Where the chips fell

By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  May 28, 2008

It was Larissa Ponomarenko who showed me the heart of Tudor’s choreography in Dark Elegies. To the Kindertotenlieder of Gustav Mahler (sung by baritone Philip Lima), Tudor devised strangely attenuated, angular movement for the community that comes together to grieve for its lost children. In the second song Ponomarenko performed almost dispassionately, as if these constricted shapes, brittle crumpled lifts, and frantic running steps were completely natural, not artfully designed at all.

I was unexpectedly moved to tears by this performance of the ballet, perhaps thinking of what happened to the children in China and Myanmar. But I was also remembering one of the great Tudor interpreters of our time, Sallie Wilson, who died 3 May in New York. Dark Elegies will always carry her imprint in my mind.

And the next day I learned we’d lost Jimmy Slyde, 80, who died 16 May. Slyde, who lived in Hanson, Massachusetts, was a stalwart of the tap community. I saw him first in the Tap Happening, in a tiny stage in a seedy Times Square hotel in 1969, helping ignite the tap revival that he was to fuel with his joyous levitations for another 40 years.

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