American Ballet Theatre

Oxford Journal Article
Tom Skelton and Motley

New York City Public Library
Register of the Thomas Skelton Papers, ca. 1953-1994

Theatrical Lighitng Database
Fall River Legend

Ott Gangl
Ohio Ballet Archives
Detail Photos of Tom Skelton

Handbook for Dance Stagecraft
by Tom Skelton
Articles originally printed in Dance Magazine, New York, NY October 1955 - October 1957

Skelton, Thomas R. . Interviewee
Title Interview with Thomas R. Skelton [sound recording].
Imprint 1994.

Description 2 sound cassettes (ca. 204 min.) + transcript (71 leaves)
Location Call Number Status
Performing Arts - Dance *MGZTC 3-2244 cassette 1 AVAILABLE
Performing Arts - Dance *MGZTC 3-2244 cassette 2 AVAILABLE
Performing Arts - Dance *MGZMT 3-2244 transcript part 1 AVAILABLE
Performing Arts - Dance *MGZMT 3-2244 transcript part 2 AVAILABLE
Persistent link to this record
Note Interview with Thomas R. Skelton conducted by Pandora Robertson in Akron, Ohio, on June 6 and 19, 1994.
The recording is marred by occasional extraneous noise.
The recording and transcript were separated from the Thomas R. Skelton papers (*MGZMD 115). The transcript was not prepared by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The transcript contains misspellings and inaccurate transcriptions.
Summary Cassette 1, side A (51 min.), 06/06/94. Thomas R. Skelton speaks about the origins of his interest in dance; pursuing this interest upon his return, after military service, to Middlebury College; summer apprenticeships at the American Dance Festival, including working with Jean Rosenthal; Rosenthal's method of working with choreographers; watching rehearsals of the companies of [Doris] Humphrey, [José] Limón, and Martha Graham; learning from Rosenthal; the life-changing effect of seeing Martha Graham's company perform; pursuing his nascent interests in music and theater upon first entering Middlebury College; absence of words as a source of dance's attraction for him; how he guides himself when lighting a ballet; his relationship with Rosenthal; the gradual path of his career as a lighting designer, including his succeeding Rosenthal as lighting designer at the Festival; some of his lighting apprentices, including Paul Taylor and Louise Guthman. [Ends abruptly.]
Cassette 1, side B (51 min.), 06/06/94. [Begins abruptly with Skelton continuing to speak about his students, including Jennifer Tipton; short gap]; working as Pauline Lawrence's assistant, on tour with the José Limón Dance Company; more about his career path; compares dance lighting to theater lighting; the role of the 92nd St.Y in promoting modern dance; artists he remembers from the 92nd St. Y, including Midi Garth, Katherine Litz, Lucas and Lavenia Hoving, and Helen Tamiris; the diversity of the performers and dance artists he has worked with, particularly after becoming staff designer for Columbia Artists [Management, Inc.]; staging a Chinese-inspired opera with a libretto by Tipton, his assistant at the time [short gap]; recounts some of Lawrence's stories about working on the vaudeville circuit with Humphrey; Anna Pavlova's effective use of lighting. [Ends abruptly.]
Cassette 2, side A (51 min.), 06/19/94. [First ca. three minutes appear to be from 06/06/94 session.] Skelton speaks about his dislike of his full name [Thomas Reginald Skelton, Jr.]; his family, including his close relationship with his parents; the development of his career, from all-purpose stage hand to lighting designer, including his extensive touring with the José Limón Dance Company; being hired by Columbia Artists Management, Inc. and Sol Hurok; working for the Joffrey Ballet and being reviewed by Clive Barnes as a turning point in his career; the roles of Oliver Smith and Jerome Robbins in his obtaining theatrical work; being recruited by Maurice Béjart to work in Belgium [break]; his economic situation and that of other dance artists, including Limón and Robert Joffrey, during their early professional years [break]; reminisces about his childhood dream of living in New York City; his strong work ethic as well as that of the dancers he knew.
Cassette 2, Side B (51 min.), 06/19/94. [Based on the transcript, there seems to be a short gap between the end of side A and beginning of side B.] Skelton speaks about confidence and insecurity in performing artists as well as himself; the many sources of influence on his work; reminisces about [press agent] Isadora Bennett, including personal and professional aspects of her life and their friendship; anecdotes about his very brief acting career [break]; the stage lighting craft in terms of generations, including Rosenthal's place in the very small, first generation; the use of lighting in the place of scenery in modern dance; Rosenthal's relationship with George Balanchine; Balanchine's use of very simplified lighting; the role of modern dance in advancing the art and profession of stage lighting, both generally and in the case of Skelton's career; compares lighting opera and theater to lighting dance. [Ends abruptly.]