Sometimes–rarely–I find myself in the right place at the right time. This was one of those times.
Although I hadn’t written for A+C in sometime, I found that I could contribute my dance love in a new form: research. Nancy contacted me during our crazy fall season last year. My time had to be split four ways and my archive projects were on virtual hold at that time due to unforeseeable and emotionally crippling internal events there… but after getting that first inquire from Nancy about this passion project, I felt revitalized. How can you say no to researching Anna Sokolow?!
I had to help, because I was basically the only person who cares AND has the most dedicated time for blind searching AND has knowledge outside our 16/17 ballet lexicon. If I didn’t answer her call to search for everything Sokolow in our unorganized archives, who would?
I’ve known about Sokolow for years, after first learning about her in undergrad fashion during Dance History. You know–Duncan, Graham, Doris, Anna. She’s a legend and a heroine. I found a library copy of The Rebellious Spirit in 2013 and ate it up. Then I saw her name in our old Rep List and thought, how odd and cool, but didn’t have time to look into it past that–I had original photo prints to scan, season dates to confirm, and basic ballet rep history info sheets to create for my department.
I’m so glad Nancy took the time to dig and dig into this woman’s wonderful career in TX. We’ve attracted a lot of big names in dance over the years, but I feel like all names should be recognized. Adding Sokolow to the mix is just another step in the process of archiving and publicizing this great state’s history in the arts, dance especially. I’m a proud native Texan–most of the time– and can honestly say that we’re a rich creative land, not just cacti and guns (although cacti and guns are at the very core of TX too).
So please take some time to read this fascinating travel into TX dance history and Sokolow’s riveting career here, spanning from HB to UT-Austin to UNT. (P.S. I get a shout-out, my first and probably last as a little intern at HB!) Also, I need to get around to writing out a more complete archive post on here, so hopefully this is just the starting point of chronicling my last months as HB’s ballet archivist.
I’ve always had a pestering curiosity about Anna Sokolow. A great American choreographer who influenced the development of modern dance in America, Israel, and Mexico—to say nothing of the famous actors who credit her as a force in their training, including Faye Dunaway, Julie Harris, Eva-Marie Saint, Jean Stapleton, Eli Wallach, Patti LuPone, and Kevin Kline—Sokolow nevertheless remains at the periphery of the canon…
Under the list of companies that performed her work I found this entry: “Houston Ballet, Opus ‘65, 1969.” What? So how did this idiosyncratic choreographic voice end up at Houston Ballet, a company still in its infancy in 1969?