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The pace was nonstop, but the girls, all of whom are longtime pupils, never lost their concentration or stamina. They clearly admire their instructor, who revealed afterward that many of her students–including one in today’s class–followed her from Ballet San Jose School. On the topic of her most recent employer, la Cour is unequivocal. “I was so close to Dennis that I knew if they weren’t going to keep him, they weren’t going to keep me,” she says. Still, “They could have [handled his exit] in a very beautiful way, with a big gala at the end of the season. He deserved it after so many years; it was his company, for Chrissakes!”.
That bracing candor–and her love of smoking–is what led la Cour to the job with Opera San Jose, Ten years ago, while relaxing outside of Trials Pub downtown after work at Ballet San Jose, she started chatting with a fellow puffer, The woman turned out to be a member of the Opera San Jose suffolk pointe shoes chorus, who, upon learning of la Cour’s background, invited her to check out an upcoming show of Die Fledermaus, The singer also suggested she seek out Irene Dalis, Opera San Jose’s founder and general director..
While la Cour liked most of what she saw of the opera, she did have one quibble. “After the performance I went up to Irene [whom she had introduced herself to only a couple hours earlier] and said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t need a job but the choreographer who did the dance, and those dancers, are awful! Take it out of your opera, it’s such a disaster! You’re wasting people’s time and money!’ ”. She went on to inquire why the former Met Opera star hadn’t just picked up the phone and sought her expertise, since Ballet San Jose was “just down the street” from the opera’s then-home, the Montgomery Theater.
Dalis, perhaps recognizing a kindred artist who demanded top performances when she was in suffolk pointe shoes charge, sheepishly agreed with the scathing analysis, More important, she accepted la Cour’s offer of assistance, “I help out whenever I’m needed, Sometimes it’s three out of four operas, other times just one out of the season,” she says, In Don Giovanni, which contains a lavish ballroom scene, la Cour has been prepping both the chorus and the four singers who rotate in the main roles, Ironically, she was unable to choreograph last season’s production of Die Fledermaus, the opera she took such issue with eight years earlier..
The Don Giovanni protagonists will be doing a short minuet, which James Callon, singing the tenor role of Don Ottavio, claims was easy to learn. “This is my first time working with Lise. She’s awesome because she made us feel really at ease,” says the second-year company resident. He went on to express his appreciation that la Cour “knows how to deal with people and makes them feel comfortable with her right away.”. It’s a sentiment echoed by Callon’s stage fiancée, soprano Cecilia Violetta López, who has the role of Donna Anna. “It’s so fun to watch Lise, and I’m lucky enough to have James as my Don,” says López, whose residency ends with this performance, but who will return next year as a guest artist. La Cour “is very open, very friendly and patient. It’s rumored that singers can’t dance, but Lise is lucky that she’s got four singers who are dancers.
“It only took us 20 minutes to learn the minuet,” she continues, “and the rest of the time we spent asking about her career, I’ve seen her work before with the chorus members, She’s always radiant, always has good ideas, She’s a very important asset at Opera San Jose.”, If there are themes in the life and times of Lise la Cour, resiliency, a sense of adventure and spontaneity are at the top of the list, Self-reliance is also high up there, Consider that at only 12 years old, she accompanied the Royal Danish Ballet on its first suffolk pointe shoes American tour, That was in 1956, and la Cour was the only one her age for most of those three months..
“Nobody looked after me,” she says matter of factly, alluding to the lack of any special treatment for her minor status. “We started in New York for three weeks with some other girls, who then left for home. I was alone for the rest of the tour,” which went from coast to coast with stops in Canada as well. All these years later, la Cour continues to seek out fresh and fun experiences. That would include life with Roger, her third husband, whom she met in 2003. A musician and carpenter 23 years her junior, “he’s half a year older than my oldest son,” she says.
“The first time I saw Roger he had bare feet and long hair, He looked like Jesus,” she recalls of their chance encounter at the home of the pianist for Ballet San Jose, suffolk pointe shoes “I said, ‘What is that?’ but we’ve been together ever since.”, The pair like to hit the road, especially along the coast, in one of la Cour’s three vintage Cadillacs, Every year she also returns to Copenhagen, where her youngest offspring, other family members and numerous friends reside..