Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eric Bruhn...and a girl's crush...

Posted by Arna:

I had a teenage crush on Eric Bruhn. He was an international ballet star and his appearances in Toronto, dancing with the National Ballet of Canada, caused a sensation. As a kid, I took ballet for several years and briefly fancied that I might become a professional dancer. I didn't have the dedication. However, learning ballet helped to sharpen my awareness of body movement, physicality and drama, which can come in handy when working in the animation biz.

Around 1984, I was doing some banking in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood of Toronto next to the National Ballet, and Eric Bruhn came into the bank. By then he was Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada, headquartered next door. I stared. He asked me for the time. He was smoking a cigarette. (of course it used to be legal to smoke in public places in Toronto) He stood up close, getting in my airspace. I could see the many fine lines that long-time smokers have. He wore a pale leather trench coat, long, below the knee. Faun colour. An unusual coat. I was surprised that he was smaller than I expected. He had a large head. I was thinking all these things, mentally cross-checking my in-person impression of him with my cherished teenage fantasy image, I guess. The moment passed quickly. I wanted to say how much I admired his dancing. Instead I stood stunned and told him the time.

Eric Bruhn died a few years later. His death was attributed to lung cancer.

Below is a mock poster I made, a year or so after I saw him dance in Toronto, before that meeting in the bank. As you can see in the sketch, he had a rather heroic profile. The photograph I took the likeness from was printed in the Globe and Mail. In the original photo, Mr. Bruhn was gesturing towards another dancer during a practice session at the National Ballet. I'd like to see the photo now, and compare it to this sketch.

I don't know the significance of the odd time posted on the poster. I was probably just trying to fill up the space.

Pen and brush and india ink.

19 comments:

Riccardo said...

I liked the story. I liked when you said he had a large head. And I really like the poster you did...

Steve Daye said...

Wonderful story Arna, beautifully written!

Emma said...

Great poster. Reminds me of Edward Gorey, somehow - just the air about it, melancholy and elegant.

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Wow. Nice stuff. Is it a crowquill? It's hard to find a good dip pen these days. I was able to grab a few genuine Gillote pen points in my youth at a strange art supply store in Denver. I was spoiled by the quality. I can't find anything that appraches it so I don't even try.
Beautiful drawing.

the doodlers said...

Rick, Thanks, pal. I had to really push myself to post this... seemed kind of self indulgent to me, so it's great to get feedback that doesn't suck! Great to here from you. Hope it's going well on your show!

Steve, hey, you're still checking blogs! We drop by yours now and then and figure things must be crazy busy for ya... Thanks for the comment! Take care down there with all that sunshine in those shorts. Or maybe your working too hard to see the sun much?

Emma, greetings! The stuff you've been posting is inspired. Thanks for the kind comment. Eric Bruhn did have a certain scandinavian dignity about him that I hoped came thru in the poster.

Robo, Gee thanks. Yeah, it was probably done with crowquill though we just called them nib pens when I was in art school. I used to love to use them, even though they could drag on the paper and surprise you with the splatter, but that somehow got worked into the art, Steadman style. We need to dig some new ones up. Mostly these days I'm using a pencil (Staedler HB) for boards, not even using a marker much. Everyone seems to be talking about Cintique tablets and off course I'd love to have one, however the old nib pens had their charms. You had to sort of meditate as you set down the lines. Emma has some lovely pen drawings on her blog...

Clive said...

Beautiful ink drawing and what a good poster it would have made. Arna, have you forgotton about the old Imperial Time System already? Of course there was a 9:90, I'm old enough to remember it well, although kids today will never have heard of 9:90. Past their bedtimes anyway.

the doodlers said...

Sorry Clive when I had my brain transplant in the mid 80's I had any memory of Imperial Time removed... wasn't that the ancient Brit time form anyways? Cheers, y'ol leg puller you...

If you are not pulling my leg please accept my humble appologies and allow me to bask in the glow of your superior knowledge.
;)

So just what time is 9:90??

Elliot said...

Well this is very fine indeed.

Matt J said...

The contrast between the black mass & the detailed head works really well.

CarolineJarvis said...

Very intense. Beautiful!

Thanks for stopping by and checkin out my site! I look forward to seeing more of your work too!

Cheers!

Clio said...

That's beautiful!

Pat Pakula said...

yeah, what clio said! Love it!

Smook said...

Not much more that I could add that hasn't been said already. Wonderful draftsmenship and technique. The story is really engaging too.

Hope all is well.

Matthew Cruickshank said...

A drawing born from great affection, with poignancy and purpose.

the doodlers said...

Elliot, Matt J., Caroline, Clio, Pat, Smook. Matt C. Wow. Thanks for stopping by and for your well-considered comments. Much appreciated.

warren said...

That drawring is great!

I like the bit about his big heeed too. No celebrity looks normal in real life.

Like when I saw Paul Stanley from KISS playing The Phantom in 'Phantom of the Opera'...he was really short, and had a giant head, too. Weird.

walleye said...

I think having a giant head is all part of becoming famous. I have a tiny head...so I've given up on fame.

Great drawing and great story. Any more drawings of people you've met at a bank?

Ps. I saw Dave Thomas today at a restaurant in Culver City...what a thrill and yet I said and did nothing (to put this in perspective, when I was a kid...SCTV was religion). I try not to be starstruck...but THE Silly Bastard sat two tables from me and all I could do was munch my calamari...sad. Seemed like a nice guy.
KP.

Jason C said...

Love how the face is described.. great careful work around the eyes... there's observations in how you described the eye that most people would have missed.. great work..

the doodlers said...

Warren, Walleye, Jason. My head's on the small side. Guess I'll probably never be famous. As to famous people in banks...That particular bank always had it's share of ballet dancers in the line... being next to the National ballet headquarters. No one else ever asked me for the time. I did see some famous people in restaurents tho- as I spoke of on your blog, Kris, if you talk to celebrities you never know how they might react!
Jason, Thanks a bunch for the comment. Will keep on looking.