A decade ago, writing a brief history of this magazine for the sixtieth anniversary issue, I used a word you don't see around very much -- eudemonia -- but it seems as appropriate now as it did then. It means good fortune and derives from the Greek eudemon, which means a benevolent demon. All of us have bad days when we're vexed by bad demons, but how could anybody object to a kindly demon that brings good fortune? Of course, our magazine today is different than it was a decade ago, but the happy state of eudemonia has certainly continued with us. If this sounds like bragging, well, just once, maybe it is. We've never had a stronger or more gifted staff -- just browse through this celebratory issue and you'll see everywhere the hallmarks of their high standards and excellent work. And I believe that the magazine has been reshaped during this past decade to address more pressing concerns of a serious group with real career goals and a deep love of the lifestyle that we call dance.
I sometimes wonder what the original Hollywood-based team that produced the first issue of The American Dancer in June 1927 would say if they could step through time and see what we've become! Would those editors, concerned with meeting the sometimes frazzling demands of monthly deadlines, even think about such long-term survival in a business -- publishing -- that can be notoriously unforgiving? The founding editor, Ruth Howard, dedicated the magazine "To those who love the dance with that deep and understanding devotion which alone is worthy of so great a symbolic art. . . ." That hasn't changed.
In 1933 The American Dancer moved to New York City. In 1942 Rudolf Orthwine purchased both American Dancer and another magazine, begun in 1936, called Dance. This combination became Dance Magazine.
Orthwine was an original -- a German-born would-be actor who emigrated as a young man to America where he would make his fortune in printing and furniture. As well as enthusiast, publisher, and sometimes even editor of this magazine, he was also one of the founders of Ballet Theatre. His early editors included Lucille Marsh, Ruthella Wade, Dorothy Spence, Ezra Goodman, and Helen Dzhermolinska. Ann Barzel, who started writing and photographing for American Dancer in 1936, briefly assumed the editorship after the war; and Ann is still very much with us, a valued contributor (her television column begins on page 120).
I should mention a few other long-term, happy associations. In 1945 the first feature appeared by Doris Hering, who became the magazine's principal writer and critic for the next quarter century (her piece on Graham begins on page 92). Associate editor/ education Marian Horosko first contributed to these pages in 1954 with a report from a tour of New York City Ballet, with which she was performing (see page 116). And Clive Barnes, a genuine friend of dance and certainly the best-known and most widely respected dance and theater critic working today, joined us in 1958 as our London correspondent (see pages 56 and 164). Herbert Migdoll, the magazine's designer for almost thirty years, created the all-important look that became our trademark (see page 56).
Jean Gordon arrived in 1952 to assist the magazine's move from its offices in Orthwine's printing plant -- a two-week job that lasted more than three decades. On Orthwine's death in 1970, she became publisher, a title assumed on her death in 1985 by Roslyne Paige Stern, who had joined the company in 1978. Roslyne became president in 1996 and this spring copublisher with chairman Robert Stern, Jean Gordon's son.
As the world grew smaller during the postwar years and dance underwent unprecedented growth during the "dance boom," the magazine expanded internationally under Lydia Joel, who joined the staff in 1947 and was editor from 1952 to 1970. In my time, Lydia would return as editor emeritus, a post she held until her death in 1992. The magazine's expansion continued under William Como, editor from 1970 to 1988. Bill was one of the founding editors of After Dark, the remake of a sister publication, Ballroom Dance. I joined the magazine in 1970 as managing editor, a post I held until Bill's death, when I became editor in chief. A long time.
The history of a successful magazine is a succession of people possessed by good demons; a magazine is only as good as those who put it together. Survival depends in part on flexibility, because we basically remake every issue monthly, always working to provide the best dance writing and photography available -- a daunting but often exhilarating task. And there's another factor in our case: We identify ourselves with the world of magazine publishing, yes, but we identify even more passionately with the all-absorbing world of dance -- and that is perhaps the source of our strength and success. In terms of eudemonia, you might say that we have been supremely blessed. Our demons have been very good to us indeed!
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|Title Annotation:||70th Anniversary Issue|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1997|
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