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Athletics, rhythm, beauty


Seeing dance for the first time
Jules Engel Film-maker
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I was at Evanston High School at that time, and as a kid I did not know who he was, I had never met him before. But he said that he would like to invite me to go with him wherever he wants to go. And I had a hunch, it was just a hunch, that some of the teachers put him up to it. But anyway, I told this kid, 'Okay'. I have no idea what the hell he's talking about or where we're going. So we went to this place downtown Chicago, to this big place, where they're, you know, showing operas and all that and all that. Anyway, and then this curtain goes up and that's the first ballet I have ever seen. And it just knocked me for a loop. It was Swan Lake, Swan Lake, that was it. And you had dancers like [David] Lichine and Vechine [?] walking in with pink tights, you know, and blonde hair. Well, all that was something new. I've never seen anything like it. But the important thing was that they moved. And that aspect of it has stuck with me, you know? But I'm still in high school, okay? But it was something I'd not seen, I'd never heard about. But at least I could have given this guy a bravo of taking me because that was the beginning of my interest in the world of dancing, which led to dance of sculpture, which then led to the dance of painting. But it all started with that one moment, when this person that I'd never met, never knew, invited me to go someplace with him.

The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Bill Moritz Tamara Tracz

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Evanston High School, Swan Lake, Chicago, David Lichine

Duration: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008