In the mid-1990's, I found an old yellowed newspaper page on the fringes
of an otherwise undistinguished garage sale in Spokane, Washington --
it was from the American Examiner, and was published in 1912.
It had two large pictures of a lady named Ida Rubinstein (sometimes
spelled Rubenstein), an elaborately costumed theatrical personality
from Paris' Belle Epoch, a couple of spot illustrations of her,
and a very strange story/interview by someone named Alan Dale, who seemed
to have anything but an open mind about his subject. I
am happy to contribute this material for all Rubinstein scholars to
view on the World Wide Web:
Over the years I found some biographies about her, and a few scattershot
blurbs in reference books about Dance and dancers, so I am able to illustrate
the outlines of her whole career at last. I'm
not really concerned about her private life, although it has some significance
in her case. There seem to be documented love affairs with just one
man and one woman -- but her social circle included other women who
lived life famously on their own terms -- a fact which has inspired
a number of other writers to tell her story. My choice is to concentrate
on her many artistic achievements.
Ida Rubinstein was remarkable in her ambition, and the quality of her
collaborators. I am also leaving criticism to others.
of Salome by Toni Bentley
(2002 New Haven: Yale University Press)
Dancing in the Vortex; The Story of Ida Rubinstein by Vicki
(2000 Harwood Academic Publishers)
Ida Rubinstein, A Theatrical Life
by Michael de Cossart
(1987 Liverpool University Press)
to author and dancer Toni Bentley for her kind words about
Ida's illustrated chronology:
The website is simply wonderful! Really quite lovely and
thrilling to click through. Thanks for doing it and thank
you for sending me the link.
Read about Toni's books and career at: www.tonibentley.com
followed Ms. Bentley's own footsteps in Paris to Village Voice Bookshop
at 6 Rue Princess.
The kindly staff helped me locate and photograph the sites of Ida's
Places in Paris.
Internet was a great source for more vignettes, and Public Domain
the magic of interlibrary loans I got a copy of Dancing in the
Vortex; The Story of Ida Rubinstein by Vicki Woolf (2000 Harwood
Academic Publishers). Ms. Woolf is an actress like Ms. Rubinstein,
and furnishes some remarkable details of her life and performances.
I also purchased Sisters of Salome by Toni Bentley (2002 New
Haven: Yale University Press). She is a retired ballerina who danced
for George Ballanchine. Her book gives the reader a facinating look
into the culture at the turn of the 20th Century which produced 'exotic'
dancers like Maud Allen, Mata Hari, Sidonie Collette (best known today
as a first-rate French author), and Ida Rubinstein. Ms. Bentley manages
to tell Ida's incredible story in six short chapters, while being
fair and compassionate in describing her artistic efforts.
The most important source book seems to be Ida Rubinstein, A Theatrical
Life by the late Michael de Cossart (1987 Liverpool University
Press). His extensive research into public and private archives in
France and England seemed to lay the foundation for later biographies,
and likely saved the career of this remarkable person from obscurity.
When making short
quotes from these books, I will credit my information -- and will
do the same for any of my sources on the World Wide Web. When referring
to A Theatrical Life, I have chosen to put de Cossart's full
name in italics as Michael de Cossart. I'll do the same with
Sisters of Salome and refer to it as Toni Bentley. References
to Dancing In the Vortex will say Vicki Woolf. These
names are shorter than the titles on average, but I actually wish
to avoid the confusing situation of giving credit to Woolf,
or V. Woolf -- Rubinstein's social circle included members
of the Bloomsbury Group, and Ida Rubinstein might have even met
author Virginia Woolf.