Friday, October 17, 2014

Jack is Back

When we last left June Roper, she was dancing in Berlin with her brother, John. After the tour was over, John returned to the United States. John used his newly acquired expertise to design dance acts for a circuit of nightclubs in the southern U.S.

Jack Kinney returned to dance with June in new routines featured in the revues of the Casino de Paris. Mistinguett and Maurice Chevalier were headliners and these shows were the proving ground for a generation of new talent who would work in the theatre and film.

During this time, June worked with Mistinguett - coaching her in dance routines and deportment in her elaborate costumes. The team of Roper and Kinney gained a dedicated and adoring fan base in Paris and news of their skill reached G.B. Cochran. In 1928, Cochran hired the duo to work in his upcoming revue, Wake Up and Dream.

The new routine would include five numbers June and Jack performed in their act combined with the free-structured production. A stipulation was that Cole Porter provided the music for their dances. The tango, which the duo performed to Gade's Jealousy, was replicated in a piece called Agua Sincopada Tango Wake up and Dream. It opened in London on March 23, 1929.

The show was immensely popular and had 263 performances. Jessie Matthews was the ingenue and singing star; Australian Tilly Losch was principal dancer - she appeared in an exotic number choreographed by George Balanchine to the Porter ballad What is this Thing Called Love? and in a doll-shop sequence inspired by Coppelia - Oliver Messel designed the elaborate sets.

The show was headed for New York - with the same basic cast - and it opened there on December 30. Cochran needed a replacement for Jessie Matthews while she was in America so he suggested June remain in London. She would begin training to become an all-purpose musical actress who could assume the leading role in his revue projected for 1930.

This must have been agreeable with June because she made plans to join the Cochran forces in London after a vacation. Unfortunately, her plans were disrupted when, during the Atlantic voyage, Elizabeth Roper was stricken with an attack of angina pectoris. The attack was so severe that the physician wouldn't allow June to see her mother for several days.

Monday, I will tell you more about June and her mother and June's career. I am getting this information from the book June Roper Ballet Starmaker by Leland Windreich. If you are a fan of dance, I would advise you take a look at it. I am, of course, leaving a lot of facts out and the pictures are worth looking at the book.

I hope you have a great weekend. I am volunteering at the TEDxVancouver on Saturday - that should be fun!

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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