Indian dancer. Known as a master of Indian classical dance, Gopal blended his classical dance background with other modern dance styles. Born in Bangalore, India in 1912, Gopal learned Kathakali – one of eight styles of Indian classical dance – at an early age. As an adult, Gopal gained international renown through his interpretation of Indian classical dance for Western audiences[.]

Ram Gopal “Golden Eagle” photograph, C0483, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Lithographic print portrait of Pauline Viardot

Lithographic print portrait of Pauline Viardot by “L. Loire.” The portrait features a young, likely teenaged Viardot from the waist up in a white dress. Below the portrait it reads in French: “Melle. Pauline Garcia.” Also included is the printer’s information, which reads: “Paris, chez Rosselin, Editeur, 21, Quai Voltaire. No. 146. Lith. Marcilly, rue de la Parchemmerie, No. 2.” The print was made circa 1839…

Pauline Viardot – born Michelle Ferdinande Pauline Garcia Sitches, and also known professionally as Pauline Garcia – was a famous Spanish/French mezzo-soprano opera singer and composer during the second half of the 19th century…[Viardot had] an incredible range (from soprano to contralto) as well as a frequently documented talent for performance. Her most famous and enduring role was that of Orphée (Orpheus) in an 1859 reworked version of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” retitled “Orphée,” by Louis-Hector Berlioz. The role of Orphée had been transposed by Berlioz from a tenor role to a contralto “pants role,” specifically for Viardot. Viardot had a lifelong successful career in music, and later in life turned to composing. She passed away in 1910.

Alvin Ailey photograph by Carl Van Vechten

Black and white gelatin silver photographic print portrait of the dancer Alvin Ailey by Carl Van Vechten, dated March 22, 1955. The photograph features a seated Ailey, presumably in dance costume, holding a woven basket prop. The bottom right corner features a raised stamp that reads “Photograph by Carl Van Vechten[.]” The verso includes a stamp and handwritten notes by Van Vechten…Alvin Ailey was a pioneering African American dancer who was best known for founding the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT)…Ailey went on to a varied and successful career as a dancer and choreographer. Ailey eventually went to dance on Broadway, but his greatest achievement was the founding of the AAADT in 1958…Ailey is considered a beloved figure and legend in the history of American dance, and AAADT thrives to this day. The company has been described as “‘a vital American cultural ambassador to the world’ that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage” (AAADT website). Alvin Ailey passed away in 1988….Carl Van Vechten was an acclaimed American photographer and writer who was known for his portraits of famous artists.

Photograph of Martha Graham in “Mirror Before Me” by Arnold Eagle

Black and white photograph of Martha Graham performing her work “Mirror Before Me” – also known as “Herodiade” – by Arnold Eagle, 1945. The photo features Graham mid-dance in a black dress and posing with an abstract stage prop. The back of the photo features Eagle’s stamp, as well as a handwritten inscription that reads “Martha Graham in ‘Mirror Before Me’ 1945[.]”…Born in 1894 in Pennsylvania, Martha Graham is considered a leading figure of American dance, particularly Modern Dance. Graham created her very own dance style – known as the Graham technique – and founded her dance company in 1926 in Manhattan, New York…Many of Graham’s leading roles focused on great women figures of myth and history. Graham received wide acclaim for her dance and choreography over her lifetime and was granted many awards for her service to the arts. Graham danced well into her seventies, and choreographed into her nineties. She died in 1991 at the age of 96. The Martha Graham Dance Company still performs today…Arnold Eagle was a successful Hungarian-American dance and arts photographer. Born in 1909 in Hungary, Eagle immigrated with his parents to Brooklyn, New York in 1929. Eagle was known for documenting dance companies, particularly the Royal Danish Ballet. He also was a prolific social photographer, and was also known for his photography of New York City’s impoverished Lower East Side Jewish community.

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