A profile of Irina Kolpakova, beloved coach and mentor to the principal dancers of American Ballet Theatre. Followed by a visit to Neue Galerie to learn about the career of Madame d’Ora, an Austrian photographer whose work captured both the glamor and the darkness of her lifetime. And then a look at a work by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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♪♪

Coming up on 'NYC-Arts,' a profile of Irina Kolpakova, beloved coach and mentor to the principal dancers of American Ballet Theatre.

Irina's official title is ballet mistress of American Ballet Theatre.

A ballet mistress or a ballet master is basically in charge of a certain portion of the rep, of the repertoire we do.

Irina in particular -- her qualities as a coach are one that primarily takes the material that you present her and tries to put it through a lens for the dancer to see more clearly and understand what it is they're actually doing.

And a visit to the Neue Galerie for a look at the career of Madame d'Ora, the Austrian photographer whose work captured both the glamour and the darkness of her lifetime.

Hats were the most important thing for a woman.

So you would buy the hat before you buy the dress.

There are hundreds of hat photographs by d'Ora, but of course they were fashion photographs and used in the magazines.

And to stress the fact of the importance of the hat photographs, Renée Price had contemporary artists come in and make new hats inspired by the creations of d'Ora photographs.

Funding for 'NYC-Arts' is made possible by... This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding provided by members of Thirteen.

'NYC-Arts' is made possible in part by First Republic Bank.

First Republic Bank presents 'First Things First.'

At First Republic Bank, 'first' refers to our first priority, the clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree?

Be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

And by Swann Auction Galleries.

Swann Auction Galleries -- we have a different way of looking at auctions, offering vintage books and fine art since 1941, working to combine knowledge with accessibility.

Whether you're a lifelong collector, a first-time buyer, or looking to sell, information at swanngalleries.com.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

Good evening, and welcome to 'NYC-Arts.'

I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.

On our program tonight, we'll go behind the scenes with the American Ballet Theatre.

Performing both treasured classics and new repertory, each season the company features a rotating cast of stellar principal dancers.

But what they all share is the invaluable guidance of their coach, Irina Kolpakova.

During her time at the Kirov Ballet, now called the Mariinsky, she was legendary.

Having danced with Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, she performed well into her 50s and won the highest artistic awards from her country.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Baryshnikov, then artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, invited her to teach here.

So, what can a coach like Irina provide to dancers who are already at the top of their art form?

She can guide them towards inhabiting the emotional life of the characters they perform.

Part mentor, confidante, and trusted friend, a coach like Irina can support dancers to be the very best they can be.

♪♪

Two and three and four and five, six, seven, eight...

Irina's official title is ballet mistress of American Ballet Theatre.

A ballet mistress or a ballet master is basically in charge of a certain portion of the rep, of the repertoire we do.

Irina in particular -- her qualities as a coach are one that primarily takes the material that you present her and tries to put it through a lens for the dancer to see more clearly and understand what it is they're actually doing.

And in that process, somehow it's being a support system for an artist, but at the same time, she tries to teach them history lessons and will tell stories from her youth and her her background.

♪♪

Five years I studied in our Leningrad conservatory.

It was high level of education.

I think it's best school in the world.

If you talk of a performing art, they're attached to countries, you know?

Like, if you say theatre, you think British.

You say opera, you think Italian.

You say ballet, You think Russian.

You know, ballet is the national sport.

[ Chuckles ] And Irina is this wonderful individual with an incredible knowledge of the Vaganova training.

She was Vaganova's last pupil, as a matter of fact.

Vaganova -- it was like, you know, God in that time.

Vaganova was a very good dancer.

She was smart and creative.

So journalists always write about her like queen of movement.

Vaganova taught us, 'Use all part of your body in any step, not only leg, not only eyes, not only -- altogether, altogether, even start from the fingers.

Fingers and arms supposed to be very soft, legs supposed to be very strong, neck supposed to be absolutely freedom, and you use all our body.'

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

Irina has something special where -- I think something that made her an incredible dancer was the way she used her upper body and her arms.

And not every dancer can really explain how to do it, and she has that gift.

You have one coach for all the roles and for -- who knows you in and out, who might not know the choreography in and out, but he knows you very well.

And she applies this special attention to, actually, all the dancers she nurtures and rehearses with.

She rehearses with me mostly on the more classical repertoire, but at the same time, she's one of the people whose opinion I trust the most in the world.

Arms start at that sissonne.

Sissonne where it go up.

When one is a coach of this longstanding caliber, she's taken dancers now through their career -- so, indeed, does become a form of a life coach -- 'cause if someone is standing in front of you and isn't really up to par that day, everybody has a bad day.

If it's the third day in a row, you have to go, 'Okay, what's going on?'

Friend, coach, and when somebody's crying, you need to take out all bad feeling, help artists.

It's hard -- It's hard work.

She understands what it is to be a woman and a ballerina and to not be at your best every day.

So, on, you know, those days where you're just beating yourself up -- and I've cried with Irina many times -- she reminds you that this is gonna be over soon.

Like, this career -- it doesn't last long.

Enjoy every second of it, but also remember that you're a human and you're gonna go on and you're gonna be a mother and you're gonna have babies and you're gonna -- You know, she just reminds you of, like, the humanity of what we do.

♪♪ We will never perfect what we're striving for every single day in ballet class and in rehearsals and on the stage.

But the point of it is just to continue to strive to be better, that there's someone, whether it's the teacher or the ballet mistress or the artistic director, whoever it is, is there to watch to, to see if there's something that maybe you're doing that will cause an injury, if there's something that you're doing that they can help make easier or make work better.

Those are all corrections.

But I think it just maybe sounds a little more negative than it is.

All dancers feel that they're not good enough.

The good dancers, at least, do, in my opinion, because if you're humble, it pushes you forward, and you automatically look for things which are wrong and which could be better.

We, as dancers, are our own products.

So you constantly -- with every time you step onstage, you have to prove yourself and you have to get better.

If not in a technical way, you have to do it in an artistic way.

I think that female dancers do get even more out of her than I do, and I'm, you know, a little sad because I wish I would have somebody like that who really danced the roles I danced.

There are no notes, no.

I mean, that's what ballet is.

It's kept in your head, unless there's a film of it, but even with a film, you're getting someone's interpretation of those steps.

And that's the quirky thing about ballet and being a good coach, is that you have to allow people not to do it like you did it, but to find the truth in it for themselves so they can give their individual interpretation.

And that's why people like Irina are so invaluable.

They have incredible respect and love of the material.

And she's able to keep track of an amazing amount of versions of the same ballet.

What you want to do as a coach for them is to teach them what they know, as best they can know it, to the degree where they could sit in the front of the room and coach someone else.

That's the objective, that, you know, you're gonna carry this on.

♪♪

I was doing 'Swan Lake,' Odette/Odile, and we were in the studio.

It was my last rehearsal before my show.

And I was just standing there watching her show me, you know, what it is I should be doing and listening to her speaking.

And I just started crying my eyes out.

And then some other dancers walked in, and they're kind of like, 'Oh, gosh, it's the -- You know, it's the day of her show.

She's having a meltdown.'

[ Laughter ] And I'm, like, bawling, staring at Irina.

And I was like, 'I'm not crying because I'm nervous or because I don't feel ready.'

I was just like, 'I'm so grateful to have you in my life.'

This generation of youth should understand, you know, just respecting our elders and so much that we can gain from them and their experiences.

And so it was just like this moment that I was just like, 'I just want to hold on to you and to every word that you say.'

And I love her, and she's given me so much, so... [ Chuckles ]

It's love.

She so loves her dancers that she coaches and loves her art form and loves the roles that she is working with them on and loves the knowledge that she got from people she loved that it's infectious.

[ Speaking indistinctly ] ♪♪

Next we visit the Neue Galerie on East 86th Street for a look at the work of the Austrian photographer known as Madame d'Ora.

It is the largest exhibition of its kind ever presented in the United States.

Born in 1881 to a wealthy Jewish family, Dora Kallmus became one of the premier photographers of her day and was the first woman to open her own photography studio in Vienna.

The exhibition follows her career from Vienna to Paris, from her time as a dazzling high-society portraitist to her somber career after the devastation of World War II.

Madame d'Ora captured the glamour, creativity, darkness, and upheaval of her lifetime.

♪♪

Madame d'Ora was an incredible woman.

She opened her studio in Vienna in 1906 and stopped photographing in 1957.

So we have 50 years covered by photographs.

d'Ora took photographs of many of the artists that have been shown here in the Neue Galerie, like Gustav Klimt, who was the first painter she would photographed in 1907.

By the way, the last painter she photographed was Picasso in 1955, so we have have quite a range here.

This is the first monographic exhibition dedicated to a woman here.

So, it's about her being a woman and being so successful as a photographer.

Her aim was to adapt amateur photography, which had come up only 10 years ago, to professional photography.

So, she tried very much that in her studio people would feel at ease, would feel at home.

Soon she became well known for the fact that she made people much more beautiful than they would see themselves in the mirror.

And this most probably is because that even high aristocracy would turn to her studio.

These high aristocrats tended to have very many children, so it was difficult to make an original group photograph.

We have one photograph with the archduke, with the daughters, I think five around him.

She was a very clever woman, and she was also a very good businesswoman.

Already in the portraits and in the later years of the First World War, you can see the worry of a world falling into pieces.

You can see this in these fashion shots that seem a little eerie because, you know, in 1916, things were already very bad.

But in Vienna, one tried to keep a touch of normality.

But by the end of the war, all this was gone.

So she decided to move to Paris, where she thought things would be easier for her.

You could say she is the inventor of a very successful idea.

You have a well-known actor.

You have a well-known fashion house.

You have a well-known photographer.

And this image you can sell easily to the illustrated press.

And this is a recipe that still works.

And she did this in Paris.

You can see in this exhibition that she had dresses by Patou worn by Josephine Baker, which, of course, would be much more fun than a Patou dress just by an unknown model girl.

It's difficult to imagine today, but hats were the most important thing for a woman.

So you would buy the hat before you buy the dress.

There are hundreds of hat photographs by d'Ora, but of course they were fashion photographs and used in the magazines.

And to stress the fact of the importance of the hat photographs, Renée Price had contemporary artists come in and make new hats inspired by the creations that d'Ora photographed.

♪♪ Dora Kallmus was Jewish.

She was endangered in Paris.

When the Nazis came in, in 1940, she was in hiding in a small village in southern France.

She waited for the arrival of her sister, who was still in Austria at that time.

And this turned out to be a disaster.

The sister never could leave Austria and died in a concentration camp.

In 1945, she went back to Paris.

She had to start completely anew.

She was over 65 at this time.

What was her aim?

After the Second World War was just work she did in refugee camps.

She did not only cover survivors of the concentration camps, but also old German ladies who had been de-placed and women with little children who evidently have no future in front of them but to stay in these camps.

And the other very important work for her was to go to slaughterhouses and to take photographs there.

Already in her diaries in the 1940s, she compared the fate of Jewish people in Europe with the fate of animals in a slaughterhouse.

They had no choice.

They only can wait to be killed.

She had her clients, the same clients she used to have in the '20s and '30s.

I think so fascinating in her late portraits is that, you know, she always used to set people out at their best.

And now suddenly she's confronted with old people, old as she was herself.

And this specific photograph of Colette is one of the last that was taken of her shortly before her death, evidently feeble and very old.

And you have the impression that this is an incredible woman.

What you can see in in the work of Madame d'Ora is a kind of mirror of the changing culture in Austria and France during the 20th century, from the aristocratic public around the turn of the century towards the fancy artists and fashion world of the 1920s and '30s to a complete change of attitude after the Second World War.

And now, another curator's choice.

♪♪

I'm Thayer Tolles.

I'm curator in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and we're standing in the new American Wing galleries, 26 new spaces devoted to art from the 18th century through the early 19th century.

I'm here today to talk about Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who is arguably the greatest American sculptor of the late 19th century.

The Metropolitan has 50 works by Saint-Gaudens, and we're very fortunate to be able to present his work in such a comprehensive way, from early cameo portraits to low relief portraits of his friends and fellow artists to models for and reductions after his great Civil War monuments.

Saint-Gaudens was born in Ireland, but came here to New York as an infant and was raised on the Lower East Side.

He began at age 13 working as an apprentice for a cameo cutter, and that really fueled his interest in becoming a sculptor.

In 1867, he went abroad to Paris to study and trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which was really the foremost training ground for students across the world at that time.

Saint-Gaudens also studied in Rome.

He came back to New York and established a career as a sculptor of great Civil War monuments.

Some of the best known works in New York are the Farragut Monument in Madison Square Park and the great gilded equestrian statue of General Sherman at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in a space called Grand Army Plaza.

In 1892, after Sherman died, Saint-Gaudens received a commission for a monument to honor his contributions to the Union cause.

Saint-Gaudens incorporated an allegorical figure into a realistic portrait of the person who was being commemorated.

So, while General Sherman is marching along on horseback, the winged figure of Victory is leading him on.

She's moving forward with these windblown draperies.

She holds a palm frond in her hand, which is the symbol of victory.

And she is really quite American in a sense.

Saint-Gaudens worked with several different models to create this sculpture.

Generally, this was a process that was kind of an amalgamation of poses.

Most interesting is the fact that one of the models was a woman named Hettie Anderson, who was an African-American woman from South Carolina, and Saint-Gaudens worked with her frequently and said she had a figure like a goddess.

Saint-Gaudens was a real perfectionist.

In the case of the Victory, he arranged draperies on four different models and it took him something like two weeks to get the look he was after.

And when he finished the figure, he wrote, 'Hooray.

It's the greatest victory anyone ever made.'

I'm Thayer Tolles, curator in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum.

And I hope you'll come and visit our galleries and pay special attention to the installation of our sculpture collection.

♪♪

Thanks for joining us this evening.

I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.

Good night.

Join us next week for a special presentation of 'NYC-Arts.'

Auschwitz Remembered -- an in-depth look at the powerful exhibition 'Auschwitz.

Not long ago. Not far away.' -- now on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Younger people -- even older people -- don't really understand what the history of the world was prior to World War II and even subsequent to World War II.

And telling that history is probably the most important thing that can be done.

But visualizing it, seeing it in an actual exhibit, is critical for people to understand.

And museums are still looked at as very believable and honest, as not taking positions, but as, in fact, teaching people so that they can actually see.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

Funding for 'NYC-Arts' is made possible by... This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding provided by members of Thirteen.

'NYC-Arts' is made possible in part by First Republic Bank.

First Republic Bank presents 'First Things First.'

At First Republic Bank, 'first' refers to our first priority, the clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree?

Be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

And by Swann Auction Galleries.

Swann Auction Galleries -- we have a different way of looking at auctions, offering vintage books and fine art since 1941, working to combine knowledge with accessibility.

Whether you're a lifelong collector, a first-time buyer, or looking to sell, information at swanngalleries.com.