California Literary Review

Profile of Toba Singer

Bio:

Toba Singer, author of “First Position: a Century of Ballet Artists” (Praeger 2007), was Senior Program Director of the Art and Music Center of the San Francisco Public Library and its dance selector until her retirement in 2010. Raised in The Bronx, she graduated from New York City’s School of Performing Arts with a major in Drama, the University of Massachusetts with a BA in History; and the University of Maryland with an MLS. Since high school, Singer has been actively engaged in a broad range of pro-labor, social, and political campaigns. She has lived, worked, organized and written in Baltimore, Boston, The Bronx, Cambridge, Charleston, West Virginia, Jersey City, Richmond, Virginia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., working in steel mills, chemical refineries, garment shops and as an airlines worker; also editing, teaching and as an office worker. Singer has contributed articles to the “Charleston Gazette,” “San Francisco Chronicle,” “Dance Magazine,” “Dance Europe,” “City Paper,” “Provincetown Advocate,” “Voice of Dance,” CriticalDance.com, “InDance,” and “Dance Source Houston.”

Singer returned to the studio to study ballet after a 25-year absence, and in 2001, was invited to become a founding member of the board of Robert Moses’ KIN dance company. Singer studied ballet with Svetlana Afanasieva, Nina Anderson, Perry Brunson, Richard Gibson, Zory Karah, Celine Keller, Charles McGraw, Francoise Martinet, Augusta Moore, E. Virginia Williams, and Kahz Zmuda; and Modern Dance with Cora Cahan, Jane Dudley, Nancy Lang, Donald McKayle, Gertrude Shurr, and Zenaide Trigg. Her son James Gotesky dances with Houston Ballet. Singer lives in Oakland, California, with her husband Jim Gotesky.

Articles written for the California Literary Review:

  • Dance Review: Hard Nut, Mark Morris Dance Group
    Posted on 27 Dec 2012 in Dance

    All the guests have become very drunk and the little desfile march is given over to interpretive liberties, such as the men and women dancing The Stroll (Circa 1960) downstage á la American Bandstand, with a little disco hand gesture (Circa 1978) thrown in, and then the Funky Chicken (Circa 1963), with one couple staying true to classical ballet (Circa Louis XIV) as they shoot their arms through exaggerated port de bras. The audience is roaring, and so is the fireplace that fills the TV screen.

  • Dance Review: San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker
    Posted on 13 Dec 2012 in Dance

    Instead of whipping out a small nutcracker that Drosselmeyer later makes big, the nutcracker should be at least as dramatic in its appearance as Drosselmeyer himself, so that the child from Pacific Heights in the third row, dressed in velvet togs from a Sacramento Street boutique, isn’t tempted to think, “Big deal—I’ve got a better nutcracker at home!”

  • Diablo Ballet’s Newest Member and Comeback Kid, Aaron Orza
    Posted on 23 Nov 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    I would say that compared to the what the women face, competition is not so ruthless for men. We are all in it more for each other, a positive, friendly competition thing. That is how I was trained to view it by my teacher at San Francisco Ballet, Jorge Esquivel.

  • Diablo Ballet’s Swingin’ Holiday
    Posted on 21 Nov 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    This small company has bagged a big quotient of ballet artistry thanks to intelligent and sensitive leadership by Diablo’s artistic director, Lauren Jonas.

  • LEVYDance 10th Anniversary: Who’s in Charge of the Smoke and Mirrors and Where’s the Occasional Music?
    Posted on 19 Nov 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    Substantial funds were raised and spent several years ago to improve the performance space at ODC Theater, but for “artistic reasons” related to retaining its exposed-brick open ambience, no curtain was installed. This is problematic when for artistic reasons, a program requires a curtain.

  • Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet’s Constellation: Ballet in Bright Lights
    Posted on 06 Nov 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    Strings of LED lights take the form of square panels, and dancers wear or carry them like accessories. They bounce individual lights, or dance on a darkened stage with only the lights they hold in their hands visible as they move, so that their sparkle competes with feet as focal points.

  • Book Review: Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt
    Posted on 05 Nov 2012 in Books, Fiction Reviews

    A mile wide and an inch deep? Not Christine Schutt’s Prosperous Friends. Quite the opposite. It’s a compact 205-page spare-prose novel with a wickedly deceptive rose-colored antimacassar of a book jacket. With those rudimentary tools, it rips the façade off of marriage, much the way a smiling nurse s l o w l y eases a bandage from your wound, and then when you’re good and trusting, rips off the entrenched last bit.

  • Russell Maliphant’s Afterlight Folds Time Into Space at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
    Posted on 31 Oct 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    After a piano intro, a spot opens up a space on the dark stage and in it is the dancer, Thomasin Gülgeç. He is dressed in a purple top. He is revolving, and then begins a series of stretches that segue into a port de bras as he inclines toward the blush of white light.

  • Shaping Flamenco: An Afternoon with Cristina Hall
    Posted on 21 Oct 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    “The head follows the hand.” Now smiling broadly, she demonstrates slamming the back foot onto the floor behind her, then in front, so that we hear the stamp each time. The hand slaps the thigh, though the elbows stay softened. The hip movement isn’t perfunctory: It’s sustained.

  • Mariinsky Ballet: Swan Lake
    Posted on 16 Oct 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    Asked why there were no secondes, the general director gave the curious response that “not everyone can do that step.” We scoured our memory to come up with a major company where that is the case—and couldn’t!

  • Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Speaks Ballet In a Dialect All Its Own
    Posted on 04 Oct 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    Appearing at the Cullen Theater in Houston’s Wortham Center on September 29, the small but sturdy company of eleven dancers met and surpassed the high expectations of a full house audience studded with ballet aficionados and the most urbane of dance critics.

  • Laurie Anderson Surveys the Wreckage
    Posted on 20 Sep 2012 in Blog-Theater, Theatre

    Appearing in a loose-fitting white shirt and tie, black slacks and white shoes, and sporting a scruffy do that was its own hybrid—punk plus low maintenance—she, herself, especially when she tucks her violin into the crook of her neck as if it were her heart—evokes something sculptural and pleasantly exotic. She is Electronica Untamed and also Electronica Informed—by a classical education in music, philosophy and science.

  • Interview with the Late Mirta Hermida, Headmistress of the Cuban National Ballet School
    Posted on 30 Aug 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    Understanding that dancers’ careers had a limited time span and usually ended at the age of 30, Fernando and Alicia taught us how to teach, even as we learned. And so, by the age of 19 I had begun teaching.

  • Summertime Digital Dance Quiz
    Posted on 26 Aug 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    Which was more important to you in Billy Elliot—the dancing or the plot?

  • Six Days in Santiago with Richard Cragun
    Posted on 12 Aug 2012 in Blog-Dance, Dance

    I wrote to Luz Lorca, Marcía Haydée’s assistant to ask whether Ricky happened to be in Santiago to help coach the company’s upcoming Mayerling. Just a few days later, Luz wrote back, “I am sorry to have to tell you that Richard Cragun died this morning in Rio. Marcía is devastated.”

« Previous PageNext Page »

Get The Latest California Literary Review Updates Delivered Free To Your Inbox!

Powered by FeedBlitz

Recent Comments