Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Butterfly

While walking along Commercial Drive, I met up with this person. He was very passionate and very emotional, he was collecting signatures so he could run for mayor of Vancouver. He needed one hundred and had two if you count mine. This was the last day to collect signatures. I wonder if he made it?

June Roper's and Jack Kinney's partnership wasn't without it's problems. While Kinney's costume was the same basic evening-wear for most of the productions, June required gowns, which cost hundreds of dollars and she needed several garments for each season. Jack refused to adjust their salaries to help June with that expense.

The duo danced at Les Ambassadeurs, a popular night club in Cannes and the German impresario Hermann Heller offered them a featured spot in his Berlin revue. Kinney decided to go out on his own but June signed with the Heller Revue of 1925 and started to search for a new partner.

June chose her twenty-five-year-old brother, John. He was tall, well built and handsome though he had never studied dance. John was also June's childhood idol because he had been able to challenge their father's rigid philosophy.

John was working in the California oil fields when he got his sister's invitation. He enrolled in Belcher's studios and in May of 1925, June and her mother returned to California to plan the debut in Berlin. June had three months to turn her brother into a dancing partner.

The two spent their days working in the studio under Belcher's guidance. The evenings were spent at performance outlets in the community. The duo's earliest performances at amateur nights were disastrous but by the fourth try, they were winning prizes.

While June and Jack had been appearing at the Gallagher Club, a film producer had approached June to act as a stand-in for the actress Dorothy Mackall in a sequence involving a dangerous dive. June and Jack worked for weeks to determine the height from which should could be caught without risking her safety.

June decided to utilize these skills for the Haller Revue in a romantic adagio called The College Boy and The Butterfly. When June and Jack went to Berlin in the fall, they began training for this act. It involved a leap from a ten-foot platform into her partner's arms. John had to catch her below the bust and at thigh level. The brother and sister worked on this for more than a month, moving from a chair to the top of an upright piano and having one near disastrous accident but they perfected the move.

The Butterfly became the showstopper of the revue, which ran a full year in Berlin and had shorter engagements in Vienna and Hamburg. The dancing duo also appeared as featured dancers in the Winter Garden.

I want to thank Leland Windreich and his book June Roper Ballet Starmaker for the information on this woman. You may be wondering how June Roper is connected with Vancouver. I'm getting there and I hope you are enjoying her story so far.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

No comments:

Post a Comment