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Blog Posts by Subject: Performing Arts

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 ›

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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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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Commémoration du cinquantenaire de la mort de Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)

Jean Cocteau était un écrivain français, cinéaste et artiste aux multiples talents reconnu internationalement et cette année marque le cinquantenaire anniversaire de son décès. Pour cette occasion on veut commémorer l’héritage littéraire, cinématographique et artistique de son œuvre.

« D'abord attiré par la société aristocratique, il publie le Prince frivole (1910). Il se tourne ensuite vers les dadaïstes, avec lesquels il organise des spectacles de choc 

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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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Number One Hits for the Year: 1979

I was recently going through a box of old photographs and came across photos from the first concert I ever attended: Kiss. October 21, 1979. Houston Summit. I was 10.

That got me to thinking of the music from that year.

1979 marked the end of arguably one of the most unfortunate eras in American music history:

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Children's Theater in New York City

A patron wrote in to ASK NYPL, the virtual reference service of The New York Public Library, to find out about the state of children's theater in New York City. More specifically, the patron wanted to know the total number of children age 6-11 in each of the five boroughs of the City; the various theaters in the City that feature children's 

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Across A Crowded Room Meetup

UPDATED: September 25, 2013

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is excited to announce the first ever meetup for participants in the musical theater writing game, Across A Crowded Room

Participants have been placed into nine groups, each with a composer, a lyricist, a book-writers, and a singer, and given 10 days to a plot a synopsis with song titles and at least one complete song (with music and lyrics) in response to the prompt:  

Write a musical set during the 2013 NYC mayoral 

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Musical of the Month: Bless You All

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

Between March 1946 and December 1948, six highly successful musical revues opened on Broadway, playing a combined total of 2,653 performances and marking a brief resurgence of the once fashionable form. The rapturous response to these half-dozen hits was quite likely the driving force behind the pack of ten new entries that stormed the scene in the three years that followed (1949-1951).

However, with the exception of the Bert Lahr-Dolores Gray vehicle

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Vandamm and the Antarctic, Part 2

Vandamm scrapbook, Billy Rose Theatre DivisionThere is evidence that Commander Evans distributed autographed copies of portraits at his lectures, probably the Vandamm portrait. There is a description, here in the LPA collections, of attending his lecture and receiving an autographed portrait. Unfortunately, it is fictional, but…

Such an experience is detailed in descriptions of New York activities in Our Mutual Girl, a promotional magazine for fans of a film serial made by Mutual and 

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Vandamm and the Antarctic, Part I

Vandamm scrapbook, Billy Rose Theatre DivisionOne of the factors that brought success to the Florence Vandamm Studio in London and, later the Vandamm Studio in NYC, was her ability to keep track of negatives. This blog contains a prime early demonstration of that ability. Spoiler Alert—it gets a little bit surreal.

Like many photo studios, she created pairs of photographs of military officers and their wives, before assignments overseas. In 1912, she made a set of photographs (profiles, seated, standing, together, and separately) for a Royal Navy officer, 

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Florence Vandamm

Perhaps the most widely published and least understood visual record of 20th century performing arts, the output of the Vandamm Studio has largely been utilized only as illustrative backdrop for the retelling of Broadway history. The prints, contact sheets, and negatives of theater, music and dance in London (1908–1923) and New York (1924–1963) are among the Library for the Performing Arts's most requested treasures.

Few are aware that the visionary photographer and portraitist who lent her talent and name to the studio was a woman and one who opened her 

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When They Trod the Boards: Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad-Ass on Broadway

Being an actor doesn't shield you from having a conscience.

—Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito, as Gus Fring, stares down a sniper in the TV series Breaking Bad, 2011.Giancarlo, as Julio, sings in the Broadway musical Seesaw, 1973.A true NYC moment: Giancarlo and brother Vincent take a sidewalk hotdog break during the musical The Me Nobody Knows, 1971. Photo: NewsdayI don't know how the final season of the TV series Breaking Bad will end, but it is pretty clear that Walter White is on a one-way trip to hell. As the well-intentioned chemistry teacher turned 

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The Ken Dewey Collection

All images were used with permission from the Dewey estate.

Dewey's notes for Museum Piece on a map of the Moderna Museet.Picture this: it is April 1963, and you are in Stockholm at the Moderna Museet. Currently on display is the American Pop Art Show. You walk into the museum and are instructed to sit in one of the galleries in a section of chairs arranged to mimic the seats of a subway car. Other people are in chair arrangements that resemble boats, a helicopter, and a tank. Over the next two hours the following events take place: a woman holds forth a conversation with a 

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Stephen Porter (1925-2013)

Photo: Martha SwopeA death notice for the theater director Stephen Porter appears in today's New York Times. Porter, who died on June 11 at the age of 87, won two Drama Desk Awards (for They Knew What They Wanted and Man and Superman) and was twice nominated for the Tony (for The School for Wives and Chemin de Fer).

Porter was associated for many years with the APA Phoenix and New Phoenix repertory companies, where he directed actors like Rachel 

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"Across A Crowded Room": Announcing the Musical Theater Summer Songwriting Series

Musical theater is an exceptionally collaborative art form, and finding the right collaborator can be as complicated as dating. Although New York City is filled with hopeful musical theater writers and composers, it is also, as Sondheim's Marta sings in Company, "a city of strangers" where making connections of any kind can be difficult.

However, part of the mission of the New York Public Library is to "strengthen our communities," and so today I am pleased to announce Across A Crowded Room a summer project that I hope will strengthen the 

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When They Trod the Boards: Christopher Walken, Song and Dance Man

How do we love Christopher Walken? On his 70th birthday, let us count the ways. Star of film, TV, and NYPL's own iBook Point, somehow everyone has a favorite film that stars him, be it The Deer Hunter, True Romance, or Pulp Fiction. The consummate villain, he faced off

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Interviews with the Rich and Famous: The Brant Mewborn Interview Collection

The Brant Mewborn collection of interviews was recently processed, preserved, and cataloged.  This collection is a treasure trove of original interviews — conducted by Mewborn for his background research for various Rolling Stone articles, and for freelance pieces — with personalities of the 1970s and 1980s.

Brant Mewborn (1951-1990), a staff reporter and chief editor at Rolling Stone, conducted numerous interviews during this period 

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Announcing the Dorothy Loudon Exhibition

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce the release of the Dorothy Loudon Digital Exhibition.

Dorothy Loudon (1925-2003) was a Tony Award-winning Broadway star, cabaret singer, and television performer. She is best remembered for her performance as Miss Hannigan in the original Broadway cast of Annie and for the playing the leading role of Bea Asher in the 1978 musical Ballroom.

This online exhibit, funded by a generous grant from the

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Musical of the Month: Evangeline

A guest post by Brian D. Valencia

Evangeline Ad - Ann Arbor Courier 1-18-1888 (Old News, Ann Arbor)

Evangeline, or The Belle of Acadia rounds out the Musical of the Month blog's consideration of the four most popular American-devised musicals of the late 19th century. Only The Black Crook  (1866) surpassed Evangeline in frequency, longevity, and popularity—and  

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