Spoleto Festival USA: On Your Toes (1981) | ETV Classics

Spoleto 81 On Your Toes offers a gift from the past for lovers of dance! 

The program showcases a trio of beautifully staged and performed dances that appeared on the Charleston stage in 1981. 

Spoleto host, Bob Edwards observed that ballet was first brought to Charleston 246 years ago, when Henry Holt brought his comedic ballet Harlequin and Scaramouche to town. 

In this offering, choreographer Sal Aiello returns clowns to the stage of Spoleto with his sparkling offering of Clowns and Others. 

The camera then turns to the contemporary dance, Women, choreographed by Oscar Araiz with music by Grace Slick. 

Next up, our host introduces us to North Star choreographed by Lar Lubovitch and performed by the Lar Lubovitch Company.  This contemporary dance strings together astral shapes in the sky or as Lubovitch describes them “mythic constellations.”

Side Notes: 

  • Mr. Aiello, who was born in N.Y., in 1944, began his professional career in 1963 as a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, and became a charter member of the Harkness Ballet the following year. From 1971 to 1979 he was a member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, serving as a principal dancer, a ballet master, and an associate director. He also danced with the Eglevsky Ballet and the Hamburg State Opera in the 1970's.
  • Fun fact, both Sal Aiello and Lar Lubovitch were members of the Harkness Ballet at the same time.
  • The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company was created in 1968 and gained a reputation as one of the world’s top-ranked modern dance companies. Lar Lubovitch was cited by the New York Times as “one of the 10 best choreographers in the world,” and the company has been called a “national treasure” by Variety.
  • Lubovitch dances on film include Othello (broadcast throughout the US on PBS’s Great Performances (nominated for an Emmy Award), Fandango (winner of an International Emmy Award), and My Funny Valentine for the Robert Altman film The Company for which Lubovitch was nominated for an American Choreography Award.
  • Lubovitch choreographed the dance programs for Olympic skaters John Curry, Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, Brian Orso, JoJo Starbuck and Paul Wyle as well as two one hour ice dances for television: The Sleeping Beauty (PBS and the Planets (A&E) (nominated for an international Emmy Award, A Cable Ace Award and a Grammy Award). His work on Broadway includes Into the Woods (Tony Award Nomination), The Red Shoes (Astaire Award) and the Tony Award-winning revival of The King and I.
  • Pearl Potts was a native of Columbia, SC, training at the Calvert-Brodie Studios with Ann Brodie and Naomi Calvert and the original Columbia City Ballet staff.
  • Rob Besserer began his life in the theater as a dancer during the dance boom of the mid-1970s. After making a name for himself with the companies of Lar Lubavitch and Mark Morris, as well as with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, he left behind pure dance to try his hand at stage acting. His six projects with director/choreographer Martha Clarke helped in his transition.
  • Laura M. Gates is a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator and practitioner in New York, trained at Somatic Systems Institute. As a former professional dancer, she toured internationally with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and was a dance teacher for over 20 years. After receiving her MFA from Bennington College, Laura studied bodywork with Tyr Throne and anatomy with Irene Dowd.
  • Bob Edwards, the veteran broadcaster and longtime host of Morning Edition who left an indelible mark on NPR's sound, died February 10, 2024. He was 76 years old. NPR's Susan Stamberg says Edwards' voice became part of the morning routine for millions of Americans. "He was Bob Edwards of Morning Edition for 24 1/2 years, and his was the voice we woke up to," she says." Read more.