« on: December 17, 2011, 11:10:11 AM »
Today I was shocked to read in the New York Times of the passing of Mark Goldweber. He had been a friend of mine for many years. We met though our common interest in Russian and ballet history about ten years ago. He found the forum and the Alexander Palace sites and contacted me. We were instant friends and spent hours and hours on the phone. I don't think we ever had a call that lasted less than 3 hours! Not only did we share an interest in Russian history, but he was specifically fascinated by Nicholas II and his era. Mark and I found we had common friends from the past, he knew my old ballet instructor from the University of Washington, Ruthanna Boris and he also knew Ronn Guidi, former director of the Oakland Ballet. We also knew many dancers in common. Our conversations were amazing, Mark could talk in depth on such a wide range of subjects and had so many experiences and interests that we could share. He was handsome, gentle, warm and kind. We were going to do a website on Russian Imperial Ballet at the turn of the 20th century and another on some of the early Diaghilev ballets, but his illness obviously stopped this. He died of cancer. I will miss him; what a shame we have lost such a wonderful human being and artist.
The following is from the New York Times:
Mark Goldweber, who was a leading classical dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in the 1970s and ’80s and who won wide acclaim as the Blue Skater in Frederick Ashton’s ballet “Patineurs,” died on Dec. 9 in Salt Lake City. He was 53.
The cause was lymphoma, said Adam Sklute, the artistic director of Ballet West in Salt Lake City, where Mr. Goldweber was the ballet master.
Mr. Goldweber established himself in his late teens as an impressive performer whose dancing was rooted in pure classical ballet form and style and informed by it. His compact body was not that of the ideal elegant male classical dancer, but he brought to ballet a vivid intelligence and a gift for seemingly effortless razzle-dazzle technical feats.
He was at home in the wide-ranging Joffrey Ballet repertory, dancing Ruthanna Boris’s “Cakewalk,” Laura Dean’s hypnotic spinning piece “Fire” and the fast-moving youth-culture ballets of Gerald Arpino, the resident choreographer and later artistic director of the Joffrey.
Mr. Goldweber was celebrated above all for his dancing of the Blue Skater, also known as the boy in blue, the lead role in Ashton’s “Patineurs” (“Skaters”). The work, a giddy, snowy holiday greeting card of a ballet, was in reality a demanding test of virtuoso classical dancing. Mr. Goldweber first danced the role in 1977, his first year with the Joffrey after two years with the company’s junior troupe. He was only 19, but his future was clear.
“He’s in the growing-pains stage of elfhood, but his phrasing is already compelling,” Arlene Croce, writing in The New Yorker, said of his debut performance. “He shines with innocence and talent, and the audience eats him up.”
Nine years later Anna Kisselgoff, writing of “Les Patineurs” in The New York Times, said of Mr. Goldweber, “No degree of virtuosity could faze him — the changes in direction, the multiple turns, the butterfly jumps were all superb.”
His performing never suggested the effort of the choreography, but he felt the strain. “I dread ‘Patineurs’ every time, and I’ve probably done it a hundred times,” he admitted in a 1982 interview in The Times. “The ‘butterflies,’ for instance — a kind of aerial cartwheel that goes straight into pirouettes onto the knee, with your head pretty close to the ground — make you dizzy. And Mr. Joffrey likes the pace brisk in the ballet. There are times in it when I’m so out of breath I wonder why I’m dancing.”
He retired from performing in 1988 but remained in the Joffrey family, moving on to become a founding ballet master with the Oregon Ballet Theater, whose artistic director was James Canfield, a former Joffrey dancer. Mr. Goldweber returned to the Joffrey in 1996 to become a ballet master and the director of the company’s junior troupe.
He joined Ballet West, whose staff was largely drawn from the Joffrey, in 2007.
Mr. Goldweber danced the Blue Skater in the public television series “Dance in America.” He also appeared in “The Company,” a 2003 Robert Altman film about a ballet troupe, in which he played himself.
Mr. Goldweber was born on April 8, 1958, in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. He trained with Thomas Armour and at the Washington School of Ballet and the New York City Ballet-affiliated School of American Ballet.
He is survived by his father, Morton; his brother, Adam; and his sister, Ruth.