As such she broke one of the last major color barriers in classical ballet. As ballet master for the Metropolitan Opera from 1951 to 1958, Solov gave the company's dance troupe greater visibility -- choreographing scenes in operas such as "Carmen" and Aida.
He also hired the troupe's first African American ballerina, Janet Collins. Zachary Solov, a ballet dancer and former chief choreographer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, died Nov. 6 in New York City. He had been hospitalized after a heart attack and died at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, according to Dean Temple, who is writing Solov's authorized biography.
He created dances with style and flair, Temple said, adding that pieces Zachary choreographed were intensely lively and technically demanding. Solov was trained in tap as well as ballet, and moved easily between classical dance and stage shows throughout his career. He performed on Broadway and on popular television programs.
Ary Solov, 81, Dancer With Met Opera, Dies. Continue reading the main storyShare This Page. Zachary Solov, a dancer and choreographer who led the Metropolitan Opera Ballet when Rudolf Bing was the opera's general manager, died on Saturday in New York. He was 81 and lived in Manhattan.
The cause was heart failure, said Dean Temple, who is writing Mr. Solov's career was wide ranging.
He danced with pioneering American ballet companies like the Littlefield Ballet, George Balanchine's American Ballet Caravan and Eugene Loring's Dance Players. He also partnered Carmen Miranda in the Roxy theater's stage show and performed with American Ballet Theater before Bing invited him to be ballet master of the Metropolitan Opera's ballet in 1951.
Solov's first actions at the Met was to engage Janet Collins as the ballet troupe's first black star and the first black artist to be under regular contract at the Metropolitan (four years before Marian Anderson sang there). Collins for a new production of "Aida" in 1951, and later in "Carmen, " "La Gioconda" and other operas until she left in 1954.Solov tried to have dance figure more prominently within Met productions despite the usual stepchild status of dance on the opera stage. Continue reading the main story. In addition to the dances he created for operas, Mr. Solov choreographed independent ballets presented by the Metropolitan. These included "Vittorio, " in which he appeared with the ballerina Mia Slavenska in 1955, and Soirée, which he created in 1956 for Oleg Briansky and Mary Ellen Moylan, a guest artist and a star with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Ballet Theater.
Solov also choreographed for Metropolitan Opera performances featured on the television program Omnibus. He left the company in 1958, but was guest choreographer there until the mid-1980's. Solov was born to deaf parents in Philadelphia and studied there at the Dauphin School of the Arts and the Littlefied Ballet School. He was a child tap-dancer, appearing with the young Honi Coles, and on radio shows like The Horn & Hardart Children's Hour. Newsletter Sign UpContinue reading the main story.Every week, stay on top of the top-grossing Broadway shows, recent reviews, Critics' Picks and more. You agree to receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times's products and services. His association with Caroline Littlefield at her school brought him into contact with her daughters, Catherine and Dorothie, when they formed the Littlefield Ballet in the 1930's. As one of the first professional American ballet companies outside an opera house, the troupe set new standards and later provided Balanchine with many of his first dancers in the United States. Solov moved from the Littlefield Ballet to the School of American Ballet, founded by Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, and was sent on the 1941 Latin American tour of American Ballet Caravan, a short-lived precursor to New York City Ballet. Permanent ballet companies were few at the time and Mr. Solov, like many other classically trained dancers, appeared in stage shows. Leonid Leonidoff hired him for the Roxy. He also danced leading roles in Loring's experimental troupe, Ballet Players, and in operettas choreographed by Balanchine for the New Opera Company. After he was drafted into the Army in 1943, Mr. Solov danced in and choreographed 35 Army revues in the United States and Asia. From 1946 to 1949 he performed with Ballet Theater: one of his major roles was in "Shadow of the Wind, " a work considered ahead of its time and choreographed by Antony Tudor to Mahler's Lied von der Erde. Solov also appeared on Broadway and danced on television in "Your Show of Shows" and The Fred Allen Show. " In 1954 he choreographed "The Golden Apple for Ballet Sextette, made up of Maria Tallchief and other stars of New York City Ballet. After leaving his position at the Met he headed his own group, Zachary Solov Ballet Ensemble, and created dances for regional ballet troupes and musicals.
He was the author, with William English, of a book, Basic Ballet: A New Way to Learn the Fundamentals. Solov is survived by a sister, Sylvia Rosenfeld of Philadelphia; a nephew, Arthur Rosenfeld, also of Philadelphia; and a niece, Ruthie Rosenfeld McCarthy of New York. Janet Collins, prima ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early 1950's and one of a very few black women to become prominent in American classical ballet, died on Wednesday in Fort Worth. She was 86 and lived there. Collins taught dance, choreographed, performed on Broadway and in film and appeared frequently on television.But she was best known as the exquisitely beautiful dancer who was the first black artist to perform at the Metropolitan, four years before Marian Anderson sang there.'She was a great inspiration to me as a child in Trinidad,'' the dancer and painter Geoffrey Holder said.'What she did by dancing the way she did -- to be prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera House -- gave everybody hope. Collins made her New York debut in 1949, dancing in her own choreography on a shared program at the 92nd Street Y. John Martin, dance critic of The New York Times, described her as''the most exciting young dancer who has flashed across the current scene in a long time,'' calling her style an eclectic mix of modern dance and ballet.'There is a wonderful sense of aliveness in the dancer's presence and in her moving,'' Martin wrote.'She is not self-absorbed, but is dancing completely and wholesouledly for an audience.
On the other hand, there is no air of showing off about it, no coyness or coquetry, but only an apparent desire to establish and maintain a communicative contact.' He praised her for the sharp, clean precision,''the piquant tang, the arresting mental vigor'' of her dancing and choreography. Collins's next triumph came the following year on Broadway in the Cole Porter musical''Out of This World.' Playing the role of Night, she danced an airborne solo created for her by Hanya Holm.She went from there to the Metropolitan, where she appeared as a principal dancer. She performed lead roles in''Aida,''''Carmen,'' the Dance of the Hours in''La Gioconda'' and the Bacchanale in''Samson and Delilah. It was not until two decades after she left the Met, however, that she was to receive major attention again in New York when, in 1974, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater paid homage to her and Pearl Primus as pioneering black women in dance. Born in New Orleans, Ms.
Collins moved with her family to Los Angeles at age 4. She received her first dance training at a Catholic community center and went on to study primarily with Carmelita Maracci, one of the few ballet teachers who accepted black students, and with Lester Horton and Adolph Bolm. Stay on top of the latest in pop and jazz with reviews, interviews, podcasts and more from The New York Times music critics. She auditioned in Los Angeles for the Ballet Russe but said she had been told that she would either have to have special roles created for her or dance in white face.'I said no,'' she told Anna Kisselgoff in a 1974 interview in The Times.'I sat on the steps and I cried and cried.' But the rejection spurred her, she said, to work even harder, hard enough to be an exception. Collins danced with Katherine Dunham and performed with the Dunham company in the 1943 film musical''Stormy Weather. She also danced a solo choreographed by Jack Cole in the 1946 film''The Thrill of Brazil,'' and worked with the filmmaker Maya Deren. She toured with Talley Beatty in a nightclub act that was sometimes billed as Rea and Rico De Gard to prevent speculation about the two light-skinned dancers' race. Collins was most active during the 1950's, when she toured with her own dance group throughout the United States and Canada and taught at academies including the School of American Ballet, affiliated with the New York City Ballet; Harkness House; and the San Francisco Ballet School. Collins is survived by a brother, Earnest, of Fort Worth, and a sister, Betty Wilkerson of Pasadena, Calif. Anet Collins broke color barriers in the 1950s when she became the first African American prima ballerina and one of the very few prominent black women in American classical ballet. Collins was born on March 17, 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She and her family moved to Los Angeles, where Collins started taking private dance lessons at a Catholic community center.
Collins continued her dance training with Carmelita Maracci, who was one of the few dance teachers during the time to accept black students. By the age of 15, Janet Collins was prepared to audition for Lèonide Massine and the De Basil Ballet Russe Company. Although she was accepted into the company, she declined the offer after being told that she would either need special roles created for her or dance in white face to disguise the fact that she was black.
An upset Collins left the audition in tears and vowed to perfect her art so that race would not be an issue. Collins appeared in her first theatrical performance in 1940. She and Katherine Dunham's troupe performed in the 1943 musical film Stormy Weather.Collins made her New York debut in 1949 after performing her own choreography on a shared program at the 92nd Street Y. In the same year, after two more performances, Dance Magazine named her the most outstanding debutante of the season. Collins was noticed by Zachary Solov, the ballet master of the Metropolitan Opera House at the time, in a Broadway production of Cole Porter's Out of this World. Solov then invited Collins to join the Metropolitan Company. Janet Collins broke a color barrier on November 13, 1951 after her performance in a production of Aida.
In 1952, a year after joining the corps de ballet, she became the first African American prima ballerina with the Metropolitan Opera. This marked the first time a black artist had joined the permanent company. Despite her success in New York, Collins faced racism on the road as the company toured to southern cities.
As race laws kept her off of the stage, her parts were sometimes performed by understudies. Collins remained with the Met until 1954. She would go on to tour solo across the United States and Canada. She also taught at the School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, and the Harkness House.Collins passed on May 28, 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas. Janet Collins was born on March 2, 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her mother was a seamstress and her father was a tailor. In 1921 when she was four Janet moved with her parents to Los Angeles, California. At the age of ten, Collins began to study dance.
Her first dance training was at the Los Angeles Catholic Community Center. Ironically, Collin's parents urged her to study painting rather than dance because at the time, art seemed to offer more opportunities to gifted African Americans than classical dance.Collins studied art on a scholarship at Los Angeles City College and later at the Los Angeles Art Center School. Collins, however, never completely abandoned dance and fortunately she attracted the attention of Adolph Bohm, Carmelita Maracci, and Mia Slavenska, all prominent dance instructors who agreed to work with her.
Despite such training, Collins was rejected when she auditioned for Leonide Massine, the director of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1932 at the age of fifteen. His company was performing in Los Angeles during its American tour and advertised for an aspiring young dancer to audition for the company. When Collins' turn came, a hush fell over the dancers but when she finished the ballerinas applauded. Massine saw her talent but told her to be accepted, she would have to paint her skin white for performances. News & World Report, Collins responded, I thought talent mattered, not color.Despite her training Collins found cold reception in professional ballet. She continued to perform, however. In the 1930s while still a teen she performed as an adagio dancer in vaudeville shows. In 1940 she became the principal dancer for the Los Angeles musical production of "Run Little Chillun" and The Mikado in Swing. By the 1940s she worked with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and in 1946 appeared in the film, Thrill of Brazil. In 1950 she was the principal dancer in Cole Porter's production, Out of this World. Collins gave her first prima ballerina performance on November 3, 1948 at the Las Palmas Theater in Los Angeles, which left critics hailing her as a unique performer. Three years later in 1951 Collins was hired by the Metropolitan Opera as its prima ballerina. At the time she was 34. Collins remained at the Met until 1954.
She then began teaching ballet which included using dance in the rehabilitation of the handicapped. In 1974 she retired from performing and teaching. The last years of her life were spent painting religious subjects in her studio in Seattle. Janet Collins died on May 28, 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas.
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