Tag Archives: biography

Jack Diamond: A Brief Biography of a Canadian Artist

Source of photograph: utccanada.ca

Canadian Jack Diamond is an internationally acclaimed architect known for his simple and artistic designs. He was born November 1932 in South Africa and immigrated to Canada in 1964. He studied at various universities and received several degrees: Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Cape Town in 1956; Master of Arts degree in politics, economy, and philosophy from Oxford in 1958; and Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1962. He founded his own company now Diamond and Schmitt Architects in 1975.

From then on he has created many structures around the world including the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton; the Jerusalem City Hall in Israel; the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto; the Harman Centre for the Arts in Washington, D.C.; and the Southbrook Vineyards Winery in Niagara Falls. His works in progress include an addition to the famous Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg Russia (now completed). He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995 and given the Order of Ontario two years later.

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, Canada
Source: dsai.ca/projects/four-seasons-centre-for-the-performing-arts-canadian-opera-company

Jack Diamond believes in creating buildings that are not for flashy display; but that are useful for the people using them. He thinks not only appearance, but functionality. “We were just interviewing for a project at a university in the United States,” he said. “The president asked us, ‘Have you ever designed a building that causes a car crash? Because I’m looking for an architect who’s going to design a building that causes a car crash.’ There’s a kind of group who is looking for a building that will snap your head, literally grabbing attention. But does it have any deeper ability to contribute to the life of the university, to the life of the faculty, to the experience of students, to its connection to the grain of the community? Do any of those matter at all? Diamond + Schmitt does not do car crash.” Whether people agree to his designs or not, there is no doubt that Jack Diamond is a master of his art form.

New Mariinsky Theatre

New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia
Source: dsai.ca/projects/new-mariinsky-theatre-russia

Republished from a Geography research assignment in 2010. Being a dancer, I chose to display two performing arts theatres, but Mr. Diamond does a very wide range of work.

Thanks for reading,
thebookybunhead

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“See the music, hear the dance.” -George Balanchine

So we all know Balanchine was a genius. But apart from his achievements of irreversibly changing ballet vocabulary and staging (he doesn’t ‘create’, God does) one of the most diverse, lasting repertoire of ballet works today, he was also a man of character – of passionate drive, and nonchalance.

“George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker” written by Robert Gottlieb documents the illustrious development of his career and works, and attempts to explain his deep philosophies of dance and music; but possibly most fascinatingly, allows us a glimpse into daily life of the man, compiling true and intimate memories through people who actually knew him. It is one of many biographies about this amazing artist, and a rather nice short and light one to start off with.

It is truly a remarkable story, spanning across the globe from Russia, to Europe, to America; and in different fields, from operas, to ballet companies, to film and Broadway. It is easy to speak of Balanchine’s successes and label him a superhuman; however, this story reveals the hardships and failures that went along with cultivating his talents. Funny to think he was not interested in dance when he was first accepted in to Mariinsky. It is always inspirational to learn the story of how someone seemingly ordinary can become so extraordinary. Though there are discrepancies regarding his own dancing as written in the opinions of the book, there is absolutely no doubt of Balanchine’s choreographic merit.

In addition being a talented musician Balanchine integrated dance and music in intricacies that were never seen before. His works can be seen as simple and yet rich simultaneously.  He had great relationships with as well as respect for his dancers, and it shows in the final product onstage. Mr. B, as they called him, inspired them in every rehearsal, specific to his esthetic but always willing to explore, sometimes even using mistakes for the piece. As much as he admired beauty, especially that of the female ballerina, he valued musicality, dynamics and agility in a dancer. For him, dance in one word: energy.


(with Stravinsky, a life-long partnership)

In spite of his vibrancy, Balanchine was, I dare say, a quiet man. And it is predictable considering his childhood isolation from basically being dumped at the school by his parents for his better future and leaving his home country at teenage years only to not see most of his family again. He certainly loved his family, but did not speak of them often, which leads me to a thought, how special is a blood relation? Sure, family is family, and the bonds are irreplaceable and infinite, but do between parent and child, or sibling to sibling, they need to be built just as in any other relationship?

Of some similarity was a sort of disattachment in his marriages. Balanchine had several muses, five of whom became his wife at some point in their lives, and when he loved he was truly passionate. He put women on a pedestal in a sort of veneration, which is not suited for everyone. Often it was a splitting in their professions that caused drifting between the couple as Balanchine needed a muse for creation and inspiration.

Dismissing any eccentricities that I must admit defines every artist, Balanchine was a generous man to the ballet world. He pushed the boundaries of an existing art form while remaining true to its core and virtuoso. I can only imagine from this reading what it must have been like to be taught by him, meet him, or simply to have a peek of him in the studio.

(Photos from two of my favourite Balanchine ballets: Serenade and Apollo)

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