Disc 1 (approximately 49 minutes). August 23, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about his name; his birth in Tiflis [Tʻbilisi ] and his family background; his childhood in Paris and Berlin including his study of piano; various anecdotal reminiscences; his impressions of the Ballets russes [de Monte Carlo] upon seeing them in 1936 and again in 1938, in Berlin; his study of art and design at the Reimann-Schule; his first professional commissions, for costumes for the Berlin Staatsoper; reminiscences of his drawings and of his language studies; additional early commissions, in Dresden for a production of The bartered bride and in Vienna, for a production of Salome [ends abruptly but continues on disc 2].
Disc 2 (approximately 53 minutes). August 23, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about continuing his studies in Berlin and Vienna; designing costumes for a ballet company in Dresden; more on his work for the costumes for Salome in Vienna; life during and immediately after World War II including his father's untimely death and his own illness; his work for the United States Third Army in Germany; moving to Paris in 1947; his life in Paris; the circumstances of his and his mother's emigrating to the United States, in 1951 [ends abruptly but continues on disc 3].
Disc 3 (approximately 48 minutes). August 26, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about emigrating to the United States including his impressions upon sailing into New York harbor; his first commissions in the United States including for the jeweler Harry Winston and for a window display company; his first job designing for television; meeting Lincoln Kirstein and the resultant commissions for New York City Opera including Bluebeard's castle and L'heure espagnole; his work on the opera La cenerentola; the principles that guide his designs for costumes, as for example in [Todd Bolender's] Souvenirs and Glen Tetley's ballet Voluntaries; the factors that guide his designs for stage decor and the four major categories of stage decor [ends abruptly but continues on disc 4].
Disc 4 (approximately 54 minutes). August 26, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about his stage designs including his work for Robert Joffrey's Remembrances and Gerald Arpino's The relativity of Icarus; more on his general principles of set and costume design for ballet and opera; designing for film compared with designing for live theater; his working methods; his thoughts on choreographing and on George Balanchine; colors; other designers for the stage including [Léon] Bakst, Pablo Picasso, [Alexandre] Benois, [Christian] Bénard, and [Natali︠i︡a Sergeevna] Goncharova; recreating Picasso's designs for a revival of [Leonide Massine's] Pulcinella including working with Massine; Martha Graham including his work for her dance Visionary recital [also known as Samson Agonistes] [ends abruptly but continues on disc 5].
Disc 5 (approximately 47 minutes). September 8, 1976, Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about Martha Graham including her profound understanding of the use of stage space; the relationship between the designer and the choreographer; more on Visionary recital; Graham as a person and as an artist including her self-conscious presentation of herself and her art; some thoughts on Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine as choreographers and their relationship with each other; Robbins and his ballets including Afternoon of a faun; Robbins as a dancer [ends abruptly but continues on disc 6].
Disc 6 (approximately 50 minutes). September 8-9, 1976, Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about Jerome Robbins and working with him, including their collaboration on An evening's waltzes; Robbins' dance Dybbuk; Robbins' ballet In G major; Glen Tetley including their collaboration on Tetley's dance Pierrot Lunaire; reflections on the Stuttgarter Ballett, John Cranko and Tetley's relatively brief tenure as Cranko's successor.
Disc 7 (approximately 49 minutes). September 8-9, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about whether, typically, dancers have any control over the design of their costumes; designing costumes for actors including his experience working with Katherine Hepburn; an anecdote about Anna Magnani and her costumes in Medea; Gwen Verdon including his designing of her costumes for the musical comedy New girl in town; designing costumes for Broadway musicals as compared with designing for concert dance performances; his set design for Todd Bolender's Souvenirs; his design, using billowing silk, for Balanchine's Variations pour une porte et un soupir; stage lighting for dance including Balanchine's approach to lighting compared to that of Jerome Robbins; Ter-Arutunian's consciousness of the putative lighting plot when designing sets [ends abruptly but continues on disc 8].
Disc 8 (approximately 48 minutes). September 9, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about his designs for the Stratford festival [American Shakespeare Festival, in Connecticut]; Lincoln Kirstein; George Balanchine including their first collaboration, on a television production of the opera The magic flute; his interpretation of Balanchine's self-description as one who takes, for example from the music he uses; Balanchine's use of color in costumes including his frequent use of pink [ends abruptly].
Disc 9 (approximately 46 minutes). September 21, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about George Balanchine, in particular his personal qualities; working with Balanchine including with respect to Balanchine's ballet Union Jack; the aesthetic judgment behind Balanchine's preference for ballerinas with relatively small heads; more on Union Jack [ends abruptly but continues on disc 10].
Disc 10 (approximately 52 minutes). September 21, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about working with George Balanchine on his ballet Union Jack including Ter-Arutunian's speculation that Balanchine was honoring Lincoln Kirstein's desire to do homage to Great Britain for [the United States] Bicentennial; Kirstein as a collaborator; more on Union Jack including the music hall section; financial aspects of producing costumes and sets at New York City Ballet, for example as in the case of a production of Les sylphides; the longevity of Barbara Karinska's costumes; Balanchine's approach to production costs for example as in his ballet Harlequinade; responsibility for decisions regarding production costs at New York City Ballet including the roles of Balanchine, Kirstein, and Betty Cage [ends abruptly].
Disc 11 (approximately 48 minutes). September 22, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about George Balanchine and New York City Ballet including Balanchine's denial that there is a "Balanchine dancer"; more on designing costumes and sets for New York City Ballet including for Balanchine's ballet Variations pour une porte et un soupir; the flatness of a typical ballet set; his collaboration with Balanchine on the designs for Balanchine's Seven deadly sins; various aspects of having sets built and costumes made; making costumes for Paul Taylor's ballet Fibers; more on the physical construction of a set [ends abruptly but continues on disc 12].
Disc 12 (approximately 50 minutes). September 22, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about creating sets and costumes for George Balanchine and New York City Ballet including Balanchine's not infrequent use of his own ideas; designing costumes for children, as for example in Coppélia (choreographed by Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova after Petipa) and in Balanchine's ballet Harlequinade; more on the creation of Coppélia; Balanchine's perfectionism and complete control of a production; the reasons Seven deadly sins is his favorite of the ballets he has designed for New York City Ballet; Balanchine's [after Ivanov] The nutcracker; Lincoln Kirstein including his relationship with Balanchine; Igor Stravinsky, in particular his composing of The flood for the television dance-drama entitled Noah and the flood; Ter-Arutunian's collaboration with Balanchine on his ballet [Noah and the flood] for the dance-drama [ends abruptly].
Disc 13 (approximately 47 minutes). September 22 and October 12, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about the making of Noah and the flood including his collaboration with George Balanchine; the director, Kirk Browning [ends abruptly but continues on disc 14].
Disc 14 (approximately 51 minutes).October 12, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian continues to speak with Joan Kramer about the television dance-drama Noah and the flood including various reasons why he was dissatisfied with the production; Igor Stravinsky including Ter-Arutunian's post-production correspondence with him about the problems with the production; Stravinsky's astuteness in writing a composition that fit the medium of television; Ter-Arutunian's thoughts on using radical designs for traditional works like Swan lake or The nutcracker; Balanchine's Swan lake; Ter-Arutunian's designs for other ballets choreographed to Stravinsky compositions including [Balanchine's] The song of the nightingale, [Brian Macdonald's] The firebird, and Balanchine's ballets Agon and Symphony in three movements [ends abruptly].
Disc 15 (approximately 49 minutes). October 12, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about designing a costume when he knows the identity of the dancer who will be wearing it, for example as in the case of Suzanne Farrell; his admiration for the designs in [Balanchine's] ballet Bugaku; his ideas for Swan lake; working with Rudolf Nureyev in connection with Glen Tetley's ballet Laborintus; Lucia Chase and American Ballet Theatre including the company and its management as compared with New York City Ballet; the relationship between Jerome Robbins and Balanchine; briefly, Antony Tudor and American Ballet Theatre; Paul Taylor including their early collaboration, on Taylor's work Fibers; Taylor's work Insects and heroes [ends abruptly but continues on disc 16].
Disc 16 (approximately 42 minutes). October 12, 1976. Rouben Ter-Arutunian speaks with Joan Kramer about certain remarks Lincoln Kirstein made about Jerome Robbins; his impressions of the Royal Ballet; business and rights issues; lighting design; briefly, other designers he admires; the compartmentalization of design and the other creative elements in the United States; his impressions of the musical play A chorus line; briefly, his impressions of various ballet productions and ballet dancers; his hope to continue working with George Balanchine.