Karen Irvin and Mea Hartman dance films, circa 1956-1972  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Title
Karen Irvin and Mea Hartman dance films
Dates
circa 1956-1972 (inclusive)
Quantity
36 film reels (8 hrs., 16,875 ft.) : sound, silent ; color, black and white ; 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm
Collection Number
PH1342
Summary
The collected films of Karen Irvin and Mea Hartman, many of which pertain to Irvin and Hartman's work with the Cornish College of the Arts ballet program
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Access to the original films is restricted due to preservation concerns. Arrangements can be made to view the films by contacting the Visual Materials Curator.

Languages
English


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Born in Hastings, Pennsylvania, ca. 1910, Karen Irvin moved with her family to Seattle, Washington at age 8. It was there that she began to study ballet with Caird Leslie, Lee Foley, and ultimately with Nellie Cornish of the Cornish School (now Cornish College of the Arts). She studied briefly in New York, then returned to the northwest where she opened a ballet studio in West Seattle. Irvin joined the Cornish faculty in 1945, and in 1952 she became head of the institution's dance department. Four years later, she co-founded Cornish Ballet -- an early contributor to the regional ballet movement -- with her longtime companion, Mea Hartman. Irvin headed the dance department at Cornish for 27 years, and was responsible for designing the college's dance degree program. She trained dancers for companies such as the Joffrey Ballet, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Pennsylvania Ballet, and National Ballet of Canada, and worked to raise Seattle's stature in the dance world. Miss Irvin died of heart failure on March 2, 1999, at the age of 89.

Pamela W. Hartman, known as Mea, worked with Karen Irvin in presenting dance productions for Cornish School. She was also a board member of Pacific Northwest Ballet Association, serving on its Council of Dance Educators ca. 1972, and participated in Pacific Regional Ballet Association's regional convention in Seattle in 1972. Hartman served as secretary of New Dimensions in Music, a Seattle contemporary music group in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In addition, she was treasurer of Evergreen Opera Theatre, a 1982 attempt to present chamber operas in English in Seattle. Hartman also served as a board member of the Early Music Guild, a Seattle organization, from 1982-1983, and as communications director of the Northwest Folklife Festival in 1983.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Cornish College of the Arts is a fully accredited institution in the Denny Triangle and Capitol Hill neighborhoods of Seattle, Washington that offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance, Theater, Performance Production, Design, and Fine Art, as well as the Bachelor of Music degree. Today it is nationally recognized as a premier college for the visual and performing arts, and one of only three fully accredited private colleges in the entire nation dedicated to educating both performing and visual artists. Founded in 1914 as the Cornish School of Music, the name was changed a few years later, in 1920, to The Cornish School. In the 1950s, the name was lengthened to the Cornish School of Allied Arts; in 1977 it became the Cornish Institute of Allied Arts, and in 1986, the Cornish College of the Arts.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Karen Irvin and Mea Hartman film collection consists primarily of moving images created during Irvin and Hartman's tenure with the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. These films appear to be both working sketches and full dress rehearsals of pieces ultimately meant for the Cornish stage.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

The films in this collection contain neither title cards nor credits. Individual film titles have been derived from canister and box labels present at the time of donation.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact the Special Collections division of the University of Washington Libraries for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Cornish Ballet FilmsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
viewcopy item
VC428 1
 Bach
Female and male dancers performing in dark-colored, minimal dress. No set dressing or props. Basic stage lighting, with backlit screen at the rear of the stage.
Original1 film reel (15 minutes, 550 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1957
Reel
2 2
Brahms
1 film reel (15 minutes, 550 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers performing in classical ballet dress. Curtained, backlit backdrop with no props.
circa 1957
viewcopy
VC429 3
 Charades
Female and male dancers performing in light-colored dress meant to reflect popular clothing of the 1950s. Four draperies with cross pattern as set dressing. No props. Basic stage lighting, with backlit screen at the rear of the stage.
Original1 film reel (17 minutes, 600 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1957
VC430 4
 Red Death
Female and male dancers in dark, hooded, caped costumes. One female dancer in light-colored costume without a hood, possibly meant to be the embodiment of the plague. All dancers fall at the conclusion of the piece, excepting the dancer in the light colored costume. No props. Dark, translucent draperies as set dressing. Basic stage lighting, with backlit screen at the rear of the stage.
Original1 film reel (18 minutes, 650 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1957
VC431 5
 Spectrum
Part one: Three female dancers and one male dancer in costumes from an undetermined period; minimal set and lighting, with slight stairs at the rear; ornamental staff as a prop. Part two: Two female dancers and one male dancer, in costumes from an undetermined period with feathered headwear; set dressing from part one, with brighter lighting. Part three: Six female dancers in classical ballet dress; set dressing from previous parts, with bright lighting. Part four: Rehearsal segments with various female/male dancers; performers out of costume; set dressing from previous parts, with lowered lighting.
Original1 film reel (27 minutes, 975 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1957
VC432 6
 Wasps, Theft of Brooch
Part one: Female and male dancers dressed possibly as 19th century youths; books as props. Part two: Silhouetted figures, backlit by rear of stage, dancing; the scene repeats with lighting; a tall, hatted man interacting with dancers dressed as youths. Part three: Two benches and three stools to simulate a courtroom, with three figure dressed as powdered wig judges at the rear of the stage. Part four: Short rehearsal segments of varying length, in and out of costume, separated by blank frames.
Original1 film reel (42 minutes, 1450 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1957
VC433 7
 Circa 1870, Ah-Fickle Fate
First part: Female dancers in classical ballet dress. Sheer overhead and rear drapery as set dressing, with basic stage lighting. Second part: Male dancer in a tuxedo, with flowers as a prop. Dancing in front of a theater advertisement, which is removed to reveal a waiting room consisting of a circular couch and a plant. Female dancer in American 1920s attire enters from curtained doorway with the same flowers, and the couple dances around the couch.
Original1 film reel (27 minutes, 975 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1959
VC434 8
 Encounter
One female dancer in light-colored dress and tights, and three male dancers in light-colored billowy shirts and tights. Three lengths of spiraled material at rear as backdrop, with basic stage lighting.
Original1 film reel (12 minutes, 400 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
The original canister and reel are unlabeled. The dance on this reel is a different performance of the dance labeled "Encounter" on reel 9.
circa 1959
Reel
9 9
Encounter, Patrie
1 film reel (22 minutes, 800 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Part one: One female dancer in light-colored dress and tights, and three male dancers in light-colored billowy shirts and tights. Three lengths of spiraled material at rear as backdrop, with basic stage lighting. Part two: Female and male dancers in uniforms of undetermined origin. Row of flags as backdrop, with tricolor flags as dancing props.
circa 1960
10 10
Sugar & Spice
1 film reel (14 minutes, 500 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in youthful costumes, possibly meant to invoke the 19th century. Ornamental doorway and two stools at rear of stage. Basic lighting throughout.
circa 1960
viewcopy
VC435 11
 Patterns I
Female and male dancers in dark-colored dress, waving fabrics of different tones. Basic stage lighting. No stage dressing.
Original1 film reel (13 minutes, 450 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1961
VC436 12
 Class, Patterns I
Part one: Dance rehearsal segments. Part two: Female and male dancers in dark-colored dress, waving fabrics of different tones. Basic stage lighting. No stage dressing.
Original1 film reel (9 minutes, 300 feet) : silent, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1961
VC437 13
 Patterns II
Female and male dancers in dark-colored dress, waving fabrics of different tones. Basic stage lighting. No stage dressing.
Original1 film reel (12 minutes, 400 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1961
VC438 14
 L'Etoile
Female and male dancers in costumes of an undetermined period, possibly fantastical. Trees and stars represent a wooded area at night. The stage lighting is expressive. The theme of the dance is astronomical in nature, and telescopes are used as props.
Original1 film reel (18 minutes, 600 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1962
VC439 15
 La Chasse
Female and male dancers in fancy dress costumes of an undetermined date. A tree at rear center stage serves as the backdrop.
Original1 film reel (23 minutes, 800 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1963
VC440 16
 Opus 29
Female dancers in dark, thin-strapped dresses, and male dancers in dark shirts and slacks. One to three folding ladders are used as props. A dark stage, with expressive overhead spotlights.
Original1 film reel (19 minutes, 675 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1963
VC441 17
 Salutation
Female dancers in white strapless dresses, and male dancers in billowing shirts, vests and tights. An undressed set, with spotlights on dancers.
Original1 film reel (19 minutes, 675 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1963
VC442 18
 Time of Parting
Three female performers, dressed in costumes from an undetermined period in European history, dance and play stringed instruments. Dressed set, with flowers on a pedestal, layered curtains, and a backless chair. Dramatic lighting.
Original1 film reel (9 minutes, 300 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1963
VC443 19
 Chrysalis
Female and male dancers in ballet tights with capes and billowing sleeves and waists. Set consists of sheer, layered curtains that rise to further open the stage as the piece progresses. No props, with basic stage lighting.
Original1 film reel (14 minutes, 500 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1964
Reel
20 20
Les Grenadiers
1 film reel (19 minutes, 675 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in costumes of an undetermined period. Minimal set dressing, with ornamental railing at rear of stage. Basic lighting.
circa 1964
21 21
Grenadiers
1 film reel (27 minutes, 975 feet) : silent, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in ballet rehearsals. The reel is a series of short rehearsal fragments.
circa 1964
viewcopy
VC444 22
 Moire I
Two female dancers in dark-colored, minimal dress, using light and shadow on a backlit screen at the rear of the stage. The stage is dark, with spotlights used to enhance use of shadows.
Original1 film reel (5 minutes, 200 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1968
Reel
23 23
Moire II
1 film reel (19 minutes, 675 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in dark-colored, minimal dress. The backdrop consists of geometric shapes, with rectangular risers for dancers.
circa 1964, 1968
24 24
Force I
1 film reel (12 minutes, 400 feet) : silent, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in dark-colored, minimal dress. The stage is well lit and undressed.
circa 1969
viewcopy
VC445 25
 Xilonen
One female and nine male dancers in fantastical yellow costumes with red and blue capes. Expressive lighting, with a pyramid-shaped prop as a backdrop.
Original1 film reel (7 minutes, 300 feet) : sound, color ; 16mm
circa 1970

Fragments and AnniversaryReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Reel item
25a 25a
Spectrum and Theft of Brooch Cast Cue and Light Test
1 reel (2 minutes, 50 feet) : silent, black and white ; 16mm
Various dancers moving across a lit stage. Costumes from the dances "Spectrum" and "Theft of Brooch" are worn and tested by the dancers.
Technical tests for reels five and six in this collection.
circa 1956
viewcopy
VC453 26
Ballet Fragments
Fragments from various Cornish ballet performances, each with distinctive lighting and dress. Footage is handheld and underexposed.
Original1 film reel (19 minutes, 300 feet) : silent, color ; 8mm
The original canister is labeled "Miscellaneous."
circa 1962
VC454 27
Salutation 10th Anniversary
Female dancers in white strapless dresses, and male dancers in billowing shirts, vests and tights. An undressed set, with spotlights on dancers.
Original1 film reel (2 minutes, 50 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
circa 1963
Reel
27a 27a
La Chasse Fragment
1 reel (2 minutes, 50 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in fancy dress costumes of an undetermined date.
Rehearsal fragment of reel fifteen in this collection.
circa 1963
27b 27b
Ladders
1 reel (4 minutes, 100 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
A female dancer in a dark, thin-strapped dress moves among three tall folding ladders.
Possibly a variation or a fragment of Opus 29, reel sixteen in this collection.
circa 1964
27c 27c
Grenadiers Test
1 reel (2 minutes, 50 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Female and male dancers in costumes of an undetermined period. Minimal set dressing, with ornamental railing at rear of stage. Basic lighting.
Rehearsal fragment of reel twenty in this collection.
circa 1964
27d 27d
Encounter Fragment
1 reel (4 minutes, 100 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
One female dancer in light-colored dress and tights, and three male dancers in light-colored billowy shirts and tights. Three lengths of spiraled material at rear as backdrop, with basic stage lighting.
Rehearsal fragment of reels eight and nine in this collection.
circa 1964
27e 27e
The Fall
1 reel (2 minutes, 50 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Two female dancers in long, dark skirts and white tights dance on an undressed stage with basic lighting.
1969
27f 27f
Students Divertissement
1 reel (5 minutes, 200 feet) : sound, black and white ; 16mm
Five female dancers and one male dancer in contemporary costumes, performing a modern dance.
1969
viewcopy
VC455 28
Maybe West of Moon
Fragments of a performance in rehearsal. Female and male dancers in white shirts and black tights, and more female dancers in white tights and leotards of varying bright colors. The backdrop consists of a horizontal bar that holds vertically placed rectangles, and this bar is flanked by curtains. Dancers periodically interact with this bar, spinning the rectangles.
Original1 film reel (19 minutes, 300 feet) : silent, color ; super 8mm
circa 1972
VC456 29
Part of West of Moon
Female dancer in fairy-type dress and star-topped wand dances in front of a curtain decorated with large stars. The curtain opens to reveal two female dancers in 19th century fancy dress, holding a striped hatbox in each hand. Futher dance fragments feature still more fanciful dress meant to resemble members of the animal family.
Original1 film reel (2 minutes, 50 feet) : silent, black and white ; 16mm
undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Ballet dancers--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Ballet programs--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Personal Names :
  • Hartman, Mea, 1930-1983--Archives
  • Irvin, Karen (Ballet dancer)--Archives
  • Corporate Names :
  • Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, Wash.)--Faculty
  • Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, Wash.)--Students
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Motion pictures
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Hartman, Mea, 1930-1983, (creator)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Moving Image Collections (University of Washington)
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)