The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 22, 2017

February 22, 1928

Martha Swope, (February 22, 1928 to January 12, 2017) got a New York Times obituary:

From 1957, when Ms. Swope was invited by Jerome Robbins to shoot rehearsals of “West Side Story,” to 1994, when she shut down her Times Square studio and sold her archive, Ms. Swope produced hundreds of thousands of images of performers in action, capturing Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in full flight, the cast of “La Cage Aux Folles” in full drag and John Travolta in full Saturday night fever....As official photographer first for New York City Ballet and then for an honor roll of other dance troupes, Ms. Swope chronicled the working lives of George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Mr. Robbins and other key figures in 20th-century dance. At the same time, she was what Variety called “the go-to photog” for New York’s theater industry...
We are given a glimpse of the private woman too, by this obituary writer:

Ms. Swope never revealed her age, even to intimates, who laugh about how often they tried unsuccessfully to find out, looking for her passport in a purse left briefly unattended on a trip, or searching her apartment for clues while feeding her cats.

And of the early years:

One of her pictures appeared in Life magazine, and her photography career took off.
“I didn’t even know what an interchangeable lens was, or a Leica,” she once recalled. But she was still hoping to become a dancer when Lincoln Kirstein, who ran the school and was general director of City Ballet, pulled her out of class one day to offer her a job recording the company’s work in pictures. She shelved her toe shoes.

Another obit notes:

In 2010 she donated her life's work, including contact sheets, negatives, prints, slides and digital files, to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

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