from Chapter 10: "Dance Master"

     I was paid for teaching but not enough for live on so taught elsewhere, Juiilliard, from time to time, which paid three times as much per class.  Martha had helped establish its dance program but clashed with director, Martha  Hill, over final exams, saying that a Juilliard graduate should be capable of dancing at least one of the smaller roles in her troupe.     After Martha Hill insisted on awarding degrees beneath that standard, Martha Graham hissed,  "Martha Hill is an ed-u-ca-tor."
    I also taught at the NYC High School of Performing Arts, the Neighborhood Playhouse, The New School, children in Mamaroneck, NY, and a "Y" in Fort Lee, NJ. I drove to south New Jersey to teach modern technique to ballet kids in a studio run by Ursula Melita, and in Philadelphia at the studio of Milli Davis, coming home with $80, a decent day's pay at the time.
    Between Broadway choruses, I did TV gigs and industrial shows. Dancer's seeking their first job envied me, although at 32, the dancing chorus was a hopeless place to be.  You could be discovered there, like Shirley McClane, write a hit musical there, like Nicholas Dante wrote A Chorus Line, or use it as a credit for a teaching job or to open a dancing school.  But most other ways out were down. The men's dresser in The Most Happy Fella had danced in half a dozen shows. James Tarbutton, who added zing to the chorus of Paint Your Wagon, worked in a book store.  Frank Derbas, who danced "Steam Heat" in The Pajama Game, tried photography while holding down a job selling art prints in Ye Olde Print Shoppe.  I walked in one day and he approached, grave and haughty in a dark vested suit, elegantly salt-and-pepper hair, and a serious moustache.
    "Frank!  You look like a curator at the Met!"
    He broke up. "You ought to see me with a rich bitch.  I really lay it on!" 
    I'd spent the summer of 1957  in Logan Utah, teaching students from NYC's Performing Arts High School. Once Upon A Mattress had seen me through the winter of 57-58 and closed in time for a second summer in Logan.
   A week before we left, the head of a local bank had a lawn party for the dancers where he invited Linda and me to settle in Logan and open a dancing school. His bank would finance a studio built to our specifications, a sobering offer, but we were not ready to "take off the Red Shoes."
    David Neumann, five years older than me and still in the dancing chorus, told a joke:
   "Two men work in a circus cleaning out animal cages.  A load of bad hay gives the elephants diarrhea.  After three days of shoveling elephant shit, one says, "If this keeps up, I'm getting out of show business!"

     I taught remarkable students whose work illuminates the world. I wanted to put links right into my memoir but the technology isn't yet up to it. So here's a link to a dance by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, her hypnotic  brilliant "FASE"
  Fase Part 1 :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvQYdG86iTE
  Fase, Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD9M1OdoixM&NR=1

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This is Chapter 10. Click links to other chapters:

Go to:   HOME                                               Chapter 6 - Critics Say
            Chapter 1 - Dance Lessons            Chapter 7 - TKO'd in {Paris and London
            Chapter 2 - Making Dances            Chapter 8 - The Grand Tour
            Chapter 3 - On Stage!                     Chapter 9  - Asia
            Chapter 4 - Martha                           Chapter 11 - A Dancing Fool
            Chapter 5 - Her  Little Crackers     Chapter 12 - Post-Martha Syndrome
                                                       CONTACT