Scope and arrangement
The Donald Saddler papers contain materials from 1920 to 2010 that document his professional and personal life, including correspondence, daybooks, organizational and production files, photographs, scores and scripts. There is also a small amount of material relating to Saddler's representation company, Dance Talent, Inc. His passion for theater choreography and his commitment to the artistic community and developing new works is evident throughout his correspondence, which is both personal and professional. Related correspondence can be found in the organizational and production files as well. There are professional and candid photographs, working scripts and a small selection of scores from various compositions on which Saddler worked.
The Donald Saddler papers are arranged in nine series:
Series I contains personal correspondence received by Saddler, primarily in the latter half of his career. While the bulk of the letters in this series are the result of professional relationships, many are personal in content. Notable correspondents include Walter Terry, Doris Day, Angela Lansbury, Jerome Robbins, and many of the dancers who Saddler was familiar with in the early years of the Ballet Theatre. Some folders contain drafts of his responses. The cards in this series are Christmas, birthday, and short notes, signed only by first name and undated. These are arranged in the order they were found. Alphabetical by correspondent.
Dance Talent, Inc. was a representation company for dance artists directed by Saddler with the assistance of Jeannot Cerrone and Suanne Shirley. The company was responsible for placing dancers, choreographers, teachers, and lecturers into suitable venues. The papers contain company correspondence which hold talent lists, and publicity photographs and headshots of some of the dancers represented by the agency. Some photographs have resumes attached. Photographs with no identifying information are categorized as "unidentified." Alphabetical by subject.
Saddler's daybooks consist of appointment-calendar style bound volumes with varying degrees of detail. The books dating from the 1940s and into the 1950s have a substantial amount of information, (with short, almost diary-like entries) describing his life with the Ballet Theatre company as well as his service in the military. The later books are more appointment based, describing his days in a list of events. The daybooks document rehearsals, auditions, and professional meetings and appointments as well as personal events such as vacations. The entries are extremely sparse after 1990. Chronological by date.
Series IV holds organizational files for some of the many institutions, charities, and committees in which Saddler was an active participant. As a founding company member of the Ballet Theatre, Saddler amassed a collection of bound programs and photographs of the group performing and traveling the country. As the assistant director and artistic director of the Harkness Ballet from 1964 to 1970, Saddler was involved in choreography, hiring of company members, running the training program and bringing in guest artists to teach such as Agnes De Mille. The Harkness papers contain programs, correspondence, student lists, and other business records pertaining to the company. Other organizational files concern the Lucille Lortel Theater, the New York Dance Festival, the Stratfprd Festival, and Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre, for which Saddler choreographed many productions. Alphabetical by organization.
Series V contains personal and professional photographs of Saddler and his contemporaries. Saddler's personal photographs include childhood portraits, vacation snapshots, and other family portraits. The photographs post-1980 consist primarily of personal photographs taken at awards banquets, galas, and other events honoring both Saddler and his friends, such as George Abbott, Alicia Alonso, and Alicia Markova.
The professional photographs are promotional headshots and production shots of Saddler working as a dancer or choreographer, as well as images of other contemporary dancers. There are prints of dancers Saddler used as art in his home. The series also holds a collection of Carl Van Vechten photographs. Saddler retained all images taken of him by Van Vechten, and collected over one hundred images of other dancers. All photographs are originals and stamped by Van Vechten. Some are postcards which have been used. Alphabetical by subject.
Series VI contains files relating to specific productions or in-development projects (properties). They include audition notes, budgets, cast lists, contact sheets, contracts, correspondence, costume sketches, financial materials, photographs (both production and candid), playbills, programs, production notes, public relations materials, and research materials. All production files contain some, but not all of the before listed materials.
The files are divided into five categories: Ballets, Galas, Benefits and Memorials, Film, Opera, and Theater. The ballet material is the least detailed, usually only containing ballet scenarios, rough notes, outlines and programs. Galas, Benefits and Memorials hold Saddler's files on the many "one night only" events he choreographed, staged, or directed. These also include award shows, memorial services, honor ceremonies, and even Brooke Astor's birthday party. The theater files hold the most information, often containing pages torn from the scripts with Saddler's notes, congratulatory telegrams, and workshop materials. There is one scrapbook detailing plans for an unidentified dance revue. Alphabetical by production title.
This series also holds sound recordings, such as live audio of Saddler's production of On Your Toes as well as demo recordings of The Lady in Penthouse B and The Thief of London.
Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the collection may be directed to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The Scores series holds a selection of music for some of Saddler's productions and choreographic work. The scores are not always complete, with the exception of Hellzapoppin and the dance score for Michael. They are not notated by Saddler. Alphabetical by title.
Series VIII holds Saddler's personal scrapbooks. There are two childhood compositions in which he collected the images of movie stars from magazines, including Gloria Swanson, Shirley Temple, and Marlene Dietrich. There is also a scrapbook of ballet programs from early in Saddler's career (1937-1939) as well as a very detailed scrapbook from his time serving in Alaska during World War II showing life on his base in addition to the performances he oversaw for base entertainment. Alphabetical by subject.
Series IX contains Saddler's working scripts for many of his productions. The scripts are often marked and some are early versions or drafts from workshops. Many scripts are from pre-production properties, some of which never made it past the workshop phase. These scripts may or may not have a corresponding production file. The year reflected in the finding aid is the year (or years) that Saddler was working with the particular script, not the scripts original date of publication. Alphabetical by title.