Interview with Sophie Pourmel, 1978
NamesPourmel, Sophie (Interviewee)Kendall, Elizabeth, 1947- (Interviewer)
Dance Oral History Project
Dates / OriginDate Created: 1978-04-29 - 1978-08-28
Library locationsJerome Robbins Dance DivisionShelf locator: *MGZTO 5-698
TopicsPourmel, Adda, 1920-2008Rothermere, Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, Viscount, 1898-1978Chamié, TatianaPreobrajenska, Olga, 1870-1962Blum, René, 1878-1942Balanchine, GeorgePourmel, SophieKarinska, BarbaraBallet Russe de Monte CarloNew York City BalletGaspard de la nuit (Choreographic work : Balanchine)Éléments (Choreographic work : Fokin)
NotesAdditional physical form: For transcript of interview, see *MGZMT 5-698.Source characteristics: Sound quality is fair to good overall. The recording is marred by occasional short gaps, fluctuations in volume, and extraneous noise including "tape hiss."Bibliographic history: Title supplied by cataloger.Venue: Recorded by Elizabeth Kendall for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 1978, April 29 and August 27 and 28 Lakewood (N.J.)Funding: The processing and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Physical DescriptionAudiotape reelExtent: 2 audiotape reels (approximately 6 hr., 18 min.) ; polyester; half-track; 1.875 ips; 5 in.
DescriptionStreaming audio file 1 (approximately 52 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about her childhood and education in St. Petersburg, Russia; her husband, George Jacobson and the birth of her daughter Adda; leaving the (former) Soviet Union for Latvia after the Russian Revolution [in 1920]; traveling by train to Latvia; her husband's move to Danzig, Germany to pursue business interests [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 2].
Streaming audio file 2 (approximately 44 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about traveling with her daughter Adda to Sopot, Germany [now in Poland] to join her husband including her difficulty in locating him; the deteriorating conditions in Germany and their move to Paris, in 1924; sending her daughter Adda to study with Madame (Olga) Preobrajenska; an anecdote about why Pourmel stopped the lessons; life in Paris including some of the ballet companies and dancers she saw perform; her enforced maturation during the long separation from her husband when he served in the military; Adda's classes at the Châtelet; her return to Madame Preobrajenska's school.
Streaming audio file 3 (approximately 52 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about her daughter Adda's classes at Madame Preobrajenska's school including the recitals; Madame (Barbara) Karinska; Adda's first (professional) performances; her impressions of Preobrajenska; some of Preobrajenska's other students at the time; dancing as compared with other jobs available to young women at the time; the shock of Serge Diaghilev's death; René Blum and his engaging Adda for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo; Michel Fokine [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 4].
Streaming audio file 4 (approximately 36 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about her daughter Adda's time at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo including the South African tour; her impressions of Vera Nemchinova; the repertoire including (Fokine's) Les éléments; how her career as wardrobe mistress for the company began; memories of André Eglevsky; René Blum; Lord Rothermere [Esmond Cecil Harmsworth] and his patronage of Alice Nikitina and other ballerinas [ends abruptly].
Streaming audio file 5 (approximately 52 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo; Tatiana Chamié; her work as a wardrobe mistress for the company; Barbara Karinska; the company's first United States tour, in 1938; the audiences; life on the road; Alicia Alonso's Giselle; the outbreak of World War II and the gathering of the company in Rotterdam (Netherlands) [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 6].
Streaming audio file 6 (approximately 45 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about fleeing to the United States after the outbreak of World War II; the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's United States tour during the War; George Balanchine's tenure as choreographer for the company; other companies active at this time; Balanchine's school [School of American Ballet] as a source of dancers for the company; her work as wardrobe mistress at New York City Ballet including some of the problems she encountered; her working style; her decision to leave the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo for New York City Ballet [ends abruptly].
Streaming audio file 7 (approximately 52 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about joining New York City Ballet as wardrobe mistress in 1962; the company's tour of the (former) Soviet Union including the joy of seeing her brother; her impressions of the Russians at the time; the audiences including the enthusiastic response to Edward Villella and Allegra Kent; working as wardrobe mistress at the company including anecdotes [ends abruptly but continues on streaming audio file 8].
Streaming audio file 8 (approximately 45 minutes). Sophie Pourmel speaks with Elizabeth Kendall about working as wardrobe mistress for the New York City Ballet including how impressed she was by George Balanchine's Gaspard de la nuit; Barbara Karinska including her costumes for Balanchine's Union Jack; the shoes for his Vienna waltzes; an anecdote about Balanchine and the costumes for The nutcracker; fitting costumes to particular dancers including Balanchine's comments on enlarging costumes for dancers who have gained weight [ends abruptly].
Type of ResourceSound recording
IdentifiersRLIN/OCLC: 51057690NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118566Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): cec5e820-e412-0135-fafe-1131821bfaa7
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