Scope and arrangement
The Leon Danielian Papers document the career of the American ballet dancer and teacher through an extensive set of photographs, as well as a more limited selection of correspondence, clippings, financial records, and teaching materials. The collection as a whole contains considerably more material relating to Danielian the performer than to his work as a teacher. Of particular interest are individual items relating to Danielian’s earliest years as a dancer, including a few childhood photographs, a 1941 Ballet Theatre souvenir program autographed by many members of the company, and a typescript of a ballet scenario by William Saroyan, A Theme in the Life of the Great American Goof(1939), which was choreographed by Eugene Loring for Ballet Theatre. Aside from a few letters and some diary entries on loose leaves found in a ring binder, there is very little material of a personal nature in this collection.
The Leon Danielian papers are arranged in three series:
The Personal and Professional Papers series is comprised primarily of clippings, correspondence, and financial records that document Danielian’s career as a dancer and a teacher. The limited correspondence consists chiefly of routine business letters, but also contains a few personal items, as well as an extensive set of congratulatory telegrams. Of special interest is an early Ballet Theatre program, signed by numerous members of the company, and a set of loose leaves belonging to a journal that includes Danielian’s notes on books and choreography, as well as some diary entries relating to the period shortly before he joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
The Photographs series contains numerous prints of Danielian in both formal studio portraits and candid snapshots taken backstage, in performance, and on tour. Many of the images are by leading photographers, including Fred Fehl, Irving Penn, and Wallace Seawall. In addition to portraits of Danielian with his dancing partners and colleagues, there is a small set of autographed photographs, which includes pictures of Lucia Chase, Alexandra Danilova, Mikhail Mordkin, and Jocelyn Vollmar. Also of interest are numerous travel photographs of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries, probably taken on tour with the San Francisco Ballet. Additional prints of some of the same photographs in this series, as well as other subjects can be found in the Oversized Materials series.
The Oversized Materials series consists mainly of artwork and larger format photographic prints. In addition to several reproductions of Italian Renaissance drawings collected by Danielian, the series contains a few original pieces, including an Andy Warhol poster advertising an early gallery show of the artist's.