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Interview with Alexander Ewing, February and June, 1978

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Interview with Alexander Ewing, February and June, 1978
Ewing, Alexander (Interviewee)
Tobias, Tobi (Interviewer)

Dance Oral History Project

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1978-02-16
Date Captured: 1978-02-17
Date Created: 1978-06-27
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZT 5-418 (former)
Arpino, Gerald
Joffrey, Robert
Harkness, Rebekah West, -1982
Ewing, Alexander -- Interviews
De Mille, Agnes
Chase, Lucia, 1897-1986
City Center Joffrey Ballet
Joffrey Ballet School
American Ballet Theatre
Dance companies -- Management
Art patronage
Fund raising
Government aid to the arts
Oral histories
Biographical/historical: Interview with Alexander Ewing conducted by Tobi Tobias on February 16 or 17, and June 27, 1978 in New York City for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division Oral History Project.
Bibliographic history: Title supplied by cataloger.
Funding: The conservation 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.
Venue: Recorded for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts February 16 or 17, and June 27, 1978 New York (N.Y.)
Source characteristics: Sound quality is fair. There is extraneous noise including "tape hiss" and occasional short gaps. The interviewee, Alexander Ewing, is always easily intelligible, but at times the voice of Tobi Tobias, the interviewer, is soft and more difficult to understand.
Physical Description
Audiotape reel
Extent: 4 audiotape reels (approximately 10 hr., 10 min.) : analog, 1.875 ips, half-track, polyester; 5 in.
Streaming file 1, February 16 or 17, 1978 (approximately one hour and 38 minutes). Alexander Ewing speaks with Tobi Tobias about his experience as an administrator of the Joffrey Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet [later incarnations include City Center Joffrey Ballet and Joffrey Ballet of Chicago]; Robert Joffrey's and Gerald Arpino's respective roles in the company's early days; the company's rapid growth; an anecdote about George Balanchine's advice to young choreographers; the youth and inexperience of the company's dancers; Rebekah Harkness and the Harkness Foundation, in particular their complex relationship with the company; the Russian tour; the abrupt dissolution of the relationship with Harkness and consequently of the company after the United States tour in March, 1964; the reconstitution of the company [as the Joffrey Ballet] and its repertory, including Ewing's thoughts on choreography and copyright; choreographing for your own company as compared with choreographing on a freelance basis; the early years of the new company; competition for dance audiences; an unrealized project to create a full-length ballet based on Beauty and the beast; various innovations including the company's approach to tour programing, its creation of an apprentice company, and its university residencies.Streaming file 2, February 16 or 17, 1978 (approximately 38 minutes). Alexander Ewing continues to speak with Tobi Tobias about the Joffrey Ballet as reconstituted in 1965; Robert Joffrey's interest in reviving the ballets of Leonide Massine and other choreographers; obtaining the rights to perform [Kurt Jooss's] Green table; the nature and evolution of the collaboration among Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, and Ewing in the management of the company and its repertory; the dancers including Lisa Bradley; the many ways in which people helped the company including an anecdote about Jacques D'Amboise's generosity; injuries.Streaming file 3, June 27, 1978 (approximately one hour and 33 minutes). Alexander Ewing continues to speak with Tobi Tobias about the Joffrey Ballet, as reconstituted in 1965, including the process of fund-raising from private and public sources; Robert Joffrey including as an artist, a person, and a director; various aspects of managing the company; his reasons for resigning; his childhood [as the son of Lucia Chase] in the midst of the ballet world including his memories of Irina Baronova, Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin, and Dimitri Romanoff; Antony Tudor; Agnes de Mille; Lucia Chase including as a dancer; working at Ballet Theatre [later American Ballet Theatre]; more on Chase, as a company director [ends abruptly but continues directly on streaming file 4].Streaming file 4, June 27, 1978 (approximately 21 minutes). Alexander Ewing continues to speak with Tobi Tobias about Lucia Chase as a company director [of American Ballet Theatre] including her relationship with the dancers and the choice of repertory; guest artists; the corps de ballet including the problem of insufficient rehearsal time.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 79783104
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118181
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): e302f300-b2a4-0133-ad84-60f81dd2b63c
Rights Statement
The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.

Item timeline of events

  • 1978: Created
  • 2020: Found by you!
  • 2021

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Alexander Ewing" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1978.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Alexander Ewing" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 1, 2020.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1978). Interview with Alexander Ewing Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Alexander Ewing, (1978)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 1, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Alexander Ewing