The first 75 years. (75).
Bernarr Macfadden's gorgeous six-year-old art magazine, The Dance, fell victim to the Great Depression, but while it lasted, interest in dance had grown, not only in the profession, where variety, vaudeville, the renaissance of Russian ballet, and a fledgling modern dance form warred for primacy with audiences, but among writers. On The Dance's staff had been young Paul R. Milton, whose father was Robert Milton, president of New York's prestigious Theatre Guild. While writing about it, Milton had become especially aware of dance. Financed by his pianist mother, in October 1936 he founded a modest-sized monthly titled Dance. The first issue featured a photograph of Martha Graham on the cover.
In June 1927 in Los Angeles, a sprightly monthly titled The American Dancer had been founded, edited and published by Ruth Eleanor Howard. It was originally the house organ of the powerful Dancing Masters of America organization (now Dance Masters of America), but Howard had a broader vision and divorced the magazine from this official relationship. News items and bulletins of the DMA were still published, but as a service to the profession, and the first issue heralded "the awakening of a nation's artistic soul." As an independent it functioned efficiently in California throughout the Depression and early 1930s. Howard moved her American Dancer to New York City in 1933.
Both Dance and American Dancer existed simultaneously until 1942, but fell on hard times as war made an impact on the culture. Although the cover of Dance regularly proclaimed "Paul R. Milton, Editor," small type on the masthead page of American Dancer also listed Paul Milton, Editor. Both covers advertised coverage of "Stage, Ballroom, and Screen" or "Skating, Movies, and Theater." For some years photographs and stories of ice-skaters were featured. Sometimes slick fashion was the style.
Dance, during most of its years, mirrored its time. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, an era when people grappled with many social and political problems, its writers and owner fought for better working conditions for dancers. Through the efforts of Milton and his editorializing, dance companies contracted with the well-organized American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) whose membership dancers enjoyed sick pay, reasonable salaries, and other benefits previously denied them.
Another boon effected by Dance, through its "only grasshoppers dance for nothing" campaign, was the elimination of the frequent invitations to dance "for free." The periodical convinced presenters that a performance has monetary value even though it cannot be wrapped up and packaged. Organizations that regularly paid ushers, waiters, and cooks but had expected dancers to perform free were shamed into paying dancers for performing.
In 1942 both magazines were purchased by Rudolf Orthwine, who had printed American Dancer since 1940. "In March, 1942, he boldly brought forth the first issue of the merger under the working title `American Dancer combined with Dance.' This title was to change some months later to `Dance combined with American Dancer,' and later to DANCE Magazine, which Orthwine edited and published," according to 25 Years of American Dance.
Orthwine, a prosperous and benevolent self-made man, had progressed from an enterprising immigrant operating a small copying machine in his hotel room to a printer of yellow pages directories and catalogs, along with several other business enterprises. One of his favorite clients was Russian ballet master Mikhail Mordkin, whose souvenir tour programs he printed. Through his friendship with Mordkin, Orthwine became interested in ballet, contributing greatly to the early seasons of Ballet Theatre.
At the "combined" Dance Magazine he installed his good friend Jean Gordon as associate publisher. Gordon was not a novice: She had edited a prominent women's magazine and she brought her sharpened skills to Dance Magazine, inheriting its ownership upon Orthwine's death in 1970.
In the late 1940s Dance Magazine acquired an interesting young man named William Como, who had studied modern dance with Beatrice Stronstorff. Como caught the attention of Gordon and rapidly advanced from office boy to advertising sales manager of Dance Magazine and editor, until 1979, of After Dark (May 1968-1980s), a New York City entertainment periodical that evolved from Ballroom Dance Magazine (February 1960-April 1968). In 1970, he replaced longtime editor Lydia Joel and became editor in chief of Dance Magazine. The convivial Como reveled in his role, traveling in America and Europe and meeting and influencing the greats of the dance world. The nitty-gritty of producing a complex periodical every month was in the capable hands of Managing Editor Richard Philp (see Philp's remembrances on page 37).
Como introduced a distinguished feature to Dance Magazine: a monthly portfolio that was dedicated to a prominent dancer or dance company. The first portfolio was twenty-eight pages of photographs and text about Anna Pavlova. Subsequent portfolios (which give special value to back issues of Dance Magazine) were summaries of the careers of Frederick Ashton, Ruth St. Denis, Fernando Bujones, Ivan Nagy, and others.
In the 1950s television was flowering. Aware that this visual art would offer opportunities for dance, Dance Magazine initiated a monthly "Looking at Television" column. Today it is a vital source of information for researchers.
In the 1980s Dance Magazine led the field and contributed widely to choreography and dance education. There was extensive coverage of dance in Europe as well as in America, and forays into South America, Asia, and even Africa. Robert Stern, Gordon's son and an attorney, had joined the publication in the business department and introduced productive innovations. He served as associate publisher from 1977 to 1986, became CEO in 1985, then chairman emeritus in 2001 when the company was sold. Roslyne Paige Stem was associate publisher from 1982, and then, at Gordon's request, became publisher in 1986. Mrs. Stem is now president emeritus and chairs the 2002 Dance Magazine Awards Committee. Richard Philp was appointed editor in chief at Bill Como's death in January 1990. Clive Barnes, the respected London dance and theater writer, became a permanent member of the staff; his contribution on the last page of each issue is still the readable "Attitudes."
As computers became important, a Web site was established, bringing to four the company's publications: Dance Magazine College Guide, Stern's Directory, Dance Magazine, and www. dancemagazine.com. Although throughout the twentieth century a number of dance publications entered the field, most of them disappeared while Dance Magazine grew. Among the casualties were Lincoln Kirstein's archival Dance Index, the chatty newspaper Dance News, the well-mannered Ballet News (published by the Met), the scholarly Dance Perspectives and Dance Scope, the Lucile Marsh-edited Dance Culture, and the photographically rich Dance Ink. A few others became noncommercial hobbyist publications.
As the new century dawned, Dance Magazine moved its editorial and production offices to California, where it had originated in 1927. The publisher, related to the long-ruling Gordon/Stern family, was (and is) Barbara Paige Kaplan, who has worked for Dance Magazine in advertising for more than twenty years. Janice Berman, formerly a dance critic for New York Newsday, was editor in chief during the magazine's first year in California; she was followed by the experienced and open-minded K.C. Patrick, with a current staff of Managing Editor David Favrot and four associate editors. In the East Coast office is Wendy Perron, New York editor. Dance Magazine Annual, now Stern's Directory, remains in continuous publication since 1956, and in 2001, Dance Magazine College Guide changed to an annual publication.
In mid-2001 Dance Magazine remembered its beginnings as it came under the aegis of Macfadden Communications LLC, heirs in name to the periodical founded by Bernarr Macfadden, a "dance lover."
Widely honored as a dance critic and teacher, Dance Magazine Senior Editor/Advisor Ann Barzel celebrates her 97th birthday this December. After 30+ years for the metro daily Chicago American, she still attends performances and contributes regularly. Her extensive papers and collections reside at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
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|Title Annotation:||Dance Magazine|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2002|
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