Alexandra Danilova was the first of George Balanchine's lifetime of muses. Balanchine created 18 ballets for her, the first of which was 1921's "Poeme." The partially spoken-word piece was one of the first "modern ballets" -- and positioned Danilova as the first of the "modern" ballerinas.
Legend has it that Bertolt Brecht's world was turned upside down by a Chinese opera star. The European playwright, who felt that physicality had more integrity than speech, met a revelation of the body's true mutability in the person Mei Lan-Fang. To Brecht's amazement, Mei could use pure movement to
In the '70s and early '80s, ballet in America became, fleetingly, a pinnacle of popularized glamor. The blinding star of this bright moment was Mikhail Baryshnikov, known even to philistines as the charismatic Misha. He swiftly became the saving grace of ballet's lagging box office after critic Clive
A protege of dancers Eubie Blake and Noble Sissel, 15-year-old Josephine Baker began her career on the vaudeville circuits, touring with Bessie Smith as a chorus girl. After Broadway appearances in "Shuffle Along" (1921) -- which marked the advent of the black theatrical renaissance, and "Chocolate D