Southern Illinois University Carbondale SCRC Text (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
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Famed Dunham Touch Turns Opera into 'Life Situation' Production
Famed Dunham Touch Turns Opera into 'Life Situation' Production
TitleFamed Dunham Touch Turns Opera into 'Life Situation' Production
DescriptionThis articles introduces Katherine Dunham to the Southern Illinois University readership as an Artist in Residence at the university and a world traveler and "world renowned choreographer and dancer" coming to choreograph and direct the ballet sequences of Marjorie Lawrence's University Opera Workshop production of Faust. Certain elements of Dunham's interpretation of the production are described, in particular a scene where Mephistopheles' Kingdom is presented as a German concentration camp during World War II. Dunham ends the interview with a compliment to the student performers she is directing.
CollectionSCRC Text (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
SubcollectionKatherine Dunham Papers
Original Publication SourceDaily Egyptian
Place WrittenCarbondale, IL
Subjects -titlesFaust
Subjects -peopleHuston, John ; Gounod, Charles ; Dunham, Katherine
Other topicsShryock Auditorium ; World War II ; Faust ; Concentration camps
Collection ID/Box#FP20_7_F1DUNHAM_B103_F17_05
Rights StatementFor permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email:
TranscriptPage 2
February 6. IMS
According to a Champion:
Southern Has Talent To Excel in Fencing
"Faust" and fencing go She envisions the master as
together, being a retired Army offictr
In fact, SIU could field a from Europe, probably France
championship intercollegiate ox Belgium, where fencing
fencing team from among still is taught as an art.
students appearing in IheUni- "You can use a coach
rsity Opera Workshop pro- football or swimming, "
duction of "Fi
All they need Is a fencing nuialflrw
That's the opinion of Mrs, Edith Lutyens Bel Ceddea, a champion fencer of Belgii.
Famed Dunham Touch Turns Opera Into a 'Life Situation' Production
says, "but if you engage a coach for fencing he usually teaches how to fight. Fencing is an art and you need a master of the art, "
Mrs, Bel Gcddes compares
From Rome, Italy, to South¬ ern Illinois University ate a r- bondale.
From choreographerforthe film "The Bible." directed by John Huston, to choreographer for the University Opera Workshop production o f "Faust."
That's the most recetit itinerary for Katherine Dun¬ ham, world-renowned chore¬ ographer and dancer.
Miss Dunham came to STU as artisc-ln-residence to write and direct the ballet sequences for Goundd's opera to be staged in Shryock she Auditorium next week end.
"Tl has provided
who represented that country fencing to dancing as an art in the Olympics and is an form. She adds it also is an international fencing judge. academic sport based on
Mrs. Bel Geddes is coach- academic rules, ing eight male students In the According to her, fencingls art of fencing for a ballet scene tiot only a physical activity in the opera, but a game of wits,
"These boys are entraor- "It developes quickness of dlnary, " she says. "I! I could mind as well as of the body persuade the University ad- in its action. It helps you make ministration to engage a real quick decisions and to evaluate fencing master. I would what your adversary intendsto guarantee that you'd have a do and to prepare to prevent team of four which I think it. It teaches self-reliance." could win an intercollegiate championship for fencing."
Mrs. Bel Geddes, a noted designer, theatrical producer and writer, came to the Uni¬ versity "out of friendship" with Katherine Dunham, in¬ ternationally-known chcreog- rapher and dancer,
MisB Dunham is at the Uni¬ versity also as an artisi-in, residence io direct the opera ballet.
Besides coaching the pros¬ pective fencers, Mrs, Bel Geddes ia coordinating the costuming for the century-old French opera.
But she IS most excited about her work coaching the studetits to fence,
Otily two have had some fencing experience,
"However, " says Mrs. Bel Geddes, "they have the apti¬ tude for fencing—both men¬ tally and physically. And what they've learned in a few weeks Is absolutely as¬ tonishing. It takes years to be a fencer. But they should have a fencing master/'
mentary for me, " says Miss Dunham, "That's what an artist strives to do when the setting Is propitious."
And "Faust" as being staged at SIU offers that Betting by being brought up to date.
For instance, whenMepbis- tophles escorts Faust on a tour of his kingdom to demon¬ strate his control over evil and over man, the Devil's realm Is a German con¬ centration camp in the early days of World War 11. What Faust sees makes his blood run cold.
In this ballet scene "we use elements that are shock¬ ing, chilling to portray con¬ duct that was the most elaborate form of evil that we've known in our genera¬ tion, " says Miss Dunham.
"This has been difficult to do and still retain a sens^ of grotesque satire, a fantasy of life."
Miss Dunham recalls that when originally performed Gounod's opera did not have the ballet music now known by the world.
"It was sort of sneaked In, " she says. "The music must have been written either when Gounod was bored or with tongue in cheek. It's difficult
to feel that he was serious about it.
Nevertheless, she adds, "The ballet In the past has not fit in with what is being said. We've tried to integrate the ballet into the story so that it ia not extraneous. We've taken a lite situation rather than the traditional form."
As a result, the internation¬ ally recogniled Dunham tech¬ nique of using the primitive and the classic ballet is utilized to give more meaning to the performance.
This admittedly requires trained dancers, but Miss Dunham says the students in the corps de ballet "have done surprisingly well."
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In Memory of T. S. Eliot
Soundlessly the star faded Disappeared
The flavour of the coffee became irrelevant And the face of Thomas Stearns Eliot in the paper sig¬ nified the end. Not the end of an era (Was he an era?)
He was the detached Prufrock, trousers rolled Measuring in coffee spoons
The inner verities of this generation's poetic utterance. Let It be dry Toast without butter Crisp
But there must be the coffee-spoon of honest grain The pinch of live yeast.
A generation oi poets walked this academe
And readers l:new
The nucleus
The atomic nucleus of poetry
Was split
The star appeared
A cold coming we had of it, yet it waa (as you may say)
satisfactory) And soundlessly faded yesterday We did not know until breakfast today Regard the sky
The star-shaped hole, black in the black sky It was there I could not see where it was, yet the sky was there.
only The diamond pin was not holding if up any more. All day I walked softly Still it did not fall
We had agreed to hold it up together. 1 discovered Then 1 knew This is the way the world ends
The last twist of the knife.
-¦"¦¦.-¦¦ HerbErt Oldfield
Original dimensions (cm.)20 x 20
Digital Object TypeImage
Digital File Format.tif
Digital File PublisherSpecial Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
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