Author Mindy Aloff shares stories from her recently published book Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation along with screening brief film excerpts that illustrate the evolution of dance used in Disney animation from the 1930s to 1950s. Joined by Marge Champion, who is interviewed for Hippo in a Tutu and was the dancer and live model for both Snow White and the Hippopotamus Ballerina in Fantasia. Moderated by Jacob's Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen.
EXCERPT from PillowTalk: Hippo in a Tutu. Recorded August 28, 2010.
PillowTalks feature world-renowned choreographers, dancers, authors, filmmakers, historians, and critics in live hour-long moderated discussions of the cultural forces shaping the field of dance. Curated by Jacob's Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen and moderated by Jacob's Pillow Scholars-in-Residence, PillowTalks use dance as a prism to explore the world at large.
Editor, journalist, essayist, and dance critic Mindy Aloff has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, The Jewish Daily Forward, The Threepenny Review, and many other periodicals. Since 2000, she has taught as an adjunct member of the dance faculty at Barnard College. Ms. Aloff is a recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award and is a Fellow of the Guggenheim and Woodrow Wilson foundations. Her most recent nonfiction publication is Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation (2009) a book of illustrated essays about the artmaking, themes, music, and live models of the dance sequences in historic Disney animated films. In May 2011, the University Press of Florida will publish an anthology edited by Aloff and written by Agnes de Mille titled Leaps in the Dark: Art and the World. www.mindyaloff.com
Marge began her dance career with Walt Disney as the live action model for Snow White, the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, and the Hippopotamus Ballerina in Fantasia. Marge and Gower Champion were legendary in the 50s for their dancing in nightclubs, MGM musicals and on television. They staged the dances for the Broadway musical revues Lend an Ear and Make a Wish. Their film appearances included Mr. Music with Bing Crosby, Show Boat, Lovely to Look At, Three for the Show and That's Entertainment, Part II, and on the television shows Toast of the Town, The Dinah Shore Show and The Marge and Gower Champion Show. Ms. Champion was also the choreographer for Whose Life is it Anyway?, The Day of the Locust, and Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, for which she received an Emmy Award.
Marge appeared with Donald Saddler in the 2001 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. They also performed a show-stopping duet at Carnegie Hall Celebrates the Glorious MGM Musicals. In 2007 Marge was honored with the Disney Legends Award and appeared in a collection of essays by New York Times columnist Dan Barry entitled City Lights as well as 80: Our Most Famous Eighty Year Olds Reveal Why They Never Felt So Young! She was featured in The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers by photographer Rose Eichenbaum and Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation by Mindy Aloff.
Most recently, a short documentary by Gregory Vander Veer entitled Keep Dancing about nonagenarians Marge Champion and Donald Saddler has received screenings at many film festivals world-wide.
As Director of Preservation for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Norton Owen programs the PillowTalks series, directs all activities involving the extensive Archives, and serves as curator for several exhibitions each season. He is a contributing author to numerous books and publications, Past Chair of the Dance Heritage Coalition, President of the O'Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, and was for many years the Institute Director of the José Limón Dance Foundation. In 2000, Dance/USA honored Owen with its Ernie Award for "unsung heroes who have led exemplary lives in dance."