NYC-ARTS

S2020 E489 | FULL EPISODE

NYC-ARTS Full Episode: April 16, 2020

A profile of Irina Kolpakova, beloved coach and mentor to the principal dancers of American Ballet Theatre. Followed by a visit to Neue Galerie to learn about the career of Madame d’Ora, an Austrian photographer whose work captured both the glamor and the darkness of her lifetime. And then a look at a work by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

AIRED: April 17, 2020 | 0:28:16
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♪♪

>> Coming up on "NYC-Arts," a

profile of Irina Kolpakova,

beloved coach and mentor to the

principal dancers of

American Ballet Theatre.

>> Irina's official title is

ballet mistress of

American Ballet Theatre.

A ballet mistress or a ballet

master is basically in charge of

a certain portion of the rep,

of the repertoire we do.

Irina in particular -- her

qualities as a coach are one

that primarily takes the

material that you present her

and tries to put it through a

lens for the dancer to see more

clearly and understand what it

is they're actually doing.

>> And a visit to the

Neue Galerie for a look at the

career of Madame d'Ora, the

Austrian photographer whose work

captured both the glamour and

the darkness of her lifetime.

>> Hats were the most important

thing for a woman.

So you would buy the hat before

you buy the dress.

There are hundreds of hat

photographs by d'Ora, but of

course they were fashion

photographs and used in the

magazines.

And to stress the fact of the

importance of the hat

photographs, Renée Price had

contemporary artists come in and

make new hats inspired by the

creations of d'Ora photographs.

>> Funding for "NYC-Arts"

is made possible by...

This program is supported

in part by public funds

from the New York City

Department of Cultural Affairs,

in partnership with the

City Council.

Additional funding provided by

members of Thirteen.

"NYC-Arts" is made possible in

part by First Republic Bank.

>> First Republic Bank presents

"First Things First."

At First Republic Bank,

"first" refers to our

first priority, the clients

who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is

an individual with unique needs.

First decree?

Be a bank whose currency

is service in the form

of personal banking.

This was First Republic's

mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing

on our minds.

>> And by

Swann Auction Galleries.

>> Swann Auction Galleries --

we have a different way

of looking at auctions,

offering vintage books

and fine art since 1941,

working to combine knowledge

with accessibility.

Whether you're a lifelong

collector, a first-time buyer,

or looking to sell, information

at swanngalleries.com.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

>> Good evening, and welcome to

"NYC-Arts."

I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET

Studios at Lincoln Center.

On our program tonight, we'll go

behind the scenes with the

American Ballet Theatre.

Performing both treasured

classics and new repertory,

each season the company features

a rotating cast of stellar

principal dancers.

But what they all share is the

invaluable guidance of their

coach, Irina Kolpakova.

During her time at the

Kirov Ballet, now called the

Mariinsky, she was legendary.

Having danced with

Rudolf Nureyev and

Mikhail Baryshnikov, she

performed well into her 50s

and won the highest artistic

awards from her country.

When the Soviet Union collapsed

in 1991, Baryshnikov, then

artistic director of

American Ballet Theatre, invited

her to teach here.

So, what can a coach like Irina

provide to dancers who are

already at the top of their

art form?

She can guide them towards

inhabiting the emotional life of

the characters they perform.

Part mentor, confidante, and

trusted friend, a coach like

Irina can support dancers to be

the very best they can be.

♪♪

>> Two and three and four

and five, six, seven, eight...

>> Irina's official title is

ballet mistress of

American Ballet Theatre.

A ballet mistress or a ballet

master is basically in charge of

a certain portion of the rep,

of the repertoire we do.

Irina in particular -- her

qualities as a coach are one

that primarily takes the

material that you present her

and tries to put it through a

lens for the dancer to see more

clearly and understand what it

is they're actually doing.

And in that process, somehow

it's being a support system

for an artist, but at the same

time, she tries to teach them

history lessons and will tell

stories from her youth and her

her background.

♪♪

>> Five years I studied in our

Leningrad conservatory.

It was high level of education.

I think it's best school in

the world.

>> If you talk of a performing

art, they're attached to

countries, you know?

Like, if you say theatre,

you think British.

You say opera, you think

Italian.

You say ballet, You think

Russian.

You know, ballet is the national

sport.

[ Chuckles ]

And Irina is this wonderful

individual with an incredible

knowledge of the Vaganova

training.

She was Vaganova's last pupil,

as a matter of fact.

>> Vaganova -- it was like,

you know, God in that time.

Vaganova was a very good dancer.

She was smart and creative.

So journalists always write

about her like queen of

movement.

Vaganova taught us, "Use all

part of your body in any step,

not only leg, not only eyes,

not only -- altogether,

altogether, even start from the

fingers.

Fingers and arms supposed to be

very soft, legs supposed to be

very strong, neck supposed to be

absolutely freedom, and you use

all our body."

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

>> Irina has something special

where -- I think something that

made her an incredible dancer

was the way she used her upper

body and her arms.

And not every dancer can really

explain how to do it,

and she has that gift.

>> You have one coach for all

the roles and for -- who knows

you in and out, who might not

know the choreography in and

out, but he knows you very well.

And she applies this special

attention to, actually, all the

dancers she nurtures and

rehearses with.

She rehearses with me mostly on

the more classical repertoire,

but at the same time, she's one

of the people whose opinion I

trust the most in the world.

>> Arms start at that sissonne.

Sissonne where it go up.

>> When one is a coach of this

longstanding caliber, she's

taken dancers now through

their career -- so, indeed, does

become a form of a life coach --

'cause if someone is standing in

front of you and isn't really up

to par that day, everybody has a

bad day.

If it's the third day in a row,

you have to go, "Okay,

what's going on?"

>> Friend, coach, and when

somebody's crying, you need to

take out all bad feeling,

help artists.

It's hard -- It's hard work.

>> She understands what it is to

be a woman and a ballerina and

to not be at your best every

day.

So, on, you know, those days

where you're just beating

yourself up -- and I've cried

with Irina many times -- she

reminds you that this is

gonna be over soon.

Like, this career --

it doesn't last long.

Enjoy every second of it, but

also remember that you're a

human and you're gonna go on and

you're gonna be a mother and

you're gonna have babies and

you're gonna -- You know, she

just reminds you of, like, the

humanity of what we do.

♪♪

We will never perfect what we're

striving for every single day in

ballet class and in rehearsals

and on the stage.

But the point of it is just to

continue to strive to be better,

that there's someone, whether

it's the teacher or the ballet

mistress or the artistic

director, whoever it is, is

there to watch to, to see if

there's something that maybe

you're doing that will cause an

injury, if there's something

that you're doing that they can

help make easier or make work

better.

Those are all corrections.

But I think it just maybe sounds

a little more negative than it

is.

>> All dancers feel that they're

not good enough.

The good dancers, at least, do,

in my opinion, because if you're

humble, it pushes you forward,

and you automatically look for

things which are wrong and which

could be better.

We, as dancers, are our own

products.

So you constantly -- with every

time you step onstage, you have

to prove yourself and you have

to get better.

If not in a technical way, you

have to do it in an artistic

way.

I think that female dancers do

get even more out of her than I

do, and I'm, you know, a little

sad because I wish I would have

somebody like that who really

danced the roles I danced.

>> There are no notes, no.

I mean, that's what ballet is.

It's kept in your head, unless

there's a film of it, but even

with a film, you're getting

someone's interpretation

of those steps.

And that's the quirky thing

about ballet and being a good

coach, is that you have to allow

people not to do it like you did

it, but to find the truth in it

for themselves so they can give

their individual interpretation.

And that's why people like Irina

are so invaluable.

They have incredible respect and

love of the material.

And she's able to keep track of

an amazing amount of versions of

the same ballet.

What you want to do as a coach

for them is to teach them what

they know, as best they can know

it, to the degree where they

could sit in the front of the

room and coach someone else.

That's the objective, that, you

know, you're gonna carry this

on.

♪♪

>> I was doing "Swan Lake,"

Odette/Odile, and we were

in the studio.

It was my last rehearsal

before my show.

And I was just standing there

watching her show me, you know,

what it is I should be doing and

listening to her speaking.

And I just started crying my

eyes out.

And then some other dancers

walked in, and they're kind of

like, "Oh, gosh, it's the -- You

know, it's the day of her show.

She's having a meltdown."

[ Laughter ] And I'm, like,

bawling, staring at Irina.

And I was like, "I'm not crying

because I'm nervous or because

I don't feel ready."

I was just like, "I'm so

grateful to have you in my

life."

This generation of youth should

understand, you know, just

respecting our elders and so

much that we can gain from them

and their experiences.

And so it was just like this

moment that I was just like, "I

just want to hold on to you and

to every word that you say."

And I love her, and she's given

me so much, so...

[ Chuckles ]

>> It's love.

She so loves her dancers that

she coaches and loves her art

form and loves the roles that

she is working with them on and

loves the knowledge that she got

from people she loved that it's

infectious.

>> [ Speaking indistinctly ]

♪♪

>> Next we visit the

Neue Galerie on East 86th Street

for a look at the work of the

Austrian photographer known as

Madame d'Ora.

It is the largest exhibition of

its kind ever presented in the

United States.

Born in 1881 to a wealthy Jewish

family, Dora Kallmus became one

of the premier photographers of

her day and was the first woman

to open her own photography

studio in Vienna.

The exhibition follows her

career from Vienna to Paris,

from her time as a dazzling

high-society portraitist to her

somber career after the

devastation of World War II.

Madame d'Ora captured the

glamour, creativity, darkness,

and upheaval of her lifetime.

♪♪

>> Madame d'Ora was an

incredible woman.

She opened her studio in Vienna

in 1906 and stopped

photographing in 1957.

So we have 50 years covered by

photographs.

d'Ora took photographs of many

of the artists that have been

shown here in the Neue Galerie,

like Gustav Klimt, who was the

first painter she would

photographed in 1907.

By the way, the last painter she

photographed was Picasso in

1955, so we have have quite a

range here.

This is the first monographic

exhibition dedicated to a woman

here.

So, it's about her being a woman

and being so successful as a

photographer.

Her aim was to adapt amateur

photography, which had come up

only 10 years ago, to

professional photography.

So, she tried very much that in

her studio people would feel at

ease, would feel at home.

Soon she became well known for

the fact that she made people

much more beautiful than they

would see themselves in the

mirror.

And this most probably is

because that even high

aristocracy would turn

to her studio.

These high aristocrats tended

to have very many children, so

it was difficult to make an

original group photograph.

We have one photograph with the

archduke, with the daughters,

I think five around him.

She was a very clever woman, and

she was also a very good

businesswoman.

Already in the portraits and in

the later years of the

First World War, you can see the

worry of a world falling into

pieces.

You can see this in these

fashion shots that seem a little

eerie because, you know, in

1916, things were already very

bad.

But in Vienna, one tried to keep

a touch of normality.

But by the end of the war,

all this was gone.

So she decided to move to Paris,

where she thought things would

be easier for her.

You could say she is the

inventor of a very successful

idea.

You have a well-known actor.

You have a well-known fashion

house.

You have a well-known

photographer.

And this image you can sell

easily to the illustrated press.

And this is a recipe that

still works.

And she did this in Paris.

You can see in this exhibition

that she had dresses by Patou

worn by Josephine Baker, which,

of course, would be much more

fun than a Patou dress just by

an unknown model girl.

It's difficult to imagine today,

but hats were the most important

thing for a woman.

So you would buy the hat before

you buy the dress.

There are hundreds of hat

photographs by d'Ora, but of

course they were fashion

photographs and used in the

magazines.

And to stress the fact of the

importance of the hat

photographs, Renée Price had

contemporary artists come in and

make new hats inspired by the

creations that d'Ora

photographed.

♪♪

Dora Kallmus was Jewish.

She was endangered in Paris.

When the Nazis came in, in 1940,

she was in hiding in a small

village in southern France.

She waited for the arrival of

her sister, who was still in

Austria at that time.

And this turned out to be a

disaster.

The sister never could leave

Austria and died in a

concentration camp.

In 1945, she went back to Paris.

She had to start completely

anew.

She was over 65 at this time.

What was her aim?

After the Second World War was

just work she did in refugee

camps.

She did not only cover survivors

of the concentration camps, but

also old German ladies who had

been de-placed and women with

little children who evidently

have no future in front of them

but to stay in these camps.

And the other very important

work for her was to go to

slaughterhouses and to take

photographs there.

Already in her diaries in the

1940s, she compared the fate of

Jewish people in Europe with the

fate of animals in a

slaughterhouse.

They had no choice.

They only can wait to be killed.

She had her clients, the same

clients she used to have in the

'20s and '30s.

I think so fascinating in her

late portraits is that, you

know, she always used to set

people out at their best.

And now suddenly she's

confronted with old people,

old as she was herself.

And this specific photograph of

Colette is one of the last that

was taken of her shortly before

her death, evidently feeble

and very old.

And you have the impression that

this is an incredible woman.

What you can see in in the work

of Madame d'Ora is a kind of

mirror of the changing culture

in Austria and France during the

20th century, from the

aristocratic public around the

turn of the century towards the

fancy artists and fashion world

of the 1920s and '30s to a

complete change of attitude

after the Second World War.

>> And now, another curator's

choice.

♪♪

>> I'm Thayer Tolles.

I'm curator in the American Wing

at the Metropolitan Museum of

Art, and we're standing in

the new American Wing galleries,

26 new spaces devoted to art

from the 18th century through

the early 19th century.

I'm here today to talk about

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who is

arguably the greatest American

sculptor of the late 19th

century.

The Metropolitan has 50 works by

Saint-Gaudens, and we're very

fortunate to be able to present

his work in such a comprehensive

way, from early cameo portraits

to low relief portraits of his

friends and fellow artists to

models for and reductions after

his great Civil War monuments.

Saint-Gaudens was born in

Ireland, but came here to

New York as an infant and was

raised on the Lower East Side.

He began at age 13 working as an

apprentice for a cameo cutter,

and that really fueled his

interest in becoming a sculptor.

In 1867, he went abroad to Paris

to study and trained at the

Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which was

really the foremost training

ground for students across the

world at that time.

Saint-Gaudens also studied in

Rome.

He came back to New York and

established a career as a

sculptor of great Civil War

monuments.

Some of the best known works in

New York are the

Farragut Monument in

Madison Square Park and the

great gilded equestrian statue

of General Sherman at

59th Street and Fifth Avenue

in a space called

Grand Army Plaza.

In 1892, after Sherman died,

Saint-Gaudens received a

commission for a monument to

honor his contributions to the

Union cause.

Saint-Gaudens incorporated an

allegorical figure into a

realistic portrait of the person

who was being commemorated.

So, while General Sherman is

marching along on horseback, the

winged figure of Victory is

leading him on.

She's moving forward with these

windblown draperies.

She holds a palm frond in her

hand, which is the symbol of

victory.

And she is really quite American

in a sense.

Saint-Gaudens worked with

several different models to

create this sculpture.

Generally, this was a process

that was kind of an amalgamation

of poses.

Most interesting is the fact

that one of the models was a

woman named Hettie Anderson, who

was an African-American woman

from South Carolina, and

Saint-Gaudens worked with her

frequently and said she had a

figure like a goddess.

Saint-Gaudens was a real

perfectionist.

In the case of the Victory, he

arranged draperies on four

different models and it took him

something like two weeks to get

the look he was after.

And when he finished the figure,

he wrote, "Hooray.

It's the greatest victory anyone

ever made."

I'm Thayer Tolles, curator in

the American Wing at the

Metropolitan Museum.

And I hope you'll come and visit

our galleries and pay special

attention to the installation of

our sculpture collection.

♪♪

>> Thanks for joining us this

evening.

I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET

Studios at Lincoln Center.

Good night.

Join us next week for a special

presentation of "NYC-Arts."

Auschwitz Remembered -- an

in-depth look at the powerful

exhibition "Auschwitz.

Not long ago. Not far away." --

now on view at the

Museum of Jewish Heritage.

>> Younger people -- even older

people -- don't really

understand what the history of

the world was prior to

World War II and even subsequent

to World War II.

And telling that history is

probably the most important

thing that can be done.

But visualizing it, seeing it in

an actual exhibit, is critical

for people to understand.

And museums are still looked at

as very believable and honest,

as not taking positions, but as,

in fact, teaching people

so that they can actually see.

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

>> Funding for "NYC-Arts"

is made possible by...

This program is supported in

part by public funds from the

New York City

Department of Cultural Affairs,

in partnership with the

City Council.

Additional funding provided

by members of Thirteen.

"NYC-Arts" is made possible

in part by First Republic Bank.

>> First Republic Bank presents

"First Things First."

At First Republic Bank,

"first" refers to our

first priority, the clients

who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is

an individual with unique needs.

First decree?

Be a bank whose currency

is service in the form

of personal banking.

This was First Republic's

mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing

on our minds.

>> And by

Swann Auction Galleries.

>> Swann Auction Galleries --

we have a different way

of looking at auctions,

offering vintage books

and fine art since 1941,

working to combine knowledge

with accessibility.

Whether you're a lifelong

collector, a first-time buyer,

or looking to sell, information

at swanngalleries.com.

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