Centennial Remembrances

   

Antony Tudor (née: William John Cook)

“A true teacher doesn’t ‘teach’; he shows you how to learn.” - Antony Tudor


Dancers from all over the world were influenced by working with Antony Tudor. Following are some remembrances from The Antony Tudor Centennial Celebration, March 29-30, 2008.

Photo by Elizabeth Sawyer

 

Please fill out an online Remembrance Form about your memories of Tudor or any of his ballets: Remembrance Form


"Koans are questions in baffling language that point to ultimate truth. They cannot be solved by logical reasoning - only by awakening a deeper level of the mind beyond the intellect. Dancing koans were a teaching method that Tudor used frequently to get his students to approach dancing on another level. He would ask his students baffling questions in order to get their minds (and bodies) to a certain level of consciousness. Tudor continually challenged and taught us all technically, musically and spiritually. He is still teaching us through his works."
Yasuko Tokunaga



"He had totally different eyes. They always used to say that he had one eye that looked like an angel’s. And the other eye looked like a devil’s.

When he gave class he always wore wide trousers and those different coloured, short-sleeved loose shirts, which were tied in front. He always came into the class carrying a brown paper bag with a coffee in it. He smoked cigarettes. When he sat, he had an amazing posture, a fantastic head and neck. He always sat with a very straight back. He only occasionally would raise his eyebrows - very aristocratic, but always with irony.

It was in Juilliard the first time I saw him, when he and José Limón met in the corridor. They were two kings who passed each other without looking.

In his classes he often gave beautiful and very exceptional musical combinations. Once there was a ballerina who lifted her legs behind her ears - literally behind her ears. He stood himself in front of her and said: “This is not poetry, darling.”

Pina Bausch



"His barre work was always intricate. If you looked down while he explained, you were lost. However, during the barre, he often walked the circumference of the studio stopping abruptly to see if you were feeling the emotion of the exercise. It was never just intricate barre-work; believe it or not, he wanted you to “dance” at the barre."
Kathleen Harty Gray



"I have been speaking with Sally Bliss about Mr Tudor’s choreography, especially in respect to its being out of current repertoire. There was some rather inconclusive discussion during one of the panels at the Juilliard meeting about contemporary audiences not understanding the “classicism” of Tudor. Ms Bliss and I both agree that one of the problems with educating current audiences about Tudor is the concurrent lack of almost any presence in the repertoire of those choreographers who were Tudor’s direct precursors—namely, Fokine and Massine. Understanding these masters is almost a prerequisite to understanding Tudor, and, of course, is valuable for other reasons. I first saw Les Sylphides with Ballet Theatre in 1949—less than ten years after Fokine himself set it on that company. Nobody does Les Sylphides any more, and the last time I saw the Russians do Chopiniana it was a travesty. (The Russians think they understand Fokine, but from what I have seen or read they are mistaken.) Massine repertoire nowadays seems to begin and end with Gaite Parisienne, and even if I were not one of Tudor’s “aging devotees” I am sure I would think Tudor’s version superior. It is a scandal to the jaybirds that Massine and Fokine are not more seen these days—when the Joffrey did Les Presages some years ago I and my contemporaries were thrilled. We stood around in the lobby grinning like idiots."
Judith Judson



"I took the elevator to the sixth floor, changed for class, went to the barre and began the plie sequence that Tudor conceived for that class. I thought that I was doing just about nothing with all too little energy. Then, in the midst of our tendu combination, Mr. Tudor walked over to me and stared. I stared back and after a moment of sheer embarrassment, I apologized that I wasn't really this lazy and I promised that as the class progressed, I would show more strength, but that I had just been doing the constructive rest position for much too long and was reeling from the effects.

Mr. Tudor then, for his first important correction to me said, "This is the first time that I've seen you do anything right."

His comment was life transforming for me not only professionally but personally. Tudor approved of a my totally new path that I had just discovered that very morning."

Myron Nadel



"But then one day I gathered up my courage to ask him for something. Actually it wasn't "one day", it took me weeks to decide to confront him him. Someone from my generation did not speak to THE LEGEND lightly. There were two roles that I felt or believed that I was very suited for in the Tudor canon, the TRANSGRESSOR in UNDEROW and THE BOY WITH MATTED HAIR in SHADOWPALY. He had already cast me as a SATYRISCI in UNDERTOW and there were too many dancers learning the TRANSGRESSOR, but SHODOWPLAY to my mind seemed a possibility. I had thoroughly rehearsed what I was going to say to him and it had to be quick and to the point. At ABT, he was difficult to pin down. The moment came, I stopped him between rehearsals, gathered up my courage and politely said, "Mr. Tudor, could I ask you something?" He stopped in his tracks abruptly, stared down his eagle nose at me and I said rather calmly to my surprise, "I was wondering if you would consider allowing me to learn THE BOY WITH MATTED HAIR in SHADOWPLAY." Without missing a beat he calmly said, "I don't know (pause), its something to do with Freddie Franklin's tap dancing days". Then he abruptly walked away, leaving me there, staring into space, pondering a statement that, to me, could have come from Lewis Carroll's ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS for all that I could deduce from his statement at that moment.

After I broke my Tudor induced motionless hypnotic trance, having maintained what I am sure was a perplexed and quizzical look on my face while people walked pass me, I wandered off to my next rehearsal, fully realizing that he had had his way with me and successfully thwarted further discussion of an apparently distasteful idea.

Nevertheless, I continued to be called to his rehearsals and, as stated before, was extraordinarily fortunate enough to be a part of the creative process that was Antony Tudor choreographing THE LEAVES ARE FADING and also watching him create THE TILLER IN THE FIELDS.
"
Kirk Peterson



"Here was a man teaching us, unselfishly, what the art form was all about. Making us aware of the musicality that should be integral part of the art form in every step. The flow of his classes translated into his persona. Perhaps a few times stepping down to lift his pants and show us some steps or rhythm. His correction, perhaps cutting to some filled with images that perhaps because of my “dirty mind” as I come from South America, made total sense. And soon I was not only working as hard as I could but laughing silently and at times loudly, as all his teaching reached me. "
Michael Uthoff



"Again, I must make reference to Tudor’s subtle, dry wit. It was always present. It was a part of him, a style. Two situations particularly come to mind. The first, so subtle I think you would have to really know Tudor to even get that humor was involved. The great premiere dancer Eric Bruhn used to take Tudor’s class. Once when Eric Bruhn was taking class, Tudor said, “I will not be able to teach one day next week. Mr. Bruhn will teach the class. Mr. Bruhn teaches the Bourneville method,” His inflection of the words “Bourneville method” was mildly sardonic, but in a humorous and playful manner. The second incident I recall was not quite as subtle. The great dramatic ballerina, Nora Kaye, took Tudor’s class. Apparently Ms. Kaye had told Tudor she would be in class that morning and did not show up. After about five minutes of barre, he yelled up to Marcella Corvino, the school secretary, and instructed her to call Nora Kaye and say, “What the Hell!” and hang up."
Howard White


 

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