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Ruth Page No. 13 [March 20, 1985]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0555
Run Time
0h 12m 24s
Date Produced
March 20 1985
Q: There weren't really very many good male dancers in the '20s and '30s?
A: No. I don't think so.
Q: Nijinsky?
A: Oh, he was a very great exception, and he danced a very, very short time. He was famous for dancing Le Spectre de la Rose. I think one reason he had such a big success was that there weren't any others. And he was apparently a genius.
Q: He was an original, certainly, it seems.
A: Yes. He was. I think his L'Apres-midi d'un Faune was a very interesting ballet. He choreographed that. And Diaghilev, of course, was mad about him.
Q: Oh, yes.
A: But when he got married, then Diaghilev wasn't interested in him anymore.
Q: Right. And there was that terrible break-up that they had.
A: Yes. It was sad.
Q: What makes a good partner? Who is a good partner? Who have been good partners of yours? We were talking about Adolph Bolm. How was he?
A: Well, Adolph Bolm was more a father figure to me, you know. He must have been a good partner. He was a very great character dancer. In Prince Igor, he danced alone and he was just as successful as Nijinsky was in his style. But he was entirely different. He was a real man, who danced in a manly fashion. Well, since then there have been a lot of really great male dancers, like Baryshnikov is a great dancer. Oh, I wish he'd dance more and stop trying -- I don't think he's a very good director of a company, because he doesn't seem to know what kind of ballets to do. I think he was a marvelous dancer, however. And Nureyev was a great dancer, too. He lasted a long time. There are some young dancers in the Paris Opera that are very good. One of them is Patric Dupond. I don't know all the others' names, but there are a lot of good dancers there. What's the name of the one who directs the London Festival Ballet now? I can't think of his name. He's a wonderful partner and a wonderful dancer.
Q: I don't know.
A: It's awful. I can't think of his name. It begins with "S". Well, I'll think of it in a few minutes. [Peter Schaufuss]
Q: As for partners for you, then, your best partner really, you think, was Bentley Stone?
A: Oh, yes. He was a marvelous partner. And we danced together for so long, you know, that we did, it was just, we created the dances together. We did Frankie and Johnny together, and we did American Pattern together. He was a wonderful partner.
Q: We were talking before, when the camera was off, about what makes a partner special and good for a dancer, for a ballerina. What's the single most . . . .
A: Well, if you're just a straight classical ballerina, if you don't do anything except straight classical dancing, it's a person who knows how to hold you right and who knows how to, when you do pirouettes, just sort of guide you around, sees how many you can do; or, when you have to hold your balance, he knows when to let go and how long you can stay there . . . He's very important to the ballerina, I think. And the male dancers are getting more and more important all the time, now.
Q: What we could call "modern dance," American dance, more contemporary dance, what makes for a good partner there, as different from a classical dance partner?
A: Well, that's somebody who really can dance along with you, and not just hold you up and be a classical partner. Kreutzberg was a very, very great male dancer, but I wouldn't say he was much of a partner. He didn't lift. He was so individual himself -- the way he walked -- everything he did was expressive . . . . And the way he taught class was very original. I've never known anybody who taught class like he did. Everybody just followed along after him and did the best they could. And he'd suddenly start running backwards; the whole class would have to run backwards, you know. And it was a beautiful class. It wouldn't do you much good for your technique, for your classical [technique]. It showed you how to move. He moved better than anybody I've ever seen, really. And he did these Three Mad Figures, where he was three different characters. They were all mad, but in a different kind of a way. I think he was a genius, really. There are very few geniuses.
Q: And you've been lucky. You've met a number of them in your life.
A: Yes.
Q: You've said that the two major influences in your life, in your artistic life, were Pavlova and Kreutzberg.
A: Oh, yes. Yes. That's right. They were both geniuses. But everybody was influenced by Pavlova. Nobody could see her and not be influenced by a dancer like that . . . . She was a great success with the public, every place. But with the dancers, she was something very, very special. She was so expressive and had this marvelous body. She was so poetic and she'd be dramatic -- be anything . . . .
Q: There's a story about you were dancing across the stage with her. You were on tour, on stage in Buenos Aires, I believe, with Pavlova, and you got to dance across the stage with her.
A: Yes.
Q: Tell the story.
A: Well, there's no story about it. It was just so thrilling for me, you know, just to be on stage with her and touch her hand. We went across the stage -- that's all there was to it. It was just part of the choreography. I don't even remember who did the choreography. [It] wasn't much. It was the Faust ballet. Something about Faust, I believe. Yes, Faust.
Q: You got noticed, even on that tour, Ruth, though, at the age of 18 -- 17, no, 18 -- you got noticed. There's a story about South Americans sending you -- tell the story, you know the one I mean.
A: Of the diamond necklace?
Q: Yes.
A: Well, it was in Lima, Peru, and when we got on the boat -- we traveled by boats, of course -- somebody gave me a box of candy. So, when we were out about two or three days, I opened up the candy and here was a diamond necklace. And I didn't even know the man's name! I'd never met him or anything. And my mother said, "You've got to send that back. That's ridiculous." And she made me send it back. I've never forgiven my mother for that. I wanted to keep that diamond necklace. Nobody's ever given me a diamond necklace before nor since.
Q: Ohhh.
A: Isn't that too bad!
Q: Yes.
A: Poor me! No diamond necklaces in my life!
Q: That's a good story. That must have been quite exciting.
A: Yes. Everybody was amazed.
Q: And then, Victor Herbert noticed you when you did that very first job, Miss 1917, which was his revue. He noticed you and asked if you would -- well, tell the story.
A: Well, I don't remember. He was awfully nice to me and he did ask me if I would stay in New York and do some of his shows, but I didn't. I wasn't interested in show business at all. Not a bit. Not a bit. Broadway shows? They were too "low brow" for me!
Q: So the Music Box Revues were mainly just a different thing to do?
A: Well, I did that for money, 100% for the money.
Q: And did it pay well, Ruth? I mean, compared . . . .
A: Yes.
Q: How much did it pay?
A: I can't remember. But I remember I got a very, very good salary -- at least I thought so at the time.
Q: And you were completely self-supporting?
A: Oh, yes. Yes. I always have been.
Q: Ever since 1920, when they sent you off with . . . .
A: . . . a hundred dollars, yes, in my pocket and I had to make my money.
Q: Do you worry about money very much?
A: No. I never thought anything about it. I don't care about money at all.
Q: And you've always managed to make whatever you've needed?
A: Yes.
Q: I think that's a terrific credit to you. On that note, I think, that's fine.
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Chicago (production location of)