Tuesday, April 29, 2008

past returns

Today I am not sure what to write about but I wanted to post something. I am delighted to see the sun back today but the two rainy days really greened the trees and grass up and kept the pollen down both pleasing results of these chilly wet days. This morning the pavers are finishing up the repaving of the street under my windows. Nice new black top all around. 
I have a house wren in the bird house gourd that I hung in our lilac tree a few weeks ago. Today was the first time I saw our wren after hearing his song a day or two back. I had a surprise call on Sunday from John Kelly my old friend in NYC. He was calling to invite me to come up to NYC for a discussion at LaMaMa E.T.C. Theater in the East Village about our days in the Original Trockadero Gloxinia Ballet with the amazing creator and director Madame Ekathrina Sobechanskaya aka Larry Ree. It will be a panel discussion with others from the Pyramid Club where we opened our new Trocadero company for two weeks of shows in 1982. I am excited to be recounting the stories I can remember and realized I better get busy thinking and writing about them so I can remember as much as possible. I have posted the few images I have from our posters and one photo by Donald Callahan that was taken of us in tableaux at the end of our Pas de Quatre when we performed it at the now defunct Cat Club. 
We began with our version of the Trockadero with Madame and 8 dancers. Only Madame and Grace had done this before the rest of us were beginners in the art of ballet en travesti . We spent about 6 weeks training and learning the dances and how to bead costumes in the rehearsal rooms of LaMaMa on East 4th St. I was invited to join by John Kelly who had met Larry Ree in some bar and been invited. We both had ballet training and I don't think either of us had thought of doing it in drag. I recall the day John came to ask me if I wanted to join the company. He came over for a coffee and told me about meeting Larry and what he wanted to do was get about 12 tall men to join his company and put on a show of Anna Pavlova style Russian 19th century ballet. We would all get our own pair of toe/pointe shoes and he had all the costumes and wigs to fit us that we would need. All we had to supply was a willingness to learn the dances, tights to cover our hairy legs and some makeup. Other requirements would be detailed later and we were to learn there were some very strict rules that had to be followed to be part of Madame's company of grand dames. One of the first things we learned as Madame's ballerinas was not to mug or do anything intentionally to get laughs from the audience. Madame's dislike of mugging, it seems came from some dark history with the other ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo whom broke off from Madame's company and began dancing as clowns which he found very repugnant. He said that we didn't need to do anything to make people laugh because the site of a six foot man in a tutu, wing, tights and toe shoes was funny enough. In the end Madame was right, the more serious we were the more the audiences laughed. The posters at the top detail our first run at the Pyramid and then later smaller shows that Madame, John Kelly and myself performed after the bigger group was disbanded. I danced with Madame from 1982 until about 1989 when a return trip to NYC to dance for a week caused me to get infected toe nails and I decided it was time for me to lay down my pointe shoes for good. Then I grew a goatee and soon after joined ACTUP DC and marched on NIH  to protest for access to AIDS drugs. 

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