Photography Exhibit Portrays Dance Legends

Arts patron Kenneth Fay had a passion for dance and over his lifetime collected hundreds of photographs that captured the essence of dance in New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

A portion of Fay’s extensive collection is now on exhibit in the Tauni de Lesseps Gallery of the Warren Library through August. Thanks to the generosity of PBA Professor of Dance Dr. Kathleen Klein, an acquaintance of the late Kenneth Fay, the collection was donated to University Archives. The exhibit entitled, “Uncovered Gems: Dance Photography from the Golden Era,” features 36 photographs from the collection. 

Dr. Klein says that the collection came to her because Fay and his friends thought that the photographs would be appreciated by a professional dancer.  While Dr. Klein maintained the collection for many years before giving it to University, she thinks that it is important to share the photos with scholars as a way to preserve the history of dance from a significant period in America.

Fay’s collection includes more than 500, 8x10 black-and-white prints by various photographers, including Louis Perez, who was one of the best-known ballet photographers of his time. The majority of the photographs were taken on New York City stages and feature notable dance companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Cleveland Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and National Ballet of Cuba.  Dancers photographed include Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Cynthia Gregory, Ivan Nagy, Carla Fracci, Alicia Alonso, Maya Plisetskaya and many others.

University archivist Jennifer Anthony said, “This collection is amazing because it captures some remarkable moments of dance during the ‘60s and ‘70s.”  Some of the world’s most renowned dancers are featured in this collection, performing and rehearsing great ballets such as “Giselle,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “La Sylphide.”

Anthony has spent countless hours organizing the collection and identifying dancers, companies, ballets and roles. She gratefully acknowledges assistance from Dr. Klein and ballet expert Victor Trevino as well as notable American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet dancers, Dennis Nahat and Steven Caras.  In addition, she consulted with archivists from American Ballet Theatre and The Royal Ballet.

This exhibit of these uncovered photographic gems is open to the public during library operating hours.