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AN ORCHESTRA ON A STRIKE.
A curious story is told of Cooper, the tragedian, which occurred when he was manager of a New York theatre, many years ago. The occasion was the production of the pantomime of “Cinderella.” “Much labor and expense were lavished upon this beautiful dumb piece, which, relying solely on music and action combined, demanded nicety and care. The band, however, had on several occasions exhibited the most insolent neglect of the rehearsals, and Cooper placed a notice in the music-room, to the effect that all absentees from rehearsal would in future suffer such fines and forfeits as were designated by the orchestra rules and their several contracts. The notice was in vain; the fines were exacted, and a conspiracy determined on. On the first night of Cinderella,' an audience, forming a receipt of fifteen hundred dollars, was assembled, and on ringing the orchestra bell for the overture, Mr. Hewitt, the leader, was informed by the ringleader that the whole orchestra was determined not to play a note until the whole sum forfeited by their absence should be refunded. Here was a situation! He rushed almost speechless to Cooper's room, and unfolded the plot. Cooper coolly asked, . Can you play the music ?' Why, yes sir; I have been practicing it before your eyes for three weeks; but how am I to get through a pantomime without aid ? "We shall see,' said Cooper. He at once went before the audience, stated the full particulars, with much regret at the position in which the theatre was placed. He then frankly proposed two alternatives for the decision of the audience; the first, to receive back their entrance money, if desired; the next,—and a droll, one it was,—that as there was so large an audience, and, many doubtless, were unwilling to be deprived of their amusement by the freaks of underlings, he offered to them •Cinderella' led and played solely by Mr. Hewitt, with the assurance that on its next representation the orchestra
should be full and certain. This proposal caused a momentary titter, but was followed by a good-natured acquiescence on the part of the audience. He also promised the dismissal of all the offenders, and rigidly fulfilled it.” The performance passed off with great spirit; the leader, in solitary state in the orchestra, playing his single violin throughout the evening. The piece was then withdrawn for two or three days, and reproduced with a splendid band, to a long series of full houses.
DANCING, AN ART.
About Ballet Dancers.—What the Ballet is. A Reminiscence of Paris. -The Dancing Greenroom.—The Ballet Girl's Miseries and Tortures.
- The Story of Mlle. Eulalie.—Beauty and Ugliness at Odds.—Religion among Dancing Girls.—Their Love of Mourning Robes.—A Ballet at Rehearsal. — The Ballet in its Influence on Morals. - The Results of Observation.- A Romantic Western Story.-- Celebrated Dancers.Cubas, Fanny Elisler, Vestris, Taglioni, etc.—Serpents and Devils.
There is no branch of my subject more difficult to deal with than that with which this chapter has to do; for there are numberless people—for whom personally I have the greatest respect—who are utterly unable to see any difference in decency between the dancing of a ballet-girl and the caperings of a jigging burlesque woman.
Yet dancing is an art. It is not necessarily coarse. It can be degraded—and we all know it has been very much degraded, in this country, by groveling and conscienceless speculating managers—but so can any art be degraded.
This, however, is art's misfortune—not its fault.
In this country dancing has never taken its proper grade as an art—with the public, that is; for with the dancers themselves there is no branch of art ranking higher. The professional dancer has a high opinion of the value of her efforts in an artistic sense, and she resents with pain and indignation the low estimate placed upon them by American audiences.
But it is also true that here in America the highest manifestations of the artistic sense-painting, sculpture, even music—have not yet received one tithe of the admiration and appreciation which they meet in foreign lands.
And if this be the case with the noblest of the fine arts,
DANCERS AND SINGERS.
in how much greater degree must it be with dancingwhich has something more than indifference to contend with, in the disposition of low-toned managers to make the ballet a pander to vice and sensuality.
No one who has ever visited foreign capitals--Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Vienna-can have failed to observe that the terpsichorean art is placed very little lower than the lyric, and its great exemplars—Cerito, Taglioni, Fanny Ellsler—are named in the same breath and with as great admiration as Malibran, Sontag, Bosio, and Caridora Allen.
A woman who selects the vocation of dancer, must be endowed with great physical endurance, a passionate devotion to the poetry of motion, and a keen appreciation of graceful poses.
Many of the ballet women are thoroughly familiar with the great masterpieces in painting and sculpture, and strive to recall them to the audience by poetical posturing. Among thoroughly cultivated audiences such efforts are instantly recognized, but when they are presented to uninformed bodies of men and women, they fail to see the poetic value of what is passing before them, and look on it merely from the grosser side.
I remember one evening, in Paris, being inside the Grand Opera House, on an occasion which the most unobservant person could not have failed to see was one of great interest. The street on which the
house was situated was literally jammed with gorgeous vehicles resplendent in golden trappings, velvet hangings, emblazoned panels, drawn by thorough-bred horses richly caparisoned, and bearing the very flower of the beauty, wealth and distinction of both hemispheres—fair women, laden with diamonds blazing like stars; brave men, equipped in brilliant uniform and glittering with orders, stars, crosses and
garters to proclaim their valiant deeds or gentle blood; the graceful Eugenie, Empress of Beauty and of the French; Louis Napoleon, proud and happy; German princes, English dukes and duchesses; the young and graceful lad with the red hair which has run through the race for generations, the Marquis of Douglas; generals, magistrates, statesmen, merchant-princes from New York, scholars from Boston, celebrated beauties from all parts of the globe.
What was the occasion of this great gathering? Was it a council of nations, an opening of Parliament, the reception of a foreign potentate?
No; it was simply a first appearance in public of a young girl less than seventeen, and whose only claim to attention was that she was a dancer.
Her name was Emma Livry. From her earliest childhood she had been devoted to the art of dancing—though this was no extraordinary thing, for there are a large number of girls always in training for the Grand Opera, in Paris, who are taken at the age of four years, and kept in constant practice until they reach womanhood, when they appear in public.
But this girl had shown extraordinary genius. In her later years the celebrated dancer Marie Taglioni, Countess de Voisins, hearing of the new dancer, left her villa on the Lake of Como and her palace in Venice to come to Paris and give the girl lessons.
Her improvement was miraculous. Taglioni said she would renew the triumphs herself had won in former days.
And now she glided upon the stage. The brilliant audience ceased their chatter as she appeared. The occasion took the character of what it was afterwards called in the newspapers—“a great solemnity.”
She was very young, and was just at that period in the