Practical session with Catherine Turocy

An evening’s entertainment at a salon or a ball, in addition to the list of dances on the dance card, would often include a diversion. The diversion could be recited poetry, an aria, a dramatic dance or a scene from a play or opera. This diversion could be performed by professionals or gentlefolk from the social circle of those who have gathered. The well-educated gentleman or gentlewoman would have studied the art of declamation and dance and a social gathering could be an occasion to display one’s wit and talents. Imagine the joy of being able to perform if one was forbidden such pleasures professionally because the stage was not a proper place for the nobles.

Catherine Turocy will take you through her choreographic process as students learn a short solo embodying the poetry of Dryden and the music of Purcell in the aria, Fairest Isle from King Arthur. The dance can be learned as a full body experience complete with dance steps, or one can simply dance the choreographed gestures while seated in a chair. After a short power point introduction in which Catherine will outline Baroque concepts of structure and expression as applied to dance, she will lead students through her new creation devised specifically for this class.

Link to music performance:

The Poem

Fairest isle, all isles excelling,
Seat of pleasure and of love
Venus here will choose her dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian grove.
Cupid from his fav’rite nation
Care and envy will remove;
Jealousy, that poisons passion,
And despair, that dies for love.

Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love
Soft repulses, kind disdaining,
Shall be all the pains you prove.
Ev’ry swain shall pay his duty,
Grateful ev’ry nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in beauty,
Those shall be renown’d for love.

Catherine Turocy recognized as one of today’s leading choreographer/stage directors in Baroque period performance, with over 70 Baroque operas to her credit, has been decorated by the French Republic as a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters. After moving to NYC in 1976 she cofounded The New York Baroque Dance Company with Ann Jacoby.

In 2018-19 she was a recipient of the Center for Ballet and the Arts Residency Fellowship in NYC for her work on Nijinsky’s Bach ballet (1913). In 2018 Turocy received the IZZY Award in San Francisco for her stage direction/choreography of  Le Temple de la Gloire by Rameau  which also received two first prizes in “Best of the Bay” under both stage direction and choreography. Other awards include the BESSIE Award in New York City for sustained achievement in choreography, the Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence and the Dance Film Association Award for “The Art of Dancing.” NEA International Exchange Fellowships supported research in London and Paris.

A founding member of the Society for Dance History Scholars, Ms. Turocy has lectured on period performance practices around the world including the Royal Academies of Dance in London, Stockholm and Copenhagen; the Festival Estival in Paris and The Society for Early Music in Tokyo. She is also a founding member of Dance Studies Association (DSA) and belongs to  CORPS de Ballet International and the Dance Council.

She has served as consultant to Clark Tippett of American Ballet Theater, Edward Villella of the Miami City Ballet and Yaniro Castro of acanarytorsi. She was a movement consultant to the famous master chef Thomas Keller, training his wait staff for Per Se in NYC.

Catherine Turocy