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Posts from New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center

Kinokophonography: A Closer Relationship With Listening...

Are you curious about The Library for the Performing Arts upcoming Kinokophonography Night, February 6, 6:30 p.m.? Below is a guest post by renowned sound artist Jez Riley French. Mr. French has submitted a work of recorded sound that is featured on our Kinokophonography Night program. He writes about his motivation, his work, and his process.Read More ›

Focus on Stage Lighting: Faust

This week’s post serves as a caption for the alternative image that the Library’s opening web page has been using when it highlights the Vandamm exhibition, Pioneering Poet of Light. Again, the web editors selected well, since the photograph of Faust illustrates the title so well.Read More ›

Memorial for Jean Léon Destiné at 92nd Street Y

A memorial is being held for Jean Léon Destiné, master Haitian dancer, choreographer and drummer, who passed on January 22, 2013. This will be at the 92nd Street Y on January 24, 2014, during their program Fridays at Noon: The Legacy of Jean-Léon Destiné. Read More ›

Violets and Vandamm

Part of the job of performance documentation was creation of images for the promotional articles, that ran in magazines such as Theatre. The featured play article featured 6 – 8 photographs of stage action laid out like a fashion magazine images cropped into rectangles and ovals connected by 1 sentence plot summaries. The article gives you a taste of the story line while promoting performers. The Vandamm Studio was especially good at preserving moments that convey emotional impact – viewers know that something important just happened.

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Kinokophonography Night at the Library for the Peforming Arts

It was March of this year when I first heard from Amanda Belantera, who had begun her initial search for a New York City home for Kinokophonography Night. Amanda, along with the Kinokophone Collective, has produced Kinokophonography events throughout the UK and in Japan. Kinokophone organized the event as a place for recordists, phonographers, and listeners to gather and share in a night of sounds from all over the world. (Some favorites of the past have included a snail eating a peach, and the juxtaposition of underground 

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Khmer Dance Project Videos Available Online

One of the stunning new collections from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division now available in the Library’s Digital Collections is the Khmer Dance Project (KDP). Funded by a grant from the Anne Hendricks Bass Foundation, the KDP began in 2008 when the Center for Khmer Studies partnered with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division to interview and film the three generations of artists - including dancers, musicians and singers, as well as embroiderers and dressers - who kept dance alive during and in the wake of the Khmer Rouge regime. The New York Public Library offers streaming video of all 

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Finding a Life at The New York Public Library: Emily Dickinson, the Avid Music Collector

December 10th is the birthday of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), a beloved poet who in her youth was a talented pianist and active music collector. The collections of The New York Public Library serve to illuminate those interests and activities in a variety of ways.

Archives & Special Collections,Amherst College, used with permission.In 1846, Emily Dickinson's second cousin, Olivia Coleman, wrote to Emily from Philadelphia: "We discovered a new Music Store, and I purchased the song 'I'm alone—all alone,' for I am truly alone without 

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Those Mysterious Shadowy Dancers

This post answers a question about the image that the Library’s web page has been using when it highlights the Vandamm exhibition, Pioneering Poet of Light. I was thrilled when the web editors selected it, since it illustrates the title so well. So, here’s an extended caption, with musical accompaniment.

Three’s a Crowd was a revue, presented in the 1930-1931 season. Like The Band Wagon in last week's post, it was choreographed by the brilliantly innovative Albertina Rasch and paired a young Broadway/vaudeville veteran with a European ballet 

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Musical of the Month: Are You With It?

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

The cast of Are You With It? (Photo by The Graphic House)November 1945. The New York Post calls it "a long-awaited musical comedy hit;" Universal purchases the film rights for more than $100,000; and The New York Times urges its readers to "hurry, hurry folks and get your tickets. On second thought, it probably isn't necessary to break a neck: this carnival should be hereabouts for a long time to come."

If you've never heard of this raucous entertainment 

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"What Do You Say Up There?" Shooting the Set from Above

The most recent post looked at Vandamm photographs of dance rehearsals from footholds on the catwalks, ladders and rigging stations of Broadway theaters. This one focuses on their photographs of the stage crew setting up for those rehearsals.

Like all theater photographers, they depended on the crews to set scenes, move furniture and props, and adapt lighting. But, as you can see from the portraits and action shots, the Vandamms esteemed their IATSE colleagues and photographed them with the same respect as the performers. There are portraits of individuals or 

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Review of "Exploring The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records" LIVE at NYPL

The line formed early outside of Edna Barnes Salomon Reading Room as this particular event in the Live from the NYPL series was the hottest ticket in town on a cold fall night. Who would have thought that a round table discussion regarding the collapse of quirky record 

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"Hey Up There" Looking Down on Dancers

“Hey up there”

Broadway precision chorus lines were a staple of musical comedies and revues. A straight line of precision tappers, kickers or steppers could excite the audience in the orchestra, looking slightly up, or balcony, from which they were looking slightly down. But Broadway-trained Hollywood dance directors were giving audiences a multitude of angled points-of-view thanks to cameras and booms.

In the 1930s, the Vandamms went all out to give 

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Time Machine: Concatenations in Time Travel, VHS a cc: to the Future

I am remembering our old purchase order form, a multi copy (ten copies press firmly) missive to Ruth, our beloved curmudgeon in Purchasing (her voicemail began with a sigh). Each copy was fainter and less readable than its predecessor. I am thinking about VHS, a format that succeeded by virtue of its worst quality, the ability to record at a slower speed (up to six hours on a T-120 cassette). What better way for balletomanes to compile every dance performance ever broadcast on two 

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Over 4,000 Dance Prints and Designs Now Available

The Jerome Robbins Dance Division just completed a two year project to catalog our backlog of dance related artwork. We are thrilled to announce that a total of 4,349 objects were cataloged and are now available to the public for research. Retired staff member Susan Au was hired for this project and she researched, cataloged, and rehoused these materials. This blog post is taken from her final report on the project. This project was made possible through funds generously donated from the Friends of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, which is co-chaired by Anne Bass and Caroline Cronson. Read More ›

The Line King's Vandamms

It has been a while since the last blog post. I have been busy with the installation and opening tours related to our final Fall exhibition, The Line Kings’ Library: Al Hirschfeld at The NYPL, which is on view in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery here through January 4, 2014. It, the Vandamm exhibit and Michael Peto: Stage in 

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Treasures, Oddities and Ephemera: 3-D Objects from Billy Rose Theatre Division’s Theatre Cabinets

The Theatre Cabinets (or T-Cabinets as we call them) of the Billy Rose Theatre Division are packed full of objects large and small. The cabinets are a repository for all the three-dimensional items that have accompanied our larger collections or have been given to the division separately as a gift. I absolutely love the T-cabinets. Being hidden in the back of a locked cage and full of mysterious items is only part of the allure. The other part is the extreme variety of the items themselves.

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Preserving the Visual Past: An Introduction

When people ask me what I do, I usually answer them by stating that I'm in the restoration business. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of This Old House knows what it is when something is restored. Restoring an item also has this connotation that you will soon get that object back near its original form. It is easier to grasp and I get less blank stares. It is another story altogether when I tell them I work in Preservation.

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Beyond the Jersey Shore: 1920s Snapshots From a Chorus Girl's Scrapbook

Today's guest blog is by Suzanne Lipkin, who processed the Marion Lichtman Setlowe papers for the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Marion Lichtman, 1920'sFriday April 9, 1926 I left Atlantic City to go on the road. I was in Second Year High School. I was 16 years of age on March 25, 1926. I joined the Dancing Debs. at Levoy Theatre, Milville, 

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Time Machine: Problematic Travel with U-matic

U-matic was once the industry's serviceable vehicle. Today it could take you back 40 years or more. If you intend to take a ride, you will have to accept a few compromises, as with any antique vehicle maintenance and parts are always a concern. The most charming artifact of the older black and white recordings is lag or ghosting in the camera imaging tube in which people appear to leave their bodies and follow themselves about, making every solo an eerie duet. 

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Or She to Hecuba... Vandamm's Greek Plays

Thorndike's 1919 production of The Trojan WomenDuring the War, Florence Vandamm had not lost her skill at showing character and movement. Her career was, in many ways, redefined by the portraits commissioned by Suffragist actress Sybil Thorndike in 1919. She photographed the cast of the 1919-1920 Holborn Empire (Theater) season of classical Greek and modern plays presented by Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson.

The images were used for press reproduction and in the season program. Thorndike chose to present the Gilbert Murray translations of The Trojan Women and 

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