Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Winnie Colleano, I Can't Believe What an Aerial Goddess You Were ...

Just now, ending up on You Tube -- don't know how, don't know why, that's the way with a computer, most of you will know. But first came Con Colleano, and then there was Winnie from 1939.

Set to lush music, even with the sound off, I was utterly thunderstruck to discover her free flowing single trap, serenely sensational with full swinging reverse heal catches. Not ruthlessly of the daredevil class, but of the class of great circus gods floating through space, complete with a terrific finish, jumping free of the bar to catch a pole and slide back down to earth.

I book marked Miss Winnie. I'm in love with her style, her poetic abandon, yet so finely controlled and formed. I can't believe, I just discovered another MAJOR big top icon.

Circus 1939. Tim Tegge and I were talking about form (talking via e-mail), about Bradna referring to Leitzel's planges as "ugly." Tim noting that she did not tend to point her toes, that perhaps the era was lacking in such polish as it might be today. Then I told Tim about my having seen a You Tube of Tiny Kline and, we'd both marveled at Codona's form and style clear to see on snatches of grainy footage. I remember Tito Gaona telling me about the "elegance" of the 1920s, and Tito Tito was not even a seed, but he found the elegance on his own and how well he knows and respects it.

I got to thinking how, when we see ballet in circus today, we credit Cirque du Soleil or look to the old Soviet Union circus scene. But the performers who came before and during were not dumb or unschooled, or merely athletic. There was always the transit between stage and sawdust, ballet and big top. Don't let the snobs convince you otherwise.

Sometimes the evidence you look for may let you down. Sometimes there isn't as much as you'd like there to be.

Con Colleano to the wrong music looked a bit repetitive in his dancing on the low wire. I recall being mesmerized by his style and dash on the Clyde Beatty show when the band played, I think, a very torrid Latin refrain, if not Ravel's Bolero. His buildup, as now, to the forward somersault was tensely dramatic.

Sometime back, I came across a You Tube of Francis Brunn in his prime, and was afraid to watch it, afraid what I remembered as a kid would not be there now. Surprise. Brunn was even better on You Tube, validating my memory of his incredibly choreographed routine.

Winnie this evening was circus perfect. Check her out for yourself. She has the skill, the interior guts, the exterior poetry. What a star she was. And we -- well I, hardly knew her.



Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Yes, the heel catches were fantastic, but everything else was the most basic trap tricks there are and her style was pretty much Circus Smirkus.

Anonymous said...

The swinging reverse heel catch alone places her in a Class all by herself. I don't know of any other performer accomplishing this stunt. Maybe, someone can enlighten me if I am wrong. Markeno