How It All Started: Part II - The Andros on Ballet Website
By Michael Minn - Andros on Ballet webmaster
I studied ballet with Mr. Andros from 1993 to 1999. At the beginning of each month, like clockwork, Mr. A would hand out his newsletter to the class. Since my primary interest in ballet was as a technical foundation for my musical theatre work, the tales of long-dead ballerinas were not of great importance to me...although I generally enjoyed reading these stories.
But I did feel some sadness when Mr. Andros announced that the December 1999 newsletter would be the last. It seemed a shame that all that effort would be relegated to a dusty, rarely-touched binder of papers in a dark corner of the Lincoln Center performing arts library.
Coincidentally enough, at the time I was beginning to explore work in web development, and needed some content to work with to develop my skills. Hence, the idea for the Andros on Ballet website was born. Mr. Andros had practically no experience with or understanding of the web and didn't even have a decent modem on his ancient computer. However, after some discussion, he warmed to the idea of making the material he had compiled for the newsletters (which fit on one 3.5 inch floppy) available on the web. We both agreed that his interest in seeing the stories of these performers told outweighed any potential income that might have been available by publishing this information via some traditional media.
In March of 2000, while performing in a dinner theatre production of 42nd Street, I began organizing and reformatting the newsletter information. It was interesting to see the evolution of his writing skills over the twelve years, starting with very simple short snippets and growing to sprawling multi-part essays. The hard part was trying to find some coherent scheme for organizing material that was largely a random stream of stories and technical jargon.
After converting all the articles to HTML, the groupings of Biographies, History, Technique and Features became evident and formed the basis for the navigation scheme that exists today. The step-by-step drawings of basic ballet rudaments (from a long out-of-print ballet technique book), which Mr. Andros frequently photocopied on the newsletters, magically came to life thanks to the wonders of the animated GIF file.
Mr. Andros seemed quite amazed to receive correspondence about the site from around the world, both lauditory and corrective. In my final visits with him in the hospital he repeatedly requested that I keep the site active after his passing and even suggested some final augmentations. I assured him that as long as I kept my personal web sites going, I would keep his going as well.
One of the most fascinating things about the internet is the way it permits enthusiasts of obscure subjects to find each other and share information. The world grows "smaller" and yet we become even more aware of the richness of it's diversity. I am happy that I could have a small part in helping to keep the stories of these ballet pioneers around for at least a little while longer.