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Not just men in tights; they're stars

Five veteran Ballets Russes dancers are honored by the Media City Ballet.

June 09, 2007|Susan Josephs | Special to The Times

For Marc Platt, who now lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., the Ballet Russe "was a school in which I learned about life." One of the first Americans to dance with the company, Platt went on to originate the role of Dream Curly in the original "Oklahoma!," starred in such films as "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and worked as the ballet director of Radio City Music Hall in the early '60s. "I was often in the right place at the right time," he says. "And I'm a Sagittarius. We're nutty people. Whatever we want is going to happen."

Like Platt, Maure views his stint with the Grand Ballet de Monte Carlo, a Ballet Russe offshoot, as "a second education. I learned three more languages and met so many people ... Sophia Loren, Ted Kennedy, you name it," he says.

Renowned for his partnering skills, Maure, still a dashing Frenchman with a full head of hair, remembers his days on tour as some of his best. "You learn so much when you travel. Because of ballet, I have also seen the most beautiful museums, cathedrals and operas in the world," he says.

For the Argentine-born Moreno, dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo confirmed that he had a great gift for teaching. "I used to teach company class, and even Massine would come," he says. "He liked my technique."

Moreno, who lives in Fort Bragg, Calif., founded several ballet companies, taught all over the country and didn't stop performing until he was 61. Still teaching, "I demonstrate everything," he says. "I go to the gym and keep myself in shape. I may not be the most fantastic dancer anymore, but I had my glory. I don't need more."

Maure and Tremaine, who first met in 1948 while taking class from Bronislava Nijinska, Nijinsky's sister, also continue to teach, direct and live thoroughly active lives. "I'm full of energy," Maure says. "I hope that when God takes me, he lets me fall dead in the studio."

"Two words," says Tremaine on the subject of staying young. "Keep moving. And if you can't, never be far from ballet mentally."

Meanwhile, the constraints of age have physically, though not mentally, caught up with Platt and Zoritch, "At 93, you sit and look at the posies. You get yourself a pet bird," says Platt, who walks with a cane but still drives.

When asked if there's anything else he'd like to do with his life, Zoritch, who gets around with a wheelchair and a cane, has one word: "Die. I had the best life, so to live the way I live now ... ," he says, trailing off into the past.

Still, Zoritch appears to be looking forward to this evening's festivities. "Last time I was in L.A., I gave a lecture, and this little girl, no more than 6, asked me so many questions about ballet and how it evolved," he says. "She was so intelligent. This gave me a lot of joy."

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`The Men of the Ballet Russe'

Where: Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. 8th St., L.A.

When: 7 tonight

Price: $35 to $75 (reception is $50 more)

Contact: (866) 215-1026, (818) 972-9692 or www.mediacityballet.org

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