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Ruth Page Lunch w/ Ann Barzel No. 04 [April 1, 1985]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0522
Run Time
0h 12m 21s
Date Produced
April 1 1985
NOTE: This interview was conducted as an informal conversation. Consequently, instead of the usual Q (Interviewer) and A (Interviewee) format, questions and statements are identified by the initials of the participants: AB (Ann Barzel); RP (Ruth Page); TF (Thea Flaum).
AB: [Discussion of George Balanchine] He left his house on Long Island to Barbara Horgan, and Kirstein has been taking care of her [Tanaquil LeClercq] all these years. She's well taken care of. They have a list of all the ballets and who owns them, so they can go anywhere and stage them.
RP: He always gave his ballets away. He didn't charge any money for them.
AB: Well they have to pay the person who comes to do it.
RP: Oh, yes. You pay the person who actually does the staging, but Balanchine didn't get any money. He gave them all away.
AB: I know, but they had to pay the person who came to do it, and now they have to pay royalties to the person who owns it. That's the way he left it.
TF: So that's the bequest? He left them to people in his company?
AB: Yes, there's a long list.
RP: But I don't think he ever got any money.
AB: I don't know. He didn't at first, but towards the end, I don't really know.
TF: And all of the former wives? He left nothing to Maria Tallchief?
AB: Well, she's married, and Tanny's taken care of. Geva, who outlived him, is still active in the theatre. Zorina is the one he had an obsession for . . . . They tell stories about how he wouldn't do anything for a couple of years, and would get up in the morning to stand outside her apartment building because she wouldn't have anything to do with him. Did you know that?
RP: I never knew that.
AB: She was the only one who told him off.
RP: Although he remained friends with her. I know he was crazy about her. I shared a taxi with them one time and, My God!
TF: He once said, I was saying to Ruth, that a ballet should be like a butterfly.
AB: That was Tamara Karsavina who said that. She said, "Ballerina like butterfly -- short summer." That's beautiful.
TF: How about a ballet like a butterfly? I think he did say, "A ballet like a butterfly -- dies at the end of the day." Wilts.
RP: I never heard him say that. I didn't know he said that.
AB: A ballet is like writing on water. It's like the wind writing on water.
RP: It's so sad, isn't it, all this? I can't think of anything cheerful to say after all this conversation.
TF: I have one last question.
RP: What?
TF: Would you please describe Ann Barzel?
RP: Well, I think she's a very, very extraordinary person. First of all, she's got a wonderful memory. She has good taste. She sees everything. And she'll go to the end of the world to see something. And how many dance critics would do that? And she likes the dancers, and she's interested in everything. She's very kind; I think almost too kind. But that's because she likes all the dancers so much, and likes the choreographers, and likes to go to the ballet. And I think she's a very extraordinary person.
AB: Not kind. The point is, if things aren't good, I just avoid them. There are so many good things to pay attention to.
RP: That's true.
AB: The other thing you mentioned about choreography, about liking dancers. Then you mentioned memory. That's where dance remains. The only thing in the world you can really own are your memories. Take everything away from you, and you've got memories.
RP: I don't have mine. I can't remember anything.
AB: You do have memories of dancing, and things that happened and so on.
TF: What makes Ann a good girl friend?
RP: I don't know. You have a sympathy for certain people, and certain people, you don't. We've known each other for a long time. We're interested in the same thing, and I just think; she's a marvelous person. My husband liked her equally well. So she liked my husband. So everything was fine . . . . Both husbands. She likes André, too. I always forget about him. We've only been married not even two years yet.
TF: So it's a good friendship?
AB: Yes. Appreciation of the same things. We both love the dance.
RP: I can always call up Ann and say, "Will you do this with me right now?" She always says, "Yes." You know, I like that about her very much.
AB: I had other plans for today. She said, "Would you come over at two?" I said, "Yes." Ten minutes later, "It's one. Will you come at one?"
RP: Yes. That's very unusual, isn't it?
AB: Ruth's the same way. I'll say, "Let's go to Benton Harbor to see such-and-such," and she'll say, "Sure." She's always ready to go see something. That's what the world's all about -- to see what's going on.
RP: I can't get André to do anything. I've got to guarantee it's going to be good. Ann will always take a chance. So I prefer to go with Ann than to go with André.
TF: Well, I'm very glad that you came today Ann and we're all set.
[Intervew ends at 06:24. Informal conversation follows.]
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)