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Leonide Massine pt1

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Uploaded on May 30, 2008

This is a rough cut of an unfinished doc I produced in 1971 featuring the famous Ballets Russes choreographer.
I met Massine in 1970 when I asked him to be a patron of my attempt to mount a production of Erik Satie's surrealist ballet Relache (whose Entr'acte, a film by Rene Clair, I had accompanied at the NFT as a silent film pianist). He invited me to his island in the Gulf of Salerno that summer. There we hatched the idea of a series of video-cassettes (at that stage a vapour-ware medium!) which would contain his 'late thoughts' as a choreographer. I came back to the UK fired up with the idea.
During the next 6 months the project coalesced into making a documentary re-establishing Massine's position in the public mind. With a great more enthusiasm than realism I begged and borrowed the £1800 I needed to shoot the footage & returned the following summer with the legendary tv director Rudolph Cartier, with whom I had distilled a script from Massine's a/b; and the cameraman Norman Yardy.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Massine & Rudy did not hit it off - in spades! And after a couple of shots Massine (if you spot where hes furious you'll guess the shooting sequence) wouldnt allow Rudy anywhere near the filming. Which was pretty awkward on a small island. I had planned to do sound but had to direct it all as well.
There was a cherchez la femme element to this - as Massine, then 78 had 2 children of 4 & 6 with his german secretary. Normally she was kept in Wiesbaden, but was allowed to come to Li Galli for the summer. She & Massine could only converse in english. Her mother came too, who had no english, and thus M's exchanges with the old lady were limited to courteous gestures.
It was Massine's habit to invite dancers from the Royal Ballet School, of which he was a patron, and one of these had already caught his eye. I think he was fearful that Rudy Cartier, who was 8/9 years younger would get there first. The supreme irony was that she was already sleeping with me, which he must have known, but didn't seem to mind at all. Strange how the mind works.
Continued in part 2

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