Young women were passionate about perpetual motion in 1958.
Schenectady’s Civic Ballet was in its second year. Thirty-five ballerinas were learning pas de chat, pas de deux and other ways to step gracefully, all under the direction of Phyllis Marmein.
“A rigorous schedule of rehearsals has been set up and the young dancers love it,” wrote Dorothy E. Ritz in a story about the troupe that appeared in the Dec. 6 edition of the Schenectady Gazette. “On both Friday evening and Sunday afternoons they gather first for warm-up exercises and then for detailed study of the intricate steps and movements of the individual ballets.”
Fifty years later, ballerinas are busy in December with assorted presentations of the Christmas classic “The Nutcracker.” In 1958, Marmein’s dancers were looking forward to spring and the April 18 performance of three ballets at Linton High School — Marmein’s “The Little Match Girl,” Natalie Federova’s “Classical Variations” and Vladimir Dokoudovsky’s “Dormitory.”
Ballet mistresses were assisting dancers in each production: Marilyn Ramsey of Schenectady for “Match Girl,” Valeria Schiele of Delmar for “Dormitory” and Lynn Gremmler of Albany for the “Variations” number.
Shirley Haynes of New York City also was helping out. She had been both a soloist and former ballet mistress for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
In Schenectady, she helped young women with makeup and demonstrations.
Women appreciated the guidance. There were no men to share the gratitude.
“The company has a serious lack — males,” Ritz wrote. “At least six male dancers will be needed for the planned program and Miss Marmein is busy trying to find them.”
She found at least one. Eugene Tanner of New York City Ballet was featured during the April show.
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